Spelling: changing -y to -ies, -ied, -ier

We often change the y at the end of a word to i before adding es to form the plural.

Likewise, y sometimes changes to i before we add other suffixes, such as –ed, –er and –est.

When to change -y to -ies, -ied, -ier and -iest
Forming plurals
To form the plural of a noun, we change a -y ending to -ie- and then add s.

baby » babies
hobby » hobbies
family » families
lorry » lorries
Forming the third-person singular of a verb
To form the third-person singular (he, she, it) of verbs, we change a -y ending to -ie- before adding s:

fly » flies
try » tries
marry » marries
copy » copies
Past tense of verbs
To form the past tense of regular verbs which end in -y:

study » studied
try » tried
hurry » hurried
marry » married
Comparatives and superlatives
We change the -y ending of an adjective to -ier and -iest to form comparatives and superlatives:

happy » happier, happiest
heavy » heavier, heaviest
lazy » lazier, laziest
Forming adverbs
We form adverbs from adjectives by changing a -y ending to -ily:

happy » happily
heavy » heavily
lazy » lazily
Be careful!
We don't change -y to i when the word ends in -ay, -ey, -oy, -uy:

play » played
monkey » monkeys
enjoy » enjoys
buy » buys

exception: day » daily


  1. Jytta - April 4, 2017, 6:38 pm Reply

    And how about pay and say? Surely they’re also exceptions.

    • Anonymous - April 25, 2017, 6:55 am Reply

      Dumb question. Can’t you see it says right above you anything ending in -ay?

      plAY, sAY

    • Rafi M Hussein - April 29, 2017, 9:04 pm Reply

      Same question
      What about pay and say

      • Abir - May 21, 2017, 6:24 pm Reply

        They change in the past because they’re irregular verbs pay –> paid. Say –> said.
        While in the present they follow the exception of OY, AY, UY EY.

    • Anonymous - March 12, 2018, 12:30 am Reply

      Pay and say are irregular verbs.Duh!

    • Anonymous - June 8, 2018, 12:28 pm Reply

      paid and said. is this right

  2. Anonymous - April 6, 2017, 10:50 am Reply

    pay becomes paid
    say becomes said

    enjoy becomes enjoyed

  3. Anonymous - June 5, 2017, 8:42 pm Reply

    Is plays a word?

    • Stephanie - August 21, 2017, 10:36 pm Reply

      Yes plays is a word. Ex; Let’s wait and see how it plays out before we make any more changes. Or, He was offered a part in two different Broadway plays.

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