What Are R-Controlled Vowels?

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Vowel Digraphs: Definition & Examples

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Sounding Out Vowels
  • 1:36 R-Controlled Vowels
  • 2:36 Importance
  • 3:15 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Andrew Diamond

Andrew has worked as an instructional designer and adjunct instructor. He has a doctorate in higher education and a master's degree in educational psychology.

When a word contains a vowel immediately followed by an 'r,' it is said to be r-controlled and is pronounced unlike long or short vowels. Teaching children about r-controlled vowels may help them learn reading and spelling.

Sounding out Vowels

Phonics is a way of teaching reading and spelling by focusing on phonemes, or parts of words distinguished by sound. For example, /sh/ and /ch/ are made up of multiple letters, but are each a single phoneme. Studying phonemes has led to the discovery of patterns in the English language, and teaching these rules is a good way to teach young readers to sound out and decode words.

Vowels are one subset of phonemes. In English, as in many other languages, vowels are described by their duration; they are either long or short. Long vowels may sound more drawn out and are pronounced the same as the letter representing them. Words that end with a silent 'e' are often long vowels. Here are some long vowel examples:

Vowel Long vowel examples
a ape, age, ache
e beet, cede, mete
i side, blind, lime
o wrote, ode, home
u rule, nude, lute

Short vowels seem to need less time to pronounce. When a word is spelled consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC), the vowel is usually short. Some short vowel examples are:

Vowel Short vowel examples
a cat, ham, mad
e beg, net, red
i sit, nip, him
o log, dot, hop
u cub, mud, bug

R-Controlled Vowels

R-controlled vowels are the exception to these rules as they are pronounced neither as long or short. When a vowel is followed by an 'r,' it's usually pronounced like the sound you might make when you've forgotten what you were about to say or when you're stalling for time: 'err.' This applies almost all the time to 'e,' 'i,' and 'u.' Let's look at some r-controlled examples:

Vowel R-controlled examples
e germ, jerk, tern
i girl, dirt, firm
u burn, fur, hurt

When an 'o' is r-controlled, sometimes it's pronounced like 'err,' particularly after a 'w,' like in 'word,' 'work,' or 'worse,' but sometimes it's a long vowel sound, like in 'cork,' 'fort,' 'horn.'

An r-controlled 'a' is a little different and makes a bit of a longer sound, more like the sound a pirate makes: 'Arr.' Think of 'yarn,' 'arm,' 'cart.'

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support