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The word

has two syllables. The IPA for this word is ˈʌðər. We can divide the syllables in into a first syllable of /ʌ/ and a second syllable of /ðər/.

First syllable

/ʌ/

There is only one sound in the first syllable, the vowel. The vowel can be described as a low-mid back unrounded lax vowel. This vowel is made with a tongue height between that of a low vowel and a mid-vowel, with the body of the tongue held towards the back of the mouth (not central or forward), and with the lips being unrounded.

This vowel is often mispronounced by non-native English speakers. The most common mispronunciation is pronouncing this sound so that it sounds more like . The vowel is a low back unrounded vowel. So while both vowels are back vowels, pronounced with the tongue body in the back of the mouth, and without rounding the lips, there are some differences. The is a low-mid vowel, while is a low vowel, so the tongue height is somewhat higher when the vowel is said. Additionally, although in each case the lips are unrounded, American English speakers pronounce with lips that are spread much farther apart than when they say the .

Second Syllable

The first sound in the second syllable is , which is a voiced dental fricative. It's made by allowing your vocal cords to vibrate while air flows turbulently as your tongue nears, but doesn't touch, your two front teeth. This sound is somewhat difficult for many non-native speakers of English to make, because it isn't very common in the world's languages. Instead, these speakers might substitute the , the voiced alveolar stop. In order to properly make a instead of a , make sure that your tongue is near your teeth and is placed below them while not touching your teeth.

The second sound in the second syllable is . This sound is a very centralized vowel sound that is often found in unstressed syllables. Sometimes non-native speakers make a less-centralized vowel sound in order to sound "clear", but the issue is that Americans don't often use sounds like in unstressed syllables, so it makes the speech harder for Americans to understand because they aren't used to hearing it said that way. Make sure that your tongue isn't positioned too far forward or backward, and that it is raised to a mid-way height when saying the .

The third and last sound in the second syllable is , the voiced alveolar approximant. This sound is made by vibrating the vocal cords, positioning your tongue near your alveolar ridge , and allowing air to flow over the body of your tongue smoothly and without friction. Additionally, the lips are tensed and bunched while making it. This sound is often difficult for non-native English speakers to produce. A common thing that non-native English speakers may do when producing the is touching their tongue to the top of their mouth when saying it, which produces a trilled sound. This is something that native American English speakers do not do, so make sure to keep that in mind when you say words containing .


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