The /r/ Phoneme (prevocalic and postvocalic)

The /r/ Phoneme (prevocalic and postvocalic)

The /r/ phoneme is an unusual sound. It’s typically categorized and treated like a consonant. However, in the post-vocalic position, when /r/ comes after a vowel (a, e, i, o, u), it takes on vocalic properties. This is recognized as a unique subcategory known as vocalic r, vowel r, or r-controlled vowel. The /r/ phoneme typically is treated consonantally, lumped together with the phonemes /b/, /d/, /f/, /g/, etc.; which has become an issue when targeted the phoneme /r/.

When a child has difficulties producing the /r/ phoneme, each variation of the /r/phoneme should be assessed in order to determine which variation needs to be targeted.

Here is a list of 8 variations of the /r/ phoneme: (prevocalic and postvocalic)

  • AR as in car
  • AIR as in software
  • EAR as in beer
  • ER as in butter
  • IRE as in tire
  • OR as in seashore
  • RL as in girl
  • Prevocalic R as in rain

It is important to identify which sound variation your child consistently mispronounces. A complete evaluation of the “R sound” is important. Once identified, pick one sound as the intervention target and practice only that sound until mastered. For example, if your child can’t say “more”, which is “or” in the final word position (sound at the end of the word) then practice words with the same sound and word position, such as door, floor, pour, sure, core, store. It is essential to have phonetic consistency!

Hope this was helpful! 🙂



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