• Speaking Brazilian

How to pronounce the letter R in Brazilian Portuguese

Updated: Oct 18



Join the Speaking Brazilian YouTube Club to have access to the transcript of this video and many other videos.


In this lesson, you will learn everything you need to know about the pronunciation of the letter R in Brazilian Portuguese.

--> As this is a pronunciation lesson, it is important that you watch the video and repeat the examples out loud for practice.


Pronúncia da letra R:


The pronunciation of R varies depending on the following factors:


1. Position of the letter in the sentence

2. Which letters come before or after

3. Regional accents


1 - The letter R at the beginning of words:


At the beginning of words, we use the strong R, also called posterior or guttural. The pronunciation comes from the throat. This pronunciation is similar to H in English, J in Spanish, and R in French.

For example:

  • Rato (Rat)

  • Remédio (Medicine)

  • Rio (River)

  • Rosa (Rose)

  • Rua (Street)


2 - The letter R in the middle of words:


When the letter R is in the middle of words, there are many variations, depending on which letters come before or after.


A) The Double R (RR):


In this case, we use the strong R, in the throat. That is, the pronunciation is the same as R at the beginning of words.

For example:

  • Carro (Car)

  • Correr (Running)

  • Sorriso (Smile)

  • Ferro (Iron)

  • Corrupto (Corrupt)


B) The R Between two vowels:


In this case, we use the soft R, also called anterior or alveolar. This pronunciation is done with the vibration of the tip of the tongue: RA. The pronunciation is similar to the American English flap t, as in the words: better, water and ladder. It is also similar to the letter R in Spanish and Italian.

For example:

  • Caro (Expensive)

  • Barato (Inexpensive)

  • Amarelo (Yellow)

  • América (America)

  • Barulho (Noise)


C) The R between a consonant and a vowel:


When the R is preceded by the consonants N or S, we use the strong R, in the throat.

For example:

  • Honra (Honor)

  • Enriquecer (Enrich)

  • Genro (Son-in-law)

  • Israel (Israel)

  • Desregular (Deregulate)

  • Desrespeito (Disrespect)


When the R is preceded by other consonants, we use the weak R, with the vibration of the tip of the tongue.

For example:

  • Brasil (Brazil)

  • Cravo (Clove)

  • Pedra (Stone)

  • França (France)

  • Grande (Big)

  • Preferido (Preferred)

  • Trabalho (Job)

  • Livro (Book)


3 - The letter R at the end of syllables or words:


At the end of syllables or words, we can pronounce the R in three different ways:

1) We can use the strong R, in the throat (most common in Rio de Janeiro and the Northeast)

2) the soft R, with the vibration of the tip of the tongue (most common in São Paulo city and the South)

3) or a third R called retroflex, which is similar to the English R (most common in the suburbs of the São Paulo State and Paraná).


For example, we could pronounce the words below in three different ways (watch the video to see the different pronunciations):

  • Porta (Door)

  • Amor (Love)


Word Reduction:


When we speak quickly, often the letter R at the end of words is not pronounced.

For example, in the sentence:

  • Eu vou falar com ela. ( I'll talk to her.)

When we speak quickly, we can say:

  • Eu vou “falá” com ela. ( I'll talk to her.)


Linking words:


When a word ends with the letter R and the next word starts with a vowel, we can link the two words together. In this case, the letter R must be pronounced as it would be between two vowels.

  • Vou comprar um carro. (I'm going to buy a car.)

I can say the words “buy a” as if it were one single word:

  • Vou comprarum carro. (I'm going to buy a car.)


That's it! I hope you enjoyed this lesson!


You'll find more Portuguese lessons at the bottom of this page.


Até a próxima!


Speaking Brazilian School Team

 

Verb Conjugation Crash Course


Do you need help with verb conjugation in Portuguese?


I know that verb conjugation in Portuguese is a big challenge for most students. That's why I created a course focused on helping you learn verb conjugation.


The Verb Conjugation Crash Course will teach you everything you need to know about verb conjugation in a structured and easy-to-understand way.

Click here to learn more about the Verb Conjugation Crash Course.