In some words, like Arbeit, morgen, Universität and gern, the r should be pronounced as ʁ. But in fact, I can't hear any ʁ when listening to the pronunciation of these words. I think the ʁ might be omitted or pronounced as the vowel ɐ instead.

My mother tongue (Mandarin) does not have such sounds as ʁ or ʀ, so it is hard to produce these sounds for me. Using ɐ instead would make pronouncing words much easier. For example, the word lernst, with a ʁ followed by three consecutive consonants, is extremely difficult for me. (And when I listen to the pronunciation from my textbook, I cannot hear any ʁ, so I can never get it right...) However, I feel unsure whether it is okay to stick with ɐ.

So my questions are:

  1. Am I right that people tend to drop the ʁ or replace it with ɐ?
  2. I would prefer not to sound heavily accented, so how should I pronounce the r?

Edit: I've already searched fairly thoroughly all the questions here on the pronunciation of "r". There it's said that it's pronounced vocalic following a long vowel, but in the words listed above (Arbeit, morgen, Universität and gern) the r is preceded by a short vowel, and according to this page, it should be ʁ, not vocalic. But I indeed can't hear any ʁ, so that's my question.

  • @guidot Thank you. I've edited the question.
    – Yuxiao Xie
    Oct 4, 2017 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


You are right with your impression that in certain positions you can pronounce what is represented in writing by "r" by a vowel sound like ɐ (kind of a muffled "a").

Indeed, people with mother tongue Mandarin etc. often pronounce the "r" in German words in a very characteristic way (for the German ear: close to the "r" sound that is also characteristic to some US American varieties of English).

Just pretending the "r" is an "a" is a good idea in words like:

Arbeit --> Aaaabeit (you can speak the a really long)

Marktplatz --> Maaaktplatz (long a)

Becher --> Becha (short a)

einer --> eina (short a)

Uhr --> Uuuaa (short or long a, as you like)

morgen --> moagen (or moagn, moagng)

Universität --> Univasiteet

(You see that in all these cases there is a vowel before the r)

There are even some regions in Germany where that pronunciation is common. For example people in Hannover (who usually claim to speak "pure" German, which however is a self-deception) call their town


But this is still close enough to standard German.

However, replacing the "r" by "a" is not possible when the "r" is the first sound:

Radieschen --> *Aaaadieschen - not possible.

Or when there are other consontants before:

Brücke --> *Baücke - not possible

Frustration --> *Faustuatsion - not possible

Here you need the real "r" which is formed in the back of the throat.

  • Thanks for your explanation! The pronunciation rules I found say that "r" is in some cases pronounced ɐ, e.g. when it is preceded by a long vowel or appears as -er at the end of words. But when "r" is preceded a short vowel, in which case my pronunciations rules say that it should be pronounced as a ʁ, can I simply replace it with ɐ and still sound native? I'm just starting to learn the language, so I don't want to get my pronunciation incorrect in the beginning...
    – Yuxiao Xie
    Oct 4, 2017 at 12:52
  • By the way, which "r" are you referring to as "a very characteristic way"? The "r" in the English word "red"?
    – Yuxiao Xie
    Oct 4, 2017 at 12:57
  • note that pronouncing r's like a's after vowels is common in westphalic dialects.
    – Sip
    Oct 4, 2017 at 15:04

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