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

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

Support those who Support TJP!

Click here to learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com