Spelling: Suffixes and 'y'

When a word ends in y, adding a suffix will sometimes require that we change the y to an i or to an ie. How do you know when to change the y?

Look through the examples below and the rules that follow.

  • tried (change y → i)
  • trying (no change)
  • tries (change y → ie)
  • memories (change y → ie)
  • memorial (change y → i)
  • appliance (change y → i)


  1. The final y of a root word usually changes:
    1. if the suffix is −s, y becomes ie (try + −s → tries),
    2. otherwise y → i (try + −ed → tried).
  2. However, the final y does not change:
    1. if the suffix begins with an (try + −ing → trying), or
    2. if the base form has a vowel before the y, (pray + −ed → prayed).

There are a handful of words that don’t follow these rules, and such exceptions need to be practised individually.

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