The double r in Spanish (the “rr” is pronounced as “erre”) is digraph (di- = two, graph = letter 👍); a letter composed of two letters that is frequently used.
The use is defined in a set of of rules that you need to know in order to speak and write well.
Today we from Onspain School want you to get to know the use of this letter so you can always track it down and spell and write the following sentence without mistakes:
El perro de San Roque no tiene rabo porque Ramón Ramírez se lo ha cortado. (San Roque’s dog doesn’t have a tail because Ramón Ramírez cut it off.)
You want to know how? Let’s go!
How to use the double r
What differences are there between the r and the rr?
It is the same letter, but they are used in different ways. Okay… This doesn’t help you? Let’s look at this from a different perspective.
The letter r is written and spoken when you want to make a soft sound. For example the words “pera” (pear), “cara” (face) or “árbol” (tree).
The double-r or rr is used when you want to make a strong sound. For example words like “guerra” (war), “tierra” (earth) or “perro” (dog) carry the digraph inside them.
However there are words like “Enrique” that are written with only one r but pronounced as two r. So… how do we distinguish the use of r and rr?
We’ll summarize the rules of r and rr below. Let’s go!
Which words are written with one r in Spanish?
- The words that BEGIN with an r are always written with ONE r but the pronunciation is STRONG. For example: robar (to steal), rabo (tail), río (river).
- The words that END with an r are always written with ONE r but the pronunciation is SOFT. For example: ver (to see), mar (sea), acabar (to finish, to end).
- If a word with r has the prefix sub-, the word is written with only ONE r, but the pronunciation is STRONG. For example: subrogar (to transfer), subrayar (to underline).
- If you find the letter r in the middle of a word and there is a consonant in front of r which is B, C, D, F, G, P or T, the pronunciation is SOFT. For example: abrir (to open), acrónimo (acronym), afroamericano (African-American), agrícola (agriculturally), aprobar (to approve), atributo ( attribute).
- If, on the other hand, the letter r is IN THE MIDDLE of a word and the previous consonant is L, N or S, the pronunciation is STRONG. For example: enriquecer (to enrich), alrededor (near to) or Israel.
- If the r stands in front of a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) the r is usually pronounced SOFT.
Which words are written with double ‘rr’ in Spanish
The sound double r “rr” is in contrast to the single r in Spanish always pronounced STRONG.
- STRONG sounds standing BETWEEN VOWELS, for example: arroyo ( brook), perro (dog) or carro (wagon).
- Words in which the negation prefix stands in, but stick to words that begin with an r. For example it would be right to say irreal, not inreal (unreal, as it should be written). Be careful in this case!
- Compound words, whose first term ends with a vowel and the second term starts with r. For example: pelirrojo (red-haired), portarrollos (roll holder)
Now you know how to write r or rr right and when to use the strong or the soft sound- and if you want to pronounce it completely right there is a very interesting video to practice here.