The r Sound (/r/ Phoneme)

This lesson is about the r sound (/r/ Phoneme), as in:

  • from /frɒm/
  • through /θruː/
  • and great /greɪt/

It is a sound from the Single Consonants group.

How to Pronounce the r Sound

The r sound is called the “alveolar approximant,” which means that you put your tongue near the roof of your mouth and voice out.

The r sound is made through the mouth and is Voiced, this means you use your vocal chords. It is defined by the position of your tongue. It is an approximant, which is a sound made by making a narrow space in your mouth through which air flows. In this case, it’s the space between your tongue and the top of your mouth.

To produce the /r/ sound, curl your tongue near the roof of your mouth and voice out through your mouth. You’re aiming for the tip of your tongue to be right behind the little ridge behind your teeth but it does not touch any part of the mouth.

How the /r/ Phoneme is Spelled

The /r/ Phoneme is spelled with the letter ‘r’, or sometimes with a double ‘r’ as in the word:

  • carry /ˈkæri/

Here are some words that start with /r/.

  • really /’rɪəli/
  • right /raɪt/
  • run /rʌn/
  • and result /rɪˈzʌlt/

Here are some words with the /r/ sound in the middle.

  • very /’veri:/
  • three /’θri:/
  • program /’prəʊgræm/
  • and parent /ˈpeərənt/

In British English, words do not normally end with the /r/ phoneme. Words that end with the letter ‘r’ instead normally end with the /ə/ phoneme.

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