The pronunciation of R in English!


Introducing two pronunciation methods and exercises that are useful for pronunciation correction

The pronunciation of R in English is one of the typical pronunciations that Japanese people find difficult.

"Do you pronounce R in English with a curly tongue?"

"I don't know the correct answer because the explanation of the pronunciation of R is different depending on the teacher."

I think there are many people who are troubled by the pronunciation of R.

Conversely, if you can pronounce R well, your English will become closer to native English at once.

In this article, I will thoroughly explain the pronunciation of R, which many people struggle with.

I will introduce the difference between the R of the consonant and the R of the vowel, and the exercises to master each pronunciation method, so please use it for pronunciation correction!

Click here for Tomita-sensei's R pronunciation commentary video>

English R has two patterns, consonants and vowels

There is something you need to know to master the R sound.

There are two types of R, the consonant R and the vowel R, and each has a different pronunciation.

It's confusing that there are two types of pronunciation even though they have the same R.
However, if you know the difference between these two and can use them properly, it will of course improve your English pronunciation level.

Let's start with how to determine which R is a consonant and which vowel is an R.

What is the consonant R?

If an R comes at the beginning of a word, that R is a consonant R. This is easy to understand.

The phonetic symbol is the same as the spelling / r /, so it is easy to understand.

  • run / rʌn /
  • rabbit / ræbət /
  • road / roʊd /
  • read / riːd /
  • write / raɪt /

Regarding the last write, there is no R at the beginning of the word, but it is / ráɪt / in phonetic symbols, and it is recognized that R is at the beginning of the word. This is also a consonant.

And if the R comes in the middle of the word, or if the R is followed by a vowel, this is also a consonant.

  • cry / kraɪ /
  • dry / draɪ /
  • arrow / æroʊ /
  • free / friː /

What is the vowel R?

If there is no R at the beginning of the word, that is, in the middle of the word, or at the end of the word, the R is the vowel R.

In terms of spelling, remember that vowels such as er, ir, or, followed by R, or R followed by consonants are vowels R.

The R-colored vowel can be further divided into single vowels and diphthongs, but they are omitted here.

Phonetic symbols vary depending on the dictionary, such as / r // əːr // ɚː // ɜːr /.

  • girl / gəːrl /
  • bird / bəːrd /
  • order / ˈɔːrdər /
  • after / ˈæftər /

Differences in pronunciation between consonant R and vowel R

How does the pronunciation change when R is a consonant and when it is a vowel?

Let's summarize the difference between the two in an easy-to-understand manner.

How to pronounce consonant R

The pronunciation method of consonant R is to fix the tongue in a rolled state, squeeze the mouth vertically, and make a sound with the tongue as it is.

It is often written that when the R is pronounced, a sound close to the katakana "u" comes in first, but in reality it is pronounced "a".

However, because it is pronounced with the mouth closed, the result is closer to the sound of "U ~".

When pronouncing right, it sounds like "Urai" because of the "pursed mouth" and "pronounced with a curly tongue," which are typical of consonant pronunciation.

If the word starts with R, it becomes the consonant R and is pronounced with the tongue wrapped (right, red, etc.).

Even if it comes in a word, if the vowel follows the R, it becomes the R of the consonant, and it is pronounced with the tongue wrapped (try, very, etc.).

I think it's easy to imagine how to wrap the tongue, but wrap the tongue around and attach both ends of the tongue to the back teeth.

At this time, the correct answer is that the tip of the tongue is not touched anywhere.

Do not move your tongue from there, close the gap between your teeth to about 2 mm, squeeze your mouth, and say "Ah".

This sound is the consonant / r /.

How to pronounce vowel R

On the other hand, when the vowel R is pronounced, the mouth is squeezed like a consonant, but the tongue is not rolled (bird, park, etc.).

The characteristic of the vowel R is that it is pronounced with the tongue pulled back instead of the rolled tongue.

It is surprisingly difficult to create this "state with the tongue pulled back", so training is required to get used to it.

[Related article] What kind of sound is /r/ in English?

[Video explaining how to pronounce [r]]

Exercises (vowels/consonants) that help correct R pronunciation

R that is pronounced differently between consonants and vowels.

Both are pronunciation methods that are not found in Japanese, so in order for both to be able to pronounce correctly, appropriate exercise must be repeated.

So, here's a pronunciation correction exercise for Discovering Sounds.

There are exercises suitable for each of the R of consonants and the R of vowels, so please try them out!

Exercise suitable for consonant R pronunciation measures

"Tongue swinging exercises" is effective for improving the pronunciation of the consonant R.

The movement of rolling the tongue and the movement of swinging down are completely unnecessary for speaking Japanese, so it is a pronunciation that many Japanese struggle with.

Being able to use this movement makes it easier to pronounce the consonant R.

◆ Procedure for swinging down the tongue

  1. Round the tip and roll it in your mouth
  2. Slowly swing down the rolled tongue
  3. Attach the tip of the tongue down to the back of the front teeth of the tongue
  4. Repeat 1-3

◆ Points of swinging down the tongue

The key to doing this exercise is to keep the tip of your tongue touching nothing in your mouth.

Also, when you wrap your tongue, the point is to attach both ends of the tongue to the upper molars.

R has a strong image of rolling the tongue, but in reality, the movement until the tongue is swung down is a series of movements.

Swinging down the tongue often feels dull because it uses the muscles around the mouth more than expected.

However, it is important to practice steadily and repeatedly until you can reproduce the movement of your tongue naturally.

Please practice by referring to the video below!

Exercise suitable for vowel R pronunciation measures

If the R comes at the end of the word, it is the R of the vowel, in which case it is pronounced by pulling the tongue (earth or air).

"Tongue pushing exercises" is an effective way to get used to this movement.

This exercise is a muscle training that specializes in the movement of the part of "pulling the tongue".

◆ Procedure of tongue pushing exercises

  1. Stick out your tongue and put it forward
  2. Pull back (push) the tongue without bending it by 1 mm
  3. Attach both ends of the pushed tongue to the upper molars
  4. Repeat 1-3

◆ Points of tongue pushing exercises

This exercise makes the tongue pulling movement particularly difficult. Let's continue training until you can pull quickly and smoothly.

By repeating the movements of sticking out and pulling the tongue, it leads to the correction of the pronunciation of R of the vowel.

If you can pronounce in a relaxed state without putting extra effort, it will be much easier to speak English and your pronunciation will be much cleaner.

Please refer to the video below for "Tongue pushing exercises".


There was a lot of content, but the above was an explanation of the pronunciation of R in English. Did you all wrap your tongue when you say R? Or did you pull your tongue to pronounce it?

I didn't know that the pronunciation of vowels and consonants would change even with the same R! I'm sure the majority of people say that.

In this article,

  • There are two types of R in English, consonants and vowels.
  • How to pronounce consonants R and vowels R
  • Exercises that help correct the pronunciation of consonant R and vowel R

Was introduced.

With daily exercises, your English pronunciation will always change little by little. Make sure to incorporate tongue exercises into your daily habits!

Discovering Sounds uses a variety of native muscle exercises to train the muscles around the mouth that Japanese do not have, and to raise the pronunciation of English, which Japanese people are not good at, to the native level.

If you want to start English pronunciation correction in earnest or want to know more about Discovering Sounds lessons, please take a trial lesson!

In this article, "A thorough explanation of R in English! Introducing exercises for mastering R sounds whose pronunciation changes with consonants and vowels! I introduced about!