R Sound

r:(red, sorry, write)

English Pronunciation, Lesson 22

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The R sound (IPA symbol: r or ɹ) can be found in American English words such as red, car, sorry, Friday, and write.

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How to pronounce the R sound

R is a consonant sound. A consonant is any letter in the alphabet that is not a vowel (vowels = a, e, i, o, u).

letter R

The R sound is called a liquid consonant. This means that the position of
your tongue changes the path of the air as you produce this sound. The air still comes out of your mouth, but its path is not straight because of the placement of your tongue.

To correctly make the 
R sound, your tongue needs to be in the correct position. Raise the back of your tongue to lightly touch the back teeth on both sides of your mouth. The center part of the back of your tongue should be lower to allow air to move over it. The tip of your tongue may curve a little, but it will not touch your mouth or lips. Your tongue will be tense. It will not be loose.

The position of your lips is in a tight O shape. Your lips will be slightly different depending on the placement of the 
R sound in each word.

Rachel, from Rachel's English, shows how to create the 
R sound in this helpful video!

It might take a while to become comfortable speaking the R sound. If you are not comfortable with this sound, it just takes practice! Some people have problems making the 
R sound, so they make a W sound instead. If you want to speak English correctly and improve your accent, you do not want to make this mistake. You need to know the difference between these two sounds.

Rachel shows us the difference between these two sounds in this video.


There are three ways to spell the R sound:

1. R as in red and Friday

2. RR as in worry and sorry

3. WR as in write and wrong

The WR spelling should be pronounced a little different than the other two sounds because your mouth closes to make the W before the R.

Native English speakers usually pronounce the R sound no matter where it is in a word. But in some dialects, the R sound is dropped (silent) in certain words. 

The R sound can be at the beginning of a word (red, wrong), at the end of a word (car, after), or anywhere in between (Friday, sorry)


Let's practice

First, practice pronouncing the R sound and the W sound in these pairs of words.

R sound W sound
red wed
read weed
ride wide
cry why
store glow
storing glowing

These are just a few words with the R sound. There are many words in the English language with the R sound.

R sound at the beginning of a word

1) red

2) right

3) wrong

4) ring

5) rope

6) write

7) rent

8) rich

9) rose

10) rabbit

R sound at the end of a word

1) car

2) bar

3) father

4) mother

5) singer

6) star

7) teacher

8) far

9) near

10) here (The R sound is at the end of the word because the E is silent.)

R sound in the middle of a word

1) sorry

2) carry

3) bring

4) caring

5) worry

6) boring

7) are

8) cry

9) store

10) mirror

Now say these sentences out loud (the R sounds are bold):

1) Do not cry!

2) The teacher is very boring.

3) Mother, you are a star!

4) Tie the rope around the bar.

5) I am sorry I broke the mirror in the store.

7) My father has a red race car.

8) Write the letter to your brother.

9) How are you?

10) The ring is on the wrong finger.

first place

Have you finished them all! Great job! Continue to practice the R sound to make sure you are doing it correctly. 

Improve your accent

In some languages, the R sound can be switched with the L sound. In other languages, the R sound may not even exist.

If you want to improve your accent, you need to practice both of these sounds and learn to pronounce them correctly. Not knowing how to pronounce these sounds can lead to errors in pronunciation.

Want more tips on how to improve your accent?

Read this article: Top Ten Tips.

Click Here for the American Accent Audio Course.

Well done! You have completed this lesson.

Let's move on...

List of Lessons

Lesson 01: International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

Lesson 02: Word Stress and Syllables

Lesson 03: Long E sound (meet, see)

Lesson 04: Short I Sound (sit, hit)

Lesson 05: UH Sound (put, foot)

Lesson 06: OO Sound (moon, blue)

Lesson 07: Short E sound (pen, bed)

Lesson 08: Schwa Sound (the, about)

Lesson 09: UR Sound (turn, learn)

Lesson 10: OH Sound (four, store)

Lesson 11: Short A Sound (cat, fat)

Lesson 12: UH Sound (but, luck)

Lesson 13: Soft A Sound (arm, father)

Lesson 14: Long O Sound (boat, know)

Lesson 15: Long A Sound (say, pain, make)

Lesson 16: Short O Sound (not, off, socks)

Lesson 17: Diphthong (a combination of two vowel sounds)

Lesson 18: P Sound (cup, punch, pull) and B sound (cub, bunch, bull)

Lesson 19: The Nasal Sounds (M, N, NG)

Lesson 20: F Sound (four, lift, graph, tough) and V Sound (love, knives, grave, vine)

Lesson 21: W Sound (wow, quit, where)

Lesson 22: R Sound (red, sorry, write)

Lesson 23: H Sound (he, behind, who)

Lesson 24: T Sound (top, it, later) and D Sound (do, had, made)

Lesson 25: S Sound (sit, box, cats) and Z Sound (zip, buzz, boys)

Lesson 26: K Sound (kid, talk, black) and G Sound (go, big, dog)

Lesson 27: L Sound: Light L & Dark L (tall, like, English)

Lesson 28: Y Consonant Sound (yes, you, beyond)

Lesson 29: CH Sound (China, century, watch) and J Sound (Germany, educate , judge)

Lesson 30: TH Consonant Sounds – voiced TH sound (the, father, them) and voiceless (unvoiced) TH sound (think, birthday, south)

Lesson 31: SH (shop, chef, special) and ZH (usual, massage, Asia)

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