Pronounce the French R Perfectly

Group of people talking as they sit under the Eiffel Tower.

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The French letter r is one of the two most difficult sounds in French to pronounce for most people (u is the other one).

The r is a kind of raspy sound pronounced in the back of the throat. There is no equivalent sound in English. Take a look at step-by-step instructions on how to pronounce the French r.

French R Words

Hear different r words and their correct pronunciation in French:

Many French students have trouble with the letter r. Follow step-by-step instructions to learn how to pronounce the French r:

  1. Open your mouth.
  2. Close your throat as if you're going to gargle or to avoid swallowing a mouthful of liquid, and say "k" carefully, several times.
  3. Pay attention to where in your throat the k sound is made. We'll call this the K place.
  4. Begin slowly closing your throat until you can almost feel the K place. Your throat should be only partially constricted.
  5. Tense the muscles around the K place.
  6. Gently push air through your partially-constricted throat.
  7. Practice saying "ra-ra-ra" (where r = steps 4-6) every day.

Tips

Try not to think of this letter as an r. The French r is nothing like the English r (pronounced in the middle of the mouth) or the Spanish r (pronounced in the front of the mouth). The French r is pronounced in the throat.

The French r sounds a lot like the ch sound in "Loch Ness" and the kh in Arabic transcription, as in Khalid.

Remember that practice makes perfect!

Sources

"R." Lawless English, 2019.

"R." Spanish Consonant, Lawless English, 2019.