Oral English: Description of the /j/ sound

Topic: Oral English

Sub-Topic: Consonant /j/

Duration: 40 minutes

Objectives: At the end of the lesson, students should be able to

i. Pronounce sound /j/,

ii. Identify it in words and

iii. Spell it


Description of the /j/ Sound

When you say /j/ your tongue is raised to a position very close to the roof of your mouth, similar to that assumed for the vowel /i:/, and the air escapes freely through your mouth. Generally, your lips are neutrally spread, especially when saying a word like ‘year’ but become rounded when you say words like ‘you’ and ‘yawn.’ The /j/ sound is another voiced approximant.

Spelling of the /j/ Sound

The /j/ sound is spelt in different ways in English as shown in the table below:

yiu ( as part of /ju:/)ue ( as part of /ju:/)ew (as part of /ju:/)eu (as part of /ju:/)unusual

Sound contrast : Sounds /j/ and /h/

you /ju:/who /hu:/
yen /jen/hen /hen/
yell /jel/hell /hel/
yard /ja:d/hard /ha:d/
yam /jæm/ham /hæm/

Points to Note:

i. Students usually pronounce word with sound /j/ as /dz/. This is not correct.

ii. /j/ is also often confused with vowel /i:/. Remember that they are different from each other.

iii. Although /j/ is usually heard before letters ‘ue’ and ‘ew’ (for example, in words like ‘due’ and  ‘few’ respectively, this is not always so. When letters ‘we’re become after l or r the sound /j/ is not pronounced.

For examples: blew /blu:/; grew /gru:/; blue /blu:/ and clue /klu:/

Now, attempt the exercises below.


From the words lettered A-D, choose the word that has the same sound as the one represented by the letters underlined.

1. Europe

A. unhappy  B. cub  C. clue  D. abuse

2. refuse

A. eunuch B. sulk  C. shuttle  D. screw

3. whose

A. hour.  B. woman   C. chew. D. hate

4. yesterday

A. unity  B. unfold   C. day.  D. play

5. hamper

A. honour.  B. honest.  C. hour.  D. hurry


Write five words of your own which contain sound /j/.

Note: Make sure your answers are not in the examples given above.