Thursday, March 6, 2008

Reading 105: The Y rule

When you ask people what the vowels are they will say, "a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y". Well, I will argue that Y is always a vowel, even at the beginning of a word. It took me a while to buy into the fact that it's a vowel a the beginning, but after years of working with kids I am not willing to admit it.

Here's how the Y works in a ONE SYLLABLE WORD:

Beginning: the Y says "ee". This is a little funky but try it. If you say the "ee" sound before the word yes, you will see that the "yuh" sound you think is the Y is actually the "ee" sliding into the "e" sound. This is true with Y at the beginning because it is always followed by a vowel sound. Now, what if a kid tells me that Y says "yuh"? OK, it says "yuh", I don't really care unless he/she can't get it. This is for the people that can't get the sound at the beginning, it really works.

Middle: the Y acts like an I and says "i". You have with and myth. Identical except for the i/y. Obviously, I is much more common than the Y. This should be pointed out for spelling purposes. Since the Y is acting like a I, the E rule applies and will make it say "ie". Thyme, rhyme...

End: the Y says "ie". My, by, cry, sty, why...

Here's what a Y does in a TWO SYLLABLE WORD:

Same rules apply as above except for the ending. It is much more common for a Y to say "ee" at the end of a 2 syllable word than for it to say "ie". Happy, baby, crabby all say "ee". The Y does still say "ie" sometimes, like in the words apply, supply... For younger kids, "ee" is much more likely to come up in their reading.

You will also see a Y working WITH ANOTHER VOWEL sometimes:

AY says "ae" like in play and day. (see 2VGW rule)
OY like in the word boy or toy.

So there you have it, Y is always a vowel. Watch out for those last 2, AY and OY...Y is technically NOT at the end of the word by itself, it is working with the vowel in front of it. Woosh, no wonder it's so hard to learn to read!


Shaunton said...

Just wanted to say Bill did pretty good playing softball last night.

Sara said...

So, do you make the kids you're tutoring memorize all these rules? Am I letting Elizabeth off the hook somehow if she reads y's fine but she has know idea why?

Helena said...

By no means make your kids memorize these rules unless they NEED to! They look at a Y and have no idea what to say, teach or tell them. Some kids (many of my students) WANT and NEED a rule to cope with everything on the page. Does anyone think I knew any of these "rules" before I had to teach it?! Nope, but I could probably read and spell better then.