Grammar Helps Index
1. Accent the second-to-last syllable, unless that syllable is short:
forTÛna / aMÂmus / RoMÂni / argûMENtum
Remember: The syllable can be long even when its vowel is short: argûMENtum's second-to-last syllable is long because its vowel is followed by two consonants, N and T. See the General Rules for Syllable Length below, Rule 3.
2. Accent the third-to-last syllable if the second-to-last syllable is short:
philoSOphia / peCÛnia / HOminis / PRObitâs
Hint: The last syllable is never accented. If the word has only two syllables, the accent must be on the first syllable:
MAG-na cum LAU-de / CAR-pe DI-em / ex post FAC-to / AL-ma MA-ter.
Hint:With words of more than two syllables you will only have the choice of second-to-last or third-to-last. Pick the second-to-last if it is long.
Major Hint: You will only have to look at the second-to-last syllable to determine the accent of the word. The length of the third-to-last syllable does not matter since it receives the accent whether it is short or long, only on the basis of a short second-to-last syllable.
Hint: Remember the phrase mystérium treméndum. The -ri-is not a long syllable, so the accent falls back to the third-to-last syllable. The -en- is long by the rules below, so it takes the accent.
General Rules for Syllable Length
1. Syllables are long if they contain a long vowel (often indicated by a macron or a circumflex mark above the letter): ser-vâ-re.
2. Syllables are long if they contain a "double-vowel sound" (diphthong): sae-pe; lau-das.
3. Syllables are long if their vowel sound is placed before two consonant-sounds (including doubled consonants):
pu-el-la / ter-ra / a-du-les-cen-ti-a / sum -ma
Exceptions to the Syllable-length Rules
1. Double-sounds like the letter X count as two consonant-sounds.
2. Single-sounds even if written with two letters, count as one sound (ch, ph, th).
3. A stop (p, b, t, d, c, g) plus a liquid (l, r) can count as one consonant: te-nebra.
Hint: Learn the rules in the first section above before you go on to learn those of the second; learn the rules of the third section last. But you will need to know all these rules to accentuate Latin correctly.
Latin Teaching Materials at Saint Louis University: © Claude Pavur 1997 - 2009. This material is being made freely available for non-commercial educational use.