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

Now, look at the words in each list. Which do you know? Which do you need to learn? If you are unsure use 'Learn the Words' below.

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 Kerb is used in British English. In American English 'curb' is used instead.
term
verse

Learn the Words:
Study this word list 'Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check' spelling exercise English spelling games spelling test
Learn the Words:
Study this word list 'Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check' spelling exercise English spelling games spelling test
Learn the Words:
Study this word list 'Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check' spelling exercise English spelling games spelling test

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.

You have not completed a Learn the Words activity for each word list on this page.

When you are confident you know how to spell the words, click the arrow to continue.

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Unit 11: Spelling the sound /er/

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