top of page
  • Writer's pictureLilly Lichaa, M.S., SLP

How to Pronounce the "ER" Sound with an American English Accent (with Video)

Did you know that the "ER" sound (like in "teachER") is the most difficult "R" sound to achieve even for native speakers of American English?

If you are learning the American English accent but are struggling with the "ER" sound, then watch this video on how to say the ER sound for the 5 elements you NEED to know in order to pronounce this tricky sound.

If you're learning the American English accent but are struggling with how to pronounce the ER sound like in the words "wonderful," "doctor," or "perfect," then you are in the right place because in this video, you'll learn exactly how to pronounce this tricky sound.

I'm Lilly, your American English accent coach at Prime Time speech and I teach English learners how to speak clearly, confidently, and accurately. In today's video, we're going to be practicing the ER sound and I'm going to share with you the tips that you need in order to pronounce the sound accurately and we are going to practice this sound in conversation which is ultimately the goal. Let's begin with the five tips you need to know.

Step one: placement

Place the sides of your tongue to the top insides of your molars. Be careful, you don't want to have your tongue touching the very back molars. If you find that to be the case, just move your tongue a bit more forward.

Step two: bunching

Keep your tongue anchored at that site of the molars where I was showing you in step one and bring the body of your tongue backwards and bunch it up and keep it really tight. The tongue tip is going to lose its pointiness in this position.

Here's a word of caution for those of you just learning how to make the R sound. Some people curl their tongue backwards when they're saying ER, AIR, R, etc. I encourage you, for those who are new to the R sound entirely, to avoid that and here's why. While this is an accurate way to make the ER sound, it is not entirely efficient because there are no other sounds in the American English language that require your tongue to be curled. So, anytime you're going to have to transition from that curled tongue into the next sound, you risk flapping your tongue up against the palate, which creates a different sound (a different problem) and it's not very efficient as you try to transition to the next sound.

Make your journey to a clear American English accent easy and efficient by learning the bunched back R.

Step three: a tight tongue Keep your tongue tightly against the molars, bunch back your tongue, but this time remember to tighten your tongue. From the side view, you can see the difference of when I have a tight tongue and when I don't (See minute 3:00 in the video for the demonstration).

Step four: jaw opening Pay attention to the amount that your jaw opens. You can estimate this by looking at how much space there is between your top and your bottom teeth.

I have a very little amount of space between my teeth when I say this sound. If you notice that you're saying the "AR" sound instead of the "ER" sound, you're probably opening your jaw too much, you're going to see more space in between your teeth, and that's the biggest clue that you need to close your jaw.

Step five: lip rounding Round your lips slightly when making the ER sound. This is an important element when creating this sound. You just want to be careful not to have the sound coming out of your lips otherwise you are making the W sound and that can get confusing for your listener.

Those are the five most important aspects of creating the ER sound. Every time you practice this sound, you need to reset to your mouth. What this means is you practice the ER sound, you get into position, and then once you're done practicing that attempt, you go back into a neutral position, you relax your jaw, you bring back your lips into a neutral position, and you rest. Let's practice ER with words.

Here are common words with the ER sound:


expert dinner

future customer purpose offer never Let's practice these same words in sentences. For a challenge, try to match my speed as I say these sentences. I'm going to say them at a normal pace, rhythm and intonation so that you get practice speaking naturally. What time is your interview? She's an expert at programming.

Dinner's ready! His future is looking bright. She's a loyal customer. I didn't do it on purpose! Did you take the job offer? I have never been to Japan. Let's practice asking and answering questions with the ER sound. A great way to do this is by asking "have you ever" questions. Have you ever been to Denver? Yes, I have been to Denver.

Have you ever flown in a helicopter? No, I've never flown in a helicopter. Have you have you ever seen an alligator? Yes, I have seen an alligator. If you liked this video, be sure to hit that like button, subscribe to this channel, Prime Time speech, and click the bell so you don't miss any future trainings like this one. See you in the next video!

🔔 Subscribe for more American accent tips and pronunciation videos ➡️ @primetimespeech

WATCH 🎥 How to Say SQUIRREL with an American accent: • How to say SQUIRR...

GET ✅ your FREE worksheet with the "ER" sound here:

GET ✅ the "HAVE YOU EVER" activity here:

GET ✅ the ENTIRE "ER" packet with language activities and games here:

6 views0 comments
bottom of page