Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

Pronunciation of the R's

How to pronounce the R sounds
Pronunciation of the R's

10 MINUTE LESSON RULES: 1. Say the examples. 2. Pay close attention to the underlined parts.

In this lesson we will look at how to correctly pronounce the R sounds. For English speakers these are probably the most difficult to pronounce, because it sounds nothing like the English R sounds.

GOOD NEWS! Really, if you spend a little time learning how the sounds work, you can master it in no time! Get ready!

  • The pronunciation of the R's are NOT the same as in English
  • There are two parts to master the R's: Tongue and Mouth
  • Listen to the sound file & come back to it many times while reading-- > RARIRURERO.wav (53 kb)
  • Lastly, You can do it!
始めましょう! Let's begin...

PART ONE: The Tongue...

The sound is made by lightly slapping your tongue just behind your upper teeth. Think of making an L sound, like LOVE. That is the approximate place. The only difference between the Japanese R and the English L sound is how long the tongue is held there. In English the tongue is held a while while air goes around it. In Japanese, the tongue is immediately dropped.All of the R sounds are made the same way with the tongue.

Read that again and then once more while actually making the sound.

PART TWO: The Mouth...

The mouth takes a little practice to make it natural, but it is also easy, really. Very simply, for RA RI & RE the mouth is more opened and for RU & RO the mouth is more rounded and shut. [NOTE: actually for perfect pronunciation, ALL 5 sounds have separate mouth positions -- we will look at this, but remember basically for RA, RI & RE the mouth is more opened and RU & RO it is rounded and smaller.]

I apologize for the pictures, but here are the 5 general positions of the mouth for the 5 different sounds... To hear a sound file for each sound click on the letter below:

Again the most important thing is RA, RI & RE (the yellow) have a kind of opened, wide mouth and RU & RO (the red) have a more rounded, small mouth. Practice saying them in order -- (open mouth) RA RI (round mouth) RU (open mouth) RE (round mouth) RO. Listen to the sound file -- RARIRURERO.wav (53 kb)

Lastly remember, slap the tongue with a wide mouth for RA, RI, RE and slap the tongue with a round mouth for RU & RO.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

hmmm.. help!..

hi.. i'm a newbie here.. just confuse that sometimes R is pronounced as L and sometimes it is pronounced as D?.. mmm.. and G is sometimes pronounced as NG like 'ga' as 'nga ' when it is already constructed in a sentence.. can someone emphasize it please?..

this website is cool and fantastic.. i kinda have fun of learning the language.. =')

ガゼビ's picture


Thank you! ~ I had been pronouncing 'r' different up until now!

Comment viewing options