How to Pronounce "R" in Spanish
Learning how to pronounce the simple and rolled r sounds of Spanish is important because some Spanish words are exactly the same except for the type of r they contain!
For example, the word pairs above (pero and perro) and (caro and carro) differ only in that the first word in each pair has a simple r, while the other has a rolled r. Keep reading to find more about how to pronounce the Spanish r!
The Simple R Sound in Spanish
Pronunciation Tips for the Simple R
To pronounce the Spanish alveolar tap, you touch the tip of your tongue to your hard palate once. Your hard palate is essentially the roof of your mouth - if you run your tongue over the area behind your front teeth with your tongue, you should feel a little bump. This little bump is called the alveolar ridge and is where the roof of your mouth, or hard palate, begins. To pronounce the Spanish simple r, you touch your tongue to the area just behind the alveolar ridge.
The Spanish alveolar tap is actually very similar to the sound most American speakers use to pronounce the t in words like water and hater!
You use the alveolar tap to pronounce the single written letter r when it occurs:
- between two vowels, like in aro (hoop) and para (for),
- when preceded by a consonant other than l, n, or s, like in brazo (arm), and presente (present),
- at the end of a word, like in amar (to love) or vivir (to live).
Here are examples of common words containing the simple r, or alveolar tap, in Spanish!
The Rolled R Sound in Spanish
Pronunciation Tips for the Rolled R
To pronounce the Spanish trill, you quickly touch the tip of your tongue to your hard palate more than once. This multiple tapping motion is where the term rolling your r's comes from - the multiple taps of the tongue against the roof of the mouth make it feel you're rolling your tongue around!
Many speakers of Scottish English roll their r's in words like car and girl!
You use the trill, or rolled r, to pronounce words containing two written letter r's (like in carro) or the single written letter r when it occurs:
- at the beginning of a word, like in rojo (red) or Raquel (Rachel),
- when preceded by the consonants l, n, or s, like in alrededor (around), enredar (to tangle), and Israel (Israel),
- at the end of a word, like in amar (to love) or vivir (to love). (Remember that some speakers will pronounce this sound with a simple r).
Here are examples of common words containing the rolled r, or trill, in Spanish!
|to cause to blush|
|to snuggle up|