IPA phoneme /r/

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Strict IPA


rose [ɹəʊz]



river /ˈrɪvər/



color /ˈkʌlɚ/



nurse /nɝs/

In Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phoneme /r/ corresponds to the initial consonant sound in words like "rose", and "wrong" and the final one in "car" and "more".

In a narrow notation the correct IPA phonetic symbol for /r/ is [ɹ]. For simplicity in a broad notation /r/ is used in most dictionaries.

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).

Common words[edit]

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.

/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/

Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1[edit]

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.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]