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  5. How do you pronounce "frau"?


How do you pronounce "frau"?

I'm kind of new to the German language. Before I erased all my progress I was level 6, but that was a long time ago and I'm getting back into it again. The only language I have really focused on in the last couple years was Italian and I'm well past the tree on that so there's no point in trying to do the Italian tree on here.

So yeah for the first time I'm putting nearly all my language focus on German. And I have a very basic question to ask. How the heck do you pronounce "frau"? I can hear it, I can say it...but it always says I'm not doing it right when I try to say it into the mic. It's not a mic problem, it's a "me" problem. For some reason I just can't say this word. It sounds like "fwow" but a little different and I can't seem to replicate that sound good enough. What am I doing wrong?

April 25, 2018



Start with the "fr..." as in fraud, then contiue with "out" without the letter T

Duo is a great site for learning the basics of a language, but pronounciation is surely not the strongest feature of the site. Better use an online dictionary where you can listen to the words, for example dict.leo.org if you need help with particular words.


I don't think the pronunciation is as bad as people are making it out to be on Duo, but there are times when it's hard to hear exactly how to say something. As others suggested, forvo.com can be a good resource for this. Here's the actual link to the site for the word Frau: https://forvo.com/word/frau/#de

That's for just the word Frau, and it's just the word as recorded live by native speakers.

If you want to hear it some context, the search page has not just the word but also some sentences with Frau in it: https://forvo.com/search/frau/

As for saying the fr together, many people just have trouble placing an "r" after an "f." You can start with repeating a bunch of English words that have the "fr" combination in it until they sound good: from, frank, fresh, frosh, frill, French. Keep repeating those a bunch in succession, focusing on saying the "fr" sound right. It's the first part of getting the sound right. The second half is the hardness to the "r" which comes from the throat-clearing noise at the end. Work on fr first, and then start adding in the growl at the end. If you want more help, maybe we can do a Skype call or something and practice.


I say it a bit like "frown" but without the -n in the end.


What am I doing wrong?

Duolingo is not a great source for pronunciation

  • 1648


Google translate can usually serve as a good enough reference for pronunciation, on the left side where it says "frau", click the speaker and it will say out loud. When you click it again, it will say it slower (which is convenient for longer words). You can do this with any word...

[deactivated user]

    An au in german is pronunced as ow, so frau is prounounced as frow

    • 2009

    I'm getting the sense that your problem is more with the r than any of the other letters.

    The 'most standard' German uses the same R as French, though many, many Germans use the same R as Italian (or very nearly? my Italian's not great) so you can just do that. If you want to try the other R, it's made it the back of your mouth/throat. It's a lot like the ch, but with your voice, or you can think of it as being like G but you never close things off entirely. Germans will understand a fully English R, but that's not a truly German sound.

    How Duolingo feels about any of this... well, an awful lot of people just turn off the speaking questions because they're just not very accurate.


    Frau rhymes with brow as in eyebrow.


    German "f" is the same as in English. German "au" is like English "ow" in "cow". German "r" is challenging. If you can pronounce German "ch" in "ach", then you are close. The difference from "ch" is that "r" is voiced and short. It is similar to French "r", but the French "r" is longer.


    Or learn the R from a German, like here: https://youtu.be/-RrEQ8Ovw-Q at 0:29 or 2:32.....


    Just remember, if you don't work hard on your German pronunciation, then your German will sound as bad to Germans as that guy's English sounds to us.


    Sometimes I think to me as a German it sounds even worse o.O....


    Rhymes with "plow" or "cow" in English. That's the easy part. The hard part is the German "R" sound. We just don't have this in English, so work on imitating the sound like a parrot. You must have the front of your tongue against your lower teeth and use the BACK of your tongue to form the sound. Not at all like an English "R". If it makes you feel any better, Germans often struggle with the English "R". I had a German professor who had a really thick German accent (and a good sense of humor) and we would ask him where Germans kept their milk - and laugh when he struggled to say, "in the refrigerator."


    One important thing: You should never be afraid of to sound rough in German. Our language is naturally more rough and because the clear spoken consonants allow a most correct understanding we are happy with it

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