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    • Join Date: Jan 2008
    • Posts: 2

    spelling rule for "y"

    If "y" preceded by consonant changes to "i" before adding a suffix why do we have "shyness" and not "shiness".

    • Join Date: Jan 2008
    • Posts: 4

    Re: spelling rule for "y"

    As far as I know there is no rule for 'y' changing to 'i' unless you are adding 'es'.
    For example: shy becomes shyness (if you are adding 'ness' as the suffix) just the same as dry becomes dryness. Think of another suffix 'ing'. The same thing happens there. Dry becomes drying (not driing) and cry becomes crying. However if you want to add 'es' then you have a different result. Dry becomes dries and cry becomes cries. If there is a rule for 'y' changing to 'i' when it precedes a suffix, I've never heard of it. However, English is a language made up of many other languages and incorporates many rules and many more exceptions that don't really make sense if you apply them across the board.

    • Join Date: Jan 2008
    • Posts: 2

    Re: spelling rule for "y"

    and "lazy" which changes to "laziness"?

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 19,434

    Re: spelling rule for "y"

    So far as I can see, these do not change "y" to "i" in front of "ness":


    Sometimes the answer seems to be "exception that proves the rule". I suspect you will have to delve into ancient linguistic history to track down why some change and some don't.

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    • Join Date: Feb 2007
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    Smile Re: spelling rule for "y"

    .. could the y-i change with suffixes like -ness .. could it be dependent upon the number of syllables ?

    all the words in the list above are single syllable and then there's Lazy > laziness .. Happy > happiness ... (more than one syllable !)

    just a thought !

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 19,434

    Re: spelling rule for "y"

    Have been doing some thinking and digging. Here are some suggestions:

    Those words ending in a hard "y" [shy/wry etc], many of which derive from early Germanic words with endings in -ig[h], do not change to "i" in front of "ness".

    Those words ending in a short "y" [happy/lucky etc] change to "i" in front of "ness".

    The first group are discrete words, the second group are words to which a suffix [-y] has already been added.

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