J j
Writing systemLatin script
Language of originLatin language
Sound values
In UnicodeU+004A, U+006A, U+0237
Alphabetical position10
Time period14th century[1] to present
Descendants • Ɉ
 • Tittle
 • J
Associated graphsj(x), ij
Writing directionLeft-to-right
This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

J, or j, is the tenth letter of the Latin alphabet, used in the modern English alphabet, the alphabets of other western European languages and others worldwide. Its usual name in English is jay (pronounced /ˈ/), with a now-uncommon variant jy /ˈ/.[2][3]

When used in the International Phonetic Alphabet for the voiced palatal approximant (the sound of "y" in "yes") it may be called yod or jod (pronounced /ˈjɒd/ or /ˈjd/).[4]


Egyptian hieroglyph ꜥ Phoenician
Western Greek
Egyptian Hieroglyph describing an arm Latin I Latin J
Children's book from 1743, showing I and J considered as the same letter

The letter J used to be used as the swash letter I, used for the letter I at the end of Roman numerals when following another I, as in XXIIJ or xxiij instead of XXIII or xxiii for the Roman numeral twenty-three. A distinctive usage emerged in Middle High German.[5] Gian Giorgio Trissino (1478–1550) was the first to explicitly distinguish I and J as representing separate sounds, in his Ɛpistola del Trissino de le lettere nuωvamente aggiunte ne la lingua italiana ("Trissino's epistle about the letters recently added in the Italian language") of 1524.[6] Originally, 'I' and 'J' were different shapes for the same letter, both equally representing /i/, /iː/, and /j/; however, Romance languages developed new sounds (from former /j/ and /ɡ/) that came to be represented as 'I' and 'J'; therefore, English J, acquired from the French J, has a sound value quite different from /j/ (which represents the initial sound in the English language word "yet").

Use in writing systems

Pronunciation of ⟨j⟩ by language
Orthography Phonemes
Afrikaans /j/
Albanian /j/
Arabic romanization // or /ʒ/
Azeri /ʒ/
Basque //, /j/, /ɟ/, /ʃ/, /x/, /ʒ/
Cantonese (Yale) /t͡s/
Cantonese (Jyutping) /j/
Catalan /ʒ/
Standard Chinese (Pinyin) //
Standard Chinese (Wade–Giles) /ʐ/
Czech /j/
Danish /j/
Dutch /j/
English //
Esperanto /j/ or //
Estonian /j/
Filipino //, /h/
Finnish /j/
French /ʒ/
German /j/
Greenlandic /j/
Hindi (Hunterian) //
Hokkien (Pe̍h-ōe-jī, Tâi-lô) /dz/ ~ //, /z/ ~ /ʑ/
Hungarian /j/
Icelandic /j/
Igbo //
Indonesian //
Italian /j/
Japanese (Hepburn) /ʑ/, //
Khmer (ALA-LC) /c/
Kiowa /t/
Konkani (Roman) /ɟ/
Korean (RR) /ts/ ~ //, /dz/ ~ //
Kurdish /ʒ/
Luxembourgish /j/, /ʒ/
Latvian /j/
Lithuanian /j/
Malay //
Maltese /j/
Manx //
Norwegian /j/
Oromo //
Pashto romanization //
Polish /j/
Portuguese /ʒ/
Romanian /ʒ/
Scots //
Serbo-Croatian /j/
Shona //
Slovak /j/
Slovenian /j/
Somali //
Spanish /x/ ~ /h/
Swahili /ɟ/
Swedish /j/
Tamil romanization //
Tatar /ʐ/
Telugu romanization //
Turkish /ʒ/
Turkmen //
Urdu (Roman) //
Yoruba /ɟ/
Zulu //


In English, ⟨j⟩ most commonly represents the affricate /dʒ/. In Old English, /dʒ/ was represented orthographically with ⟨cᵹ⟩[7] (equivalent to ⟨cg⟩, as ⟨ᵹ⟩ in Old English was simply the regular form of the letter G, called Insular G). Middle English scribes began to use ⟨i⟩ (later ⟨j⟩) to represent word-initial /dʒ/ under the influence of Old French, which had a similarly pronounced phoneme deriving from Latin /j/ (for example, iest and later jest), while the same sound in other positions could be spelled as ⟨dg⟩ (for example, hedge).[7] The first English language books to make a clear distinction in writing between ⟨i⟩ and ⟨j⟩ were the King James Bible 1st Revision Cambridge 1629 and an English grammar book published in 1633.[8]

Later, many other uses of ⟨i⟩ (later ⟨j⟩) were added in loanwords from French and other languages (e.g. adjoin, junta). In loanwords such as bijou or Dijon, ⟨j⟩ may represent /ʒ/, as in modern French. In some loanwords, including raj, Azerbaijan, Taj Mahal and Beijing, the regular pronunciation /dʒ/ is actually closer to the native pronunciation, making the use of /ʒ/ an instance of hyperforeignism, a type of hypercorrection.[9] Occasionally, ⟨j⟩ represents its original /j/ sound, as in Hallelujah and fjord. In words of Spanish origin, such as jalapeño, English speakers usually pronounce ⟨j⟩ as the voiceless glottal fricative /h/, an approximation of the Spanish pronunciation of ⟨j⟩ (usually transcribed as a voiceless velar fricative [x], although some varieties of Spanish use glottal [h]).

