The enigmatic Portuguese R (short version)

Rule 1: If letter R appears:

  • at the beginning of a word (restaurante, Rio, roda, ruiva)
  • at the end of a word (falar, mentir, comer, redentor, cobrador)
  • at the end of a syllable (corpo, parte)
  • OR anytime it’s double rr (garrafa)

Brazil: Then pronounce it like an English h or like the ch in Hebrew Channukah, German ich or Scottish loch.

Portugal: Pronounce it like the French gutteral R in restaurant or Paris.

Rule 2: Everywhere else R appears (barata, cristo, cara, trem), pronounce it like it Spanish/Italian.

Woot! That’s it.

5 Responses to The enigmatic Portuguese R (short version)

  1. O “R” carioca é o mais bonito de se ouvir!
    Parabéns pelo blog!

  2. Tony Charlton says:

    Love your work. I have recently moved to Portugal from Botswana and have started taking Portuguese lessons. I am finding it to be the hardest language that I have ever come across. The pronunciation, the grammar – awful. Thanks to your site I am beginning to come to terms with how to learn the language and how to be more selective in the way that I am learning words and verbs.
    Thanks for a great site.
    Tony C

    • Lauren says:

      Tony, thanks for your feedback – I’m so glad you’ve found the site useful. Since you are learning European dialect you might enjoy this site which I came across recently:
      There’s some good audio for practicing listening comprehension. Another good site for learning vocabulary, which I’ve been planning to review, is .

      Keep at it, like anything it takes time and you often don’t notice the progress you’re making until after the fact. Aproveite!


  3. Odair says:

    I am Brazilian, from São Paulo. I teach Pourtuguese in Cairo Egypt. I recently discovered this blog and I am amazed. Thank you so much for you dedication and researches you have made about our language and culture.
    About the R in the end of a word or syllable, the sound that you mentioned is most used in Brazil but we have large number of people in the south-east (where the biggest city of the country is) and south that says R in the end of the words or syllables like in Spanish or Italian.

  4. Catarina says:

    Great post! However, I have to point out that the German “ich” is a bad example here. If you do pronounce the “ch” in “ich” like you would in “Channukah” you will sound very American. Instead try this: Put the tip of your tongue against the back of your lower teeth. Then softly exhale air through your half open mouth. This air will come out along the top of your tongue and kinda slightly “curl” against the back of your upper front teeth on its way out. And there you have it: German “ch”.

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