Spelling - Changing 'y' to 'i': Activity 1

Sort the examples into two groups

CHANGE 'Y' to 'I'
tiny + -est → tiniest
memory + -al → memorial
beauty + -ful → beautiful
baby + -ish → babyish
weary + -ness → weariness
try + -ing → trying
apply + -ing → applying
try + -ed → tried
apply + -ance → appliance
silly + -ish → sillyish


  • CHANGE 'Y' TO 'I' GROUP: tiny + -est → tiniest, memory + -al → memorial, beauty + -ful → beautiful, weary + -ness → weariness, try + -ed → tried, apply + -ance → appliance
  • KEEP 'Y' GROUP: baby + -ish → babyish, try + -ing → trying, apply + -ing → applying, silly + -ish → sillyish

When do we change y to i and when do we keep it?

  • When the suffix starts with an i, we keep the y.
  • Otherwise (when the suffix starts with another vowel or with a consonant), we change y to i.

Did you notice that there are some examples where the same base word behaves differently with different suffixes?

  • trying, tried
  • applying, appliance

Can you think of a reason to keep the y before a suffix starting with i?

  • This allows us to avoid a spelling with double i, e.g. we avoid appliing and use applying instead.

In general, double i is avoided in English. There are just a few exceptions, such as skiing. (That is not an exception to our rule about y, however, because the base word ends in i: ski + -ing → skiing.)

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