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Home » Language Resources » Spanish Alphabet » Letter R

The Letter R

The Letter R in Spanish

ERE. Trilled consonant (single or multiple)

Origen of the letter:
From the Latin R which is from the Greek ro

Example of usage:
Rosa

The R in Spanish

R” is the nineteenth letter in the Spanish alphabet. Its name in Spanish is pronounced as “erre”, with a rolling “r”. In its modern form the capital letter “R” first appeared in the Roman alphabet as an adaptation of the Greek ro. This Greek character corresponded to the Phoenician resh, which originated from an Egyptian hieroglyph.

The letter “R” has a great variety of sounds, depending on the language in which it is used. The most common are the trilled “R”, often used in Spanish and Italian, and the consonant uvular “R”, as used in French in the name “Paris”. In several other languages, including Sanskrit, Czech and Serbo-Croatian, the “R” is used as a vowel and as a consonant: for example Trst for “Trieste”.

The sound /r/ is pronounced in several ways in Spanish; depending on its position within a word. The tongue may vibrate once or twice, as in the words “caro”, “roca”, “croar”, “enredar” and “drama”. There are also differences in the pronunciation of the “R” among Spanish-speaking countries. While pronouncing the “R” as an “L” is standard in Puerto Rico, this would sound unusual for Mexicans. The “R” as used in Bolivia and certain areas of Peru and Chile is not produced in Venezuela or Spain’s Andalusia.

In writing, a single letter is used when a single vibration of the tongue should be produced in a word (Caracas); when two or more vibrations should be produced, a single “R” is written  in the beginning of a word or before or after a consonant, like in “Roma”, “Amor”, “Cárdenas” and “Andrés”. The rolling “R” sound is written as “RR”, double “R”, when it is situated in the middle of a word and in an intervocalic position, like in “perro”.