Decoding and spelling exercises: /ɪ/ vs /aɪ/

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mind /maɪnd/

ɪ

print /prɪnt/

Since the spelling of /ɪ/ and /aɪ/ is often the same, many students confuse these two sounds, even if they are able to pronounce them. For example, the word "determine" is often pronounced as */ˈdetərmaɪn/ instead of /dɪˈtɜːrmɪn/.

One syllable[edit]

IPA vowels
æ ɑː
trap father - start
e
dress face square
ɪ ɪə
kit fleece near
ɒ əʊ ɔː
lot goat taught
ʊ ʊə
foot goose mature
juː jʊə
cute cure
ʌ ə ɜː
strut comma nurse
ɔɪ
price mouth choice
IPA consonants
Normal sound: /b, d, f, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, z/
 ʃ  ŋ
show church sing
ʒ  j 
usual judge you
θ ð s
think that see
IPA Stress
ˈ Primary stress
hotel /həʊˈtel/
ˌ Secondary stress
understand
/ˌʌndərˈstænd/
IPA Syllabification
. nitrate /ˈnaɪ.treɪt/, night-rate /ˈnaɪt.reɪt/

I and Y at the beginning or the middle of a word[edit]

/ɪ/

  • "i" as /ɪ/: big - bit - fill - fit - if - ill - in - inch - ink - inn - is - it - kill - kit - lick - print - quit - tip - wind (noun)
  • "y" as /ɪ/: gym - hymn - lynch - lynx - myth - sync

/aɪ/

  • "i" as /aɪ/: bind - blind - child - climb - find - grind - I - I'll - I'm - I've - kind - mild - mind - pint - wild - wind (verb)
  • "igh" as /aɪ/: bright - fight - high - knight - light - might - night - right - sigh - sight - tight
  • "ig" as /aɪ/: sign

These words don't rhyme

  • limb - climb; print – pint

I and Y at the end of the word[edit]

  • "i" as /aɪ/: hi - Greek letters: chi - phi - pi - psi - xi
  • "y" as /aɪ/: by - cry - dry - fly - fry - my - shy - sky - sty - try - why

I with silent final E[edit]

I with magic E sounds /aɪ/

  • bike, fine, life, like, line, quite, side, time, while, wise, write

Ambiguous silent e

  • /ɪ/: give - live (v.)
  • /aɪ/: drive - live (adj.)

Y with silent final E[edit]

Y with magic E sounds /aɪ/

  • byte - hype - rhyme - style - thyme – type

Several syllables[edit]

I and Y at the beginning or the middle of a word[edit]

Pattern vowel-consonant-vowel[edit]

A single consonant can mean anything, but a double consonant (or ck) means the sound is /ɪ/ (or /ə/) and not /aɪ/.

Vowel Single consonant Double consonant
"i" as /ɪ/ activity - city - condition - consider - continue - critic - decision - figure - finish - idiot - individual - initial - limit - living - minute (60 seconds) - political - position - river - similar - visit - wizard chicken - committee - different - difficult - dinner - Finnish - fitting - illegal - illusion - innocent - issue - killing - mirror - mission - Mississippi - ticket - trigger - village
"y" as /ɪ/ analysis - cynic - physics - typical syllable
"i" as /aɪ/ final - icon - idea - ideal - idol - item - miner - minor - minute (very small) - pilot dissect /dɪˈsekt, daɪˈsekt/
"y" as /aɪ/ dynamic - gynaecologyBrE - gynecologyAmE - hygiene - hypothesis idyllic /ɪˈdɪlɪk,BrE aɪˈdɪlɪkAmE/
  • "i" as /ɪ/: independent - input - insult - solid - until
  • "y" as /ɪ/: crystal - homonym - synthetic - sympathy - system
  • "i" as /aɪ/: behind - bible - idle - library - remind - rewind
  • "ig" as /aɪ/: align - assign - benign - design - malign - resign
  • "y" as /aɪ/: cycle - encyclopaediaBrE - encyclopedia - hyphen - myopia - psychologist - Wyoming
As a gerund
  • "i" as /ɪ/: adding - going - playing - reading - studying
  • "yi" as /aɪ.ɪ/: die/dying - lie/lying

I and Y at the end of the word[edit]

  • "i" as /ɪ/ or /iː/: taxi
  • "y" as /ɪ/ or /iː/: any - astronomy - biology - bully - chemistry - city - company - country - early - easy - every - family - geology - geography - happy - heresy - many - multiply (adverb) - only - pity - prophecy - robbery - study - usually - very
  • "i" as /aɪ/: alibi - rabbi
  • "y" as /aɪ/: ally - apply - classify - July - multiply (verb) - prophesy - reply - satisfy - verify

These words don't rhyme

  • duly - July; rally – ally

I with silent final E[edit]

I with magic E sounds /aɪ/

  • decide, decline, define, describe, despite, exercise, inside, invite, outside, provide, surprise
  • apologiseBrE - apologize, organiseBrE - organize, prioritiseBrE - prioritize, realiseBrE - realize, recogniseBrE - recognize, summariseBrE – summarize

Misleading silent e

  • /ɪ/: definite, determine, discipline, engine, examine, famine, favorite, hyprocrite, imagine, indefinite, jasmine, medicine, promise

