Comprehensive Vocalic R Words List for Speech Therapy

vocalic r words

While one of the most common sounds in the English language, the vocalic /r/ can be challenging to pronounce. 

This can be because it’s hard to understand what is happening with the mouth when it’s pronounced, it requires better muscle control and appears alongside vowels, requiring additional articulation skills. 

If your child struggles with this sound, they may substitute the /r/ sound with /w/, saying ‘fair-wee’ instead of ‘fairy’ or ‘here-wo’ instead of ‘hero’. As a result, they can appear younger than their peers and struggle to communicate effectively. 

In this article, we’ll be focusing on the /vocalic /r/ sound and sharing a list of /r/ words, phrases, and sentences that you can use in home speech therapy or as a resource to support your professional speech therapy practice. 

You’ll also learn which fun games and activities can provide extra practice, discover how to pronounce the sound effectively, and how the patented Forbrain headset can help. 

Word list: Vocalic /r/ word list 

Improving your child’s pronunciation of the vocalic /r/ sound at home can feel like a daunting task because of the many variations of this sound. 

However, if you can help them understand where this sound appears in real-life language and give them plenty of varied practice, you will soon see a difference. 

To help you out, we’ve created a comprehensive list of the most common vocalic /r/ sounds used in English. This includes words where this sound appears in the middle (medial vocalic /r/) or end (final vocalic /r/) of the word. 

Use this list as an easy reference or encourage your child to read through them for extra practice. 

What is the vocalic /r/ sound?

Before we introduce the list of words, let’s take a quick look at what this sound is. 

The vocalic /r/ sound is a type of /r/ that happens when the letter appears after one of the vowels; a, e, i, o, and u. 

For example, the /r/ at the beginning of the word ‘ripe’ is pronounced differently from the /r/ that appears at the end of the word ‘pour’. 

There are six of these combinations in English:

  1. [-ar] as in the word STAR
  2. [-er] as in the word GIRL
  3. [-air] as in the word FAIRY
  4. [-ear] as in the word FEAR 
  5. [-or] as in the word SWORD
  6. [-ire] as in the word FIRE 

Further vocalic /r/ sound practice using short phrases and sentences

Your child should now be able to pronounce the vocalic /r/ sound in isolation, even if it does take a certain amount of effort and focus. The key to actually mastering this sound is to provide them with plenty of practice, using the word lists we provided above and then moving on to short phrases and eventually sentences. 

By doing so, their fluency will significantly improve, they’ll grow in confidence and they’ll also learn how to use their new skills to communicate effectively in a variety of contexts. 

Here’s a short home speech therapy program to help you do exactly this, recommended by the team of experts at Forbrain. 

  • Check that your child is articulating the vocalic /r/ sound correctly by working through the wordlist we shared earlier. If not, repeat the articulation exercises until they are reasonably comfortable. 
  • Next, use carrier phrases to encourage them to use these words in real-life contexts. 
  • Practice using short phrases and sentences for the vocalic /r/ sound. 
  • Play child-friendly games and activities and read with your child
  • Perfect their skills using our easy-to-use, scientifically proven Forbrain headset.

Carrier phrases

If you want to help your child use these vocalic /r/ words in everyday contexts and get plenty of practice, carrier phrases should be your go-to- speech therapy tool. Just choose a phrase, insert a vocalic /r/ word then practice saying it aloud. 

Considering that there are six variations of the vocalic /r/ sound, we recommend that you practice with at least three words from each category in the word list. 

Here are some of our favorite carrier phrases: 

  • “I see a…”
  • “I found a…”
  • “I want a…”
  • “He found a…”
  • “She found a…”
  • “I have a…”
  • “He has a…”
  • “She has a…”
  • “I like to…”
  • “He likes to…”

Put into practice, it looks like this:

  • “I want POPCORN”
  • “I like VAMPIRES
  • “She has a SPIDER”
  • “I see a MARBLE”
  • “I found a STAR” 
  • “He has CEREAL” 

Short phrases for the vocalic /r/ sound

Keep reading to find useful short phrases that include the vocalic /r/ sound in the middle or the end of the word. 

Use these with your child for extra practice and you’ll help them further improve their pronunciation of the /r/ sound. 

