When pronounce [r] when no?

My question is simple: when (in what context) we must pronounce the [r] and when we must not ?
I’m so confused, for instance I saw the word surf wrote phoneticly with [r] in answer.com (wich is american web site I guess), and the same word is wrote without [r] in another dictionary !
Is it just difference between american english and british english ?
Thanks in advance

I as far as I know you pronounce surf as it is written, with the R. Some people in the Boston area of the US. drop their Rs, (don’t pronounce them.) But the word would still be spelled the same.
I don’t know the word suf. It could be an abbreviation for the word suffix in a dictionary.
I hope this helps.

there is no context as far as I’m aware for the word “surf”. it’s use is either as a verb or a noun and they are pronounced the same as far as I know.

depending on your accent, you may or may not pronounce surf with an “r”. american and canadian accents i assume would heavily lean on the “r” sound in the middle of the syllable (ie srrrrrf), whereas english and australian and new zealand accents would lean on the “u” (ie suuuuuuf) - the “u” being the same as in the in-between sound we use when thinking ie “errr”. i hope i’m being clear with that description!


Choose the accent that you want to imitate and imitate it. Do not worry too much about what it says in dictionaries. Listen to your favourite voices and try to be like them.

I say srrrfiss, but in England they probably say sa–fiss.

“Choose the accent that you want to imitate and imitate it.”
I think that’s good advice
I used to volunteer in an ESL class and students would ask me how to pronounce a word. (Sometimes, two of them were disagreeing over the pronunciation.) I would tell them this is how we pronounced the word in this part of the country. Sometimes, a person wouldn’t like the way I said the word because they had heard it differently somewhere else, (or read it wrong.) If I knew of an alternate pronunciation I would tell them.
I finally, got to the place where, if they really wanted to argue about it, I just said “Well, maybe that is a British pronunciation that I don’t know about.” (Which could have been true, I certainly don’t know all the English accents.) It seemed make them happy that they could be right. :slight_smile:
Also, your advice makes me feel better because, I have worried about which Russian accent to imitate. Moscow pronunciation is standard, but I used to have friends from Northern Russia and some friends from Ukraine, they each spoke some Russian words differently all of them would try to help me. I’d get a bit confused.

subuntug, from my experience the r is omitted in certain dialects when:
the vowel is long, and /r/ is at the end (car, door)
before silent vowels (were, where)
or before a consonant (surf, word, )

but NOT:
between vowels (general, different)
and especially not at the beginning of words (right, Russia, rock, (write))
or after a consonant (cry, try, break, Greece).

So, it’s not a question of randomly silent /r/s.

Thankyou for all your answers and all your advice. The consonent [r] it seems vocalised (transformed in long vowel in some cases or simply omited) in certain contexts more in british english and similar accents. Personaly, I prefer to pronounce it in all contexts like americans do. Because, the [r] is always pronounced in my native language, and I prefer imitate american accent because there are more content (podcasts, movies, books, web sites, and so forth) in american english.

Thanks again and till next time.