How to Pronounce the Alveolar Tap (ɾ) at the End of Words?

I'm practicing pronouncing common words and infinitives in Spanish such as hablar, salir, comer, dolor, and lugar. As I understand it, I'm supposed to pronounce the r (ere) as an alveolar tap (ɾ) instead of an alveolar trill whenever r (ere) is the last letter of a word. From what I understand, during an alveolar tap, the tongue tip rises quickly to strike or tap the alveolar ridge rapidly and lightly for just a short moment before falling back to the floor of the mouth.

I make sure that I use only the tip of my tongue to tap my alveolar ridge; however, whenever I do an alveolar tap at the end of a word, either (1) I inadvertently pronounce a vowel after the tap, i.e., lugar becomes lugara, or (2) I end up pronouncing a voiced alveolar lateral approximant (L sound), making lugar lugara. These problems occur even though only the tip of my tongue makes contact.

Is it even possible to do an alveolar tap without pronouncing a vowel after it? Afterall, since the tongue rapidly hits the alveolar ridge, bounces off, and immediately falls, wouldn't that make this consonant so short that the vowel preceding the tap continues or is carried over? Should I instead simply stick the tip of my tongue against my alveolar ridge and keep it there (maintaining contact) till the word ends, or should my tongue movement be a quick flick or strike so that my tongue immediately descends after its tip strikes my alveolar ridge?

  • 1
    You simply need to keep your tongue there until finishing the word, although it's just a fraction of a second, but if you keep exhaling after dropping the tongue, then the vowel appears. 'r' is the last sound, so your word needs to end there.
    – Bardo
    Commented Apr 23 at 10:55

1 Answer 1


I am not a speech therapist, I am only speaking from my experience.

The big difference in pronunciation of some languages is the position of the tongue when pronouncing sounds. In Spanish, if I'm not mistaken, most sounds are articulated with the tongue in front of the mouth, as in "ñ", while in English, the usual position is with the tongue backwards, as in "angle".

In the exercise of the "r" at the end of a word, the sound of an English speaker appears to place a vowel behind it because after the "r" they immediately places the tongue in its usual position, behind the palate, which ends up being a "r" aspirated looking like "ra". The Spanish speakers leaves their tongue in front so the final sound is a clean "r".

An exercise that occurs to me is to exaggerate the "r", not for the sound, but to try to keep the tongue in front: "dolorrrrrrr", this way you will see that the aspirated vowel disappears. You will notice the change and finally be able to articulate the simple "r" without the final aspiration.

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