Do Americans pronounce "sure" rhyming with "pure", and not

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Tony D

Senior Member
Korean
According to Oxford online dictionary, it seems to say that Americans pronounce "sure" rhyming with "pure",
and British accent rhymes with "core". Is this correct?
I listened to Wordreference.com's pronunciation, and it sounds like "sure" doesn't quite rhyme with "pure".
 
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  • perpend

    Banned
    American English
    I think the standard American would pronounce "sure" to rhyme with "fur".

    I don't hear the version that rhymes with "pure", since "pure" is almost a two syllable word for me, so I don't really agree with what Oxford says.
     

    Tony D

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Rhyming with "fur" sounds right, and I think it is closer to online dictionary's pronunciation. Thank you very much for your reply.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I do not speak AE. But, of course, I have heard Americans and based on my limited experience, the vowel sound in the middle is the same as in put - /ʃʊr/. Of course, it is often followed by schwa - /ʃʊər/ and then /r/. What I have never heard is sure rhyming with fur. To me, the vowel sound in fur is completely different in all varieties of English (which may be seen as too simplistic :), but I still maintain it)

    PS. However, our American friends say I should have my ears checked - see below. :)
     
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    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I think my sure rhymes with pure ... and only rhymes with (is identical to) shore when I'm wrangling cattle.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    I agree with Copytright. I think, however, that there are a few different ways sure is pronounced, and none of them is wrong. It is probably something regional in the United States.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I think that people who pronounce sure to rhyme with pure must pronounce pure differently from me. The way I pronounce 'pure' is what perpend seems to mean when he says is almost a two-syllable word ~ something like p-yur ~ and I can't make the sound follow sh.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I agree that there are regional differences. I have heard "shoo-er" (although not that distinct), which I suppose is the variation that rhymes with "pure", and also a version that rhymes with "fur". I've also heard something that sounds very much like "shore" and other people who say it much like "show". Some New England accents sound to me like "shuh".
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    In that series "Stargate" this central character, a colonel, likes to say "yesshuh you betcha" (yes sure you betcha), making a little rhythmic out of it.

    But most people I've met say it so it rhymes with "pure". However it is not an exact rhyme; it is just the sound "oo" is partly present in both of them.
    If one were to really articulate both , then, yes, they are very close rhyme.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Well, all my (BrE) family and friends say I have a very strong American accent, but I'm not sure if my response helps the specific of the original question! For me, sure is like shore, pure is like ewer (starts with a jod, or y sound) with a p up front (cf endure, inure, pew) and fur is still non-rhotic and perhaps my longest schwa (Now there's a movie title :eek:). All three very different.
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Well, all my (BrE) family and friends say I have a very strong American accent, but I'm not sure if my response helps the specific of the original question! For me, sure is like shore, pure is like ewer (starts with a jod, or y sound) with a p up front (cf endure, inure, pew) and fur is still non-rhotic and perhaps my longest schwa (Now there's a movie title :eek:). All three very different.
    And let me guess, all your American friends think you have a very strong British accent.
     

    Shaun I.

    New Member
    English-Irish/American
    I usually hear it pronounced like the word 'shore' as in "She sells sea shells down by the sea shore."
     

    Shaun I.

    New Member
    English-Irish/American
    I do not speak AE. But, of course, I have heard Americans and based on my limited experience, the vowel sound in the middle is the same as in put - /ʃʊr/. Of course, it is often followed by schwa - /ʃʊər/ and then /r/. What I have never heard is sure rhyming with fur. To me, the vowel sound in fur is completely different in all varieties of English (which may be seen as too simplistic :), but I still maintain it)

    PS. However, our American friends say I should have my ears checked - see below. :)
    I have heard it rhyme with fur, but rarely. Usually it is said that way by people who move around a lot, are really tired, or talk fast.
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    I pronounce "sure" just like the first syllable in "Shirley." Which of course is the source of the recurring joke in the Airplane! movies:

    Surely you're joking!

    I'm not joking, and don't call me Shirley.
     

