Is ‘Pencil’ an Open or Closed Syllable? Exploring Syllabic Structure

In learning how to read, write and improve your language skills, understanding the concepts of syllables, particularly open and closed syllables is essential. A syllable is a single, unbroken sound of a spoken word. It’s best described as a unit of sound.

In this guide, we will focus on differentiating between open and closed syllables, specifically looking into which category the word “pencil” falls into.

Understanding Open and Closed Syllables

The first step in mastering syllable types in English is understanding the concepts of open syllables and closed syllables. These two are among the most basic structural arrangements when it comes to syllables.

  • Open Syllables: An open syllable is a syllable that ends with a vowel. The vowel in such cases typically gives its long sound. Examples of open syllables are found in words like “me,” “go,” or the first syllable of words like “baby,” and “music.”
  • Closed Syllables: A closed syllable, on the other hand, is a syllable that ends with a consonant. In closed syllables, the vowel usually provides a short sound. Examples of closed syllables include words like “it,” “cat,” or the first syllable of words like “rabbit,” and “napkin.”

The Word “Pencil”

With those definitions clear, now, let’s look at the word “pencil.” It’s a two-syllable word. Broken down, the word pencil goes: pen-cil.

In this arrangement, both syllables ‘pen’ and ‘cil’ are closed syllables. This is based on the explanation previously given stating that a closed syllable ends in a consonant and the vowel typically offers a short sound. In both syllables, we have the vowels ‘e’ and ‘i’ offering their short sounds, ‘e’ as in ‘egg’, and short ‘i’ as in ‘sit’.

How It Applies In Writing

Understanding if a syllable is open or closed helps greatly in correctly spelling words. It comes into play when students are asked to write words they are familiar with orally but have never written before. Knowing how to correctly pronounce the word can help determine if it uses open syllables that typically have a long vowel sound, or closed syllables that usually have a short vowel sound.



Under the umbrella of syllables and phonetics, understanding the difference between the types of syllables, specifically open and closed syllables, is very useful. It’s a fundamental method that greatly benefits learners in their reading and practical written language applications. Looking into the word ‘pencil’, we learned that it contains two closed syllables. This knowledge of syllable structure is easily applicable to daily reading, writing, and spelling, thereby improving your language comprehension over time.

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