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How to Pronounce the American R

Updated: Aug 26, 2019

The consonant that is consistently most difficult for English learners is the American R [ɹ]. Native East Asian, German, French, and Spanish speakers, among many other peoples, have difficulty pronouncing the American R. Let's practice how to pronounce this all-American sound.


The American R is distinctly American, it's not a sound typically found in other English-speaking areas, such as the UK, Australia, or South Africa.


With practice, it gets easier to pronounce correctly. To make the American R sound correctly, the movement is entirely in the lips.


Move the lips so they round out a bit and curve in at the sides. Then release.


Watch this short video that I recorded for TakeLessons. Then practice pronouncing the American R [ɹ] sound correctly.


When you're ready, practice by repeating along with me the following words from the video.

  • red

  • radio

  • referee

For words that have the R sound at the end, the R is more relaxed.


Practice along with me in the video:

  • car

  • mother

The more you practice typical American vowel and consonant sounds, the more you will sound like an American English speaker.


And of course, if you ever need accent reduction lessons, I'm available in person at my Eastlake, Chula Vista studio and online via video chat. Contact me directly for more info or visit my TakeLessons page.


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