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8.2: Changing <y> to <i>

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    Y is an interesting letter, as it can be utilized in English words to represent both a vowel or a consonant. Complete the “When is <y> a consonant and When is <y> a vowel?” activity to discover the pattern for when <y> writes a consonant and when <y> writes a vowel.

    As stated at the beginning of this section, English words do not end with <i>. As a result, words that could end with <i> have a <y> instead, as in the words my, try, and cry. Digraphs that could be at the end of a word such as <ai> or <oi> are also written with an <ay> or <oy> such as play and joy. Just as English words do not end with <i>, English words do not retain the letter <y> when adding a vowel or consonant suffix, when this occurs the <y> is changed to <i>.

    For instance, examine the word sums for likely and likeliness to see how the <y> changes to <i> when the consonant suffix ness is added to likely.

    like+ly→ likely

    like+ly/+ness→ likeliness

    This convention - unlike “replacing the <e> convention works when adding both a consonant suffix and a vowel suffix, such as in the words try and trial - try/+al→ trial.

    However, if a vowel digraph is at the end of a word such as play and joy, the <y> in the digraph will not change like in the words joyful and playing. In the same manner that English words don’t end with <i>, <i> also does not double <ii> in the spelling. Thus if you are adding a vowel suffix that begins with an <i> such as -ing - to a word that ends in <y> and changing the <y> to <i> would result in an ii like in the word try/+ing– *triing, the <y> will be retained - it will not change to <i>. There are some instances when the <y> will not be changed to <i>.


    Complete the word sort activity “4 Reasons Not to Change <y> to <i>” to find out what those reasons are.

    8.2: Changing <y> to <i> is shared under a CC BY-NC license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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