I've tried many methods on the Internet but I still can't vibrate my tongue at all. I've tried gargling, biting a stick, etc. But weeks and months passed, none of them worked!

I know German people don't actually do the uvular trilled R during normal talk, but when it comes to R, following another consanant, such as Drache or Freiheit, my R turns into the /ç/ sound like in ich.

Which methods would you suggest to pronounce the r?

  • 3
    More gargling :P – user6191 Feb 12 '15 at 14:20
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    I'm a native German, and I can't pronounce the thrilled "r" either. Just use the uvular r (the r back in the throat), this is fine. The thrilled are is only used in the South. Like you, I've tried to learn it (out of curiosity), but I can't get it right. – dirkt Feb 12 '15 at 15:52
  • Sorry I mean the uvular trilled R,not the thrilled one. – Libécht Wang Feb 13 '15 at 5:34
  • 1
    You don't need to trill, the fricative or apprixomant version are fine. (Also, why can't I edit my comment and fix the typo?) – dirkt Feb 13 '15 at 10:51
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    To show the sound, we need audio or video. I just created a video for how to pronounce the R and what you have to pay attention to. I hope it helps: youtu.be/dOHIYZ3uaNw – Avatar Jan 9 '17 at 17:47

You can try to pronounce a "ch" as in "Dach" (the "dark ch"), but try to relax the tongue a little more. While you do, try to make a humming sound or try to say "aaaahhh". This could get you close to what you're trying to achieve.

It's also possible to use the "rolled R". Just pronounce the "R" as an English Shakespear actor would.

  • 2
    +1 for the alveolar thrill, which is the standard pronunciation in some regions. – Takkat Feb 12 '15 at 13:52

Just stop worrying and concentrate on other things. R used to be rolled with the tongue practically(?) everywhere in Europe until a new style became popular in Paris a few centuries ago and spread over the continent from there. In the German-speaking area the current situation is chaotic. You can choose between many totally different pronunciations of r that are all considered totally correct and equivalent. Some of them are quite similar to French r, which I think is what you are describing.

It's OK to speak a foreign language with an accent so long as people understand you easily. Due to its variability, the letter r is particularly unlikely to cause problems in German. Don't worry about getting rid of your accent completely before you are immersed in the culture.

  • Obwohl diese Antwort richtig die Umstände beschreibt, ich glaub' das sie mehr wie eine zusätzliche Bemerkung als eine genaue Antwort zur Frage ist. – ash Feb 25 '16 at 21:21

I speak southern German but I speak r in Drache only with the tip of the tongue. In pronouncing L the tip of the tongue touches the palate and the air passes alongside the sides of the tongue. In pronouncing r in Drache my tip of the tongue touches the palate for d and then is raised very near to the palate for the r. At the same time my vocal chords begin swinging and produce the typical r-vibration. I think you get it when you try to slowly say /draaaa/. With a very long a the vocal chords begin vibrating. When I say Drache there is no trilling and no rolling, it is a very easy r-sound produced with the tip of the tongue near the palate and vibration of the chords.


The southeast of Germany actually pronounces "r" in a way you might know from Russian.

For all the others it's a bit different. After reading your question, I tried some ways to understand how I pronounce the "r" myself. Not easy! Maybe the following will help:

When taking a breath (breathing in), you can feel sort of a 'hole' where the breath is going to, at the very back of your mouth.
Now try to use the part of your tongue that is closest to this hole. Try to control the flow of the incoming air, so that it feels like the air is now entering this 'hole' on the upper third. Don't use the tip of your tongue but more the rear part.
When you are close to the correct position, you may feel the proper "r". The last step is to reverse the process and perform it as breathing out.

I hope this helps even though it sounds weird!


How you pronounce the "r" in German depends on where you come from, a person from the north will pronounce it differently than a person from the south.

As I have family members from old Prussia as well as family members from different regions in South Germany who influenced how I pronounce things I already realized that I do not always pronounce a word in the same way.

So, what is important for you as a non-native speaker? Do not care too much about how you pronounce the German "r", just make sure that you do not pronounce it in the - let us say very special - way Hitler pronounced the "r".

  • While it may not be important, where in the German spectrum of r pronunciations one prononuces an r, it is not unimportant to be somewhere in this spectrum (and, e.g., not pronounce r like ch) – which is exactly what the asker is aiming at. – Wrzlprmft Apr 2 '15 at 19:12
  • @Wrzlprmft I'd say ch is not completely off the specturm - it may be at the very outermost border and sound like a parody of Dutch though, and it may be unclear whether "chote chosen" refers to red roses or big trousers ... – Hagen von Eitzen Sep 18 '18 at 6:46

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