In English, ⟨j⟩ is the fourth least frequently used letter in words, being more frequent only than z, q, and x. It is, however, quite common in proper nouns, especially personal names.

Romance languages

In the Romance languages, ⟨j⟩ has generally developed from its original palatal approximant value in Latin to some kind of fricative. In French, Portuguese, Catalan (except Valencian), and Romanian it has been fronted to the postalveolar fricative /ʒ/ (like ⟨s⟩ in English measure). In Valencian and Occitan, it has the same sound as in English, //. In Spanish, by contrast, it has been both devoiced and backed from an earlier /ʝ/ to a present-day /x/ or /h/,[10] with the actual phonetic realization depending on the speaker's dialect.

⟨j⟩ is not commonly used in modern standard Italian spelling. Only proper nouns (such as Jesi and Letojanni), Latin words (Juventus), or words borrowed from foreign languages have ⟨j⟩. The proper nouns and Latin words are pronounced with the palatal approximant /j/, while words borrowed from foreign languages tend to follow that language's pronunciation of ⟨j⟩. Until the 19th century, ⟨j⟩ was used instead of ⟨i⟩ in diphthongs, as a replacement for final -ii, and in vowel groups (as in Savoja); this rule was quite strict in official writing. ⟨j⟩ is also used to render /j/ in dialectal spelling, e.g. Romanesco dialect ⟨ajo⟩ [ajo] (garlic; cf. Italian aglio [aʎo]). The Italian novelist Luigi Pirandello used ⟨j⟩ in vowel groups in his works written in Italian; he also wrote in his native Sicilian language, which still uses the letter ⟨j⟩ to represent /j/ (and sometimes also [dʒ] or [gj], depending on its environment).[11]

Other European languages

The great majority of Germanic languages, such as German, Dutch, Icelandic, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian, use ⟨j⟩ for the palatal approximant /j/, which is usually represented by the letter ⟨y⟩ in English. Other than English, notable exceptions are Scots, where it represents //, and Luxembourgish, where it represents both /j/ and /ʒ/.

The letter also represents /j/ in Albanian, the Uralic languages spoken in Europe, and those Slavic and Baltic languages that use the Latin alphabet, such as Polish, Czech, Serbo-Croatian, Slovak, Slovenian, Latvian and Lithuanian. Some related languages, such as Serbo-Croatian and Macedonian, also adopted ⟨j⟩ into the Cyrillic alphabet for the same purpose.

The Maltese language, though a Semitic language, has been deeply influenced by the Romance languages (especially Sicilian), and also uses ⟨j⟩ for /j/.

In Basque, the diaphoneme represented by ⟨j⟩ has a variety of realizations according to the regional dialect: [j, ʝ, ɟ, ʒ, ʃ, x] (the last one is typical of Gipuzkoa).

Other languages

Among non-European languages that have adopted the Latin script, ⟨j⟩ stands for /ʒ/ in Turkish and Azerbaijani, for /ʐ/ in Tatar, and for // in Indonesian, Somali, Malay, Igbo, Shona, Oromo, Turkmen, and Zulu. It represents a voiced palatal plosive /ɟ/ in Konkani, Yoruba and Swahili. In Kiowa, ⟨j⟩ stands for a voiceless alveolar plosive, /t/.

⟨j⟩ stands for // in the romanization systems of most of the languages of India, such as Hindi and Telugu, and stands for // in the romanization of Japanese and Korean.

For Chinese languages, ⟨j⟩ stands for /t͡ɕ/ in the Mandarin Chinese pinyin system, the unaspirated equivalent of ⟨q⟩ (/t͡ɕʰ/). In Wade–Giles, ⟨j⟩ stands for Mandarin Chinese /ʐ/. Pe̍h-ōe-jī of Hokkien and Tâi-lô for Taiwanese Hokkien, ⟨j⟩ stands for /z/ and /ʑ/, or /d͡z/ and /d͡ʑ/, depending on accents. In Cantonese, ⟨j⟩ stands for /j/ in Jyutping and /t͡s/ in Yale.

The Royal Thai General System of Transcription does not use the letter ⟨j⟩, although it is used in some proper names and non-standard transcriptions to represent either [tɕ] or [tɕʰ] (the latter following Pali/Sanskrit root equivalents).

In romanized Pashto, ⟨j⟩ represents ځ, pronounced [dz].

In Greenlandic and in the Qaniujaaqpait spelling of the Inuktitut language, ⟨j⟩ is used to transcribe /j/.

