17 Spanish Words Starting With Y You Should Learn

  • Jada Lòpez
    Written byJada Lòpez
    Jada LòpezSpanish teacher, translator
    🎓 B.A., Translation and Interpreting English and Spanish, Universidad de Granada
    🎓 M.A., Formación de Profesores de Español como Lengua Extranjera (ELE), Universidad Pablo de Olavide

    Passionate language teacher and translator. Wife, mother of 3 and amateur surfer.
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17 Spanish Words Starting With Y You Should Learn

Are you looking for Spanish words that start with the letter Y?

If you peer into a Spanish dictionary, you’ll notice fewer nouns, verbs, and adjectives beginning with the letter y compared with some other vocales and consonantes.

However, if you came to this article trying to find Spanish words that begin with y you’ll find various examples to satisfy your curiosity, as that’s what we’ll focus on here.

Below you’ll find examples of Spanish native words and borrowed words beginning with y that have made it into the RAE (the Real Academia Española)

In this list, I’ve also provided some contextual information about the letter y, so if you’re a beginner and learning Spanish, you can discover what we call the letter in Spanish and how to pronounce it.

You’ll also learn more about the Spanish letter y as a vowel phoneme, so let’s get started!

Are there any Spanish words that start with Y?

Are there any words that start with Y in Spanish?

Yes, there are Spanish words starting with Y, but there aren’t many. You may have noticed that many of the Spanish words that do begin with Y are loan words. This means that many Spanish words starting with Y actually originate from other languages, including English.

If you’re an English speaker learning Spanish, you’ll benefit from recognizing many of the borrowed words that begin with Y.

What is the Spanish letter Y called, and how do you pronounce its name as a beginner?

The Spanish letter y is called i-griega. This twenty-sixth letter in the Spanish abecedario (the alphabet) can also be called ye. The main difference between these two names is that i-griega is a traditional name, while ye is a more modern name for the letter y.

Now, you may also be wondering how to pronounce i-griega, which can be a bit tricky.

A phonetical representation of the word is ee-gree-eh-gah.

If you’re having trouble pronouncing this, break it down into smaller syllables and practice each part of the word. Alternatively, you can use the word ye, which you pronounce yeeh.

When does the Spanish letter y become a consonant phoneme, and when does it sound like a vowel?

The Spanish letter y becomes a consonant phoneme in cases where it’s placed at the start of a word.

When we talk about consonant phonemes, we mean that the individual letter sounds like a consonant. In some cases, y can sound like a vowel, though.

Since this may seem a bit confusing, let’s look at an example:

Listen to audio

Ya viene, tranquila.

He's coming now. Stay calm.

In this example, the letter y sounds like a consonant in the word ya. It’s almost pronounced jya as it comes at the beginning of the word.

Let’s look at an example of a phrase in which y sounds like a vowel:

Listen to audio

Voy ahora. No te preocupes.

I'm coming now. Don't worry.

In this example, in the word voy the letter y sounds like a vowel. We pronounce voy as if the final letter y were an i. The word sounds as if it is spelled voiee.

Three of the most frequently used Spanish words that begin with Y

Ready to get to our list of frequently-used Spanish that begin with y?

Let’s consider some common ones and then move on to a few that rarely come up in Spanish.

1. Y

When the letter y appears on its own in Spanish, this is a word pronounced ee. Even starting with Spanish in a course, you may already know that y means “and.” It’s a common conjunction used in the same way we use “and” in English. Just in case you’re not certain how to use it, here’s a usage example:

Listen to audio

Quería comprar peras y manzanas, pero no había peras.

He wanted to buy pears and apples, but there were no pears.

2. Yo

This two-letter Spanish word that begins with y is a pronoun you’ll frequently hear in Spanish conversations. Yo means “I.” The word yo is sometimes omitted when we conjugate Spanish verbs. Instead of saying yo como, you’ll hear como, and it’s the same with many other verbs. Nonetheless, you’ll hear yo in sentences such as the following (where you want to emphasize the verb):

Listen to audio

Fui, yo. No fue el. Comí la última galleta.

It wasn't him. It was me. I ate the last biscuit.

3. Ya

The two-letter Spanish word ya means “already” in English. It’s such a common word that you’ll hear it frequently. From getting ready to go out to describing an action you’ve completed, ya is a common Spanish word that starts with y.

Check out this usage example to see how to use ya in a sentence

Listen to audio

Ya lo sé. Está enfermo. Tiene una infección de pulmón.

I already know. He's ill. He's got a lung infection.

9 less-common Spanish nouns that begin with ‘Y’

We’ve looked at some common Spanish words that begin with y, so now let’s consider some less-common nouns. Let’s get to the list.

1. Yate

If you’re in a seaside or portside location, you may hear this word frequently in conversations around you. Un yate is a “yacht.” This Spanish word that starts with y is a masculine noun. Here’s how you can use it in a sentence:

Listen to audio

El yate salió del puerto en dirección al norte.

The yacht left the harbour heading north.

2. Yegua

You might hear this Spanish noun in conversations on una finca or una granja (a farm). Yegua refers to an animal – a “female horse” in English. It’s a feminine noun, so use the article la or una with this word.

Listen to audio

La yegua come mucha hierba.

