In the Cambridge Dictionary I see the pronunciation of the word shore is represented by /ʃɔːr/. In the WordReference dictionary it is instead pronounced as /ʃɔː/. The "r" sound is silent in the last one. Are they both correct?

Also is the word sure pronounced exactly the same as shore?

  • The word sure is pronounced exactly the same as shore by many speakers of English, and differently by many other speakers of English. Why Cambridge Dictionary chose this pronunciation of sure, I don't know. I suspect /ʃʊə/ would be the pronunciation generally taught in ESL classes. Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 10:38
  • @sumelic I'll keep in mind what you said for my next question. I'm really confused now about the pronunciation, what am I supposed to look at? is there another dictionary which is somehow "clearer"? Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 10:52
  • Unfortunately, each dictionary has its quirks. I would recommend picking one, and learning what its quirks are by trying to find a pronunciation guide and by cross-checking how it transcribes the pronunciations of words that you already know how to pronounce. There are some dictionaries listed here: meta.english.stackexchange.com/a/2574/77227. You can also listen to audio recordings of the word, from the dictionary or from other sites such as Forvo, and see how what you hear fits with what is written in the dictionary.
    – sumelic
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 10:55
  • @PeterShor Actually, the /ʊə/ vowel has been dropped entirely by most EFL books and courses. The reason is that it is dying out over here. Only a minority of older speakers use it. Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 12:25
  • @sumelic , 8469759, The reason that Cambridge have given it as /ʃɔːr/, is that they need a better editor/proofreader. It is a typo. 8469759, you don't need a better dictionary. Cambridge is fine. This is just a tiny mistake. Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 12:27

2 Answers 2


The Original Poster has found an enormous typo/display problem in the Cambridge Dictionary. The type of British English described in the Cambridge Dictionary is Southern Standard British English. This variety of English is non-rhotic, which means that we only pronounce R when it occurs directly before a vowel sound. The correct pronunciation is /ʃɔː/, not /ʃɔːr/. If you listen to the audio, you will find that the British English speaker does not have an /r/ at the end of that word.

The Original Poster asks if it is a homophone with the word sure. The answer is that it depends on the speaker. People under fifty are likely to pronounce the two words exactly the same. However, some older speakers use a diphthong in the word sure and pronounce it /ʃʊə/. So for these speakers the two words are entirely distinct.

  • Out of curiosity is it indicated somewhere the type of english described in a dictionary? (specifically in Cambridge) Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 12:42
  • @user8469759 I don't know where it is written down, but all British English dictionaries use RP/SSBE as their model. Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 12:58
  • @Araucaria: I don't think it's a typo, it seems to be consistent for all entries for words that end in r: for, pure, tour (it doesn't occur in words such as short). The help page says that the dictionary is supposed to use superscript r for "linking r"; I wonder if it some kind of display issue is causing this to be displayed for us as full-size r.
    – sumelic
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 13:07
  • Supporting the idea that it is a display issue: according to the help page, there's supposed to be a superscript schwa in the transcription of label, but the actual online dictionary entry seems to just use a normal-sized schwa character.
    – sumelic
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 13:10
  • @sumelic Smart detective work. It could be that then. But it looks like it's a general problem their end, because it seems to be appearing that way for all of us! Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 15:42

No. Most (but not all) of England and Wales (but not Scotland) is non-rhotic, which means that a final /r/ is never pronounced unless the word is followed in the same breath-group by a vowel-initial sound.

  • But is your distinction based on the accent? Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 12:09
  • @user8469759 Yes, a "Standard British" accent. Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 15:54
  • And I assume "Standard British" means "UK-RP", am I right? Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 15:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .