Pronunciation / The sound [R]

A1 Breakthrough
“Rrrrrrrrrrr”, the most popular sound in the French language! To imitate and pronounce it like a French speaker, read this help section.
Have you ever noticed the [ʀ] in French? How do you find it when you hear it?  Exotic? Horrible?  Normal?  Quite beautiful? Really beautiful? You don’t know?

Did you know that [ʀ] is the most pronounced consonant in French, with a frequency of almost 13%? It’s therefore important to pronounce it correctly right away! How can you do that?

The French [R] is quite close to the Arabic “Kh” (as in the name of the singer Khaled), to the Spanish “j” (as in “bajo”), to the final sound of infinitives in Portuguese (as in “faltar”), to German words like “machen”  or to the “ch” in Loch Ness.

The French [ʀ] is pronounced in the throat, as if you wanted to pronounce [k] or [g], with your tongue all flat against your lower teeth. 

You can follow this example:
at a slow pace,

Are you ready?
Carefully pronounce [k] (as in “quoi ”) or [g] (as in “gâteau”) several times. Feel where the [k] sound is produced in your throat. Gently tighten your throat, until you feel the place of pronunciation of the [k] sound. Your throat partially closes.
Keep your tongue flat against your lower teeth and gently push the air through the remaining space.
Now try to say
Ri - Ri - Ri - Ra - Ra - Ra  for 30 seconds every day.

It’s easier to pronounce [ʀ] if you lengthen the vowel preceding the[ʀ]. Keep the tip of the tongue down until the [ʀ] is totally pronounced.

Practical exercises

Le son R en français

Pronunciation: the [R] sound

5 exercises
Look • Listen • Pronunciation (sounds / consonants - r, p, b...)