Hey guys. It is Aiko with Schwagirl.

I have talked about an American English vowel chart and introduced simple vowels, and diphthongs. In this article and video, you will learn R blend vowels, also known as R-colored vowels.

When I explained about the American English consonant chart, R was introduced as “approximant” which is a combination of a fricative and vowel. In fact, R can be treated as a consonant sometimes and vowel in other times. When R is treated as a vowel, it is called an R blend.

R blend vowels also known as R-colored vowels are vowels that have R sound.


[ɝ] or [ɚ]

The tongue position for [ɝ] and [ɚ] is the same. The difference is that [ɝ] is stressed, and [ɚ] is unstressed. These are IPA (international phonetic alphabet) symbols. In a regular dictionary, you will see /ʌɹ/, /ʌr/, /əɹ/, or /ər/. Out of all the symbols, /ʌr/ (stressed) and /ər/ (unstressed) are the most commonly used ones.

To pronounce this sound, you tense up your tongue, lift it up, make the tongue straight and push it back. Do not curl your tongue, but have it straight.

Watch the video and practice a few words with this sound with me.






The tongue position for [ɪ] is high. The mouth is pretty closed (the tongue is high) at the beginning of this R blend. And pull your tongue back.





The tongue is pushed forward at the beginning of the vowel since /ɛ/ is pronounced on the front side of the tongue. Then pull back the tongue.





This is the hardest one for Japanese speakers out of all the R blend vowels. Make sure that you take time to pronounce this vowel. Slowly and clearly.

The tongue position is pretty low. The vowel [ɑ] is pronounced with the jaw dropped and the tongue being down. Then pull back the tongue.





The tongue is low but not as low as for [ɑ]. You want to dropped the jaw just a little. Then pull back the tongue.





Were you able to pronounce these vowels? Which ones were easy and which ones were difficult?

Let me know if you have any questions.


If you are interested in private or group lessons, contact Aiko.

Thank you for visiting my blog and watching the video.


See you next time.

American English pronunciation coach. Studied linguistics at UCLA. Specializing in phonetics, phonology, intonation, and second language acquisition.

She likes music and Toastmasters. Recently she enjoys playing ukulele and hand bells.