Y vs. E

In Spanish, the words "y" and "e" both mean "and" as a way to connect two words, clauses, or sentences. However, each is used differently. The word "y" is most generally used for this purpose, but if the word that follows starts with "i-" or "hi-," then "y" is changed to "e." This is because words that start with "i-" or "hi-" have a first syllable that make it difficult to distinguish the use of the word "y" in conversation, so the word "e" is used in its place.For example, in the phrase "lapiz y pluma," (pencil and pen) the word "y" is used because the following word "pluma" doesn't start with "hi-" or "i-" but, for example, in the phrase "hijos e hijas," and word "e" is used because the following word "hijas" starts with "hi-." There are some exceptions to this rule, such as "fuego y hielo" (fire and ice) because not all words that start with "hi-" or "i-" start with the long E sound of which the Spanish word "y" is pronounced.

June 18, 2013


Nice, that one with "fuego y hielo" I didn't know yet. I learned something else :-D

Let me add that the word "o" (or) changes to "u" if the word that follows starts with an o.

For example: ¿Es redondo u oval? (Is it round or oval?)

June 19, 2013

Thanks for the tip! Is it still pronounced like 'o'?

June 21, 2013

You're welcome. It is pronounced as it is written, like the Spanish "u".

June 21, 2013

Awesome, I'd run into that sneaky "E" that masquerades as "and" but I hadn't figured out why it gets used instead of "Y". thank you

June 18, 2013

That's really helpful, thanks!

October 22, 2017

Thank you for clearing this up, I was under the impression that "e" denoted family

December 6, 2017

Muchas gracias.

May 18, 2018

I’m a native speaker, but I only use Y. If you’ve spoken Spanish for a long time, you can distinguish what the person is saying.

June 26, 2019

OH thanks. I was so frustrated when I ran into this with no explanation

July 7, 2019


July 30, 2019
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