I want to know what (if there are any) are the rules for identifying the syllables and their borders in a word based only on its spelling and not its pronunciation or IPA. I know syllable is a phonetic feature and not a orthographic one, but since German language has a high correspondence between the two, are there a set of rules to identify the syllable and its border in a word based on the spelling of the word alone.


1 Answer 1


There are multiple rules to identify syllable border(s) in a word based on spelling.
Note that you need to know german prefix and suffix.

For every Word

  • A Syllable will always contain a vowel (a,e,i,o,u)

For one syllable Words

  • I think this depends on the sound of the word, but in a sense you can assume that if none of the rules below apply, it could be a one syllable word

Words with more than one syllable

  • A single vowel never gets seperated from the Word. Fisch-e would be wrong
  • "tz" and "st" always indicate a border. put-zen
  • "ch", "sch", "ck", "eu", "ei", "ai", "äu" always stay together. ba-cken
  • "ß" transforms to ss and will result in a border between. grüs-sen
  • Two consonants result in a border. Af-fe
  • A prefix indicates a border. ver-laufen
  • If a suffix starts with a vowel, the border happens in front of the previous consonant. Zei-tung (-ung being the suffix)

Words made of multiple words (e.g. Hausaufgaben)

  • A new word indicates a border. Haus-aufgaben-heft
  • Borders in subwords are found like its an individual word. Haus-auf-ga-ben-heft

I took them from https://praxistipps.focus.de/silbentrennung-regeln-und-funktionsweise-einfach-erklaert_99467 and translated them too english.

Note that this will find NOT every border in every word as some words require the sound of the word to find syllable

  • ß does not transform – either it stays as it is, e.g. grü-ßen, or it is ss from the beginning (in Switzerland), but I don’t know how the Swiss hyphenate it. Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 16:54

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