This article is written by one of the language teachers at italki                                                      Image by lizjones112 (CC by 2.0)


Do you have problems with how to pronounce r in Spanish? Do you know how to pronounce r in spanish? The correct pronunciation of this specific letter in Spanish has always been a problem for many Spanish students, but, why is this so difficult? One of the main differences between the Spanish and English language is the pronunciation of double letters like “RR” and “LL” which is a completely new sound for Spanish students and the achievement of its correct pronunciation is an overwhelming issue.  Here are 10 steps you can follow as you master the Spanish R and RR sound and learn how to pronounce spanish r.


1. Keep in mind that there are two R sounds in Spanish: the single R sound and the double R (or RR) sound. One of the common mistakes that Spanish students make is to think that Spanish letter R is pronounced the same way double R is. But, both sounds are grammatically different and are also pronounced in a different way. Using R or RR in a sentence can give a completely different meaning to a word, for example: “Caro” for expensive and “Carro” for Car.


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. In this case when letter R is at the beginning of a word or after L, N or S the pronunciation of single R is like RR, for example: Ramon, Sonrisa, Israel, Alrededor.


3. Keep in mind that in order to pronounce both letters correctly, you have to practice them constantly. Making a new sound is a process just like riding a bike, you will fall down many times, but if you keep practicing, you will dominate the technique at the end.  


4. Keep in mind that the Spanish R and RR don't share the distinctive "R" sound of English. Think of them as separate letters entirely. A common issue that native English speakers usually deal with is to think that the pronunciation of Spanish letter R is similar to its pronunciation in English. In this case, Spanish letter R is more like the pronunciation of “dd” in the English word “added”.


5. Remember that the RR is a trilled sound formed by a flapping of the tongue against the front roof of the mouth. Pronunciation of letter RR is made by rolling or thrilling the tip of your tongue against your palatal. An effective exercise is to bend the front half of your tongue and place the tip slightly behind where you would put it to pronounce letter “T” or “N” in English, then let it touch this spot slightly and exhale through your mouth allowing your tongue to vibrate against your palatal.


6. Visualize the front of your tongue as a flag flapping in a vigorous breeze. It is essential for your tongue to be tensed, but for it to touch your mouth only slightly. If you are touching this spot too hard, you will end up saying something like “D”, and if it is too loose, you will be just whistling.


7. Now try purring like a cat. If you've succeeded, you are approximating the RR sound. By imitating this sound you will be getting your tongue and ear used to the RR sound and you will be developing your capability to differentiate the single R sound from the RR one.


8. Another way is to pretend it is extremely cold.  Make the sound of exhaling with your lips flapping together and do the same thing with your tongue against the roof of your mouth.


9. Alternatively, relax and pretend you're a child making the sound of a revving-up motor. It is important to remember that getting to know how to make a sound should not be overwhelming nor frustrating. Even though some exercises may seem boring or unnecessary; the more you practice, the more you will develop your correct pronunciation.

10. Look for Spanish words with single R and RR and put yourself in front of a mirror. By doing this you will be able to take a look at how you articulate the sounds with your mouth and tongue while trying to pronounce these words correctly. This technique will help you to identify how both sounds are pronounced and the difference between them while speaking Spanish.

Learning how to make sounds correctly in another language is an issue that every language student has to face. Even though it is a challenging pathway, you should never give up on achieving your goals. I hope you know little more on how to say r in spanish.