Pin It

Home » Audio » R-Colored Vowel Sound /ɛr/ as in “chair” – American English Pronunciation

R-Colored Vowel Sound /ɛr/ as in “chair” – American English Pronunciation

The /ɛr/ is a tricky sound to learn. First, it’s often confused with other R-colored vowels, such as /ɝ/ and /aɪr/. Second, the spelling for the /ɛr/ sound is.. well, it’s often inexplicable, as this vowel is represented by eight different combinations of letters. Here are just a few examples: ‘ar’ as in “scare”, ‘er’ as in “very’, ‘air’ as in “pair”, ‘arr’ as in “arrow”, ‘err’ as in “cherry”.
In this video, you’ll find out how to make the /ɛr/ sound and how to avoid the most typical pronunciation mistakes. As usual, there are some practice exercises to master your pronunciation, and some numbers explaining the mystery behind the spelling.

Quick Links:
• Recap from the R-colored vowels overview: 00:36
• How to make the /ɛr/ sound: 01:18
• Typical pronunciation mistakes: 02:58
• Pronunciation exercise: 04:38
• Spelling for the /ɛr/ sound: 08:21

Related Videos:
► R-Colored Vowel Sounds Overview:
► R-Colored Vowel Sound / ɝ / as in “first”:
► R-Colored Vowel Sound / ɚ / as in “after”:
► R-Colored Vowel Sound / ɪr / as in “hero”:
► R-Colored Vowel Sound / ɛr / as in “chair”: this video
► R-Colored Vowel Sound / ɑr / as in “car”:
► R-Colored Vowel Sound / ɔr / as in “sport”: work in progress
► R-Colored Vowel Sound / aɪr / as in “fire”: work in progress
► Consonant Sound / r / as in “run”:
► Interactive Vowel Sounds Chart:


Hello there! This is the “Sounds American” channel.
In this video, we’re going to talk about the American R-colored vowel /ɛr/, as in the word “chair.”
You can also hear this sound in words like “there,” “bear,” “share,” or “marry.”
We’ll be using special phonetic symbols — /ɛr/ — for this sound.
Let’s recap what we’ve learned in the R-Colored Vowels Overview video:
• The /ɛr/ is one of the seven American R-colored vowel sounds.
• The /ɛr/ is an R-colored diphthong and it’s made by merging the /ɛ/ and the /r/ sounds.
• As with all R-colored vowel sounds, the /ɛr/ is often distorted by non-native English speakers.
• The spelling for /ɛr/ could be confusing as this sound is represented by several different combinations of letters.

Now, let’s find out how to pronounce this R-colored vowel.
To make the /ɛr/ sound correctly, focus on pronouncing two sounds and making a smooth connection between them.
This is how you do that.
Start with making the /ɛ/ sound.
Partially open your mouth, slightly spread your lips and relax them.
Now, let’s place your tongue in the correct position for the /ɛ/ vowel.
Push your tongue to the front of your mouth and relax it.
Raise the middle of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The tip of your tongue can be lowered just behind your bottom front teeth.
Next, connect the /ɛ/ to the /r/ sound with a long gliding movement.
Slightly round your lips.
Curl back the tip of your tongue.
Now, slightly lower the center of your tongue and raise its back.
Your tongue should be tensed.
Now, let’s color the /ɛ/ with the /r/ and blend the two sounds together: /ɛr/, /ɛr/, /ɛr/.
Let’s talk about the most typical mistakes that people make when pronouncing the /ɛr/ sound.

1. Many non-native English speakers reduce the /r/ sound in the /ɛr/ vowel.
This would be fine in British English, but an American accent requires the /r/ to be pronounced.
So, if you reduce the /r/, your American /ɛr/ sound will be distorted and it may lead to misunderstandings.
“hair” – “hair”
“where’ – “where”
2. Some non-native speakers pronounce the /r/ in the /ɛr/, but they trill it. Remember, Americans never R-colored vowel sounds.
“hair” – “hair”
“where” – “where”
How do you avoid trilling? The tip of your tongue should never touch the alveolar ridge when you pronounce the R-colored sounds.
Remember, both sounds in the R-colored vowels are equally important. Don’t reduce the /r/ and avoid trilling it!
Now, let’s practice the /ɛr/ sound in some words.
Let’s begin.

[Pronunciation exercise]
• air
• airplane
• America
• anywhere
• area
• arrow
• aware
• bear
• berry
• care
• carry
• chair
• character
• cherry
• compare
• dairy
• dare
• declare
• errand
• error
• fair
• hair
• library
• marriage
• marry
• military
• pair
• parent
• pear
• repair
• scare
• share
• square
• stair
• swear
• terrible
• their
• wear
• wheelchair
• wherever
You’re done! Congratulations!

Take a look:
• Most often, the /ɛr/ sound is represented by ‘ar’ as in “scare” or “parent.”
• Less often by ‘er’ as in “very’ or “there,”
• and ‘air’ as in “air” or “pair.”
• There are quite a few words with ‘arr’ as in “carrot” or “arrow,”
• and ‘err’ as in “cherry” or “merry.”
R-Colored Vowel Sound /ɛr/ as in “chair” – American English Pronunciation

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2009 · · All Rights Reserved · Posts · Comments