Y Consonant Sound

(yes, you, beyond)

English Pronunciation, Lesson 28

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The Y consonant sound can be difficult to learn for some English language learners. This is because the letter Y can be pronounced as a vowel or a consonant in English. In this lesson, you will learn about the Y consonant sound and how it is different from the Y vowel sounds.

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The Y consonant sound (IPA symbol: j) can be found in American English words such as yes, you, yesterday, young, beyond, and kayak.

In English, the letter Y can be a consonant sound or a vowel sound. 

Letter Y


The letter Y is a consonant sound when it is at the beginning of a word (yes) or is the first letter in the syllable before a vowel (beyond = be/yond).


The letter Y is a vowel sound when it is at the end of a word (happy) or anywhere else in the syllable (gym, crying).

In this lesson, we will practice the Y consonant sound. But first, let's look at the Y vowel sounds, so you know the differences.

Y as a vowel sound

When the letter Y is used as a vowel, it makes other vowel sounds. It can also be part of a diphthong. A diphthong is a speech sound that begins with one vowel sound and ends with another vowel sound in the same syllable.

Here are some words where the letter Y makes a vowel sound:
You can practice these sounds with the lessons found here: American English Pronunciation.

Now, let's look at the Y consonant sound.

How to pronounce the Y consonant sound

To make the Y consonant sound, the middle part of your tongue comes forward and presses against the roof of your mouth near the top tooth ridge. The tip of the tongue will lightly touch your bottom teeth. Your jaw will be almost closed when you make this sound. Your lips will be loose. The Y sound is a verbal sound, so your vocal cords vibrate and make the sound.

In this video, Rachel shows us how to make the Y consonant sound:

Practice the Y consonant sound

Remember, the letter Y is a consonant sound if it is at the beginning of a word or the first letter in a syllable. It is most commonly found at the beginning of the word.

Practice the Y consonant sound by saying these words out loud:
  • year

  • yes

  • yard

  • you

  • young

  • your

  • yellow

  • yell

  • yogurt

  • yawn

  • beyond

  • kayak

  • canyon

Now say these sentences out loud. The Y consonant sound is in bold print.

1) Did you paint it yellow?

2) You yawn when you are tired.

3) Are you going to eat the yellow yogurt?

4) You look young. What year were you born?

5) Yes, you can yell in the canyon.

6) Your kayak floated beyond the canyon.

Have you finished this lesson? Keep practicing the words and sentences to master this sound.

Click Here for the American Accent Audio Course.

Let's move on...

List of Lessons

Lesson 01: International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

Lesson 02: Word Stress and Syllables

Lesson 03: Long E sound (meet, see)

Lesson 04: Short I Sound (sit, hit)

Lesson 05: UH Sound (put, foot)

Lesson 06: OO Sound (moon, blue)

Lesson 07: Short E sound (pen, bed)

Lesson 08: Schwa Sound (the, about)

Lesson 09: UR Sound (turn, learn)

Lesson 10: OH Sound (four, store)

Lesson 11: Short A Sound (cat, fat)

Lesson 12: UH Sound (but, luck)

Lesson 13: Soft A Sound (arm, father)

Lesson 14: Long O Sound (boat, know)

Lesson 15: Long A Sound (say, pain, make)

Lesson 16: Short O Sound (not, off, socks)

Lesson 17: Diphthong (a combination of two vowel sounds)

Lesson 18: P Sound (cup, punch, pull) and B sound (cub, bunch, bull)

Lesson 19: The Nasal Sounds (M, N, NG)

Lesson 20: F Sound (four, lift, graph, tough) and V Sound (love, knives, grave, vine)

Lesson 21: W Sound (wow, quit, where)

Lesson 22: R Sound (red, sorry, write)

Lesson 23: H Sound (he, behind, who)

Lesson 24: T Sound (top, it, later) and D Sound (do, had, made)

Lesson 25: S Sound (sit, box, cats) and Z Sound (zip, buzz, boys)

Lesson 26: K Sound (kid, talk, black) and G Sound (go, big, dog)

Lesson 27: L Sound: Light L & Dark L (tall, like, English)

Lesson 28: Y Consonant Sound (yes, you, beyond)

Lesson 29: CH Sound (China, century, watch) and J Sound (Germany, educate , judge)

Lesson 30: TH Consonant Sounds – voiced TH sound (the, father, them) and voiceless (unvoiced) TH sound (think, birthday, south)

Lesson 31: SH (shop, chef, special) and ZH (usual, massage, Asia)

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