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Learn the rules to use Y and LL in Spanish Language

In Spanish, the words that are written with the letter 'Y' and the 'LL' often confuse the student of the Spanish language since they are pronounced in the same way, the sound is the same.

Let's look at some rules that will help us better understand how we should use the letters LL and Y in Spanish Language.

You use LL letters for : 

  • All verbs ending in ‘llir’ and ‘llar’. For examples : zambullir (dive), estallar (burst), atropellar (run over). Exceptions : apoyar (support), ensayar (practice/try out), rayar (scratch) & desmayar (faint) .
  • The verb llevar (carry) and all its derivatives, for example : conllevar, llevaba, llevarán, conllevando.
  • The verb llover (to rain) and lloviznar (drizzle), and all its derivatives. For example : llueve, lloviznando, llovio.
  • The verb llenar (to fill) and all its derivatives. For example : relleno, llenaba, llenaron, rellenarían.
  • All the words ending in illo, illa, allo, ello, alle and elle. For example : sencilla (simple), bombilla (light bulb), bello (beautiful), calle (street). Exceptions : Mayo (May - month -), lacayo (footman), rayo (light ray), tocayo (namesake), plebeyo (plebeian) and leguleyo (Spanish word that defines a person who deals with legal issues without having sufficient knowledge).

You use the Y letter for :

  • The atonic phoneme / i / of a sharp word (palabra aguda or also known as oxítona, when the accent is given on the last syllable) with a diphthong or triphthong at the end. For example :  hoy, Uruguay. Exceptions : saharaui and bonsái.
  • In cases of copulative conjunction. For example : los hijos y los padres (children and parents). When the second word begins with letter ‘i’, then the conjunction should be the  ‘e’ letter, for example : Pedro e Ines. Exception to this last rule is : cinc y hierro.
  • The gerund of the verb  “IR” (go), and its forms of the Present Subjunctive. For example : yendo, vaya, vayas, vayamos, vayan.
  • The verbs ayudar (fast) and desayunar (breakfast) and all its derivatives. For example : ayunas, desayunamos, ayunaron, desayuno.
  • All the words with the suffix "going" (gerund) of the verbs whose infinitive ends in aer - eer - uir. For example : cayendo (falling), leyendo (reading), proveyendo  (providing), huyendo  (running away).
  • All verbs ending in uyo, uya, uyes, uyamos, uyesen, uyeron, related to the verbs ending in uir, buir and cluir. For example : huir (run away) - huyan, intuir (intuit) - intuyes, contribuir (contribute) - contribuyen, concluir (conclude) - concluyeron.
  • All the word beginning in yu and yer. For example : yuca (Yucca), yerno (son in law), yugo, yerro (I miss - mistake), yugular (jugular), yermo. Exceptions : lluvia (rain), lluvioso (rainy) and llueve (rains).
  • All plural words that end with the letter Y. For example : Rey (king) - reyes, Buey (ox) - bueyes, Ley (law) - leyes.
  • All words that have the syllable ‘yec’. For example : proyectar (to project), trayecto (journey), inyección (injection).
  • All verbal forms, whose infinitive form does not have the letter Y included. For example : caer (fall) - cayeron, leer (to read) - leyeron, poseer (own) - poseyeron.
  • After a consonant, Y is always written. For example : subyugar (subjugate), conyuge (spouse), disyuntiva (disjunctive).
  • NOTE : the word ‘llema’ refers to the fingertips. The word ‘yema’ refers to the egg yolk.

Learn these basic rules and keep practicing the Spanish language.

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