These are both central vowels. However, /ɜr/ is a high vowel and /ɑ/ is a low vowel. When you pronounce /ɜr/, the sides of your tongue should lightly touch your upper teeth.
You can hear the difference between /ɜr/ and /ɑ/ in these words.
1. A. curb, B. cob 2. A. hurt, B. hot 3. A. clerk, B. clock 4. A. surfed, B. soft 5. A. earner, B. honor 6. A. gurgle, B. goggle
Listen and repeat these words:
1. stir 2. purse 3. church 4. surf 5. learn 6. curb 7. perk 8. birth 9. purpose 10. research
11. merge 12. dessert 13. burned 14. furnace 15. hurdle 16. courage 17. personal 18. certain 19. murder 20. furthermore
Now, practice /ɜr/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentences.
1. return - curfew You need to return before your curfew. 2. certain - weren't - burned Are you certain you weren't burned? 3. heard - learned - surf I heard that you learned to surf. 4. first - serve - dessert First we'll eat dinner, and then I'll serve dessert. 5. early - work - personal I got up early to work on a personal project. 6. further - merge Drive a little further, then merge into the next lane.
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