- "y" - yes, beyond
- "i" - onion, interview
- Unspelled (invisible-y): few, menu
Note: The letter "y" often represents a vowel (like /iy/ or /aɪ/ instead of the consonant /y/. as in words like "only" or "try." Also, the letter "y" may appear between two vowels to signal a separation of syllables, rather than a /y/ consonant, as in "employee" or "beyond." However, some speakers may still pronounce a /y/ in these words.
Note: In English, some words have a /y/ sound before /uw/. This sound is “invisible” – it’s not shown in spelling.
- Words with invisible /y/:
In informal questions with a "you" subject, the /y/ is often blended into the final sound of the previous word if the final sound is /t/ or /d/. This creates an affricate sound. (This blending is not required, but it is common in fast, conversational speech.)
- /t/ + /y/ = /tʃ/
- Won't you come? - Wontcha come?
- Didn't you hear? - Didn'cha hear?
- /d/ + /y/ = /dʒ/
- Did you know? - Didja know?
- Could you help? - Couldja help?
These are both voiced, palatal consonants. However, /y/ is a liquid consonant while /y/ is a glide consonant. When you pronounce /l/, your tongue should touch the roof of your mouth, but when you pronounce /y/, the sides of your tongue should touch your upper teeth.
You can hear the difference between /y/ and /l/ in these words.
2. A. young, B. lung
3. A. yearn, B. learn
4. A. use, B. lose
5. A. few, B. flu
6. A. furies, B. flurries
Now, compare /y/ and /w/:
These are both voiced, glide consonants. However, /w/ is a bilabial glide and /y/ is a palatal glide. To pronounce /y/, your tongue should be high in your mouth and your lips should usually be spread.
You can hear the difference between /y/ and /w/ in these words.
2. A. you, B. woo
3. A. yay, B. way
4. A. yonder, B. wander
5. A. your, B. wore
6. A. unyielded, B. unwielded
Where did you put the yellow onions?
2. yearly - reunion
My family has a yearly reunion.
3. yoga - yesterday
I practiced yoga yesterday.
4. refused - yield - opinion
He refused to yield to my opinion.
5. you - youngest - your
Are you the youngest person in your class?
6. use - youthful - beautiful
Many people use makeup to appear youthful and beautiful.
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