Spanish Lessons

Topics

Writing That Hard, Rolled 'R' Sound in Spanish

If you are learning Spanish, you know that the hard, rolled sound of the letter 'r' in Spanish is one of the most challenging sounds to master. In this lesson, we will review some of the rules you should keep in mind when writing that sound. Let's take a look.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

The 'R' Sound in Spanish

When it comes to pronunciation, there are two types of 'r' sounds in Spanish: the soft, simple 'r' sound and the hard, rolled 'r' sound. Let's listen to these two sounds in the following clip from our friend, Amaya:

 

Viajo con mi perro, como habéis visto antes.

I travel with my dog, as you've seen before.

Pero además, lo que hago es que intento aprovechar...

But additionally, what I do is that I try to take advantage of...

Captions 16-17, Amaya - El Refugio del Burrito

 Play Caption

 

As you can see, the word perro (dog) is pronounced with the hard, rolled 'r' sound, while the word pero (but) is pronounced with the soft 'r' sound. In order to indicate the pronunciation of that rolled ‘r’ sound between two vowels, the ‘rr’ (double ‘r’) must be utilized. Let's look at some more words that follow this rule:

 

Tras la guerra con Napoleón.

After the war with Napoleon.

Caption 64, Marisa en Madrid - Parque de El Retiro

 Play Caption

 

¿Ha venido en carro?

Have you come in a car?

Caption 64, Cleer y Lida - Recepción de hotel

 Play Caption

 

Mi barrio no es muy grande.

My neighborhood is not very big.

Caption 2, El Aula Azul - Mi Barrio

 Play Caption

 

Furthermore, it is important to note that words that begin with "r" also have this hard, rolled 'r' sound despite being written with the regular (not double) 'r.' Let's listen to some examples:

 

Encima del río hay un puente.

Over the river there's a bridge.

Caption 20, El Aula Azul - Mi Barrio

 Play Caption

 

Se oyó un ruido atronador.

A thunderous noise was heard.

Caption 43, Aprendiendo con Carlos - América precolombina - El mito de Bochica

 Play Caption

 

Miren, hablando del Rey de Roma.

Look, speak of the devil (literally "the King of Rome").

Caption 60, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 5

 Play Caption

 

When 'R' Becomes "RR"

An important rule of thumb is to double the regular ‘r’ to ‘rr’ in cases where an element ending in a vowel is combined with a word that begins with "r.” This occurs very often with words that are formed with prefixes. Let's look at an example:

 

...como es la contrarreloj y trabajos de intensidad.

...like the time trial and high intensity workouts.

Caption 20, Semilleros Escarabajos - Capítulo 1

 Play Caption

 

In the example above, we have a word that is comprised of the prefix contra- (counter-) and the noun reloj (clock). As you can see, the prefix ends in a vowel, and the noun starts with 'r'. Since we want to keep the hard 'r' sound of the word reloj, we must double the 'r', and our new word must thus be written as contrarreloj (rather than contrareloj). In summary, in order to keep the hard 'r' sound between the two vowels, the 'r' must be doubled to 'rr.'

 

Let's take a look at some additional words that follow this rule:

 

Contrarreforma (Counter-Reformation): contra- + reforma

microrrelato (flash fiction): micro- + relato

pararrayos (lightning rod): para + rayos

 

That's all for today. We invite you to keep these rules in mind when writing that hard, rolled 'r' sound in Spanish. And don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions. ¡Hasta la próxima!

 

 

7 One-Syllable Words That Break the Accent Rule

Generally speaking, one-syllable words in Spanish don't need a graphic accent (tilde) even if they are tonic (words that are stressed when pronounced). Some examples of tonic one-syllable words include the following nouns:

 

sal (salt)

mar (sea)

mes (month)

fe (faith)

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Besides nouns, there are several one-syllable words that come from the conjugations of some verbs. Just as the nouns we mentioned before, these words don't need a graphic accent either. Let's see some examples:

 

Él los vio a los ladrones.

He saw the thieves.

¿Usted vio a los ladrones?

Did you see the thieves?

