The letter Y can be pronounced with the ‘yuh’ [j] sound, as in yes, yard, yoghurt. Or with the ‘ai’ [aɪ] sound, as in spy, cry, try. Or with the long ‘e’ [ɪ] sound, as in baby, chubby, tidy.
Though it seems a small matter, this little sound can really change a word. For instance, with “music”, we say “myoo-zic”, not “moo-zic”. This word is so popular that if it is mis-pronounced, people really may not interpret what you are saying, or it may take a while for them to get you. Notice that “particular” also has the Y sound, we say “per-ti-kyoo-lur”.
Here are the examples of Y sound within words:
Y with R — secure = Sek-YuR /sɪˈkjʊər/
Y with C — cute = KYooT /kjuːt/
Y with M — music = MYoo-zic /ˈmjuːzɪk/
Y with F — fuel = FYool /ˈfjuːəl/
Y with -ON endings — million = Mil-Yen /ˈmɪl·jən/
Y with I — ‘iron = I-Yern /ˈaɪərn/
Y & Others — popular = Pop-Yoo-lur /ˈpɒpjʊlər/
The Y Sound Practice
Now, I want you to pronounce the following passage. Pay more attention to the ‘yuh’, ‘ai’, and ‘e’ sound. Remember, not all words with the letter Y in it sounds with the Y sound.
Yesterday when Sawyer was with his dad looking at used cars for sale, he saw one of the salesmen playing with a yo-yo. The man was performing a lot of unique tricks while Sawyer watched in amazement. He wanted to learn how to use the yo-yo like that. He asked the salesman how long he had used a yo-yo. The man told him he had practiced since he was eight years old.
“My first yo-yo was yellow,” he recalled. “I bought it at a yard sale with money I made selling homemade yogurt. I had to save up for a few weeks.”
Note: Practice to pronounce that passage with the linking sound and reduced speech form (I’ve explained them in two different articles). Pay attention to some words with the’Z’ sound pronunciation.