Twybdyllyngs* —the longest word in English without a vowel
—or does it have a vowel?
Question: Is Y a vowel?
Answer: It depends.
The y sound and symbol have a long history, beginning in the Semitic and Phoenician alphabets and moving through Greek and Latin in the first century BC. Although Latin had no y sound, the Greek symbol (upsilon) was used in writing “foreign” words. Eventually, the y symbol became more common in European languages, then in Old English and in Middle English.
Today y is usually used for these sounds and spellings in English:
- As a consonant, y can be found at the beginning of many words, such as in
yak, yard, yes, year, young, yoga.
- As a vowel, y makes a long i sound in stressed, open syllables, such as in
my, by, why, cycle, typhoon, tyrant.
- As a vowel, y also makes a short i sound in closed syllables, such as in
myth, system, typical, cynic, crystal.
4. As a vowel, y makes the long e sound in multisyllable words at the end of the word, such as baby, happy, donkey, salty, really, party.
5. Sometimes y is found as long a in combination with a and e, such as clay, play, pray, they, obey.
- There are other sounds that the letter y makes in this complicated spelling system we have in English, sometimes in diphthongs or with the letter r.
As you can see, the letter y has a complex background and multi-pronunciations. This makes the letter y difficult for struggling readers. For simple, engaging, and effective practice in the basic sounds of the letter y, see
It is available with many other phonics word searches in the
Good-bYe for now!
Sources include Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and Wikipedia
© Reading Spotlight 2023
Here are some interesting posts about education from my friends at TBOTEMC: