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All About the R-Controlled Syllable Type

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Learn all about the R-Controlled Vowel Syllable Type, with detailed information, visuals, and resources to help you effectively teach your students all about this syllable type!

Blue background with a pile of books and title "What is the R-Controlled Syllable Type?"

What Is an R-Controlled Vowel?

In order to understand the R-controlled syllable type, we first need to answer the important question: What is an R-Controlled vowel?

An R-controlled vowel is any vowel (a, e, i, o, u) followed by the letter R. The R will then control the vowel and an entirely new sound is created.

R-controlled vowels represent 3 new phonemes (sounds) in the English language:

  1. AR says /ar/ like car 🚗
  2. OR says /or/ like corn 🌽
  3. ER, IR, UR say /er/ like her 👧🏼, bird 🐤, nurse 👩🏼‍⚕️

Display our FREE R-Controlled Vowel anchor chart to serve as a visual reminder of these sound units for your students.

The R-Controlled Syllable Type

There are six syllable types in the English language: Closed, Open, Magic E, R-Controlled, Vowel Team/Diphthong, and Consonant+le.

In English, every single syllable must include a vowel. In words with R-controlled vowels, the Vowel+R functions as the vowel within the syllable.

It is not just the vowel by itself, but it is the Vowel+R that creates the vowel within the syllable.

R-controlled vowel syllables are used in single syllable words like car, corn, her, bird, and turn. In these words, the Vowel+R is the vowel and we can categorize them as R-controlled syllables.

R-controlled vowels are also used in multisyllabic words like targeted, soccer, birthday, popcorn, and sunburn. In these words, we see multiple syllable types within a word.

This is where syllable division is used to break the words apart for accurate decoding.

Visual showing R-controlled vowel syllable words divided into syllables: art, chirp, corner, and burger.
Grab your own mini-posters for all the syllable types!

Here’s further explanation of the above visual:

  • In the one-syllable word ‘art’, the AR serves as the vowel within the syllable.
  • In the one syllable word ‘chirp,’ the IR serves as the vowel within the syllable.
  • In the word corner (2 syllables), we have two R-controlled syllables The OR serves as the vowel in the first syllable – cor. The ER serves as the vowel in the second syllable – ner.
  • The the word ‘burger‘ (2 syllables), we have two R-controlled syllables. The UR serves as the vowel in the first syllable – bur. The ER serves as the vowel in the second syllable – ger.

Students need to have a firm command of R-Controlled syllables will be required in order to read and spell longer, multisyllabic words.

Remember: The whole point of learning syllables types is to give kids the tools to help them chunk words and then accurately pronounce words.

R-Controlled Syllable Words

👉 Get a free printable list of 150+ R-Controlled Vowel Words, organized by vowel and syllable types.

One syllable R-Controlled Vowel Words Examples:


Multisyllable R-Controlled Vowel Word Examples:


Helpful Tips and Info

  • Follow your scope and sequence which will tell you when to introduce R-controlled vowels to your students. Most teach the R-controlled syllable near the end of first grade and instruction continues into second grade. This should be taught only after students are firm reading and spelling words that include closed, open and Magic E syllables.
  • Looking for resources to help your instruction with the six syllable types, including practice for syllable division? Look no further at our Syllable division bundle.

Related Resources

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