For example, Roberto or Rojo. I asked some of my friends who are native Spanish speakers. Some say they do not roll it at all. Some say they do slightly, but not as strong as 'rr'. I googled it and apparently it needs to be rolled. I am confused. Help.

  • 3
    I support guifa's answer. I can think of two reasons some of your friends might have expressed a different point of view. (1) Maybe they are bilingual, living in, for example, the U.S., and if so, they may have gotten a bit sloppy with their pronunciation. (2) As native Spanish speakers, they may not have given it much thought, and they might not be aware they are pronouncing the beginning r (and rr in the middle of a word) differently than the single r in the middle of a word. Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 1:34
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    I agree with @aparente001 's second option. Usually people do not pay close attention to what they do all the time and have been doing all their lives. Different regions have different sounds of the RR but inside each region the sound of the single R at the beginning of a word is the same as the sound of a double RR in the middle of another word.
    – DGaleano
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 22:03
  • In Mexico we roll the single "r" if it's at the beginning of the word. It is as if it's "rr." Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 4:04
  • You always do it. Maybe they just thought you were asking for something else or they don't feel it as accentuated as the 'rr' within a sentence.
    – xji
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


All countries use both the /r/ and /ɾ/ phoneme. Not all countries realize them, respectively, as the roll/trill [r] and the flap [ɾ] (for Puerto Rico for instance you often get /r/ as [h] and /ɾ/ as [l]), but whatever sound is used in the word perro /'pero/ will match a word starting with r-. You should not ever hear the sound used in the word pero /'peɾo/ at the beginning of the word.1

It's only written with a single R because there's no word on Spanish that begins with the sound made in the word perom thus it was a seen as an optimization (compare to L and LL either of which can begin a word). Note that if you add a prefix, the other R reappears to indicate the original trill: rojo /'roxo/ and infrarrojo /infɾa'roxo/ (not infrarojo /infɾa'ɾoxo/), romper /rom'per/ and corromper /korom'per/ (not coromper /koɾom'per/ ).

1. It is possible that (a) there is some dialect of Spanish where this is not the case, but I am not familiar with any, and that certainly doesn't apply to any of the major dialects —Mexican, Caribbean, Rioplatense, Andean, Peninsular— or (b) that someone has a speech impediment, in which case we're no longer talking about common speech.

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