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Pronunciation of 'Y' in French

I found a nice article on the pronunciation of the French 'y' (i grec). Most of us may know that it serves both as a vowel and consonant, but I thought that I could just share it.


The letter Y, which is fairly uncommon in French, can be a consonant or a vowel.

  1. As a vowel, it's pronounced like the y in happy.

  2. When Y is at the beginning of a word or syllable, it is a consonant and is pronounced just like the English Y. It is found as a consonant mainly in foreign words, country names, etc.

Here are some examples :

  • y (there) [ee]

  • cyclisme (biking, cycling) [seekleezmuh]

  • yaourt (yogurt) [yéurt]

  • yeux (eyes) [yuh]

  • sympa (nice) [Now this word is quite debatable, as it's pronounced quite like sampa]

Source : http://french.about.com/od/pronunciation/a/y.htm

March 30, 2014



I live with French people when they are spelling something they call 'y' 'igrek' and I always find that confusing.


In Italian, it is the same thing, we call it "i greca", meaning Greek "i".


it is the Greek I. Read all about it here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y


it's one of the 3 letters that sound like I, or e more precisely: Ηη, Ιι, Υυ (capital and small letters)


It's not "igrec" but "i grec" (= a Greek "i")


I've added this tip to our list of French grammar tips. Thank you.


Merci beaucoup :) I've bookmarked that page. It must have surely required some effort to make that!


Yes, but many contributed individually to pages like yours, I just linked them to prevent them from getting submerged by new discussions.


It's very good and more detailed than mine https://www.duolingo.com/comment/2406084 I will add a link toward yours.


I've read your discussion. Mine is just detailed about 'y'. But you've delved into all the vowel and consonant sounds. Awesome!


I've referenced both of your discussions in the compendium mentioned before.


Thanks again :)


You could try to make more on other sounds. It's very useful to do it, even for the person who make it, I revised a lot of things by making it, lol.


Yeah, good idea :)


The correct pronunciation of "sympa" is sɛ̃pa. In this case (as in words like "symphonie", "synchroniser", etc.) you have the same pronunciation of words like "main", "fin", "rien".


Sympa is not debatable, it's always the same, it's pronounced like "simpa".

"Y", is really easy, it's only a regular "i", pronounced "ee", and it can become a consonnant, like in the English "yacht".

I really disagree with some of their phonetics on About.com, for instance "yéurt": No!

A like in the sound of "em" in "femme", or in flamme. Open A.

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