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

calcutta capital of indiachemical formula for nitrate ionwhat is the chemical formula for amylosedifference between wolf and coyotewhat is the difference between light and dark reactionswords with prefix macroexample of assimilation piagetwhat is the difference between isopropyl and denatured alcoholwhat is the difference between a depression and a recessionconcrete noun with examplesgrimly mocking or cynicalteeth of carnivores herbivores and omnivoresthermosetting plastic and thermoplasticfake levisthymine cytosinedifference between fractional and simple distillationprokaryotic and eukaryotic cells wikipediadifference of typhoon and hurricanesn1 and sn2 mechanismsdifference between apoptosis and necrosisherbivores carnivoresdistinguish between a series circuit and a parallel circuitzits and pimples differencefairies and pixiesdifference between vocational education and vocational trainingdifference between anaerobic and aerobic respirationlifes vs livesnoun clause appositiveonomatopoeia examples in a sentenceklebsiella pneumoniae on macconkeycytokinesis in plants and animalsreciprocate means in hindithe flu or food poisoningwarm blooded creaturestensile strength and compressive strengthdifference between bacteria and bacteriumreindeer vs elkvinylic hydrogencolorimeter principle pdfdifference between garnish and decorationnumeral adjectivessimile and analogyrutherford atomic model gold foil experimentamerican badger factsrhyme and rhythm definitionkinetochore definitionthe difference between desert and dessertcompressible and incompressible fluid flowpresent value of bonds calculator3 examples of eubacteriacalculation of arrdifference between nonpolar and polararchaic literaturemeaning facetiousdifference between inductance and reactancebaking soda or sodium bicarbonatesushi vs sashimi vs makiparallel resonance circuit theorywhat is the difference between an agnostic and atheistis earth an outer or inner planetthe indian flag colours meaningsepsis vs septic shockanabolism and catabolism examplesdistinguish between quantitative and qualitative researchakron university mascot zippyexample of accommodation piagetdifference between mole and mouselabrador vs golden retriever vs german shepherdmicrotubules and microfilamentskinematics and dynamicsdefine monologueswhy amorphous solids are isotropicharbours meaning in hindiinterstate and intrastate differencecharacteristics of angiosperms and gymnospermswhat is the difference between static friction and kinetic frictioniupac name of glucosemodern tragedy characteristicsanalysing a poem