We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Mora?

By Mark Wollacott
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A mora is the amount of time it takes to say one part of a syllable. It is a linguistic term and is a part of phonology that aims to study sound formation. Each mora takes the same amount of time to pronounce; longer sounds are represented by two or even three moras as they take a longer amount of time to pronounce. Not all languages have even rules regarding what is a mora and what is not. In languages where syllable length is important, the mora can play an important role in linguistic forms like poetry.

In phonology, a syllable is broken down into one, two, or three units. These units determine the number of moras and, therefore, the weight of the syllable. Syllables can be made of up to three parts: the nucleus, the onset, and the coda. The nucleus is the main sound unit, and the onset and coda are consonants that come before and after the nucleus; the coda may also be a vowel.

The onset of a syllable does not count towards that syllable's weight. The nucleus may consist of a short vowel or consonant that counts as one mora. A long vowel or consonant in the nucleus counts as two moras.

The lengths of vowels and consonants varies considerably by language. In many languages, consonants are only short. In Slovak, however, consonants can be either short or long. In Malayalam, a consonant does not contribute any weight to the syllable and counts as zero moras.

Codas do not automatically add length to a language's syllable weight. In Japanese, all codas count as one mora. The coda also bears weight in Hindi and Malayalam, but not in Irish. In English, the coda only counts as one if it is stressed.

A syllable that contains one mora is called monomoraic and is classed as a light syllable. When there are two moras in the syllable, it is bimoraic and is a heavy syllable. The majority of languages have either monomoraic or bimoraic syllables, but some languages like Old English and Farsi have trimoraic or super heavy syllables with three moras.

In addition to their role in everyday speech, moras are important to poetry. Classical languages such as Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit are mora-based languages. The poetry of these languages tends to use dactylic meter with combinations of long and short syllables providing rhythm.

In Japanese, the mora is called a haku. The role of the haku has been studied extensively in Japanese. It has also been posited by linguists that the Japanese poetry form of haiku should not be thought of as 17 syllables, as it often is in English, but as 17 moras because this more closely matches Japanese.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.