Short Phrases: Vocalic /-ar/ SoundShort Phrases: Vocalic /-er/ SoundShort Phrases: Vocalic /-air/ Sound
shiny starcute girlwooden chair
alarm clockdirty germslong hair
fast carlearn mathhungry bear
dark night hurt fingerbeware of the dog
loud barktall ladder home care
red heartfirst placestate fair
big yardshovel dirtscary nightmare
museum artfamily dinnertasty pear
shuffle cardsbig spidernice to share
old farmbig pursenew sheriff
glass marblewhite papersquare cake
white garlicbutter popcornmarried couple
start running tasty turkeyhappy parents
old garbageclassroom teacherpretty fairy
Short Phrases: Vocalic /-ear/ SoundShort Phrases: Vocalic /-or/ SoundShort Phrases: Vocalic /-ire/ Sound
long pierfour carsadmire her
bushy beardfast horsebig liar
clear oceannew storyvery tired 
loud cheerbored studentscary vampire
new yearfront doorroaring fire
weird hatwood floorbarb wire
crystal chandelierthick forestpretty sapphire
bowl of cerealloud hornroaring fire
small hearing aidyellow cornclothes dryer
garden shearsbutter popcornnew hire
long spear play sportsvisit Ireland
near the windowrain stormhome buyer
steer clear ocean shorechurch choir
school cafeteriapour waterbrave fireman


Short sentences for the vocalic /r/ sound

Let’s now take it up a level and start practicing those longer sentences that help further boost confidence, and fluency, and help your child use this sound comfortably in real-world contexts. 

As before, these include the vocalic /r/ sound in the middle and the end of the word. 

Short Sentences: Vocalic /-ar/ SoundShort Sentences: Vocalic /-er/ SoundShort Sentences: Vocalic /-air/ 
The dog’s bark is scaryI like butter on my toastShe has long, pretty hair 
He is holding a red heartHe won first placeI had a nightmare yesterday
The star was shining brightThey sat down for a family dinnerCan I have a bite of your pear?
She was at the start of the raceGerms are growing on the dishesThe bear was hunting for food
My food needs garlicThe girl is prettyThey had fun at the fair
It was dark, but the moon was outThe little boy hurt his fingerThey love being parents
I found a marble on the floorThey are both learning mathIt is nice to share your ice cream
The car is fastPlease find a new piece of paperA square has four sides
We will play a game with cardsShe takes her purse everywhereBe careful- don’t tear the paper
She visited her grandparents on the farmShe is wearing her favorite skirtThe sign says beware of the dog
The guard watched the hallwayI need to stir the soupRobert sat down on the chair 
I work in my yardA turkey sounds funny when it gobblesWhy should I care?
I want to see your artUse the ladder to reach the fruitThe fairy has a magic wand
Take the garbage out todayHe combed the dog’s furThe nightmare was scary
She has played the harp for yearsHe had a shovel full of dirtI picked a tasty pear from the tree
I have many different colors of yarnThe spider spun a beautiful webThere is a new sheriff in town
He pushed the button on the alarmShe whispered into the girl’s earHe visited the state fair 
The soldiers in the army stood to attentionThe classroom teacher is kind to meI told you to beware!
Short Sentences: Vocalic /-ear/ SoundShort Sentences: Vocalic /-or/ SoundShort Sentences: Vocalic /-ire/ Sound
The ocean is clear and beautifulShe was bored of watching televisionThe fire kept us warm
Everyone loves my crystal chandelier The horse is running fastHer mom thought she was a liar
He is thinking of cutting his beardCan I pour you a glass of water?We are going on vacation to Ireland
We walked to the end of the pierThere was a big hail stormCut the wire with pliers
The people are near each otherMom read them a storyShe is tired from working hard
The statue is holding a spearIt is my favorite toy storeThe necklace has a sapphire in it
He is acting weirdThe horn is gold and shinyHe wants to hire a new worker
It’s almost the end of the school yearWe are having corn for dinnerWe saw a vampire in the haunted house
She will steer in the right directionShe knocked on the doorThe boy admires his dad
He has earrings in his earI spilled water on the floorThey toasted marshmallows on the campfire
I checked the rearview mirror The chorus sang beautifullyShe put the clothes in the dryer
There are pyramids in the desertThe forest is full of treesThe fence had barbed wire on it
She is cutting the bush with shearsHe will be four in AprilThe choir loves to perform
He bought a souvenirLet’s eat popcorn on movie nightThey got a first-time buyer on their home
He will steer in the right directionThe tornado did a lot of damageThe Empire State Building is in New York City
Everybody cheered when she wonThe shorts were on saleThe fireman was very brave
Cereal is delicious for breakfastHe is going to eat the orangeThey handed out fliers to find their dog
The cashier is working hardYou can play many sportsThe umpire called a strike

Games & Activities with Vocalic /r/ Sound Words 

The best way to learn anything is to make it fun! That’s why playing games and activities with your child is an excellent way to master those tricky speech sounds. 

By doing so, they’ll also grow in confidence and be more likely to want to keep practicing the vocalic /r/ sound. 

Below are some excellent vocalic /r/ sound games and activities that are sure to tick all the boxes and are ideal for use with the patented Forbrain headset.

Play the Roar! Game

The easiest way to practice that vocalic /r/ sound is to encourage your child to roar like a lion.  If you can, find a fun picture of a lion and together, produce an exaggerated /r/ sound then repeat as many times as you like. 

