The j Sound (/j/ Phoneme)

This video is about the j sound, as in

  • You /juː/
  • Year /jɪə/
  • And use /juːz/

It is a sound from the Single Consonants group.

How to pronounce the j sound

The /j/ phoneme is called the “palatal approximant,” which means that you form a narrow space in the middle of your mouth with your tongue.

The j sound is made through the mouth and is Voiced, which means you vibrate your vocal chords to make the sound. It is defined by the position of your tongue and it is an approximant, which is a sound made by creating a narrow space in your mouth through which air flows. In this case, it’s the space between your tongue and the top of your mouth. The sides are blocked so the flow of air just goes through the middle of your mouth.

To produce the j sound, raise the sides of your tongue to the roof of your mouth and voice out through your mouth while lowering the back of your tongue. The middle and front of your tongue should be touching the roof of your mouth to begin with. Then you voice outwards and drop your tongue away from the roof of your mouth. The air flows out through the centre, between the sides of your tongue.

How the /j/ Phoneme is spelled

The /j/ phoneme is usually spelled with the letter ‘y,’ but can also be spelled with an ‘i’ as in:

  • View /vjuː/

Also, a very common construction, often called a “long u” sound, is spelled with just the letter ‘u’ and pronounced
/ju:/ or /jʊ/, as in the words:

  • During /’djʊərɪŋ/
  • Computer /kəmˈpjuːtə/
  • And argue /ˈɑːgjuː/

Examples of the j sound

Here are some words that start with the /j/ phoneme.

  • Yes /jes/
  • Unit /ˈjuːnɪt/
  • Yard /jɑːd/
  • And young /jʌŋ/

Here are some words with the /j/ phoneme in the middle.

  • Community /kəˈmjuːnəti/
  • Billion /ˈbɪljən/
  • Beyond /bɪˈjɒnd/
  • And beautiful /ˈbjuːtəfəl/

English words don’t normally end with the j sound.

One Response to “The j Sound (/j/ Phoneme)”

  1. Sorin93 June 3, 2016 at 5:58 pm #

    Helloo!!
    I am doing a project comparing the phonology of English and Romanian and I would like to know when phoneme /j/ is inserted before /u/, in words such as computer, during etc. I really want to know want kind of consonants need to be before /u/ so /u/ receives /j/

    Thank you

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