The sound /r/ voiced, palatal, liquid consonant




  • "r" - farrun
  • "wr" - wrap, write
  • "rr" - borrow, marry
  • "re" - more, stare

The consonant /r/ may be at the beginning of a word, in the middle of a word, or at the end of a word. If /r/ is at the end of a word, it has a slightly different sound. To pronounce /r/ at the end of a word (especially after a tense vowel like /iy/ or /ey/), use the vowel /ər/ ("-er") and drop the pitch of your voice in the middle of the vowel. Enunciate the final consonant clearly.
Try to hear the /ər/ and pitch drop in these examples.
  • near (NEE-er)
  • stair (STAY-er)
  • fire (FI-er)
  • lure (LU-er)

The consonant /r/ can be in these consonant clusters:
  • Beginning of a Syllable
/kr/ (sometimes spelled “cr”) - kraken, crime
/br/ - break
/dr/ - dream
/tr/ - try
/gr/ - grow
/pr/ - prize 
/spr/ - spring
/skr/ (“scr”) - script
/str/ - strong
/fr/ - friend
/θr/ (“thr”) - three
/ʃr/ (“shr”) - shrink
  • End of a Syllable
/rd/ ("rd" / "red" / "rred") - hard, cared, scarred
/rdz/ ("rds") - cords
/rt/ ("rt") - sort
/rts/ ("rts") - parts
/rb/ ("rb") - barb
/rbz/ ("rbs") - herbs 
/rbd/ ("rbed") - garbed
/rp/ ("rp") - sharp
/rps/ ("rps") - warps
/rpd/ ("rped") - burped
/rk/ ("rk," “rc”) - park, arc
/rks/ ("rks" / "rcs") - forks, arcs
/rkt/ (“rked”) - barked
/rtʃ/ (“rch”) - arch
/rtʃd/ (“rched”) - scorched
/rdʒ/ ("rge”) - large
/rdʒd/ ("rged”) - barged
/rʃ/ (“rsh”) - harsh
/rz/ ("rz")- beers
/rs/ ("rse" / "rce") - parse, force
/rst/ ("rst" / “rsed” / “rced”) - worst, parsed, forced
/rf/ ("rf")- scarf
/rfs/ ("rfs") - wharfs
/rft/ ("rfed") - barfed
/rv/ ("rve") - carve
/rvz/ ("rves") - scarves
/rvd/ ("rved") - carved
/rl/ ("rl") - snarl
/rlz/ ("rls") - snarls
/rld/ ("rld") - world
/rm/ ("rm") - warm
/rmz/ (“rms”) - charms
/rmd/ (“rmed”) - harmed
/rn/ ("rn") - barn
/rnz/ ("rns")- horns
/rnd/ (“rned”) - warned

Grammar Tip:

The sound /r/ is used in the suffixes "-ory" and "-ary." These suffixes are used in some adjectives.
  • introductory
  • complimentary
  • temporary
  • sanitary
The suffix "-ry" also appears in some nouns. When "-ry" is added to a noun or verb, it can mean "place of ____," "activity of ____", "practice of ____," or "collection of ____".
    • treasure --> treasury
    • bake --> bakery
    • rival --> rivalry
    • dentist --> dentistry
    • machine --> machinery
    • rocket --> rocketry
Compare /r/ and /l/:

The consonants /r/ and /l/ are both voiced, liquid consonants. However, /r/ is pronounced with the tongue near (but not touching) the roof of your mouth, while /l/ is pronounced with the the tip of the tongue touching the gum ridge.

You can hear the difference between /r/ and /l/ in these words.
1. A. rake, B. lake
2. A. grass, B. glass
3. A. mayor, B. mail
4. A. fires, B. files
5. A. barked, B. balked
6. A. steering, B. steeling
Listen and repeat these words:
1. right
2. raise
3. reason
4. really
5. arrow
6. pouring
7. fire
8. world
9. cream
10. praise
11. strange
12. broken
13. address
14. parking
15. support
16. admire
17. scared
18. abbreviate
19. recreation
20. rewarded

Now, practice /r/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentences.
1. car - parking - garage
I left my car in the parking garage
2. forecast - predict - rain - tomorrow
The weather forecast is predicting rain tomorrow.
3. afford - rent - borrow
If you can't afford to buy textbooks, you can rent or borrow them.
4. dark - road - drive - carefully
If you're on a darroad, you should drive carefully.
5. fourth - engineering - course
This is the fourth week of my engineering course.
6. brother - warned - strangers
My brother warned me not to talk to strangers.

To practice with different varieties of English, choose another native English speaker by clicking one of the links below:

Consonants /d/ and /g/

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