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Readers Respond: Learning To Pronounce the Spanish R

Responses: 10


From the article: Pronouncing the 'R'
If you try pronouncing the R of Spanish like you do in English, not only will you be wrong, you'll also mark yourself as someone who doesn't care about trying to pronounce correctly. Although the R of Spanish is different than what you're used to, it isn't all that difficult, and millions of native English speakers have mastered it. If you're one of those, please offer your explanation to others so they can learn as well. Share Your Advice

Turning R to D sound is tough

I don't know how you can substitute a D for the R when a lot of the Spanish words are in conjunction with consonants. "Tres" would be like trying to say "tdes," very difficult. I'd much rather have the person try to just say it as a normal English R than attempt to say it was a D. Try learning as a regular R, then get to the point of a Spanish R with practice. I can't see how making it a D after consonants is easier, especially if you're teaching children.
—Guest Peg

R more difficult after a consonant

I think I have a harder time pronouncing "r" preceding a consonant or even at the end of a word rather than after a consonant, although it's although much easier when there is a vowel before or after.
—Guest Juscallmechris

Like a machine gun

1. Imitate the sound of a machine gun, vibrating constantly your tongue for at least 2 seconds, in the same position that your tongue uses to pronounce a "d." In a couple of days your brain and your tongue will get used to produce the rrrrrr Spanish sound. You will be able to pronounce carrrrro (car), perrrro (dog), mirrrrrrra (myrrh), etc. 2. Just reduce the duration of the vibration of your tongue, and you will be able to produce the rr sound in carro, perro, mirra, morro. Practice every day saying: rra, rre, rri, rro, rru first (many times as possible). 3. Now, every time you see the letter "r" in the beginning of a word (raquel, rezar, rio, rosa, ruso) or the letter "rr" (tierra, corre, pirri, morro, corrupto) you can use the rr Spanish sound that you just learned. 4. When you find just one r in the middle of a word (para, tire, caricia, toro, curuba) or at the end of a word (amar, caer, reir, color, sur), reduce the "machine gun" vibration to zero but keep the rest the same.
—Guest Native Spanish Speaker

"Pedro" worked for me.

I am so new at Spanish speech. I don't have any words of advice at this time, but the "Pedro" for the R worked great for me.

Like the sound in "thirty"

It is not uncommon in North America to hear the word "thirty" pronounced as if the spelling of the word could be "thurdy." I found it helpful to learn that when this happens, the "t" [d] in "thirty" will, to the Spanish ear, sound like [r].

Easy as butter

Most people pronounce the "tt" in butter like it was "buder" rather than like "buter." That "d" sound is like the Spanish r. Your tongue should touch the alveolar ridge (might want to Google it). That's the ridge a little bit behind your teeth. What's the difference between that an a "d" in Spanish? The "d" is usually pronounced with the tongue touching the back of the teeth. It's a softer sound.
—Guest Josh

Learned to say the name "Pedro"

I am far from mastering the Spanish R, and am at even more of a disadvantage because when I was young, I learned the French R, which is a completely different beast entirely. However, I began to learn the Spanish R when repeating the name "Pedro. I think this may be a good place to start.
—Guest Still Learning

Embarrasing R and RR moments

For years I thought quinceañera was quinciñeta and my best efforts to pronounce perro came out as "pedo." I got away with the former but the latter definitely resulted in more than a few chuckles.
—Guest Ocbizlaw

Pronouncing doble r

Try saying quickly - tah dah, tah dah, tah dah. Practice this for several minutes a day.

Learning to pronounce the Spanish R

Practice the single R by saying the English words ladder, pitter, patter, potter. The DD and TT sounds in those words are tongue taps. If you can say them, you can say the R. Forget it's an R. Pretend it's the DD or TT in those words & you've got it! To do RR, same thing but fast and repeated. Use a lot of air. Practice in private. Think of a little boy with a machine gun.

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Learning To Pronounce the Spanish R

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