The Y to I Rule can help your students with spelling and reading! The Y to I spelling rule is used in spelling base words ending in Y.
This changing Y rule states that when a word ends in Y that is not part of a vowel team, you change the Y to an I before adding the suffix. I always say ” You can have a Y at the beginning of a word and a Y at the end of the word. But you can only have a Y in the middle of a base word for 2 good reasons.
- The base word has a vowel team examples are : play + er = player, boy + ish = boyish
- The suffix begins with an <i> and you would have a double <i>.
For example, when you add the suffixes -est and -er, busy becomes busiest and busier. However, stay keeps the Y when it becomes staying and stayed.
While the rationale for this rule may be less clear-cut than others, applying it correctly is essential for sounding like a spelling superstar. Even when the Y being changed is already a suffix, like in saggy to saggier, the Y Rule must be used.
Change the Y to I and add -es for plural words and some verbs
You must change the Y to I and add -es in plural words, examples would be baby + es + babies candy + es =candies. This is also true with certain verb tenses like cry +es =cries and try + es = tries.
The Y to I rule with Vowel Teams
When a word ends with a y that isn’t part of a vowel team and you add a suffix, you change the y to an i before adding the suffix. In the other spelling rules we only apply them with vowel suffixes but the Y to I rule can be used with vowel suffixes and consonant suffixes.
For instance, the word merry turns into merriment, and beauty changes to beautiful.
A Double I is not allowed with English Origin Words
For suffixes that start with <i>, like -ing, you simply add the suffix without changing the y. This is because we don’t want two i’s appearing next to each other in English. The only exceptions are skiing and Hawaii, which come from other languages.
Let’s Talk About the Y Rule Exceptions!
One rule that can be confusing for students is the Y rule. It’s especially tricky because some alternate spellings have become acceptable over time, depending on where you live! For example, in England, someone may be described as “shyer” while in America, they may be “shier.”
And don’t get us started on “drier” versus “dryer.” Who knew that one word was an adjective meaning “more dry” while the other was a noun for an appliance? Some other words can also be exceptions examples like “shyly” or “dryness”.
But here’s the thing: there are some exceptions to these exceptions! Some words with vowel teams that end in Y do change. For example, “pay” becomes “paid”, “lay” becomes “laid”, and say even becomes “said”.
Prerequisite Knowledge and Skills For the Y to I Rule
Before we dive in to teach the Y to I spelling rule, make sure your students are comfortable with identifying base words, prefixes, and suffixes, as well as adding multiple suffixes to a word.
They should also understand the difference between consonant and vowel suffixes, and have a strong understanding of vowel teams.
And to really nail it, students should know V/V syllable division patterns and the /ē/ sound for the letter i. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered you can learn about them on this blog.
Do a Word Sort
Want to ensure a solid foundation for your students when it comes to the y rule? Try starting with a fun sorting activity that helps them distinguish between a y alone at the end of a word and a y that is part of a vowel team. This simple tactic is a great way to set your students up for success with this key concept.
Use A Poster and Checklist
Make sure to display a poster with the y rule to aid your students in remembering the steps. The rule is perfect for an interactive flow chart or a checklist like the 1.1.1 rule! Here are the steps: Ask :
Are you adding a suffix
- Does the base word end in a <y>?
- Is there also a consonant before the <y>?
- Lastly, ensure that the suffix you’re adding does not begin with the letter i.
If these conditions are met, then simply change the <y> to <i> and add the suffix.
Your students will thank you for making this Y to I rule easier to understand.
Fun practice Opportunities for Y to I rule
Let’s try a fun way to teach adding suffixes to base words that end in y! Grab some word cards or magnetic letters and have your student practice with you. We’ll show them what happens when you change <y> to<i> before adding -ing or ish – you end up with double <i>!
It’s not just kids who struggle with this rule – even we adults make mistakes sometimes. To make it stick, have your students practice with words that have multiple suffixes. Try physically removing the y and inserting the <i> to make it memorable.
The Y to I rule will need some repeating, especially when introducing complex concepts.
Sometimes, students tend to forget this rule when adding multiple suffixes to a word. When correcting them, take the time to explain the process to ensure they get it.
Don’t just let them automatically switch the “y” to “i”. It’s also helpful to bring them back to the base word to take them through the steps of building the word up. Having kids write the words in sentences help kids to generalize the Y to I rule.
You may get your free Y to I resource below for written work. Also, make sure to watch the video in this post to get a better grasp on this spelling rule. Check out the other posts on the blog to help you teach other spelling rules as well!
Download a Free Resource Below