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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