The pronunciation of these different terminations is often very similar. In fact, it is not easy to decide when to use one or another.
The lists given below give some common words ending in each of these terminations and these should be learned by heart. Note that this is not an exhaustive list.
Words ending in -ar
Pillar, scholar, calendar, vicar, particular, pedlar, beggar, solar, grammar, circular, similar, altar
Words ending in -er
Miner, traveller, saddler, conjurer (or conjuror)
Robber, summer, alter, clever, character, prisoner
Leather, manner, messenger, villager, farmer, meter, tiger, interpreter
Words ending in -or
Minor, impostor, inventor, traitor, debtor, surveyor, actor, tailor
Doctor, ancestor, governor, emperor, sailor, author
Professor, visitor, liquor, director
Words ending in -our
‘-Our’ is the common termination of abstract nouns.
Endeavour, humour, hour, vigour, rigour, valour
Colour, ardour, candour, demeanour
Words ending in -re
Centre, massacre, theatre, sombre, calibre, metre
Words ending in -ure
Leisure, signature, manufacture, agriculture
Literature, imposture, nature, venture, enclosure, miniature
Words ending in -ur
Murmur, sulphur, augur
Words ending in ceed and cede
Common words ending in these terminations are given below and students should add to this list as they come across fresh examples.
Proceed, exceed, succeed
Accede, precede, concede, intercede, secede
Note the spelling of ‘supersede’
A number of words end in -or in American English and -our in British English. Examples are: color and humor (US).
Similarly some words end in -er in American and -re in British English. Examples are: center and meter (US)