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How to pronounce the “r” in Portuguese Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Pronunciation

Olá, tudo bem com você?

The letter R is pronounced in several ways in Portuguese. So let’s cut to the chase and see how it is done.

1. If it comes at the beginning of a word it sounds like an aspired “h” sound. The same sound happens in words starting with “enr”:

[audio:https://blogs.transparent.com/portuguese/files/2012/05/erre-01.mp3]
rato (mouse) – reação (reaction) – receber (to receive) – resto (rest) – rio (river) – rir (to laugh) – risada (laughter) – roubar (to steal) – roupa (clothes) – rua (street) – rude (rude) – enrascada (trouble) – enredo (plot) – enroscar (to twine)

2. If the “r” comes between a vowel and a consonant it has three different sounds according to the region where it is spoken. In Rio and most northern parts of Brazil it sounds like a very aspired h. In São Paulo city and some cities in the south it sounds like a flap d (like the TT in “letter”). In the interior of São Paulo state it sounds like an English r. This also applies when the r comes at the end of a word.

In Rio and most northern parts of Brazil

[audio:https://blogs.transparent.com/portuguese/files/2012/05/erre-02.mp3]
amor (love) – calor (heat) – carne (meat) – firme (firm) – inferior (inferior) – ir (to go) – morte (death) – superior (superior) – verde (green)

In São Paulo city and some southern cities

[audio:https://blogs.transparent.com/portuguese/files/2012/05/erre-03.mp3]
amor (love) – calor (heat) – carne (meat) – firme (firm) – inferior (inferior) – ir (to go) – morte (death) – superior (superior) – verde (green)

In the interior of São Paulo

[audio:https://blogs.transparent.com/portuguese/files/2012/05/erre-04.mp3]
amor (love) – calor (heat) – carne (meat) – firme (firm) – inferior (inferior) – ir (to go) – morte (death) – superior (superior) – verde (green)

3. The double r (rr) is pronounced as an aspired h.

[audio:https://blogs.transparent.com/portuguese/files/2012/05/erre-05.mp3]
arranhar (to scratch) – carro (car) – correr (to run) – forro (lining, padding) – horrível (horrible) – morrer (to die) – terra (earth)

4. If the r comes between two vowels it sounds like a flap d. The same happens when there is a consonant + r sound.

[audio:https://blogs.transparent.com/portuguese/files/2012/05/erre-06.mp3]
barato (cheap) – careca (bald) – caro (expensive) – esperar (to wait) – maravilhoso (wonderful) – parar (to stop)

[audio:https://blogs.transparent.com/portuguese/files/2012/05/erre-07.mp3]
Brasil – breve (brief) – brisa (breeze) – broto (sprout) – bruma (mist) – crânio (skull) – crer (to believe) – criança (child) – crocodilo (crocodile) – cruel (cruel) – dramático (dramatic) – drenar (to drain) – driblar (to dribble) – droga (drug) – frágil (fragile) – frequente (frequent) – fritar (to fry) – fruta (fruit) – grave (grave, serious) – grelhado (grilled) – gritar (to shout) – grosso (thick) – grupo (group) – trabalho (work) – trecho (excerpt, track) – tripulação (crew) – trocar (to change) – truque (trick)

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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.


Comments:

  1. Jay:

    How is the “r” pronounced in Portugal?

  2. Sveta:

    Thank you! I am a beginner in Portuguese and the entry was very useful.

  3. Daniel:

    I’m Brazilian, and i live in Brazil.
    The sound that show in “In the interior of São Paulo”, is wrong!!!. The correct sound is “In São Paulo city and some southern cities”, if you say of the form that is in “In the interior of São Paulo”, all will laugh you(except in interior of São Paulo).

  4. Daniel:

    Sorry for my english, i saw that wronged in some words…

  5. Raul:

    Muito obrigado!!!

  6. Adir Ferreira:

    Yes, Daniel, but as I see it this is a very ugly form of linguistic prejudice.