The word QUARTER can be tricky. Say it with confidence — it can be used various ways in English conversation. This video shows how the AW as in LAW [ɔ] vowel is different when followed by the R [ɹ] consonant.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to go over how to pronounce the word ‘quarter’.
I’ve gotten quite a few requests for this word. Thanks to everyone who requested it. It’s a useful word. We use it with time: quarter till six. We use it with money: I still need one more quarter. We use it to mean 1/4th in lots of situations: He’s working quarter time, I’ll give you a quarter of the brownie.
This is a two-syllable word with stress on the first syllable. This means the second syllable should be noticeably shorter. DA-da, quarter, DA-da, quarter.
We begin with the KW consonant cluster. Kw, kwwwwww, quarter, quarter. But here’s a tip to make it simpler: a lot of Americans, myself included, won’t make the W sound. We’ll just make the K sound, and then go right into the vowel: so it’s quar-, quar-, instead of quar-, quar-. This is not what it says in a dictionary, but it’s what we do. Listen to the examples again.
Quarter till six.
I still need one more quarter.
He’s working quarter time.
I’ll give you a quarter of the brownie.
So we have the K consonant, where the back of the tongue comes up and touches the soft palate, kk, kk, kk. Qua-. Then, if we’re skipping the W, we go right into the vowel. If you want to make the w, round your lips more. Qu. But here, I’ll focus on dropping it. Quar-, quarter, qu-. The vowel is the AW as in LAW vowel. But it’s not a pure AW vowel, qua-, because it’s followed by the R sound. When the AW vowel is followed by an R in the same syllable, it’s quite different. Instead of AW, it’s aw, aw, aw. What’s happening. My lips are rounding a little bit more, qu-, and my tongue pulls back a little bit. That brings the sound further back in my mouth. Qua-, -ua-, instead of AW. The reason is the R. The tongue pulls back and up for the R, so it’s influencing this vowel. Qua-, my tongue is lifting more and it’s a little further back than for a pure AW vowel. Quar-, quar-. Now we have the R sound. The middle part of the tongue lifts up, and back a little bit, so the tongue touches the upper teeth in the middle of the mouth, about here, quar-, rr. The front part is down so it’s not touching anything. Keep this position in mind, because the schwa-R sound at the end is almost the same.
We have one sound in between, a Flap T. This T is not a True T because it comes after an R, before a vowel. To make the Flap T, the front part of the tongue, which isn’t touching anything for the R, bounces up to touch the roof of the mouth, quarter. It doesn’t stop the air. Quarter, quarrrrrrrter. So hold out the R: nothing needs to change except for the bounce of the front part of the tongue, quarter. Bring your tongue right back into position for the R to finish off the word, quarter. Notice how my lips are flared for most of this word. They do this for the R, quar-, quarter. For the second R, they flare a little less because it’s in an unstressed syllable, so everything is less important, positions are more relaxed. Quarter, quarter.
Let’s look at this word up close and in slow motion.
If there’s a word you’d like to learn how to pronounce, put it in the comments below. And don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list. If you like studying English, you’ll like it. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.