In this blog post you will learn more about articulators, the hard pallet and how to do the alveolar tap. What’s that?!I  The following explanations are from this excellent article at which I reference to help you understand these phonetic concepts.

First of all, in Spanish you will see that there are two r sounds:

• Simple r like in pero (but) and caro (expensive)

• Rolled r like in perro (dog) and carro (car)

Correctly pronouncing the Spanish r and rr is one of the most important ways to sound less like a foreigner and become more fluent. To do this, we need to learn about the alveolar tap. To pronounce the Spanish alveolar tap, you touch the tip of your tongue to your hard palate once. Your hard palate is essentially the roof of your mouth – if you run your tongue over the area behind your front teeth with your tongue, you should feel a little bump. This little bump is called the alveolar ridge and is where the roof of your mouth, or hard palate, begins. To pronounce the Spanish simple r, you touch your tongue to the area just behind the alveolar ridge.

You use the alveolar tap to pronounce the single written letter r when it occurs:

  • between two vowels, like in aro (hoop) and para (for),
  • when preceded by a consonant other than ln, or s, like in brazo (arm), and presente (present),
  • at the end of a word, like in amar (to love) or vivir (to live).

The Spanish alveolar tap is actually very similar to the sound most American speakers use to pronounce the t in words like water and hater!

To practice this, look at your mouth in a mirror for at least 10 minutes every day and make sure you are doing the correct alveolar tap. Coming next week we will venture into the “RR” universe!