Captions 16-17, Yago - 6 Mentiras

 Play Caption

 

No sabemos si fue el lunes o si fue el martes.

We don't know if it was on Monday or it was on Tuesday.

Caption 5, El Aula Azul - Dos historias

 Play Caption

 

With that being said, there are some important exceptions of one-syllable words in Spanish that do need a graphic accent. This kind of accent is called in Spanish tilde diacrítica and we use it to avoid confusion between one-syllable words that have the same spelling but different meanings. Let's take a look.

 

1. él vs. el

Personal pronoun

 

Los niños y los adultos se ríen mucho con él.

Kids and adults laugh a lot with him.

Caption 54, El Aula Azul - Las Profesiones

 Play Caption

 

Definitive article

 

Tenemos los hombros y después tenemos el brazo.

We have the shoulders and then we have the arm.

Captions 8-9, Marta de Madrid - El cuerpo - El tronco

 Play Caption

 

2. más vs. mas

Except when it acts as a conjunction of contrast (just like the word pero [but]), the one-syllable word más always has a graphic accent.

 

Empecé más o menos a los diecisiete años a tocar instrumentos

I started to play instruments at about seventeen years old

y a cantar a un nivel más avanzado.

and to sing at a more advanced level.

Captions 18-19, Cleer - Entrevista con Jacky

 Play Caption

 

3. mí vs. mi

When it works as a personal pronoun, you need to put the graphic accent.

  

Pueden confiar en .

You can trust me.

Caption 11, Guillermina y Candelario - Mi Primer Tesoro

 Play Caption

 

However, when it works as a possessive adjective, it doesn't need a graphic accent.

 

En mi barrio hay una farmacia.

In my neighborhood there is a pharmacy.

Caption 4, El Aula Azul - Mi Barrio

 Play Caption

 

4. sé vs. se

Form of the verbs ser (to be) and saber (to know)

 

Que sí, mamá, que ya que siempre se olvida de mi cumpleaños.

Yes, Mom, I know that he always forgets my birthday.

Caption 1, Cortometraje - Beta

 Play Caption

 

Personal pronoun and reflexive

 

El martes se me perdieron las llaves de casa.

On Tuesday, my house keys got lost.

Caption 14, El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos: El pronombre "se"

 Play Caption

 

Ella no quería acostarse con Ivo Di Carlo.

She didn't want to sleep with Ivo Di Carlo.

Caption 61, Muñeca Brava - 48 - Soluciones

 Play Caption

 

5. sí vs. si

Reflexive pronoun and adverb of affirmation

 

, vine porque Aldo me había hecho una propuesta.

Yes, I came because Aldo had made a suggestion.

Caption 3, Yago - 14 La peruana

 Play Caption

 

Conditional conjunction

 

Si me dejan en la calle me arreglo

If they leave me on the street I manage

Caption 2, Jorge Celedón, Vicentico - Si Me Dejan

 Play Caption

 

6. té vs. te

Noun

 

¿Quién no se despierta con una taza de café o de un buen ?

Who doesn't wake up with a cup of coffee or good tea?

Caption 39, Aprendiendo con Karen - Utensilios de cocina

 Play Caption

 

Personal pronoun and reflexive

 

La que yo guardo donde te escribí, que te sueño y que te quiero tanto

The one I keep where I wrote to you, that I dream of you and that I love you so much

Caption 9, Carlos Vives, Shakira - La Bicicleta

 Play Caption

 

7. tú vs. tu

Personal pronoun

 

Rachel, ¿qué quieres ?

Rachel, what do you want?

Caption 2, Clase Aula Azul - Pedir deseos

 Play Caption

 

Possessive adjective

 

Para tu salud, tan importante para tu estilo de vida...

For your health, as important for your lifestyle...

Caption 52, Natalia de Ecuador - Alimentos para el desayuno

 Play Caption

 

That's it for today. We encourage you to learn all these one-syllable words as they are used quite often in Spanish. If you master them, you will be able to avoid common writing mistakes. If you have any comments or questions, please don't hesitate to contact us

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

You May Also Like