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150+ R Controlled Vowel Words [Free Printable Lists]

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The ultimate Bossy R Lists! Get two pdf lists with over 150 R-Controlled vowel words, including AR, ER, IR, OR, and UR. The worksheets are organized by R-controlled syllables, including a list of 1 syllable words & a list of multisyllabic R-Controlled vowel words.

A bright orange background with two worksheets with R-controlled Vowels Words.

R Controlled Syllables

A syllable is a word or word part that includes one vowel sound. Once you have introduced children to these five r-controlled vowel sounds, it is time to teach a new syllable type: The R-Controlled Syllable!

👉 Anytime there is a vowel followed by an R in a word or word part, that is considered an r-controlled syllable.

👉 An R-controlled vowel can come at the beginning (art), the middle (part), or at the end of a syllable (car).

Graphic of 4 r-controlled vowel words by syllable labeled with vowels in red.

1 Syllable Words

  • AR words: Car, bar, far, part, hard, start, arm, jar, dark, farm, Mark, star, yard, spark, yarn.
  • ER words: Her, verb, herd, perm, fern, term, Bert, perch, germ, clerk, jerk, stern, per, serve, nerve.
  • IR Words: Bird, girl, first, third, sir, shirt, dirt, birth, firm, stir, skirt, whirl, thirst, twirl, flirt.
  • OR Words: Corn, for, or, born, north, horse, torn, short, shorty, sort, storm, force, horn, form, york.
  • UR Words: Nurse, turn, fur, hurt, church, purse, burst, burn, curve, curb, urge, curl, surf, blur, burnt.

2+ Syllable Words

  • AR words: Target, market, harbor, carbon, party, cargo, artist, partner, garbage, Marvin, carpet, farmer, army, pardon, carnival.
  • ER words: Butter, otter, sister, ever, copper, person, herself, perfect, observe, determine, Jersey, concern, expert, desert, servant.
  • IR Words: Birthday, circus, dirty, thirteen, thirsty, swirling, girlfriend, confirm, virtual, thirty, affirm, birdcage, skirmish, squirting, circle.
  • OR Words: Forest, order, corner, story, forty, morning, orbit, orange, scornful, Florida, support, accord, normal, report, afford.
  • UR Words: Turkey, purple, turtle, return, further, furniture, occur, disturb, murmur, purpose, Thursday, nursery, burden, current, burger.
Photograph of student holding a highlighter marking the Bossy R one syllable words

Practice with Word Lists

📑 These printable pdf worksheets are great for so many things!

👉 These word lists are great to use with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students. They should already be familiar with open, closed, and VCe syllables.

👉 Use for dictation, as a quick reference for examples, for syllable division, cut and paste sorting, or have students read for fluency!

👉 Dictate the words while playing our free R-Controlled Bingo Game!

Visit our TPT store to get tons of resources to teach R-Controlled vowels.

The first list includes only one syllable R-Controlled vowel words with keywords. The second list includes multisyllabic R-Controlled vowels (2-3 syllables).

Both lists have five columns so that words are easily organized according to the R-Controlled vowel (ar, er, ir, or, ur).

  • One-Syllable anchor words with pictures: car, her, bird, corn, nurse
  • 2+ Syllable Anchor words with pictures: target, butter, birthday, forest, turkey
Photograph of student with the worksheet cut apart sorting words by r-controlled vowels.
A student cuts and sorts the worksheet according to the R-Controlled vowel
An orange Pinterest image showing 150+ Bossy R Words with two worksheets displayed.

Download & Print

Have you used these lists with your students? We’d love to hear about your experience!
Please leave a comment below or tag us on Instagram @literacylearn.

DOWNLOAD TERMS: All of our resources and printables are designed for personal use only in homes and classrooms. Each teacher must download his or her own copy. To share with others, please use the social share links provided or distribute the link to the blog post so others can download their own copies. Please do not save our files to a shared drive, reproduce our resources on the web, or make photocopies for anyone besides your own students. Your support in this allows us to keep making free resources for everyone! Please see our Creative Credits page for information about the licensed clipart we use. If you have any questions or concerns regarding our terms, please email us. Thank you!


  1. I teach English to adults and your free downloads are very helpful. Like others, I have subscribed to your email, but I am prompted to subscribe again when I try to download.

    1. Hi Donna,
      Thanks for subscribing! We have it set so that when you enter your email, a downloadable file will be emailed directly to you. You won’t get subscribed twice or anything like that 🙂 Hope that helps clarify things for you.
      Katie and Laura

    1. Hi Maryann,
      Sorry we don’t include any 3 syllable words on this list. You can check out our resource that includes 2,000 words organized by phonics skills. You can find that TPT resource here.
      Katie and Laura

  2. Hi,

    R controlled syllables. Can you explain why air/ear are not included with the R controlled syllables. Example stair/learnt/beard. Thank you. Heather

    1. Hi Heather,
      You’d have to analyze each word to determine the syllable type. For the the word stair, ‘ai’ is a vowel team which is why you hear the long a sound. Beard is also a vowel team syllable, with the ‘ea’ making the long e sound. In the word ‘learn’ the ‘ear’ makes a /er/ sound, like the r-controlled vowels er, ir, & ur. So I would consider ‘learn’ an r-controlled syllable, along with other words like earn, earth, early, pearl, search, etc. I hope this explanation helps! Always feel free to reach out if you have any questions! We’re here to help.
      Katie & Laura

    1. Hi Diane! Scroll to the bottom of the post, to the “Download & Print” section, and click on the blue “Download” button. If you still have trouble, email us and we’ll help you troubleshoot! 🙂 -Katie & Laura

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