Learn English – “shyer” or “shier”


My Longman dictionary states that the comparative of 'shy' is 'shyer'. However, at least two online dictionaries also give the form 'shier' as being acceptable: The Free Dictionary and Merriam-Webster. On an English language forum I came across a reference to British (shyer) vs. American (shier) spelling. But an Ngram chart shows that even in American English 'shyer' is much more used.

My problem is that I've been told that it is definitely wrong, but if it's in dictionaries then… has there been a change to what is wrong?

P.S.: Google Ngram link

Best Answer

"shyer" or "shier"?

Both versions are acceptable in today's standard English.

In the 2002 CGEL page 1581:

Monosyllabic dry and shy are optionally exceptions to the y-replacement rule, allowing either y or i before the suffix: dry ~ dryer/drier ~ dryest/driest and shy ~ shyer/shier ~ shyest/shiest.

Note that CGEL is the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum et al., The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CGEL).