Following Spanish usage, ⟨j⟩ represents [x] or similar sounds in many Latin-alphabet-based writing systems for indigenous languages of the Americas, such as [χ] in Mayan languages (ALMG alphabet) and a glottal fricative [h] in some spelling systems used for Aymara.

Other writing systems

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, ⟨j⟩ is used for the voiced palatal approximant, and a superscript ⟨ʲ⟩ is used to represent palatalization.

Other uses

Main article: J (disambiguation)

Related characters

Other representations


Character information
Preview J j ȷ
Encodings decimal hex dec hex dec hex dec hex dec hex
Unicode 74 U+004A 106 U+006A 567 U+0237 65322 U+FF2A 65354 U+FF4A
UTF-8 74 4A 106 6A 200 183 C8 B7 239 188 170 EF BC AA 239 189 138 EF BD 8A
Numeric character reference J J j j ȷ ȷ J J j j
Named character reference ȷ
EBCDIC family 209 D1 145 91
ASCII 1 74 4A 106 6A
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.

Unicode also has a dotless variant, ȷ (U+0237). It is primarily used in Landsmålsalfabet and in mathematics. It is not intended to be used with diacritics since the normal j is softdotted in Unicode (that is, the dot is removed if a diacritic is to be placed above; Unicode further states that, for example, i+ ¨ ≠ ı+¨ and the same holds true for j and ȷ).[16]

In Unicode, a duplicate of 'J' for use as a special phonetic character in historical Greek linguistics is encoded in the Greek script block as ϳ (Unicode U+03F3). It is used to denote the palatal glide /j/ in the context of Greek script. It is called "Yot" in the Unicode standard, after the German name of the letter J.[17][18] An uppercase version of this letter was added to the Unicode Standard at U+037F with the release of version 7.0 in June 2014.[19][20]

Wingdings smiley issue

In the Wingdings font by Microsoft, the letter "J" is rendered as a smiley face, sometimes creating confusion in emails after formatting is removed and a smiley turns back into an out-of-context "J".[21] (This is distinct from the Unicode code point U+263A, which renders as ☺︎). In Microsoft applications, ":)" is automatically replaced by a smiley rendered in a specific font face when composing rich text documents or HTML emails. This autocorrection feature can be switched off or changed to a Unicode smiley.[22]


NATO phonetic Morse code
  ▄ ▄▄▄ ▄▄▄ ▄▄▄ 

Signal flag Flag semaphore American manual alphabet (ASL fingerspelling) British manual alphabet (BSL fingerspelling) Braille dots-245
Unified English Braille


  1. ^ "J-letter". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  2. ^ "J", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989)
  3. ^ "J" and "jay", Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993)
  4. ^ "yod". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  5. ^ "Wörterbuchnetz". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  6. ^ De le lettere nuωvamente aggiunte ne la lingua Italiana in Italian Wikisource.
  7. ^ a b Hogg, Richard M.; Norman Francis Blake; Roger Lass; Suzanne Romaine; R. W. Burchfield; John Algeo (1992). The Cambridge History of the English Language. Vol. 3. Cambridge University Press. p. 39. ISBN 0-521-26476-6.
  8. ^ Butler, Charles (1633). The English Grammar. William Turner.
  9. ^ Wells, John (1982). Accents of English 1: An Introduction. Cambridge, UN: Cambridge University Press. p. 108. ISBN 0-521-29719-2.
  10. ^ Penny, Ralph John (2002). A History of the Spanish Language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-01184-1.
  11. ^ Cipolla, Gaetano (2007). The Sounds of Sicilian: A Pronunciation Guide. Mineola, NY: Legas. pp. 11–12. ISBN 9781881901518. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  12. ^ a b Constable, Peter (2004-04-19). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF).
  13. ^ Miller, Kirk; Ashby, Michael (2020-11-08). "L2/20-252R: Unicode request for IPA modifier-letters (a), pulmonic" (PDF).
  14. ^ a b Everson, Michael; et al. (2002-03-20). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF).
  15. ^ Ruppel, Klaas; Rueter, Jack; Kolehmainen, Erkki I. (2006-04-07). "L2/06-215: Proposal for Encoding 3 Additional Characters of the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet" (PDF).
  16. ^ The Unicode Standard, Version 8.0, p. 293 (at the very bottom)
  17. ^ Nick Nicholas, "Yot" Archived 2012-08-05 at archive.today
  18. ^ "Unicode Character 'GREEK LETTER YOT' (U+03F3)". Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  19. ^ "Unicode: Greek and Coptic" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-06-26.
  20. ^ "Unicode 7.0.0". Unicode Consortium. Retrieved 2014-06-26.
  21. ^ Chen, Raymond (23 May 2006). "That mysterious J". The Old New Thing. MSDN Blogs. Retrieved 2023-08-03.
  22. ^ Pirillo, Chris (26 June 2010). "J Smiley Outlook Email: Problem and Fix!". Archived from the original on 26 November 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.