The rule for "u" and "e" (instead of "o" and "y") in Spanish | SpanishDict Answers
2 Vote

lazarus1907 said (to James):
"And you complaint about the rule for "u" and "e" (instead of "o" and "y") in Spanish!"

Whoa! Are there complications about these? I had always thought that it was very straightforward. If there are problems, I would suppose that they probably have to do with words starting with "ho"/"he" (since the "h" is not pronounced). Is there a thread somewhere on this'

  • Posted Aug 23, 2008
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3 Answers

2 Vote

The rule is straightforward:

You use e instead of y, when the next word begins with an "i" sound: "...e imitar", "...e histérico".
You use u instead of o, when the next word begins with an "o" sound: "...u ondulado", "...u hondo".

Obviosuly, the "h" doesn't count. We are just trying to avoid saying "i i" or "o o".

The English one for "an" instead of "a" is similar: you want to avoid saying "a" when the next word begins with a vowel sound, but since in English there are not fixed rules to determine how a word is pronounced, if you don't know how to pronounce it, the way it is written doesn't help you to determine whether it should be "a" or "an". I am not totally useless at English, and I have checked the pronunciation of certain words in the dictionary before deciding whether I should "a" or "an".

One day, James wrote a sentence in Spanish, but he forgot to make the "y-e" change, and I pointed it out to him, but of course he already knew the rule; he just misses it sometimes. Another day, I made the equivalent mistake in English with "a/an", and I probably felt like him, but I added that it is a lot harder to apply it in English than it is in Spanish. That's why I wrote: "And you are complaining...'"

1 Vote

lazarus1907 said:

The rule is straightforward:

You use e instead of y, when the next word begins with an "i" sound: "...e imitar", "...e histérico".

You use u instead of o, when the next word begins with an "o" sound: "...u ondulado", "...u hondo".

Obviosuly, the "h" doesn't count. We are just trying to avoid saying "i i" or "o o".

The English one for "an" instead of "a" is similar: you want to avoid saying "a" when the next word begins with a vowel sound, but since in English there are not fixed rules to determine how a word is pronounced, if you don't know how to pronounce it, the way it is written doesn't help you to determine whether it should be "a" or "an". I am not totally useless at English, and I have checked the pronunciation of certain words in the dictionary before deciding whether I should "a" or "an".

One day, James wrote a sentence in Spanish, but he forgot to make the "y-e" change, and I pointed it out to him, but of course he already knew the rule; he just misses it sometimes. Another day, I made the equivalent mistake in English with "a/an", and I probably felt like him, but I added that it is a lot harder to apply it in English than it is in Spanish. That's why I wrote: "And you are complaining...'"

Aha!. I thought that you meant that he was complaining about the rue, itself (e.g. its complexity, or some such). By the way, the situation in English used to be worse. As a child I was told that some Americans (and most British) would say/write "an history". (despite the clear aspiration of the "h").. There were other examples of "an" before a non-silent "h" but I've forgotten what they were. I believe that, in this case, American usage finally won out. I certainly haven't heard "an history" (or even seen it in print) for quite some time. But, just to keep matters complicated, I still hear (and accept as natural sounding) "an historical..." or "an historic ..."

The weirdness of language is so much fun!

0 Vote

lazarus1907 said:

The rule is straightforward:You use e instead of y, when the next word begins with an "i" sound: "...e imitar", "...e histérico".You use u instead of o, when the next word begins with an "o" sound: "...u ondulado", "...u hondo".Obviosuly, the "h" doesn't count. We are just trying to avoid saying "i i" or "o o".

Ahaaaaaaaaaa, THAT's why. I've been wondering about that when reading...
Gracias

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