ER (her) Sound Word List
The /er/ sound has five spellings, er (term), ir (bird), ur (burn), ear (learn), and or (work). The consistent "r" at the end of each spelling makes them relatively easy to learn to read as /er/ sounds. However, there are few obvious spelling patterns, so the particular spelling of the /er/ sound in each word must be memorized.
Unlike the /or/ and /ar/ sounds, the /er/ sound combines a schwa sound (a brief /u/ sound) with the /r/ sound. Since it can be spelled with an "a" (collar), an "e" (her), an "i" (fir), an "o" (work), a "u" (fur), a "y" (syrup), and even with the digraph "ea" (earn), teaching it as two sounds would introduce the need to test the schwa sound for each of those letters. Choosing to teach spellings of a single /er/ sound instead removes that need and simplifies instruction.
Of the 7,000 words in the database constructed from a popular children’s dictionary, 79 of them are one-syllable words in which the vowel sound is /er/.