HomeQ&APronunciation: I cannot roll the "r's" very well--any tips from anyone out there?

Pronunciation: I cannot roll the "r's" very well--any tips from anyone out there?


Hello--I cannot roll the "r's: when trying to pronounce certain words. I have tried the "motorboat" trick, the "purr like a cat", even trying to just take two words like "por carretera" and repeating them over and over.
Any tips from anyone out there?


updated MAR 31, 2011
posted by Boatman
Bienvenido al foro. Welcome to the forum. - 0074b507, JUL 14, 2010

4 Answers


This is how I see it:

If you "grrr", your tongue does not vibrate against the top of your mouth. Your tongue is stiff. We need the tongue to move and vibrate against the top of your mouth f you want to pronounce the "rrrr" sound.

It's difficult to explain, but I hope it helps.

updated JUL 15, 2010
posted by MadderSky
Thank you for the response--I am trying to "make like a flag in the breeze" but I still have trouble! I will keep trying for sure. - Boatman, JUL 14, 2010
I'm not sure if I understood what you tried to say, but if I did, I think the tongue vibration should be more aggresive than a breeze. Good luck! :D - MadderSky, JUL 14, 2010
True--my intent is NOT to keep my tongue so stiff--I think that is my main problem. Still working on it though! Thank you for the post! - Boatman, JUL 15, 2010

We have a few previous threads on this and it is also described in our Reference articles on pronouncing Spanish letters if you care to research.

Here is one of the reference articles. There are two on pronouncing the Spanish alphabet.

Someone gave me a link to a fantastic site once on pronouncing the Spanish alphabet. It showed diagrams of where the tongue was placed, the flow of your breath and showed the tongue moving as you heard the letter pronounced. I don't have a link to that site any more, but it is out there if you like googling.

updated JUL 15, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
Muchas Gracias--I will look at those articles for sure. - Boatman, JUL 14, 2010
Those sound very interesting... I want to make my thesis be about English pronouncitation, so I can give a course for teachers. - MadderSky, JUL 14, 2010
I think this is what you're talking about: http://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics/ - socceryo3, JUL 14, 2010
Yes, that is the one. - 0074b507, JUL 14, 2010
That would be great idea madder Searching Youtube I have even seen Spanish speaking teachers of English make pronuncation errors that are bad enough to hinder understanding . It should br do not make pronunciation - BellaMargarita, JUL 14, 2010
I found that site Socceryo3!--great illustration of the tongue's movement when you pronounce the "r" or "rr"! Thanks for sharing it! - Boatman, JUL 15, 2010

I learned to "roll/trill" the r sound while I was studying Italian from a linguistics expert. The latino rolled r uses an entirely different tongue position than that used to make the English r. To learn to roll the r don't think of the sound as that of an r but think of it as a rapidly pronounced double "d" or double "t" as in the words: Eddie or Betty.
Try saying Eddie & Betty real fast over and over and you should be able to begin to make the trill r sound. Once you get it, keep practicing it and you will get good at it. It took me about three weeks and a fair amount of practice to add this sound to my speech.


updated MAR 31, 2011
edited by gerry118
posted by gerry118

A book I have "Alpha teach yourself spanish in 24 hours" says to say David. Where the tongue is on D is where you need to be. Now just blow air. DDDDDDDavid. Then do it with an r sound. I have trouble with it but it's better than before.

updated MAR 29, 2011
posted by Atomic
Nice method. (Y) I actually tried it myself. - MadderSky, JUL 14, 2010
Thanks very much--I see what you mean by this exercise. I'm practicing right now! Muchas Gracias!! - Boatman, JUL 15, 2010
It worked for me. - gerry118, MAR 29, 2011
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