Y

In English the letter Y can be a vowel or a consonant.

Note that the examples are in three columns. The first column provides an example of the sound when it is word initial (at the beginning of the word). The second column provides an example of the sound when it is word internal (in the middle of the word). The third column provides examples of the sound when it is word final (at the end of the word).

The table below lists the IPA* symbol and the standard (std) symbol used to describe the sounds of the letter Y. The phonetic transcription of each word is in parentheses.

Click on the sample words to listen to the sound files. Pay attention to the sound of the letters in bold.

The letter Y as a vowel has three sounds.

name IPA std examples
long e i ē * anyone
(niwn)
quickly
(kwIkli)
long i aI ī * flying
(flaIŋ)
try
(traI)
schwa * syringe
(srIn)
vinyl
(vaInl)

*No words in English begin with the letter Y as a vowel.

As a consonant, Y has a strong [j] sound which can occur at the beginning of a word. A similar but weaker sound can occur word internal and word final. These two sounds resemble dipthongs. To learn more about dipthongs, visit the lesson on vowels-phonetics.

letter IPA* std examples
strong weak
y j y yacht
(jt)
mayor
(maI)
tray
(treI)

*IPA means International Phonetic Alphabet. Learn more about phonetics and the IPA.

Related lessons:

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