French vowel and semi-vowel

The letter Y, though uncommon, can be a vowel or semi-vowel in French.

  • In front of a consonant or on its own as an adverbial pronoun, Y is a vowel and is pronounced like the French I. Phonetic symbol: [i]
  • In front of a vowel, it’s a semi-vowel and is pronounced like the English Y. This occurs mainly in words borrowed from other languages. Phonetic symbol: [j]
the letter y
y   there
Yves   (first name)
les yeux   eyes
le yaourt   yogurt

Y can also be a nasal vowel, as in sympa (nice) – see nasal I.

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French pronunciation

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