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Ok, there are two different ways to make the American r sound. They both think they are right and that the other is wrong.

  1. Make the r sound by retroflexing the tongue:

crude sketch of retroflexed r

  1. Make the r sound by retracting the tongue:

crude sketch of retracted r

Note: Both methods agree that the tongue should not touch anything in the mouth.

I think the retroflexed r is more natural. I have no way to make the retracted tongue because it is very uncomfortable for me.

So which one is correct?

marked as duplicate by tchrist, Mari-Lou A, Chenmunka, FumbleFingers, Sven Yargs Aug 4 '15 at 7:11

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    There are at least four different general pronunciations of /r/ in various dialects of English, both retroflex and retracted included. What dialect are you talking about here? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 14 '15 at 12:22
  • American /R/ sound – Tom Jan 14 '15 at 13:33
  • I don't know how I could get my tongue in that second position. It doesn't curl that way. – Hot Licks Mar 15 '15 at 18:06
  • What is that "thing"? It looks horrific. Is it MS "Paint" :) What happened to good old fashioned hand drawing, which you can scan and then upload. – Mari-Lou A Aug 2 '15 at 16:34
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To be clear, we're talking about the 'r' sound at the beginning of a syllable, such as rain or rabbit, and not the 'r' sound at the end of a syllable, such as car or derby. For the latter there are variations such as the typical American rhotic 'r' and the typical English non-rhotic 'r'. For the 'r' in the case of your question, both are correct. Though speech therapists, such as the makers of the R Speech Buddy, may choose the retroflexed 'r' as a more effective means of training the 'r' sound. Others will offer both depending on which way is more natural for the speaker. But when it comes to those who don't need speech therapy and just learn to speak, it will be either or both methods used.

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