In these sentences below, can I pronounce the "are"s as /ər/ instead of /ɑr/? I am talking about American English.


1) "Problems of most people are not big."

2) "People who smoke cigarettes are gross."

3) "People who smoke are gross." (Note: Even though I don't like cigarettes, this is not my thought.)

4) "People who hate me are deluded."

For the people who don't know about phonetics: /ər/ is the sound you make when you pronounce the second syllable in "better", and /ɑr/ is the sound you make when you say the words like "car" and "far".

  • While you might hear some people pronounce it ər in some contexts, I wouldn't pronounce it like er as in better in any of those sentences. Are you asking because you heard people say it that way, or just asking in general?
    – stangdon
    May 20 '18 at 17:27
  • Thanks. I am asking in general. Because as far as I know, if we don't need to stress the word "are", we don't have to pronounce it as /ɑr/. But I was just not sure about the sentences like the ones I gave. May 20 '18 at 17:31
  • I'd nearly always use a neutral schwa instead of fully-enunciated are in all the examples above, and that would be the same schwa as the second syllable of better (usually beʔƏ, since I'm a bit "Cockney"). May 20 '18 at 17:43
  • @FumbleFingers Thanks. You are British though. :) I wonder if the same thing can be done in American accent since I've been learning American English. May 20 '18 at 17:52
  • The first sentence is not grammatical. Car and far contain phonemes that are pronounced differently in BrE and AmE. American English speakers do pronounce "are" as /ər/ at times. "They er going" for "They are going".
    – Lambie
    May 20 '18 at 19:18

As an American, we shorten "are" to /ər/ in fast spoken pronunciation.
But usually only if the final sound of the word before the "are" is a consonant sound.

I would pronounce these two sentences the same, if speaking quickly:

Problems of most people are not big. => Problems of most peopler not big.

Notice how the "are" seems to attach itself to the end of the previous word. That flows easily pronunciation-wise in your examples 2 and 3 as well.

People who smoke cigarettes are gross => People who smoke cigaretteser gross
People who smoke are gross => People who smoker gross

However, it doesn't flow as naturally and easily with your last example because the word before ends with a vowel sound, making it hard to attach the "are" as /ər/. If I try to say /ər/ after "me", I am forced to make it its own syllable, and since "are" should be pronounced /ar/, then that is how it gets pronounced in that sentence. It ends up taking more energy to force it to be pronounced as /ər/ in that situation.

People who hate me are deluded.

(Note: The words "peopler", "cigaretteser", and "smoker" in the examples are meant only to show pronunciation, and are not examples of proper spelling or grammar)

  • 1
    so it is like the northern uk 't sound, shortening the whole phrase 'to the' to ' going tshops'
    – WendyG
    May 21 '18 at 11:52

North American English - /ar/ like car - is correct

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