Play the Pretty Parrot Game

This game encourages your child to repeat the sound that they hear. Find a picture of a parrot or even a stuffed toy then place it in front of you. Next, print the list of vocalic /r/ words and cut them out so they become flashcards. 

Hold the cards in your hand and ask your child to pull one from the stack. If your child can’t read the word yet, read it for them and then encourage them to repeat it after you. Every time they get the word right, give them a small reward. 

Play the Lucky Dip Game

If you have the resources available, playing the Lucky Dip game can be a fun way to reinforce their learning and encourage accurate pronunciation. 

Find a box or basket and fill it with items that include the vocalic /r/ sound (check the word list above for ideas), or find free images online and print them out. 

Then cover the box or basket and encourage your child to put their hand inside and pull out an item or picture. When they pull an item or image, encourage them to name it, using the carrier phrase, “I found a [insert word]”. 

Read Books

There’s perhaps no better way to improve overall language skills, spark your child’s imagination and strengthen your parent-child bond than reading a good book with your child. 

Find books that include the vocalic /r/ sound and you’ll reinforce the home speech therapy you’ve been doing and have fun at the same time. 

Read the books in our recommended vocalic /r/ sound list and encourage your child to repeat every /r/ word you come across for the best effect. 

How to Pronounce the Vocalic /r/ Sounds

Understanding the difference between the ‘normal’ /r/ sound and the vocalic /r/ sound can be tricky because they often appear to be the same sound. 

However, to teach others how to articulate this sound correctly, we need to start by checking what happens with our mouth, airflow, tongue position, teeth alignment, and vocal cords beforehand. 

The vocalic /r/ sound is a voiced sound made primarily by lifting your tongue back and up allowing it to move towards the roof of your mouth. Then the air should pass from your lungs, and over your tongue while you allow your vocal cords to vibrate. 

Here is more specific guidance. 

Pronouncing the vocalic /r/ sound 

Let’s choose one of the words we shared in the /r/ word list above such as ‘dark’ then practice saying it aloud, repeating it several times. 

As you do so, pay close attention to the shape of your mouth and lips, where your tongue is positioned, how the air flows from your lungs, and whether your vocal cords are vibrating or not.

You’ll see that your vocal cords are indeed vibrating, your tongue is pulled back and towards the roof of your mouth, your lips are slightly rounded and the air passes through your mouth and lightly over your tongue. 

Additionally, you’ll see just why it can be so hard for children to articulate this sound. Not only do they need to have excellent control over their tongue position, lips, and airflow but it’s very difficult to see how the sound is made from the outside. 

Despite this fact, most children can master this sound anywhere between three and nine years of age after they have mastered the ‘normal’ /r/ sound. If problems do occur, it’s usually because it’s difficult to transition from these vowel sounds to the /r/, and with practice, it can soon be fixed. 

Work through the vocalic /r/ sound list, phrases, sentences, games, and activities, read together, and use the patented Forbrain headset and your child will get the practice they need and have fun doing it. 

How to help your child produce the vocalic /r/ sound correctly

Ready to help your child get to grips with the vocalic /r/ sound? Follow these steps:

1) Ask your child to relax their tongue. You can encourage them to stick it out as far as they can and wiggle it around like a snake, ask them to blow a whistle, or try touching their nose with their tongue. 

2) Then ask them to find the back of their tongue and ask them to lift it to the roof of their mouth. You can tell them to imagine they are catching a fairy with their tongue if they need extra encouragement. 

3) Finally, ask them to push air from their lungs and use their vocal cords to say the word ‘fairy’. 

If they still find this difficult, keep practicing until they master how to articulate the sound. You can also watch this excellent video by The Speech Scoop for extra speech therapy help.

Using Forbrain to Upgrade Sound Practice

Enhance your child’s learning and mastery of the tricky vocalic /r/ sound by using our patented Forbrain headset. 

Used for just 10 minutes per day, your child will learn how to distinguish the sound, get instant feedback from the enhanced auditory feedback loop, and get the targeted practice they need to overcome speech challenges and grow in confidence. 

Scientifically proven and widely used by professional speech therapists, it uses cutting-edge technology and an innovative design to optimize learning, stimulate neural pathways, finely tune pronunciation, and sharpen articulation for effective, natural communication. 

Unlock your child’s potential with Forbrain today. 


Final Words

If your child is struggling to pronounce the vocalic /r/ word, don’t worry. Use the list of vocalic /r/ words, phrases, and sentences alongside the patented Forbrain headset and you’ll soon see a huge improvement. 

Reinforce their learning and make it fun by using games, activities, and books to help your child can improve their articulation, grow in confidence, and effortlessly use this tricky sound in everyday spoken language. 

Charlotte Witts

Charlotte is a linguistics graduate, ESL teacher, and parent who is passionate about sharing her expertise in speech therapy, language acquisition, and second-language learning so everyone can reach their full potential.

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