Decoding the letter Y
As a semivowel
As a semivowel or consonant "y" represents IPA phoneme /j/. There are very few difficulties with this sound, except that the sequence /juː/ may be spelled with "u", "ue" or "ew", with no "y". See IPA phonetic sequence /juː/
- yacht - yard - yawn - yeast - yellow - yes - yesterday - yet - yield - yob - yogurt - you - young - your - youth - yo-yo
- beyond /bɪˈjɒnd/ or /biːˈɒnd/AmE
- canyon - Kenya
- lawyer /ˈlɔːjər/ or /ˈlɔɪər/ - sawyer /ˈsɔːjər/ or /ˈsɔɪər/
As a vowel
As a single letter
- So-called “short i”, IPA phoneme /ɪ/, as in gym, hymn, system or lyrics
- So-called “long i”, IPA phoneme /aɪ/, as in cry, cycle or pyromaniac
- Long "yr" monophtong (short vowel spelling), IPA phoneme /ɜː/, as in myrrh
- Long "yr" triphthong (long vowel spelling), IPA sequence /aɪə/, as in tyre (US tire) or lyre
At the end of a word
- One syllable
- /aɪ/: by - cry - dry - fly - fry - my - shy - sky - sty - try - why
- Several syllables
- /aɪ/: ally - apply - classify - July - multiply (verb) - prophesy - satisfy - verify
- /iː/ or /ɪ/: any - astronomy - biology - bully - chemistry - city - company - country - early - easy - every - family - geology - geography - happy - heresy - many - pity - prophecy - robbery - study - very
- Adverbs ending in -ly: actually - certainly - especially - finally - likely - only - particularly - probably - multiply - really - simply - usually
In the middle of the word
- One syllable
- /ɪ/: gym - hymn - lynx - myth - sync
- Several syllables
- /aɪ/: analyseBrE/analyzeAmE - cycle - gynaecology/gynecology - hyphen - hypothesis - myopia - myself - psychologist - Wyoming
- /ɪ/: crystal - cynic - homonym - physics - syllable - synthetic - sympathy - symptom - system - typical
- /iː/ or /ɪ/: anyone, anything, anywhere, everyone, everything, everywhere, polygon
- /ə/: analysis - Pennsylvania - pyjamas
- As a gerund
- /aɪ/: die/dying - lie/lying
Combined with a vowel
Always as /aɪ/ or /aɪə/
- dye - eye - rye
- byte - hype - rhyme - style - thyme - type
- analyseBrE/analyzeAmE - breathalyseBrE/breathalyzeAmE - catalyseBrE/catalyzeAmE - paralyseBrE/paralyzeAmE
For /aɪə/ see #In combination with “r” below.
- /eɪ/: away - clay - day - delay - display - essay - gay - grayAmE - hay - holiday - lay - may - May - pay - play - repay - relay - say - stay - today - way
- /eɪ/ or /ɪ/: Monday - Tuesday - Wednesday - Thursday - Friday - Saturday - Sunday - yesterday
Very often we use "ai" in the middle of the word: raise - train - wait
- Unstressed final /iː/ or /ɪ/: alley - chimney - donkey - hockey - honey - jockey - journey - Mickey - money - monkey - turkey - valley - Wembley
- /iː/: key
- /eɪ/: greyBrE - hey - survey - they
- /ɔɪ/: boy - employ - enjoy - joy - ploy - Roy - toy
- coyote: /kaɪˈəʊtɪ/ or /kɔɪˈəʊtɪ/
Almost always we use "oi" in the middle of the word: choice - join - point
- /aɪ/: buy - guy
In combination with “r”
Main article: Decoding exercises: "yr"
- /ɜː/: myrtle - myrrh
- /ɪ/: lyrics - myriad - pyramid - syringe - syrup
- /ə/: martyr
- /aɪ/: thyroid
- Sequence /aɪə/: tyreBrE
Two different pronunciations in same word: gynaecology, psychology
See main article Homophone.
- bite - byte; by - buy; die - dye; hay - hey; time - thyme; way - weigh
This section is about words ending in -y pronounced /iː/ or /ɪ/. See also Pronunciation exercises: /ɪ/ vs /iː/ § Unstressed syllable.
Many two-syllable adjectives end in -y:
- dirty - early - happy - pretty - silly - ugly;
- fog - foggy; fun - funny; grease - greasy; mess - messy; noise - noisy; run - runny; sand - sandy; smell - smelly; stick - sticky; sun - sunny; taste - tasty; wind - windy
and, as -ly, for adverbs:
- firmly - loudly - noisily - quietly - yearly
Adverbs ending in -cally have a silent a.
- automatically, basically, dramatically, specifically, typically
"Y" can also form a noun from an adjective:
- honesty - jealousy - orthodoxy
- Bobby - Bobbie; caddy - caddie; footieBrE - footyBrE (football); hippy - hippie; hoody - hoodie; Jimmie - Jimmy; Johnnie - Johnny; tummy (stomach);
As a shortening or clipping
- Indy (Indianapolis); indie (independent); #indyref2 (independence referendum number 2); tellyBrE (television)
- Decoding the letter I
- Decoding exercises: "ie"
- Decoding exercises: "ay"
- Decoding exercises: "ey"
- Decoding exercises: "oy"