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The rolled "r" in Italian


Hi, I've recently started the Rocket Italian course, and the one sound I find difficult (like many English speakers I believe) is the pronunciation of the letter "r"; I believe it should be rolled with the tip of the tongue.

Has anyone had the same problem, and are there any practice tips for the newbie?
(Hope I've chosen the correct category for this query!)


Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Hi Peter,

One trick is to pronounce words like "butter" or "ladder" very fast. Keep at it ("butter butter butter butter butter...") and at some point you'll hear this faint "d" sound which is fairly close to the Italian R sound.

Maybe try practicing with these: faro (lighthouse), baro (swindler), caro (expensive).

Hope this helps!



Thanks Lucia!
I'll give that a try.



As an fairly accomplished trombonist, I can tell you that the rolled r is the exactly the same technique those who play wind instruments refer to as flutter tonguing.  It can only be produced and sustained while air is steadily flowing out across the tongue.  So take a deep breath, put the tip of your tongue near (just barely touching) the roof of your mouth, part your lips just slightly, and gently push air over your tongue and out your mouth.  now practice, practice, practice :-)


Thanks both.

I am finding it is easier (for me anyway) to almost get the sound right after certain consonants, particularly 't'; e.g, I usually get the 'r' in "tre" close to the way Maria says it.
If a word contains more than one 'r' it's a bit more difficult for me to get the second one right.

I'll keep practicing!



I couldn't pronounce the rolled "r" And then I realzied I could do it easily with the words La Traviata. I practiced saying this and then advanced to other words


Michael, I am also a trombonist.  Your flutter tongue analogy is "spot on".  Carlo, if your get bored with "Traviata",  "Trovatore" will also do the trick! You also get to practice the "r" twice in one word.


... and here are a few additional Italian words to practice the rolled "r"! 
  • Ruscello (stream) 
  • Rubinetto (faucet / tap) 
  • Respiro (breath) 
  • Rossetto (lipstick) 
  • Risotto (risotto) 
  • Ritratto (portrait) 
  • Rosa (rose) 
  • Rinascere (to be reborn)

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