R-Controlled Vowels

When a vowel is followed by an r, it makes a special sound. These are called r-controlled vowels, or r-colored vowels. These phonemes are as follows:

  • /ar/ sound as in car, guitar, Arthur
  • /âr/ sound as in care, bear, mare, scare, aquarium
  • /îr/ sound as in pier
  • /ir/ sound as in turnip, spider, certificate, and beaver
  • /or/ sound as in manor, observatory, author, brought, and orchard
  • /er/ sound as in butter, cutter, and mother

Usually, /ar/ always sounds like the ar in car, and /or/ always sounds like the or in for. The ir, er, and ur, sound the same as in bird, her, and fur. These all make a /ər/ sound.

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