How to Count Syllables in a Poem

What are Syllables

Syllables are the smallest unit of pronunciation. They contain at least one vowel sound. A word is always made of one or more syllables. For example, the word ‘water’ has two syllables; wa & ter. When a word has more than one syllable, one syllable is pronounced more strongly than the other. The strongly pronounced syllable is called the stressed syllable or accented syllable and the other is called unstressed or unaccented syllable.

How to Count Syllables in a Poem

The best method to identify the syllables is to identify the vowels in a line since syllables contain at least one vowel. There are several ways to count syllables in a poem. We’ll look at some of these methods in this article.

Method 1:

The Clap Method

  • Read the first line aloud
  • Clap when you hear vowels as a separate sound
  • The number of claps is equal to the number of syllables in the line.
  • Continue with several lines. (Poems often have the same number of syllables in each line)

How to Count Syllables in a Poem

Method 2:

The Writing Method

  • Count the number of vowels in the line.
  • Add 1 to the number every time the letter y makes a vowel sound
  • Subtract 1 for each silent letter  
  • Subtract 1 for each diphthong (2 vowel letters make one sound) or triphthong (3 vowel letters make one sound) in the line. Ex: oo, au, iou
  • Add 1 if the letter before the letters “le” is a consonant.
  • The number you now get is the count of syllables.

Method 3:

The Chin Method

  • Place your hand below your chin.
  • Read the line aloud.
  • Count how many times your chin touches the hand.
  • This is the number of syllables in your line.

Example to Show How to Count Syllables in a Poem

Now Close the Windows

Now close the windows and hush all the fields:
If the trees must, let them silently toss;
No bird is singing now, and if there is,
Be it my loss.

It will be long ere the marshes resume,
I will be long ere the earliest bird:
So close the windows and not hear the wind,
But see all wind-stirred.

– Robert Frost

Syllable Count

Now| close | the |win|dows| and |hush| all| the|fields: – 10

If| the| trees| must,| let| them| si|len|tly |toss; – 10

No| bird| is| sin|ging| now,| and| if |there| is, – 10

Be |it |my| loss. – 4


It| will |be |long| ere |the |mar|shes |re|sume, – 10

I |will| be| long| ere |the |ear|li|est |bird: – 10

So| close| the| win|dows |and |not |hear| the |wind, – 10

But| see| all |wind-|stirred. – 5

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

Related pages

iodometric titrationsflat and round characters definitionhomophone definition and examplesfunction of noun clausemaglev train mechanismexamples of monocot and dicot seedslaw of conservation of momentum formuladifference between gerund and participlecompare and contrast operant and classical conditioningcolloid crystalloidsedentism definitionfunctions of rough and smooth erdefine cuddlessn1 vs sn2 reaction mechanismchemical formula for adpmeaning of the word connotationexamples of synesthesia in literaturetrs tax refunduncountable abstract nounshow to calculate molecular weight of polymeralkaline earth metals definitiondefine paramagnetismadp moleculetemporary vacuolehard ferromagnetic materialsdifference between rights and libertiesalumnus singularrestraint vs constraintdifference between hydrogen bomb and nuclear bombgnostic agnosticboxer dog behaviourwhats the difference between a tornado and a cyclonecarpe diem literatureliterary term flat characterwrite in iambic pentametertypes of animals herbivores carnivores omnivoresabstract dictionnormative vs positive economicsas the bond order increases the bond lengthchlorplast definitionprepositional phrase definitionpositive vs normative economicscommand economy characteristicswhat is the difference between pork and hamdifference between a colon and a semicolonmeaning of transnational companygestures and posturesradially symmetrical organismswhy is fractional distillation better than simpleomnivore vs carnivoredifference between polar bond and polar moleculedefinition acquaintancenail polish vs lacquerwhat is electron proton and neutronwords that rhyme with stepmeaning of valence electronsshelley famous poemshow do i calculate cpiwhy do ferrous metals rustmadam madameexample of an internal rhymeexample of a interrogative pronounadverbs and its kinds with examplesernest rutherford gold foilalright versus all rightalpha pleated sheetparamagnetic diamagnetic ferromagneticcharacteristics of allusiondifference between dominant and recessive genescharles darwin vs lamarckdifference between carapace and plastrondefinition fianceevitiligo leucodermaeuropean rottweiler vs american rottweilerpolarised wavewhat is the difference between recessive and dominant genesmetaphysical conceit definition