This work is devoted to the study of one of the aspects of the functioning of the sound /j/ in the Russian literary language, namely, its behavior in a special position – before [i] in the pronoun forms im, imi, ikh (them). At the end of the 19th – the beginning of the 20th centuries, according to most researchers before the initial [i] there was a sound [j] if the pronoun acted as a separate phonetic word or non-syllable [i]. Compare: [jim] [jimi] [jih] or [i im] [i»imi] [iih]. However, the scientific literature data of that time suggest that it is possible that the absence of [j] in this position was encountered more often than noted by researchers. Some scholars have expressed the opinion that the initial / j / in the casual speech of native speakers in this period preceded any front and front-middle vowels, in particular [i] and [e]. The article analyzes the scientific views of scientists on this problem in the XX century and draws parallels with the behavior of /j/ in dialects. The article reveals that during the entire XX century the number of positions in which the initial [j] was required gradually reduced (including those in the place of iotated vowels). The results of the conducted orthoepic experiment made it possible to state that the initial phoneme /j/, in the late XIX – early XX centuries. normatively acting as [j] ([and i]) in the forms of the pronouns im, imi, ikh (them) is currently replaced by the zero sound.