Hello there! This is the “Sounds American” channel. In this video, we’re going to talk about the
American consonant sound /j/, as in the word “yes.” You can also hear this sound in words like “year” – “your” – “hue” or “fury.” We’ll be using a special phonetic symbol – /j/ – for this sound. Excuse us for stating the obvious, but remember, this is not the letter ‘j’ 😉 Let’s conduct a little pronunciation experiment! Your task is to pronounce these four words without the /j/ sound. As a result, you should get four new words. Let’s do it. OK, let’s see what we’ve got. Awesome! As you can see, these new words are pronounced almost the same as the previous ones. The only difference is that they don’t have the /j/ sound. Obviously, the /j/ is kind of a big deal. It always occurs before vowel sounds and that’s why many people think it’s part of a vowel. That’s not quite correct. The /j/ is pronounced without blocking the airstream which makes it a vowel. However, the /j/ doesn’t form a syllable and that makes it a consonant. For the sake of compromise, you can call the /j/ a semivowel. There’s something else you should know about this sound. The /j/ belongs to the category of consonants that are called the “glides”. Here’s how they are defined: OK. This looks like the perfect moment to find out how to make this sound. Slightly open your mouth and leave your lips in a neutral position. Now, let’s put your tongue in the correct position for this sound. Arch your tongue and raise it to the roof of your mouth. The tip of your tongue should be lowered behind your bottom front teeth. Remember, even though the /j/ is a consonant, it’s pronounced like a vowel. So, you should feel the air gliding over your tongue: The /j/ is a voiced sound, so don’t forget to add your voice. Now, let’s try saying it: Here are a few typical mistakes that people make when pronouncing this sound. Many non-native English speakers confuse the /j/ and the /dʒ/ sounds. This happens because in some languages the letter ‘y’ is pronounced as the /dʒ/ sound. As a result, this often leads to misunderstandings. Compare: Remember, in English, the letter ‘y’ is pronounced as the /j/ sound when it occurs before vowels. Another typical mistake is that some non-native speakers drop the /j/ sound, especially when it occurs at the beginning of words. This happens mostly because they don’t have this consonant in their native languages and therefore it’s hard for them to recognize it in English. As a result, this completely changes the meanings of words. Compare: In English, the /j/ consonant is found at the beginning of many common words. Do your best to practice words with this sound as often as possible to learn to recognize and pronounce it correctly. Nice! Time to do some exercises. This is how it works. You’ll see a word on the screen and hear its pronunciation. Like this. You’ll have a few seconds to pronounce the word. ♪ Do your best to practice as many words as possible. We’ll start with the /j/ sound represented by the letter ‘y’. Let’s do it. Let’s stop here for a second and take a short break. Next, we’ll practice words with the /j/ sound represented by the letters ‘u’ and ‘i’. Remember, it’s still the same sound, just a different spelling. Let’s continue. You’re done! Congratulations! Let’s talk about spelling for the /j/ sound. If you didn’t fast-forward through the practice part, you noticed that the letter ‘y’ is not the most frequent spelling for the /j/ sound. That’s right. The /j/ is written with the letter ‘y’ in just 15% of words. Most often, this sound is found in words with the letter ‘u’, like “unit” or “cure.” Quite often, the /j/ is represented by the letter ‘i’, as in “million” or “piano.” We also can’t ignore the ‘ew’ combination, like in the words “few” or “view’. If all this stuff doesn’t make you an expert, we don’t know what will. 🙂 Click “Like” if you liked this video. Share this video with your friends, pets, and relatives. Don’t forget to subscribe and stay tuned on our Sounds American channel!