    MikeLynn

    Senior Member
    Hi, I was a bit surprised by the notion that sure and pure rhyme in AE, so I looked them up in my comp's dictionary (New Oxford American Dictionary) and I got the following results: pure/pjʊ(ə)r/ sure/ʃʊ(ə)r/, so I sort of wonder what's happened to the "soft start" of the cluster between the P and RE—the italicized bold face j" cluster—in pure? Except for this, it really rhymes; however it sounds quite different, at least to my ears.:confused:
    M&L
    I think that Tony D was a bit worried by the different sound of the "vowel stuffing" in the two words.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I did a little exercise counting the different pronunciations at forvo. This certainly not representative but I find the proportions believable. Out of the 8 samples by North-American speakers we have:
    /ʃuəɹ/ : 2x (bjhinton & joie)
    /ʃʊɹ/ : 1x (siurtan9)
    /ʃɝ/: 5x (KieliAnne, mdkarazim, nowadventuring (realization is a bit higher, i.e. [ʃɪ̈˞]), mattpsy, griffeblanche)

    /ʃɝ/ (i.e. rhyming with fur) was the standard pronunciation in Georgian/Regency-English, i.e. when BE and AE started to diverge. Again one of those cases where AE preserved more of the old, common pronunciation than BE.:)
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hi, I was a bit surprised by the notion that sure and pure rhyme in AE, so I looked them up in my comp's dictionary (New Oxford American Dictionary) and I got the following results: pure/pjʊ(ə)r/ sure/ʃʊ(ə)r/, so I sort of wonder what's happened to the "soft start" of the cluster between the P and RE—the italicized bold face j" cluster—in pure? Except for this, it really rhymes; however it sounds quite different, at least to my ears.:confused:
    M&L
    I think that Tony D was a bit worried by the different sound of the "vowel stuffing" in the two words.
    I don't do IPA, but I did try saying sure, pure and fur ... and it may be a personal aberration, but it's closer to pure than fur for me.
     
    I don't do IPA, but I did try saying sure, pure and fur ... and it may be a personal aberration, but it's closer to pure than fur for me
    For me, too, Copyright - almost like "pure" but not quite.

    As this thread demonstrates, there is a lot of variation in the way Americans pronounce "sure." I pronounce the vowel sound sort of like the "oo" of "poor," but not quite as long. I definitely don't say "sher." There may be a regional aspect to this - people from the Midwest and West may be more inclined to "sher" than Easterners. Since the word "pure" has been mentioned as rhyming with "sure," it might be worth noting that some Americans pronounce "pure" as "pyerr" (same vowel sound as "fur" with a "y" sound in front of it).
     

    MikeLynn

    Senior Member
    Hi Copyright, I absolutely agree with you :) and if I should try to come up with three groups of words with the same sounds, I would probably, of course, there are more, list these as examples: 1) fur /fər/, fir /fər/, purr /pər/, 2) sure /ˌʃʊ(ə)r/, lure /lʊ(ə)r/ 3) pure /pjʊ(ə)r/, cure /ˌkjʊ(ə)r/.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    MikeLynn, are you sure [=shore :D] you want to group 'sure' and 'lure' together? My 'lure' rhymes with 'cure' and belongs to your 3rd group. :)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Boozer, what is clear from the discussion is that the AW /ɔː/ pronunciation is non-American! Over here, we hear a lot of /ɔː/ for pure, lure and cure but /ʊə/ for sure, tour and poor.
     

    MikeLynn

    Senior Member
    MikeLynn, are you sure [=shore :D] you want to group 'sure' and 'lure' together? My 'lure' rhymes with 'cure' and belongs to your 3rd group. :)
    The first group, with the schwa only, seems to be pretty common and so does the third one where the the /ʊ(ə)/ cluster is preceded by a /j/. The ones that only have the /ʊ(ə)/ seem to be surprisingly rare. As for lure, I triple checked my dictionary to make sure that lure, except for the l/s difference, has the same pronunciation as sure. It might be AE / BE difference :)
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Yeah, it must be. It most likely has to do with the /l/ sound that Americans use in that position (lure) :)
    No, it has nothing to do with difference in pronunciation of /l/ in AE and BE.

    /ju/>/u/ after coronal consonants appears systematically in some dialects. In AE, this shift has become standard, as in due, new, tube, lure ... and many more.
    The shift does not occur after labial consonants, like mute, pure, fury, ...
    Equally, it does not occur after dorsal consonants, like cute, cure, singular, ...
     

    jmichaelm

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I was born in Oklahoma with one Native American parent, lived in Massachusetts for 15 years and then in New Jersey. I married a woman from Wisconsin.

    I am reasonably confident that in AE there is no single way any vowel sound is pronounced across all American regions and ethnicities.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    I agree with you, Jmichaelm. There are also so many different grammatical constructions and idiomatic expressions used across the country that is is really hard to talk about any strict standards.
     
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