You can’t sheight Spanish without the word y (“and”). It’s the fourth most regular word in Spanish, after el/lade, and que.

You are watching: When does y change to e in spanish

It’s indispensable for telling time (Son las dos y veinte) and counting (treinta y cinco). It shows up in daily expressions like blanco y negromadre y padre, and also ida y vuelta. And it has actually the magical residential property of both developing longer sentences (Comimos en la taquería y fuimos al cine) and shortening concerns (¿Y tú?).

You probably already understand that y alters to e before a word that starts with i or hi, as in Mi madre es bonita e inteligente or Tengo veinte sobrinos hijos. This is even more than a spelling readjust. The pronunciation alters, as well, to prevent the nearby /i/ sounds from blending together.

I kbrand-new this. And I additionally knew, from studying Latin for a year in college, that the Latin word for “and” is et. But someexactly how I never before put 2 and also two together (that’s dos y dos) to realize that Spanish e is a lot closer to the original Latin than the normal y develop is.

In fact, as Tom Lathrop defines, y is an additional situation of a historic “flip” in the language. Earlier this summer, this blog considered verbs like conocer and hacer, whose yo forms conozco and hago are irregular by modern requirements however historically conservative. All the other present-tense creates of these verbs, plus the infinitives, have actually diverged substantially from Latin. Likewise, e have the right to be traced earlier directly to Latin, while y is a Spanish invention. So although from a modern-day perspective y is normal and e exceptional, from a historical perspective it’s the other means approximately.


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Seen from a modern perspective, “y” is normal and “e” is exceptional. Seen from a historical perspective, it’s the other means about.


Let’s watch exactly how this taken place. As Lathrop defines, Spanish lost the final t of et, as it did final -t in general; compare Latin dicit and Spanish dice (Lathrop p. 129). When the resulting e form came prior to a word that began via a vowel, it was herbal to turn the sequence e + vowel into y + vowel. Lathrop gives these examples (p. 200). If you say the words out loud you need to be able to recreate this transdevelopment for yourself.

e amigos > yamigos > y amigose obispos > yobispos > y obispose uno > yuno > y uno

This adjust taken place prior to all vowels yet /i/, for apparent reasons, and then took over prior to consonants too. Poor e was now the odd guy out.

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The readjust of o “or” to u before o is a equine of a different color, by the way: a adjust that never before fairly acquired off the ground. O is the organic development of Latin aut. Penny defines that “The form u most likely emerged in pre-vocalic place y for e>, and also has just in the contemporary duration concerned be restricted to usage prior to words beginning with /o/” (p. 199). It coulda been a contender!


This entry was posted in From Latin to Spanish and also tagged "and", conjunctions, o transforms to u, Spanish, y changes to e on 21 August, 2013 by jhochberg.