What Is the Difference Between an Open & a Closed Syllable?

Identify an open or closed syllable by the letter it ends with.
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A syllable is a single letter or combination of letters that create a singular, uninterrupted sound. Syllables can be words on their own, but can also be strung together to create longer words. For example, the word "going" is made up of two syllables, "go" and "ing." An open syllable contains only one vowel -- A, E, I, O, U or Y -- which it ends with. A closed syllable also only contains one vowel, but ends in a consonant, which is any letter that is not a vowel.

1 Open Syllables

Open syllables are letter combinations that contain just one vowel, and that vowel occurs at the end of the combination. They are referred to as "open" because there is no consonant ending or "closing" the word. For example, consider the word "no." This word contains just one vowel, the letter "o," and it occurs at the end of the word. Therefore, it is an open syllable. Vowels on their own are considered open syllables as well sometimes, such as the "e" in "elite" or the "a" in "able," which each form a sound on their own. Phonetically, an open syllable can be recognized by the way the vowel is pronounced. It is pronounced as the name of the letter. For example, in the word "he," the sound of "e" is its name. This is called a long vowel.

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2 Closed Syllables

Closed syllables contain one vowel, but end, or are "closed off" by, a consonant. An example of this is the syllable "ask." It contains one vowel, the letter "a," and ends in a consonant, the letter "k." Note how unlike open syllables, the vowel in this example is short; vowels in closed syllables do not make the sound of their name when pronounced. Other examples include the words "junk," "soft" and "stretch," which each contain one short vowel and end in a consonant.

Based in Gatineau, Canada, Kat Walcott has been writing entertainment and informative articles since 2008. Her work has appeared in major publications including Her Campus, Equals6 and Uppercase. She holds an honors diploma in social science from Heritage College and is currently majoring in communication studies and minoring in sexuality studies.