General Rules for Latin Accentuation 



1. Accent the second-to-last syllable, unless that syllable is short:

for- -na   a--mus    Ro--ni.

2. Accent the third-to-last syllable if the second-to-last syllable is short:

phi-lo-SO-phi-a    pe-CÛ-ni-a    HO-mi-nis



The last syllable is never accented. If the word has only two syllables, the accent must be on the first syllable: magna cum lau-de; car-pe di-em; ex post fac-to; al-ma ma-ter.


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.


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. It receives the accent whether it is short or long, only on the basis of a short second-to-last syllable.

Remember the phrase mysrium 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 punctuation mark):   ser--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

But see the exceptions below.



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 rules of the third section last. But you will need to know all these rules to accentuate Latin correctly.


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