Connected Speech in English - Adding a 'y' Sound
(/j/ sound in the phonetic alphabet)
When we have an 'ee' sound on the end of a word in English, and then an a/e/i/o/u sound at the beginning of the next word, it makes it awkward to say the two words together.
For example, if you try to say the words 'we organise' together, you will find that you naturally want to make a small pause between the words.
In order to avoid stopping, and to keep the speech flowing, we add in sounds between words that end in a vowel sound and the next word which begins with a vowel sound. When a word ends with an 'ee' sound, we use a 'y' sound to link it to the next word:
Word ending in an 'ee' sound
(there are many spellings for this sound)
Word beginning with an /a/ /e/ /i/ /o/ or /u/ sound
As you can see in the diagram, and as I will show in many examples further down the page, if the word ends in an 'ee' sound, it does not matter what vowel sound the next word begins with, we always use a 'y' sound to link them.
'see [..y..] it'
'see [..y..] us'
There are many words in English which end with an 'ee' sound. There are many different spellings for this sound, as we will see in the examples below:
To show this in action, here are English words which end in an 'ee' sound, where we use the 'y' sound to link the words together:
a - (e.g. am, are, always)
e - (e.g. enjoy, explained)
i - (is, introduced)
o - (organise, open)
u - (understand)
"I [..y..] always run a stand-up meeting every Monday morning"
"He [..y..] is the head of the HR department"
"She [..y..] organises company events"
"We [..y..] are going to launch the product at the beninning of the year"
"We need to be [..y..] open to new innovative ideas"
When the word 'the' is followed by a vowel sound, the pronunciation of 'the' changes to 'thee', and a 'y' sound is added to link the words together..
('the' is always pronounced 'thee' before a vowel sound in the next word)
a - (e.g. apple, advantage)
e - (e.g. event, employee)
i - (e.g. international)
o - (e.g. organiser, open)
u - (e.g. understanding)
"The organisers have done a great job" = "Thee [..y..] organisers have done a great job"
"We hope that the event will be a success" = "We hope that thee [..y..] event will be [..y..] a success"
"We discussed the advantages of the project" = "We discussed thee [..y..] advantages of the project"
"The international trade fair takes place every year" = "Thee [..y..] international trade fair takes place every year"
As you can probably imagine, there are many words ending in an 'ee' sound which also end in an 'ee' spelling. Here are the most useful ones for business:
see / oversee
employee / trainee
a - (e.g. and, all, access)
e - (e.g. each, every)
i - (international, into)
o - (on, obtains)
u - (under, understand)
"I oversee [..y..] international projects"
"We [..y..] are offering 1-week's free [..y..] access to our member's section of the site"
"We disagree [..y..] on many topics"
"I went for coffee [..y..] at the new cafe near the office"
"The new employee [..y..] is very talented"
Words which end with an 'ly' spelling end with an 'ee' sound. Here are the most common ones for business:
actually / really / early / only / recently / hardly ever / surely / quickly / easily / costly / simply / slightly / daily / weekly / monthly / yearly / firstly / thoroughly / generally / directly / especially / originally
a - (e.g. at, and, accepts)
e - (e.g. enforces)
i - (is, in, introduced)
o - (on, opened)
u - (undertaken, under)
"I hardly [..y..] ever have meetings on a Friday"
"I [..y..] actually [..y..] expected that it would be very difficult"
"I have already [..y..] explained it once"
"I think this has the potential to become a monthly [..y..] event"
Words which end with a '-cy', '-dy', '-ty' and '-gy' spelling, also end with an 'ee' sound:
already / somebody / nobody / anybody / policy / agency / currency / quality / society / loyalty / security / university / city / majority / minority / community / economy / strategy / methodology
a - (e.g. advised, analysed)
e - (e.g. expected, event)
i - (implemented, implied)
o - (opened, organised)
u - (understood)
"The security [..y..] of the system is a big problem in our company at the moment"
"I have already [..y..] achieved a lot in my career"
"This new strategy [..y..] opens up opportunities for ourselves and our partners"
"The policy [..y..] implemented by the government has not been popular with the general public"
The other main sound that we add in between words for fluent pronunciation is a /w/ sound. Check out how to use it right here!