Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox.   SUBSCRIBE
The Kid Should See This

Is “R” a Vowel?

Watch more with these video collections:

Vowels are an essential component of spoken language and are used to form syllables and words. In the English language, there are five (or six) vowels: A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y.

But, as sociolinguist Dr. Erica Brozovsky explains, the way linguists define vowels may mean that R can qualify as a vowel, too… at least sometimes.

“R is an incredibly weird letter with so many different sounds and functions. It’s a wonder that we use one symbol to represent them all. And how people pronounce that one letter can speak volumes about their history and social background.”

r sounds
What three qualifications must a vowel have? What’s going on in your mouth when you make an R sound? And how is the pronunciation of the letter R “one of the most vivid differentiators between English dialects?”

Learn these answers and a lot more in this episode of Otherwords from PBS Storied.

How New Yorkers pronounce R in words
Watch Otherwords on YouTube and on TKSST, including:
The “Screwed-Up History” of English Spelling
• Popular Words Invented by Authors
• A History of Pronouns: Little Words That Say a Lot

Plus: More videos about words.

This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.

Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.