The female horse eats a lot of grass.

3. Yema

Yema means “egg yolk” in English. This Spanish noun that starts with y is feminine. For this reason, you must use the articles la or una with this word. Consider the following usage example of the word yema for more clues related to its use:

Listen to audio

Hay que separar, con cuidado, las yemas de las claras.

You must separate, with care, the yolks from the whites.

4. Yodo

Spanish speakers rarely used the word yodo, except for certain contexts (such as when talking about chemicals or supplements). It means “iodine” in English and is a masculine Spanish noun with a y at the beginning. It’s pronounced zjyodo, and you should use this word with a masculine article.

Listen to audio

No deberías usar suplementos que contengan yodo.

You shouldn't use supplements that contain iodine.

5. Yunque

Yunque is a masculine noun. The word means “anvil,” so you may hear it in conversations related to carpentry or construction. It’s another rare Spanish word that has a y at the beginning.

Listen to audio

Hay que usar el yunque con un martillo.

You must use the anvil with a hammer.

6. Yedra

The Spanish word yedra means “ivy” in English. It refers to the ivy plant, which you may also see referred to as hiedra. Both spellings are valid, and with the word yedra, you pronounce the letter y as a consonant (almost like zyedra).

Listen to audio

La yiedra crece muy rápidamente.

The ivy grows very quickly.

7. Yacimiento

Un yacimiento is a location in which people find archeological remains. However, there is another definition of this word: It can refer to a place where people find minerals or rocks. The following usage example will clarify this word. It’s a masculine noun that you must pair with a masculine article.

Listen to audio

Los mineros trabajaban en un yacimiento muchos años.

The miners used to work on a site for many years.

8. Yeso

If you’re renovating a home and have builders working on a bedroom, you may have heard this Spanish noun with the letter y at the beginning. Yeso means “plaster.” Check out the usage example below:

Listen to audio

Las irregularidades van a desaparecer cuando pongamos el yeso.

The irregularities will disappear when we put the plaster on.

9. Yuca

The word yuca means “cassava” in English. It’s a type of vegetable that you’ll find in South America. Yuca is a feminine noun; use it with feminine articles.

Listen to audio

Vamos a cocinar la yuca ahora. No es difícil prepararla.

We're going to cook cassava now. It's not difficult to prepare it.

One commonly-used borrowed Spanish noun that starts with ‘Y’

The commonly-used borrowed Spanish noun that starts with y in this section is yogur.

As you can probably guess, this noun refers to a type of food and means “yogurt” in English. It’s a masculine noun, so you must use el or un to describe it. Here are two usage examples to indicate how to use it:

Listen to audio

El yogur contiene lactosa.

The yogurt contains lactose.
Listen to audio

¿Quieres un yogur después de cenar?

Do you want yogurt after having dinner?

Two Spanish adjectives that begin with ‘Y’

Spanish adjectives that begin with y are rare to find. The 2 examples that make my list are just below.

1. Yerto

Yerboso is a Spanish adjective that describes a location with a lot of grass or herbs. It means “grassy” or “herbaceous.” You can modify this Spanish adjective depending on the noun it describes. If the noun is feminine, use yerbosa. If the noun is masculine, use yerboso.

Listen to audio

La cuesta es yerbosa. Cuidado al subir.

The slope is grassy. Be careful on the way up.

2. Yermo

The Spanish adjective yermo can mean “uncultivated,” “barren” or “uninhabited.” As a noun, it can mean “wasteland,” but when you’re using yermo as an adjective, you can modify it to match the gender of the noun you’re describing. Here’s a usage example to help you:

Listen to audio

La cuesta yerma sufrió la sequia.

The barren hill suffered from the drought.

Two Spanish verbs that begin with ‘Y’

Now let’s consider some verbs that begin with y in Spanish. Two verbs have made my list – have you ever heard of these examples? Do you need to add them to your vocabulary?

1. Yacer

Yacer is a Spanish verb that describes the action of lying down or being placed on the ground after passing away or fainting. Since it’s a verb, you can conjugate it to make different people the subject of your sentence. If you want to say “I lie,” you can use the verb yazgo. If you want to say “he lies,” you can say yace. The following example shows how to use this verb:

Listen to audio

Aquí yace mi hermano. Falleció hace tres años.

Here lies my brother. He passed away three years ago.

2. Yendo

The verb yendo is the gerund form of the verb ir. Use it to describe a continuous action of going somewhere, as it means “going” in English. Using different pronouns, you can conjugate it and make different people the subject of the sentence.

Listen to audio

¿Estás yendo al piso nuevo? Muy bien.

Are you going to the new flat? That's good.

Table of Spanish words that start with Y

Spanish ‘Y’ Words List
ya que
ya te digo
y comercial
yema del dedo
Yom Kipur
y un huevo

Spanish words that start with Y: The key points

Now you have a solid list of Spanish words that start with y.

Remember, many Spanish words are loan words, such as the word yogur, which may mean they’re easier to remember. And don’t forget that the nouns and adjectives on this list must be modified correctly. Consider the gender of the word to modify them.

I hope this list of Spanish words that start with y has been useful! If you’re interested, see my list of Spanish words that start with W.

Which other Spanish words that start with Y did I miss?

Add them to the comments section.

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