The Spanish "R"


Anyone have any tips on pronouncing the "r" correctly? I know it's something to do with where the tongue is psitioned, but I just can't seem to get it right. And as for the trilled "r", I can't do that at all. Ideas anyone :?:


Vroem, vroem vrrrrroem , like the motorbikes taking of in a race. rrrrotten apple. Why can't you do it ? ? Are you Thai, Chinese or is your native language one of the Far East . I got a zillion students like that :!: :!:


Hi Richard, As a native English speaker, I had the hardest time pronouncing anything other than the "swallowed" American R sound, until I started taking voice lessons. The first r sound, which is very transitory, is like a soft d sound, but the air is not interrupted. You're just kissing the d sound with a flip of the tip of the tongue on the forward roof of the mouth, just behind the upper teeth. The lively trilled r sound was much more difficult to master. I read online, and asked friends for advice, listening and watching them make the sound. My voice teacher said just keep practicing.. try different things until you get it. For the longest time I could only trill a sharp T or D sound, like a child making a machine gun sound. One day while driving, I got it. I made a trilled R sound. I then spend the next several days trying to duplicate it! Now I can purr to my cats, even. The best tip I read recently is to pronounce the English word "throw." This forces you to move you tongue right through the area where you can make the trill sound (and also has the light flip sound discussed above). A little more air pressure and learning to relax at the same time, and it will happen. Just keep trying! Good luck! -- Geoff ...who fogged up his car windshield many times working on the r sounds while driving...


Thanks Geoff, I'll try those exercises. I make a preety good job of the final r as in "Por FavoR", but any sylable that begins with an r is tricky. The reason is (Antonio) I suffer from a slight speech impediment where my Rs come out as Ws. Just my luck to be named Richard!! :? In English it is not a problem, but to get that authentic Spanish accent, it's a definate drawback. The medical term for this is, incidentally, Rhotocism. I wonder which sadist came up with the name for a condition that its sufferers cannot pronounce? Richard


Hello Richard. Don't feel to bad about this. I sit in a simular boat as you. I can't pronounce my own name either. Any word with ' lf ' I proniunce as lef. So, elf becomes ellef and wolf becomes wollef. I can do it, but veeerryyy slowly. My ex-wife was kind of speech terapist, working mostly with kids. She told me that usually the " R " problems are not difficult to solve, however they can take time. Regenerating nerve ends can take up to 3 months. The advice of gshepherd is good advice. Keep trying, try to " feel " what your tongue is doing and someday it will be there. I have the opposit problem than you with the R. I rrrroll my R's like a Scotsman. Every English speaking person thinks I am from Scotland. Comes in handy when speaking Spanish. Good luck. Antonio

Being fabulous at rolling one's Rs can have one drawback, though. Mauricio has noted that I have a tendency to roll my Rs even when only one 'r' is needed! It can be hard for us English-speakers to remember that the rolled R is actually a completely separate letter in the Spanish alphabet (or, at least, was before the Royal Academy made its changes). So watch out for rolling your Rs with words like "caro" and "pero." ;-)


I remember taking Spanish in 7th grade (my first year) and I remember the teacher making us all roll our R's as a class, to little avail. Some kids got it instantly, and a large group never did. I remember it feeling quite strange... the teacher made the sound and would ask us to imitate it, as if we should know how to make that sound from instinct! So I completely empathize with this problem. I recently started taking an intro to Spanish course in college (forgot most of that stuff I learned in high school--to the extent that I ever really learned anything other than some words and phrases), and encountered my problem with rolling R's again. I picked up Rocket Spanish as a supplement to that, and because I really wanted to go beyond this class and actually learn the language (I'm half Latino myself, so I feel as if knowing Spanish would get me closer to my heritage). It's been a few months and I'm still having a really hard time, especially with the words "carro" and "perro". "perro" is the worst! When I try to say it, it comes out sounding Middle Eastern with a "hack" like "Pe-hhhhhcckk-ro" :cry: Otherwise, I can make the Spanish R sound pretty well, I just can't roll it. The closest I can get to rolling an R (and only with certain words) is more in the back of my throat as if I was gargling. I know it's got to do with the tip of the tongue, and the roof of my mouth, but no matter how many times people tell me how they do it, I can't seem to understand what they mean, or imitate it, although it does feel at times as if I'm getting closer. I really wish there was a visual example showing the inside of the mouth and exactly what the tongue is doing, and whether or not to tense the jaw while doing it. I looked online a lot for help and found some resources that didn't help me all too much (helped a little though), but may help you. The common suggestion to say "ladder" over and over doesn't help me at all, but some of the other information is at least good for guidance. Thing is: people who can do it, just do it. They don't think about it, and thus can't really explain (at least not in complete detail) HOW they do it. It's like explaining how to walk. You'd really have to explain just what muscles to flex and just how to keep balanced, something that is easier done than said (at least once you've already DONE it!) Perhaps the fact I have a slight Long Island accent adds to the problem. I also have a large tongue relative to the size of my mouth, especially my upper jaw, which was under-developed when I was a teen and I needed orthodontic work to correct it. I'm wondering: is it possible to be physically incapable of trilling your R's correctly? Could some of us have the equivalent to a Spanish speech impediment? *Here's the links that I promised:* __ __'s


Hello! How are you? Thank very much! for every things that We have for know you today . . . .


I also had this problem. I am in my late 30s and throughout my life I was never able to gargle, or to make the vibration movement with my lips (all things various sources told me to do in preparation for the rolling r). I watched countless videos on youtube- but only one really helped, because it really showed me where to put my tongue. Even though I still needed to practice for sometime and do the exercises. Now I can gargle, I can blow lip vibrations, and most of the time I can roll my r's in speech when required. I still can't vibrate my tongue for an extended period of time, but I don't need to. I find it also helps to listen to spanish speakers a lot and you naturally imitate when they use the rolled r. Here is the link to the video that helped me


Hola! You will find this funny but us native spanish speakers also find it hard to pronounce the R sounds in the english languages...getting the middle R in the word refrigerator or murder is a "pain in the ass" as you americans say! (Excuse the bad words). But its a matter of practice even if this sounds clichè :) Keep up the good work fellow americans! I love that you guys are learning spanish , as a mexican i find it somewhat complemmenting (an honor) haha Tengan un bonito inicio de primavera! Saludos desde Tijuana, México


Amy, I hear natives rolling their R's all the time when only one R is needed. :)


I hear that a lot also, quite often in fact. When I first took Spanish in high school (50 years ago) I still recall where the teacher had us reading aloud in class. A paragraph I was reading had the name Rodriquez in it, and after about 10 tries she had me say it VERY slowly. Took me the rest of the school year to say it properly! I remember that like it was yesterday (I was so embarrassed).

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