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How To Pronounce the Spanish R

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The Spanish letter R is easy to pronounce but is often mispronounced by English speakers. Here are some tips for getting it right.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 10 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Keep in mind that there are two R sounds in Spanish: the single R sound and the double R (or RR) sound.
  2. Keep in mind that the single R sound is used whenever the single R appears in a word, except when it's at the beginning of a word or after an L, N or S, when the RR sound is used.
  3. Keep in mind that the Spanish R doesn't have the distinctive R sound of English. Think of it as a separate letter entirely.
  4. Remember that the single R is pronounced with a single flap of the tongue against the roof of mouth.
  5. Say these words rapidly as you would if they were English words, and with the accent on the first syllable: peddo, pahdah, cahdah.
  6. Congratulate yourself. You have approximately pronounced the Spanish words pero (but), para (for) and cara (face).
  7. Note similarly that in English many words that have T or TT between vowels have the same sound, which is different than the T in "today." Examples are "cattle," "bitter" and "attic."
  8. Practice using the same sound in other positions. For example, to say primo (cousin), rapidly say "pdee-mo," but pronounce the "d" by hitting your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
  9. Again congratulate yourself. You're on your way to learning this sound.
  10. You can hear the r pronounced by native speakers in our audio lesson on pronouncing the r. Words spoken in that lesson are pero (but), caro (expensive), primo (cousin), tres (three), señor (Mr.) and hablar (to speak).
  11. You can also get advice from About.com readers on pronouncing the r.

Tips:

  1. Try to imitate the sound of the R as it is pronounced by native speakers.
  2. Don't even be tempted to pronounce the R as it is pronounced in English.

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