Unit 11: Spelling the sound /er/: ur, ir, ear, or er ?

Teaching point There are 4 main ways of spelling this vowel sound. There are no rules to help you decide which spelling to use - you have to rely on your visual memory.    

Say the words aloud and listen to the vowel sound:

Help spelling English words with er sound Help spelling English words with er sound Help spelling English words with er sound Help spelling English words with er sound
ur as in burger ir as in shirt ear as in earth er as in person

Read the words in each list. If you are unsure of them, print this page and practise the words using 'Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check'.

ur ir ear er

fur*
blur
slur
nurse
purse
purple
burst
burn
turn
curl
hurl
surf
turf
church
Thursday
Saturday
curve
return
murder
turnip

birthday
thirst
circle
first
fir*
sir
stir
bird
third
girl
swirl
dirt
shirt
flirt
skirt
squirt
squirm
circus
thirty
thirteen

heard*
earn
learn
earl
pearl
early
search

fern
herb
serve
nerve
swerve
herd*
kerb
term
verse

NOTE Many words end in er but the sound is slightly different. Say these words aloud and listen to the end:
dinner hammer driver sweeter

See Unit 25 for more on these words

 
 
NOTE: words marked * are homophones. Please see page 8.

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Unit 11: Spelling the sound /er/

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ur words
ir words
British English spelling er and ear words