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.)

Full Preview

This is a full preview of this page. You can view a couple of pages a day like this without registering. But if you wish to use it in your classroom, please register your details on Englicious (for free) and then log in!

Englicious (C) Survey of English Usage, UCL, 2012-15 | Supported by the AHRC and EPSRC. | Cookies