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When is Y not a vowel

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The letter Y can be confusing. Sometimes, it can be regarded as a consonant, while at times, a vowel. But really, when is Y not a vowel?

The Way Y Works

Y works in various ways. It is not a vowel when it sounds like a consonant. This goes for the words like you, yawn, yellow, you’re and so on. Hence, the simple rule therefore is this – Y is a consonant when it appears as the first letter of a syllable in a word. But then, if the letter is situated between consonants, then Y is considered to be a vowel.

Y as a consonant

Once you understand how the nature of this letter goes, it would not be that difficult to understand how it becomes a consonant. To end this, do not forget that it is consonant when there is already a vowel in the word.

More about Y as consonant

There are only 5 vowels in the alphabet. Those which are not included in the a,e,i,o,u are considered consonants which technically includes y. However, y can take the place of i. This is understandable because writing and speaking work in a very different way. The rules for writing are way different than that of speaking. This happens in many words like gym, cycle, baby, hairy, sky among others. This is the main reason why the y in yet acts as a consonant rather than a vowel.

Apart from the aforementioned, y is not considered consonants when they appear as a diphthong in a word. Diphthong is the glide of one vowel sound coming into another in a syllable.

Looking at the case of the word boy, where y is not a consonant but rather a vowel. This vowel has been the product of the o and y combination. For most of the time, y is a consonant when there is a vowel on the syllable already. Y appears to be a consonant as well when it takes the place of the J sound, mostly, appearing to be a soft j.

This is the reason behind the pronunciation of the names Yoda and Yolanda. Aside from these, y is not a consonant when there is no other vowels in the word like try, cry, my, bicycle, why and so on.

 To sum it up

The use of y varies. Meaning, it can be a consonant or it can be a vowel, depending upon how it was used. It serves various purposes. If you are to take it on the phonetics point of view which deals with sound, letters will neither be consonants or vowels. For such case, y is also being seen as a semi-vowel.

Y represents many sounds. To be specific, there are 4 sounds which can be derived from the said letter. There is hard y, short sound i, long sound i, and long e sound. For the hard y, the perfect example is the word yield. For the short i, the word bicycle is a good example. My is the representation of y producing long i and the word baby is the example for y creating the long e sound.

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When is Y a Vowel

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The letter Y can be confusing. Upon looking at the alphabets, you can say that it is a consonant because it does not belong on the 5 vowels that we have. However, it can be used as vowels sometimes. Its function therefore depends on how it was used.

The Way it Happens

There are times when Y acts as a vowel. Mostly, this is depending on how you use it in a word. You know by instinct that y is a vowel in synch but not in buy. Your common sense will also tell you that it is a consonant in boy but not in fly. With this you might be asking why… and with that last word, you surely know that y is a vowel… but really, Y?

Upon looking at the alphabets, you can say that it is a consonant because it does not belong on the 5 vowels that we have. However, it can be used as vowels sometimes. Y is considered as a vowel when the word doesn’t have a, e, i, o or u or in short, when the word does not have any vowels. This is the reason why Y functions as a vowel in the word “myth.” It produces a long /i/ sound since it is the only vowel that you can see from the word. Hence, Y is a vowel in the word “why” but not in the word “Monday.” That is when you will know if Y is used as a vowel or not.

But Y?

Y can also function as a vowel because vowels are different. They are unique. English words are usually made of vowels. Per word, a vowel should be included. This is the reason why whenever you cannot find a vowel in a word and there is the letter Y, Y will automatically take the vowel function. This is how powerful vowels are. Whenever there is no vowel in your word, Y will take the place of vowel, this is the explanation WHY. See?

Apart from the above mentioned, you will also know that Y is a vowel in a word if it sounds like one. This happens most especially when Y is located in a word or sometimes, at the end of the word. So yes, Y is a vowel in gym and sky.

Y and its variations

If Y is located at the end of a one-syllable word, it will create the long /i/ sound. Hence, i is a long /i/ in the words by, sky and my. Aside from this, you can also expect Y to take the sound of a vowel if it is found at the end of words containing two or more syllable. In such case, it will produce the long /e/ sound. Words occurring in such are baby, many and happy. There is also the so called consonant-vowel-consonant pattern. As for this pattern, short /i/ can be produced. See the words myth and gym.

You should know Y

Do not be confused because instinct will tell you if Y is a vowel or consonant. With regard to the function of vowels, you will only be able to know how it occurs in a word unless you see how it was used.

There are variations indeed, unlike with other consonants which do not take any forms like b,c,d and so on. Vowels are sounds. If you are being asked if Y is a vowel in a word, then base it on the sound. If you will look on how it is being written all the time, then you will always say that Y is consonant.

To put it simply

Y is a vowel if it creates a vowel sound. It is also a vowel if it is the only vowel-sounding letter in the word. Hence, it is a vowel in the word SIMPLY but not in the word Yawn. That is Y!

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