Voiced alveolar approximant
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 | edit source]
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/
Phonotactics[edit | edit source]
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[edit | edit source]
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.
Arabic speakers often find this phoneme difficult to pronounce, especially when used with other consonants, e.g. bridge [/brɪʤ/].