Types of the letter ی (yaa) in Pashto
Out of 44 letters in Pashto alphabet five of them are the variations of the letter ی (yaa). These letters are all called “yaa” and look almost alike but they are different letters and have different functions and sounds. Sometimes even the native Pashto speakers are confused by the types of the letter yaa. Understanding the difference between the sounds and usage of these letters is very important. Because by replacing one type of yaa with the other the meaning of a word or sentence totally changes. Or a feminine word changes to masculine… etc.
The best way to learn and remember the differences between these yaa is to remember their distinctive sounds and memorize them in the form of a sentence. In the example sentences you will be able to see their usage and memorize the sentences for future reference. Also in the accompanying video you will hear the sounds of each type of the letter yaa and the pronunciation of the example sentences.
Masculine Yaa ی
This yaa does not have any dots and is called masculine yaa because it is used at the end of masculine words .this type of yaa only appears at the end of the words. This yaa is also used at the end of past participle of masculine verbs. When you are first learning Pashto you might not hear the differences in the sounds of these different types of yaa but later you will be able to differentiate them.
Examples, سړی (man), کوچی ( nomad) ښکلی (handsome)تللی (has gone)
Sarganda Yaa ي
This yaa is called sarganda yaa, it has two horizontal dots underneath it. It is comparatively easy for the learners of Pashto to remember the sound of this yaa, because the sound of this yaa is like the “ee” in the word “see”. It can be used both in the middle or end of a word. It is usually used at the end of masculine plural words. Example: سړي (men) زمري (lions)
Feminine yaa ۍ
Feminine yaa has a little tail at the end and does not have any dots. It is called feminine because it appears only at the end of feminine words. It can only be used at the end of feminine words. The sound of this yaa is “ai” and is easy to remember. Examples: کوچۍ (female nomad) هګۍ (egg)
Verbal Yaa ئ
The verbal yaa has the Hamza sign above it and has no dots. It is called verbal yaa because it is used only at the end of verbs and cannot be used anywhere else. The sound of this yaa is the same as the feminine yaa but only the usage is different. Examples: لرئ (you have) وګورئ (look!)
Long Yaa ې
Long yaa has two vertical dots underneath it. it is used with the plural of feminine words that end with the letter ه and sometimes some feminine words end with the long yaa. ښځې (women) کوټې (rooms) ملګرې (female friend)
In the following example sentences, the meaning of the sentences will show the usage of the types of yaa and help you remember the sounds.
د کوچۍ مېړه هم کوچی دی
د کوچۍ خور زما ملګرې ده
هغوی ښه خلک دي. ښه پوهېږئ
Translation: The husband of the nomad is also a nomad. The sister of the nomad is my friend. They are good people. You know well.
Now watch the video and listen carefully to the sounds of the letters and the examples.