It is a reduced vowel, which means it is shorter and quicker than other vowels and only appears in unstressed syllables, or some function words. (See /ə/).
- "er" - mother, perform
- "ar" - grammar, forward
- "ir" - direction, confirmation
- "or" - comfort, forget
- "ur" - surprise, natural
- "ure" - culture, temperature
The sound /ər/ is used in the suffixes "-er", "-ar," and "-or." These suffixes are used in words to mean "a person who does something." Often, the suffix is added to a verb to change it to a noun.
- bake --> baker
- act --> actor
- lie --> liar
- calculate --> calculator
The suffix "-er" can also be added to adjectives. When "-er' is added to an adjective, it means "more...(than)."
- fast --> faster
- thin --> thinner
- pretty --> prettier
- friendly --> friendlier
These are both high, central, lax vowels. However, /ər/ is a reduced vowel and /ɜr/ is a full vowel. This means that /ər/ is shorter and softer than /ɜr/.
Compare Word Forms:
A stressed syllable in a word may become unstressed (or vice versa) when a suffix is added to the word, which changes the word stress. Listen to these examples. Notice how the underlined full vowel becomes the reduced vowel /ər/ when the suffix is added.
- conserve --> conservation
- urbanize --> urbanization
- infer --> inference
Now, practice /ər/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentences. (Remember that in a sentence, some function words will also have /ər/).
I'm smarter than my sister, but she works harder.
2. understand - teacher's - directions
Did you understand the teacher's directions?
3. interrupt - her - conversation
Please don't interrupt her conversation.
4. interview - manager - yesterday
I had an interview with the manager yesterday.
5. pursued - order - professor
My friend pursued a graduate degree in order to to become a professor.
6. were - surprised - performance
My parents were surprised by my performance.
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