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How to Say "R" with an American Accent

Learn how to say "R" with an American accent from voice and speech coach Andrea Caban in this Howcast video.

Transcript

And then, of course, there is the ever important "R" sound. This sound trips up so many people because when you emulate an American accent, very often you think you have to chew your R's, "Really, I'm from America." And really, we don't make that sound. And especially in a general American where you don't want to sound like it's from a specific region. Because some Americans do chew their R's like that, but to work on that general sound you want a softer sound.

For your general, American R you want to keep your tongue tip down. "Ra, ra". Watch my mouth and emulate this. You see my tongue going down? "Around the rough and rugged rock the ragged rascal ran." So if I were to curl my tongue tip back, this is what it would sound like: "Around the rough and rugged rock the ragged rascal ran." We want a more open sound. So sending the sound out of the mouth. "Around the rough and rugged rock the ragged rascal ran." That's for R's in the initial position.

R's in the final position, or like "e, r" words like dinner, it's more of a "schwah" sound, with some R coloring. So it's more of a vowel, that "R" vowel with some "R" coloring. "Er." So ways to find the "er." Tongue tip up, "ler, ler". And then you bring the tongue tip down, "ler, ler." And then try that with a D, "der, der". And then try that with an N, "ner, ner." Is your tongue tip going down with each time? Take a look in a mirror and make sure it is.

Another way to find that "er" sound is by making a "shhhhhh er", "sure". Make sure that tongue tip is going down each time. "Sure." And here's another drill for you. Rrrrrr. Tongue tip down at the end. Rrrrrr. So try this phrase for me, "Rachel runs errands for her mother and father on Saturdays. Rachel runs errands for her mother and father on Saturdays." Now, it's not pulling back in my mouth, "Rachel runs errands for her mother and father on Saturdays." That's a regional dialect. For this general American, we want the tongue tip to come down for those R's. "Rachel runs errands for her mother and father on Saturdays."

Well, good luck with all of these tips. I hope they're helpful.

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