How to use the Linking R to help your British English get more fluently

Contents

How many times have you wondered how to speak English more fluently and like a native? Do you want us to tell you a trick to express yourself more fluently and improve your listening comprehension when natives step on the accelerator? It's called: The Linking R.

Where is the trick?

In this class, we reveal two secrets to linking words and improving your spoken English. If you want to stop speaking English with the ease of a robot and are dying to know how to speak English with the agility of a cheetah, get ready to enter the wonderful world of linking or connected speech.

Was it connected?

Connected speech is why we often don't even understand a spoken word, no matter how hard we put it. In English, we speak in units of sound. Is it like I talked to you in Chinese? Is it all Greek to you?

In English, we connect the words to be able to speak more fluently. With this example, you will see it crystal clear:

You: My car is for all of us.

A native in no rush: Mycarisforallofus.

Golly gosh! But that's like one word! So that is why this union is called connected speech or linking. There are several types of connected speech. In this class, we will focus on 2 of them:

  • The Linking R

  • The Intrusive R

Ready to learn about 'The Linking R? Sure you do, my dear super-motivated students. Well, today's challenge is to understand precisely why, on specific occasions, we pronounce the silent R of some words.

Will the mute R be claiming its rights to free expression? Or is there some practical reason? Today we'll reveal the mystery!

Oh! By the way! If you have not yet studied how to pronounce R in British English, it would be an excellent idea to review it before continuing with this lesson.

The Linking R

We will start with a straightforward example. Car (car) is one of the first words we learn in English. Apart from its meaning, we also realize it is pronounced like this: [kɑː] Obviously, the R is silent. But then we stumble upon this:

My car isn't blue.

[maɪ kɑː Rɪzənt bluː]

Suddenly, the silent R takes on a voice. And it is hard for us to understand why.

Well, there is a straightforward reason. Let's do a little pronunciation exercise omitting the linking R. The sentences are pronounced like this:

maɪ kɑː ɪzənt bluː

Using the linking R, we pronounce like this:

maɪ kɑː Rɪzənt bluː

Which of the two phrases is easier and faster to pronounce?

Which sounds more natural? The second, isn't it? Look at this other example:

The bar opens earlier on Saturdays.

[ðə bɑ: əʊpənz ɜːlɪə ɒn sætə.deɪz]

The baRopens earlieRon Saturdays.

[ðə bɑ: Rəʊpənz ɜːlɪə Rɒn sætə.deɪz]

Which is easier to pronounce? The second, right?

To gain fluency and speed when speaking, native English speakers pronounce the / r / mute. But that only happens if the next word begins with a vowel sound. Let's see some examples:

Far away [fɑː rə weɪ]

In your arms [ɪn jɔː rɑːmz]

Never again [nevə rə ɡen]

More ideas [mɔː raɪ dɪəz]

Better example [betə rɪɡzɑːmpl]

But what if the following word starts with a consonant sound? The R is still silent. Let's see some examples:

Her Spanish [hə: ˈspænɪʃ]

After school [ˈɑːftə skuːl]

More time [mɔː taɪm]

Got it? Now is the time to practice! Let's repeat these phrases with 'The Linking R' out loud. Use phonetic symbols to help you. Try to repeat them as quickly as possible. You can do it!

Where were all the students? [weə wɜː rɔːl ðiː stjuːdnts]

My car is for all of us. [maɪ kɑː rɪz fɔː rɔːl ɒv ʌs]

My teacher is very handsome. [maɪ tiːʧə rɪz vɛri hænsəm]

They lived happily ever after. [ðeɪ lɪvd hæpɪli ɛvə rɑːftə]

Put the beer on the table. [pʊt ðə bɪə rɒn ðə teɪbl]

We need flour and water. [wiː niːd flaʊə rænd wɔːtə]

The bar opens at four o'clock. [ðə bɑː rəʊpənz æt fɔː rəklɒk]

The actor ate a pair on the stage. [ði æktə rɛt ə peə rɒn ðə steɪʤ]

Do you want vinegar on your chips? [duː juː wɒnt viniga rɒn jɔː ʧɪps]

The Intrusive R

Did you hear that? The intrusive R? Pay attention, students! In English, not only are words joined, but that joining sometimes causes the pronunciation of some words to change, which is why you have difficulty understanding native speakers.

If in the case of the linking R, the R is represented graphically in the word, it is not in the case of the intrusive R. Come on, and they take it out of the sleeve. When a word ends in a vowel, and the next word begins with another vowel, native English speakers add an /r/ to join the two words.

This explains the 'intruder' thing. Luckily, there are some rules to help you know when to use intrusive R:

1) Between words ending in <a> with the schwa /ə/ sound (e.g., China, tuna, America, banana, etc.) and a new word that begins with a vowel sound.

Africa Rand America

A banana Rand an apple

Tuna Romelette

Ron stage drama

Rand tomato pasta

2) Between words that end in <aw> and are pronounced / ɔ: / (e.g., law, saw, paw, draw) followed by a word that begins with a vowel sound.

law Rand order

draw Rand paint

I saw Ra film last night.

I saw Rit too.

My dog's paw Ris dirty.

There's a flaw Rin your plan.

3) Between words that contain the long sound / ɑ: / followed by a word that begins with a vowel sound.

Is your grandma Rokay?

In short, the intrusive /r/ is pronounced between /ə/, /ɔ:/, and /ɑ:/ and another vowel sound even though the /r/ is not written.

Do you know what is the best of all this? So many times, native English speakers use the intrusive R without even realizing it. A little disconcerting, huh?

Also, if you will watch any of the many series in British English on Netflix, pay attention to this phenomenon and let us know if you have found them.

This phenomenon is not so common in Received Pronunciation, incredibly intrusive R, but it is a widespread feature of Modern RP accent.

In series in which you speak in a more natural and less leisurely way, we go like in real life, you will detect it instantly.

Conclusion

I seriously believe that you have been surprised by these phenomena that occur with the pronunciation of the R letter. But I would say that English is a syllable-timed language, meaning that stress is a key factor in speaking in the language correctly.

I would recommend you go further into the investigation of the English phonetics. I would recommend you read our English phonetics Academy to learn how to improve your sound invoice in Wednesday can English.