The letters er are the most common way to spell the /er/ sound. They make the /er/ sound about 40% of the time. Unfortunately, there is no rule for when the letters er make the /er/ sound within words. Students will have to orthographically map the spellings of words with the /er/ sound. Luckily, most kids only need one to four exposures to a word to orthographically map it for reading. Spelling will likely take more practice.
Rules for the /er/ Sound with the Letters ER
While we don’t have rulers for the letters er making the -er sound in words, -er is also a suffix. The suffix -er is always spelled with the letters er. There are even two different suffixes spelled with the letters -er.
First, we use -er to turn a verb into a person who does that action.
teach –> teacher
bake –> baker
listen –> listener
paint –> painter
Second, we use -er to turn adjectives into comparative adjectives. Comparative adjectives compare the quality of two things. We often learn about comparative adjectives with superlative adjectives. Superlative adjectives compare the quality of three or more things.
soft –> softer
pretty –> prettier
nice –> nicer
cold –> colder
Practicing the /er/ Sound with the Letters ER
You can check out my video with a routine for practicing mapping and spelling words where the letters er are making the /er/ sound.
Here is the word list I promised! Click on the picture, and you will get to the .pdf.
Reading and Spelling Practice
Learning to read and learning to spell are closely connected. Students will learn how to read faster than they learn how to spell, but reading practice improves spelling and spelling practice improves reading.
Want more spelling practice? You can check out the lessons below!
Want more reading practice? Check out the scope and sequence for my Learning to Read program.