It is generally known that speech is a continuum. However, it can be broken into minimal pronounceable units into which sounds show a tendency to cluster or group themselves. These smallest phonetic groups are generally given the name of syllables.
As to the number of syllables in the English word it can vary from one to eight, for example come, city, family, simplicity, unnaturally, incompatibility, unintelligibility.
There are the following peculiarities of the syllabic structure of English which should arrest the learner’s attention:
1. The sonorants [l], [m], [n] are syllabic if they are preceded by noise consonants, for example: little, table, blossom, sudden.
2. There cannot be more than one vowel within one syllable.
3. If there is one consonant (except r) after the stressed vowel it belongs to the following unstressed syllable: stu-dent, ci-ty, pi-ty.
4. If there are two consonants (rr too) after the stressed vowel the second one belongs to the following unstressed syllable: din-ner, mar-ry