Simplified–What are the rules for “ER,” “UR,” “IR”?


The other day I asked, “Am I reading this outline correctly?” A few helpful replies apprised me that, no, I was not 🙂

The outline, GRLS, which means Girls, stumped me. Now, I am familiar with the principle of leaving out unhelpful vowels, but I am used to “Er” sounds being expressed with the small circle followed by the R–this is how it is explained in the book (the obscure vowel sound, as it is termed). So how come sometimes, as in GRLS and BTR, the e is left out, but in many other cases, SERV•, LERN  and ChERCh, it is included?

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  1. In general, the general rule is that there is no overall rule. In the case of the obscure r vowel, if writing the circle causes a backward movement, the circle tends to be eliminated to make the outline easier to write. This is the case with "girl" and "better". Notice that if you try to insert the circle in “girl”, since you have two opposite curves of unequal size (g and r), you would have to catch up the back of a smaller curve, and that's not easy to do well at speed. In "better", there are two reasons: (1) if you insert the circle, the t would tend to curve because you would need to write it outside the angle, making it harder than necessary, and (2) the ending -er (and -or) is expressed by r.

    The e after the s in "serve and the e in "learn" follow the natural motion of the s and the l, so they're easy to write. Lastly, in "church", they wanted to include the e in between downward straight strokes (sh, ch, j) and r for legibility, that's all.

    Bottom line: Make a note of the outlines.

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