Spelling Tips: The “Y” to “I” Rule
  • 2-minute read
  • 25th March 2016

Spelling Tips: The “Y” to “I” Rule

When a word ends in a vowel plus “-y,” it’s usually easy to modify it by adding a letter (or letters): adding “-ous,” for example, means “joy” becomes “joyous.”

However, when a word ends in a consonant plus “y” things get more complicated, which can make spelling challenging. To ensure your written work is error-free, it helps to keep the “y” to “i” rule in mind.

The “Y” to “I” Rule

The basic rule is, for any word that ends in a consonant plus “-y,” change the “y” to “i” if adding a suffix or forming a plural.

Plurals

For plurals, simply change the “y” to an “-ies”:

Singular

Plural

Story

Stories

Candy

Candies

Hippy

Hippies

First-Person Singular and Past Tense Verbs

Forming the first-person singular of a verb ending in a consonant plus “y” requires changing the “y” to “-ies.” while the past tense involves switching “y” for “-ied”:

Verb

First-Person Singular

Past Tense

Fry

Fries

Fried

Apply

Applies

Applied

Beautify

Beautifies

Beautified

Comparatives and Superlatives

When an adjective ends in a consonant plus “-y,” forming a comparative or superlative involves changing the “y” to “-ier” and “-iest” respectively:

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Adjective

Comparative

Superlative

Tiny

Tinier

Tiniest

Jumpy

Jumpier

Jumpiest

Thirsty

Thirstier

Thirstiest

Forming Adverbs

Modifying an adjective to make an adverb involves substituting the “y” for “-ily”:

Adjective

Adverb

Happy

Happily

Lazy

Lazily

Flimsy

Flimsily

Exceptions

The “y”-to-“i” rule doesn’t always work; some variations of “sly,” for example, can be spelled with either a “y” or an “i” (e.g., “slyest/sliest” and “slyer/slier”).

Moreover, while changing “y” to “i” isn’t typically necessary when a word ends with a vowel plus “-y,” there are exceptions here too (such as modifying “day” to become “daily”).

As such, although the “y” to “i” rule is a good guideline, it’s still important to double-check words if you’re not sure they’re spelled correctly.

Comments (1)
Mariéna Chester
25th September 2020 at 22:31
This is very helpful

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