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Why is "er" sometimes pronounced /e/ as in:

Er schläft

and sometimes pronounced /eːɐ/ as in:

Er ist gelb.

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11  
They are not pronounced differently. –  lejonet Jan 4 at 18:37
3  
The first pronounciation seems wrong. The "r" is said, not always clearly, but it is not completely ommited. –  PMF Jan 4 at 19:11
    
What gives you the idea that they are? –  Emanuel Jan 4 at 20:34
    
@Emanuel "Rosetta Stone" –  Meysam Jan 4 at 21:19
2  
Then, the same phenomenon applies as described in the other answer... however, I would say that most people would at least pronounce a hint of an "a". it might be beyond what a student can hear, though or maybe we just hear it because we want to. –  Emanuel Jan 4 at 21:22

2 Answers 2

In some dialects or in colloquial German there are cases when er has different pronunciations, but not in "high German". There's actually no rule for that and you are fine pronouncing er as /eːɐ/ all the time.

One case where er could be pronounced differently is the following

A: Hat er das wirklich gesagt?? B: Ja, hat er.

In both cases, hat er could be pronounced like "hatä" or "hatär", but also like hat /eːɐ/.

Still, as I said, there's no rule, but from my feeling, the difference is that in one case (the high German pronunciation) both words are pronounced separately (hat er), while in the other case, both words are more or less pronounced like one word (hater, gehter, stehter, liegter, fragter).

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The word "Er" is pronounced the same way in both cases. You pronounce it like the letter "R" in the german alphabet.

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Half-right. Both cases are pronounced the same, but the letter "R" is pronounced differently, with a weak "e" and a strong "r" (I can't write IPA). –  Sentry Jan 10 at 10:55
    
Confusingly, in standard German pronunciation, the r in Er (or at the end of most other words) is not pronounced like the letter itself, but as a schwa /ɐ/. –  painfulenglish 19 hours ago

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