I am lost as to where to find a reference for hyphenation (trait d'union) rules or syllables decomposition of words in French. English dictionaries generally provide this information by default, but neither WordReference, Wiktionary nor TLF gives this info.

Right now I'm unsure how to properly hyphenate exemple. Any ideas?

  • I'd not. There are three syllables but X between vowels is not a good place, neither is before the p as the ending e is "muet" Dec 17 '16 at 21:13
  • 2
    I think this link will be useful: visezjuste.uottawa.ca/pages/orthographe/coupure_des_mots.html
    – SdaliM
    Dec 17 '16 at 22:05
  • @Unfrancophone Mute last syllables are not ruled out when they have three letters or more.
    – jlliagre
    Dec 18 '16 at 1:39
  • @jlliagre, there is a reason for which I said "not a good place" and not "must be prevented at all cost". Hyphenation is a way to avoid issues in typesetting, there are usually several way to handle the situation, all of them with various drawbacks which may depend on the situation. To accept "exem-ple", avoiding it should cause some other problems which I'd prefer to avoid even more strongly than accepting it. Dec 18 '16 at 12:40
  • @Unfrancophone Granted, exemple is indeed a word with which there is no consensus about hyphenation rules.
    – jlliagre
    Dec 20 '16 at 12:25

The basic rule is to hyphenate between syllables but there are many other rules that forbids (or at least strongly discourage) some hyphenations and specify where precisely the hyphenation should occur in some cases.

Here one of these rules is preventing the first syllable to be isolated because its ending "x" is followed by a vowel. The last syllable has a mute "e" which would have ruled out hyphenation should it had less than three letters but this isn't the case here.

The only possible hyphenation is then before the last syllable:


enter image description here

Note that there is no full consensus about the rules, this page is stricter and states exemple cannot be hyphenated.

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