After doing many research and find more than one result, I would like to know how exactly the R sound is pronounced in American English.

On this video, the woman describes two ways. Firstly, the incorrect one, done by many of her students, in which they curl their tongue backwards:


Then (at 0:57) she describes the correct way, in which the tongue has to raise in the middle, and stays lower at the tip.

But then in this link it says that both ways are right:


I would like to know if americans really only use the one described as "correct" by the woman or if they sometimes mix, or if some americans use the suposedly incorrect version... I even watched another video teaching the "incorrect way" as the right way! (can't post because it limits 2 links... its called "Q&A: How do you pronounce the "R" sound--the American R")

Off: I'm so confused. That woman made me feel really bad for my R, she said it's an OK r sound, but doesn't have the quality of a correct R sound.

  • 8
    Which region? Northern New England French English accent? Downeast Maine? Southern Maine? Bostonian? Confused New Hampshirite accent? Connecticut? Connecticun stranded in Texas accent? Rural Texan? New Yworkian? New Jwersian? Pennsylvania? Georgia? Tennessee? Houstonian? Cancunian stranded in New York? Southern mid-west? Chicagoan Italian English? Chicagoan Irish English? Chicagoan Chinese English? Southern Californian? Middle-aged soccer mommian? Los Angeles Spanglish? San Francisco Chinese English? Seattle Chinese English? St Louis Indian English? Montana Cherokee English? etc, etc. Nov 24, 2014 at 8:46
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    What can she know anyways - then she goes and says "either" with a long "i"!
    – Scimonster
    Nov 24, 2014 at 10:41

2 Answers 2


Take a look at the information I link to on this page, which I have titled The geography of America's dialects and cultural affinities compared.

In particular, visit the links for the dialect maps produced by Rick Aschmann, where you will find both audio and video clips illustrating how various sounds are typically pronounced in different regions of the United States. The page depicting his principal dialect map contains numerous supplementary sections that discuss particular linguistic features of American English. Among them is a section on R-coloring which is directly relevant to your question.

I can safely say that both Aschmann's summary of R-coloring and the clips I mentioned will demonstrate that the woman you referred to is thoroughly mistaken in asserting the existence of a so-called 'correct' way to pronounce the sound of the letter R in American English. There are in fact many different ways that Americans sound that letter; it would not be reasonable to demand that they should change their pronunciation merely to suit her preference.


I would say both are correct, but the “wrong” one she describes is less common in most accents than the “right” one. I usually hear the “wrong” version overused by speakers of languages with an R-like sound in which the tip of the tongue comes in contact, or nearly in contact, with the top teeth—for example, Hindi or Japanese.

The only situation in which I think I might use the “wrong” version is in a phrase like “you’re running”, a situation where this woman would compress her lips.

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