Bossy R

Estimated reading: 2 minutes

The fifth syllable type in the sequence is Bossy R or R-Controlled vowel. When r is next to a vowel, the sound changes. The most common combinations include: er, ir, ur, ar, or. Here are some tips when teaching Bossy R: 

  • When teaching the /er/ sound, ‘er’ is most common. Teach that first. Then ‘ir’ and ‘ur’. 
  • “Or” says /er/ when attached to a Latin base such as “tractor, doctor, and interruptor” or when it follows ‘w’ in words like “word, work, and world.” 
  • Underline the vowel and r as one vowel unit. The syllable gets labeled as BR for Bossy R. 
  • Students can identify syllable types such as Bossy R even in one-syllable words to help them decode unknown words. For example, the word is fern. 
    • (T) What is the vowel or syllable type in this word? (Bossy R [er])
    • (T) What sound is Bossy R making? (/er/)
    • (T) read the word. (/f/ /er/ /n/)
  • Always teach one concept at a time. Follow IMSE’s sequence for teaching Bossy R. 

Remember to use the Syllable Division Teacher Guide and the Syllable Posters to help you teach this syllable type. Model for students. Then allow for plenty of independent practice. Add Bossy R words to the Rapid Word Chart for additional practice in automaticity. IMSE’s Student Practice Books include plenty of decodable text for practice.