Ambiguous silent e

  • /ɪ/: active, alternative, adjective, effective, expensive, executive, justice, negative, notice, office, positive, practice, relative, service
  • /aɪ/: advice, alive, arrive, device, derive, survive

Y with silent final E[edit]

Y with magic E sounds /aɪ/

analyseBrE/analyzeAmE - breathalyseBrE/breathalyzeAmE - catalyseBrE/catalyzeAmE - paralyseBrE/paralyzeAmE

In combination with “r”[edit]

/ɪ/

  • "i" as /ɪ/: miracle, mirror, spirit
  • "y" as /ɪ/: lyrics, myriad, pyramid, syringe, syrup

/aɪ/

  • "i" as /aɪ/: environment, virus
  • "y" as /aɪ/: thyroid

Sequence /aɪə/

"i": acquire, desire, entire, fire, hire, inspire, iron /ˈaɪərn/, require, retire, tire,AmE wire
"y": tyreBrE

ie[edit]

  • /aɪ/: die - lie - tie
  • Unstressed final /ɪ/: movie
As a suffix to nouns or as a diminutive or familiar name (the same words can often be spelt y):
auntie/aunty - Bobbie/Bobby - caddie/caddy - hippie/hippy - hoodie/hoody - Jimmie/Jimmy - Johnnie/Johnny

ye[edit]

  • /aɪ/: dye - eye - rye

Vowel alternation[edit]

Many pairs of related words have /aɪ/ (or /aɪə/) in one of them and /ɪ/ in the other.

  • child - children; Christ - Christian; conspire - conspiracy; crime - criminal; decide - decision; drive - driven; finite - infinite; hide - hid; line - linear; precise - precision; resign /rɪˈzaɪn/ - resignation /ˌrezɪɡˈneɪʃən/; wild - wilderness;

Minimal pairs[edit]

/ɪ/ vs /aɪ/

  • bit - byte/bite; dinner - diner; fill - file; fit - fight; hit - height; ill - I'll/aisle/isle; kit - kite; knit - knight/night; lick - like; live (verb) - live (adj.); miss - mice; pin - pine; quit - quite; sin - sign/sine; sit - sight/site; still - style; will - while; win - wine; wind (noun) - wind (verb)

Unstressed /ɪ/ or /iː/ vs /aɪ/

  • apologies - apologiseBrE/apologize; prophecy - prophesy;

Heteronyms[edit]

Main article: Heteronym

  • live /lɪv/ (adj.) - /laɪv/ (adj.); minute /ˈmɪnɪt/ (60 seconds) - /maɪˈnjuːt/ (very small); multiply /ˈmʌltɪplɪ/ (adverb) - /ˈmʌltɪplaɪ/ (verb) ; wind /wɪnd/ (noun) - /waɪnd/ (verb)

Variant pronunciations[edit]

Br /aɪ/ Am /ə/
  • agile /ˈædʒaɪl,BrE ˈædʒəlAmE/
  • fertile /ˈfɜːrtaɪl,BrE ˈfɜːrtəlAmE/
  • fragile /ˈfrædʒaɪl,BrE ˈfrædʒəlAmE/
  • futile /ˈfjuːtaɪl,BrE ˈfjuːtəlAmE/
  • idyll /ˈɪdɪl,BrE ˈaɪdəlAmE/
  • mobile /ˈməʊbaɪl,BrE ˈməʊbəlAmE/
  • versatile /ˈvɜːrsətaɪl,BrE ˈvɜːrsətəlAmE/

-isation, -ization

  • characterisation,BrE characterization /ˌkærəktəraɪˈzeɪʃən,BrE ˌkærəktərəˈzeɪʃənAmE/
  • civilisation,BrE civilization /ˌsɪvəlaɪˈzeɪʃən,BrE ˌsɪvələˈzeɪʃənAmE/
  • improvisation /ˌɪmprəvaɪˈzeɪʃən,BrE ɪmˌprɒvəˈzeɪʃənAmE/
  • organisation,BrE organization /ˌɔːrɡənaɪˈzeɪʃən,BrE ˌɔːrɡənəˈzeɪʃənAmE/
Br /ɪ/ Am /aɪ/
  • advertisement /ədˈvɜːrtɪsmənt,BrE ˌædvərˈtaɪzməntAmE/
  • privacy /ˈprɪvəsɪ,BrE ˈpraɪvəsɪAmE/
  • vitamin /ˈvɪtəmɪn,BrE ˈvaɪtəmɪnAmE/
Other
  • cyclic /ˈsaɪklɪk, ˈsɪklɪk/ - cyclical /ˈsaɪklɪkəl, ˈsɪklɪkəl/
  • direct /dəˈrekt, dɪˈrekt, daɪˈrekt/ - direction /dəˈrekʃən, dɪˈrekʃən, daɪˈrekʃən/ - director /dəˈrektər, dɪˈrektər, daɪˈrektər/ - directory /dəˈrektərɪ, dɪˈrektərɪ, daɪˈrektərɪ/
  • finance /ˈfaɪnæns, faɪˈnæns, fəˈnæns/
  • financial /faɪˈnænʃəl, fəˈnænʃəl/

References[edit]


See also[edit]

External links[edit]