There are two “R” sounds in Spanish. The softer “R” sound was discussed in the previous lesson and I will now explain the pronunciation of the harder Spanish “R”. It is quite different to the sound of an English “R” and for this reason is one of the more difficult sounds to master for English speakers.
The hard, rolling Spanish “R” is heard when the “R” is doubled and with a single “R” that is located at the beginning of a word or after an “L”, “N” or “S”. It is a trilled sound formed by flapping the tongue against the front roof of the mouth. It might help you to think of the purring of a cat, a helicopter or the revving of a car motor. Try loosely holding the tip of your tongue to the front roof of your mouth and then blow air through, with a relaxed tongue.
I will now give you some examples of Spanish words featuring the hard single and double “R” pronunciation and I would like you to repeat each word after me paying attention to the distinct hard “R” sound. If you would like to see the meaning of any words you are unsure of please see the lesson notes.
Listen and repeat:
Cerrar: to close
Carro: car / cart
Remar: to paddle
Roncar: to snore
Ramo: bunch / bouquet
Enrique: male name, equivalent to Henry