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Alphabet Letter Y Sounds

Why O Why is Y a Consonant and Vowel?

Letter Y is quite unique in the English alphabet in that it could be both a consonant and a vowel! In addition to the regular 5 vowels of A, E, I, O, U, the letter Y can sometimes act as a vowel as well. To complicate matters more, letter Y has several different phonemes (sounds). For example:

BABY and HAPPY - Y makes a "yee" sound /ee/

GYM and GYPSY - Y makes an /i/ sound ("ih")

CRY and FLY - Y makes an "eye" sound /igh/

See short video below for a demonstration.

So with so many complications involved here, how do you go about teaching this letter? If you've had a chance to check out some of our other letter activities, you'll see that one thing we stress about learning letters and sounds is that we stick with the "basic code" to begin with - teaching just the most common sound of the letters. This greatly reduces confusion for children, and they can learn more about the complex "stuff" slightly later on as they've mastered the basic code.

So for letter Y, we will teach the /ee/ sound in words such as SILLY and HAPPY. Various phonemic awareness activities are included below.

Learning Activity for /y/

  1. Show the letter Y to your child and demonstrate how to make the /ee/ sound.
  2. Have your child practice making the /ee/ sound.
  3. Practice with the words listed above
  4. Phoneme identity activity: ask your child to sound out and locate all the /ee/ (y) sounds in the above list of words
  5. Phoneme deletion activity:
    1. If we delete /y/ from YAM what word does it become? (AM)
    2. Remove the /y/ sound from SMELLY, what word is it now? (SMELL)
  6. Phoneme segmentation practice: ask your child to segment the phonemes in each of the above words. For example:
    1. YES - /y/ /e/ /s/
    2. YAM - /y/ /a/ /m/
    3. YET - /y/ /e/ /t/
    4. HAPPY - /h/ /a/ /p/ /y/
  7. Work on the worksheet provided below.

Letter Y Worksheets


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