IPA phoneme /r/
In Received Pronunciation /r/ after a vowel is not pronounced unless it is followed by another vowel. For example "dear Charles" is [dɪə ˈtʃɑːlz] and "dear Alice" is [dɪəɹ ˈælɪs].
In General American "r" is always pronounced: [dɪɹ ˈtʃɑːrlz] and [dɪɹ ˈælɪs]. In many rhotic accents /ər/ is realized as [ɚ] (color [ˈkʌlɚ]) and /ɜː/ is realized as [ɝ] or stressed [ɚ] (occur [əˈkɝ, əˈkɚ]). [ɚ] and [ɝ] are called r-colored vowels. Many American Dictionaries use [ɚ] and [ɝ].
There are places in the United Kingdom where /r/ is pronounced, and places in North America where /r/ is silent.
In this site the /r/ is always written; teachers and students must know when to drop it (the rule is exactly the same for phonetic notation and for conventional spelling).
Initial pronunciation of /r/
- read - really - report - result - rhyme - right - room - run - write - wrong
Final pronunciation of /r/. /r/ is always preceded by one of seven vowels.
- /ɑː/: car
- /eə/: air, bear, share, their, where
- /ɪə/: hear, peer, year
- /ɔː/: door, more, pour, war
- /ʊə/: sure, tour
- /ɜː/: occur, prefer, sir, were
- /ə/: color, over, sugar
- /aɪə/: fire
- /aʊə/: sour
Mid-word pronunciation of /r/:
- around - break - carry - different - ferry - mirror - parent - worry
- In the following examples /r/ is silent in Received Pronunciation
- arm - careful - force - forget - large - order - perform - verb - word
- These are probably the only words where /r/ is not spelled "r":
- "l" as /r/: colonel /ˈkɜːrnəl/
- French "oe" as /ɜːr/: hors d'oeuvre /ɔr ˈdɜːrv/
- metathesis: comfortable /ˈkʌmftəbəl, ˈkʌmfərtəbəl, ˈkʌmftərbəlAmE/
The sound /r/ has several restrictions about what vowels it can follow.
In the following table # means the end of the word, C is any consonant and V is any vowel.
|Vowel||Vr#, VrC||VrV||Mergers and splits|
|/æ/||No||Yes: arid, carry||AmE: Mary-marry-merry merger|
|/ɑː/||Yes: car, start||Derived words: starring, starry
Loan words: sari
|AmE: "orr": borrow, sorrow, sorry, tomorrow|
|/e/||No||Yes: cherish, cherry||AmE: Mary-marry-merry merger|
|/eə/||Yes: square, scarce||Yes: hilarious, hairy||AmE: Mary-marry-merry merger|
|/eɪ/||No; /eə/ (as in prayer) and /eɪə/ (as in player) are valid||Compound words: payroll||N/A|
|/ɪ/||No||Yes: spirit, mirror||AmE: Mirror-nearer|
|/ɪə/||Yes: near, weird||Yes: period, appearance||AmE: Mirror-nearer|
|/iː/||No; /ɪə/ (as in beer) and /iːə/ (as in freer) are valid||Compound words: free-range||N/A|
|/ɒ/||No||Yes: forest, torrid, sorry||AmE /ɑː/: sorry /ɔː/ forest, torrid|
Canadian English: /ɔː/ forest, torrid, sorry
|[oə]||Currently /ɔː/. Yes: score, door, force||Yes: glory, scoring||In most dialects [oə] is now /ɔː/ (north-force merge)|
|/ɔː/||Yes: for, north||Only abhorring||North-force merge|
|/əʊ/||No; /ɔː/ (as in score) and /əʊər/ (as in goer) are valid||Compound words: low-range||N/A|
|/ʊ/||No||Loan words: guru, Jurassic||AmE: /ʊ-ʊə/, AmE: /ʊ-ʊə-ɜː/|
|/ʊə/||Yes: cure, cured||Yes: assurance, plural||AmE: /ʊ-ʊə/, AmE: /ʊ-ʊə-ɜː/|
BrE: cure-force (valid for assurance but not for plural)
|/uː/||No; /ʊə/ (as in cure) and /uːə/ (as in doer) are valid||Compound words: Blu-ray||N/A|
|/ʌ/||No||Yes: hurry, worry||AmE: hurry-furry|
|/ɜː/||Yes: fur, stir, verb, nurse||Derived words: furry, stirring||AmE: hurry-furry|
Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1
Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following section aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.
- Decoding the letter R
- Rhotic and non-rhotic accent
- Lesson:L vs R
- IPA phoneme /ɑː/
- IPA phoneme /eə/
- IPA phoneme /ɪə/
- IPA phoneme /ɔː/
- IPA phoneme /ʊə/
- IPA phoneme /ɜː/
- IPA phoneme /ə/