When we learn a new language, one of the major difficulties is the phonetics. The text that follows is a pronunciation guide and includes approximate phonetic equivalents of the English words using words in Portuguese.

In general, the penultimate syllable is stressed phonetically, except where there is an accent or the word ends with a diphthong, ie two vowels are pronounced as one syllable, or where a word ends on any of the following letters: i; l; r; z; im; A; ins; a. In these cases the stress is on the last syllable.


Á - Open Pronunciation, like the ‘a’ in ‘father’.

- For example: água (water)

à - Pronounced through the nose, is like ‘-an’ in ‘angry’.

- For example: amanhã (tomorrow)

E - at the end of a word is silent.

- For example: doze (twelve), pronounced doz

E - When “e” means “and” the sound is like the first ‘e’ in ‘people’.

É - The sound is like ‘e’ in ‘net’.

- For example: (foot)

I - Like ‘i’ in ‘bee’ or ‘free’. Note: ‘i’ is never pronounced like the ‘i’ in ‘like’.

- For example: filho (san)

O - when on its own or at the end of a word, it is like ‘u’.

- For example: comboio (train)

Ó - like ‘o’ in ‘hot’.

- For example: (dust)


ÃO - sounds like a nasal ‘ow’.

- For example: cão (dog)

EI - sounds like the ‘a’ in ‘table’.

- For example: Correio  (post)

OU - is pronounced similar to the ‘o’ in ‘over’.

- For example: Outono  (Autumn)


C - sounds as in ‘cold’.

- For example: casaco (coat)

C - has an ‘s’ sound before ‘e’ or ‘i’, sounds like in ‘lace’.

- For example: cidade (city)

Ç- pronounced as an ‘s’. Note: must not be used if the following letter is ‘e’ or ‘i’.

- For example: começar (start)

CH - sounds like ‘sh’ in ‘share’.

- For example: chá (tea)

G - sounds as it does in ‘gold’. If the ‘g’ is followed by the letters ‘ui’ or ‘ue’, the ‘u’ is therefore silent (or rather, it joins with the ‘e’ or ‘i’ to form a diphthong) and ‘g’ sounds as it does in ‘gold’.

- For example: gato (cat) or guitarra (guitar)

G - is also pronounced like the 's’ in ‘pleasure’ before ‘e’ and ‘i’.

- For example: gelo (ice)

H - is silent. We write, but we don't have any sound for H.

J - is pronounced like the "s" in ‘pleasure’.

- For example: janela (window)

LH - is pronounced like the Italian ‘gl’.

- For example: partilhar (share)

NH - is pronounced like the Spanish ‘ñ’, similar to the ‘ni’ in ‘onion’.

- For example: Espanha (Spain)

QU - is pronounced as a ‘k’ before ‘e’ or ‘i’.

- For example: que (that)

But as ‘qu’ before ‘a’ or ‘o’.

- For example: quadrado (square)

R - in the middle or at the end of a word is a rolled sound, close to but stronger than the English ‘r’.

- For example: comer (eat)

RR - Rolled. The tip of the tongue is placed near the alveolar ridge as the vocal cords vibrate. This is the most difficult sound to achieve, but for most people will come with practice. The rrrrrr (like a cat) is a lot easier and an acceptable alternative if you really can't do the rolled sound.

- For example: carro (car)

S - is soft except when occurring between two vowels, when it is pronounced like a ‘z’.

- For example: casa (house)

S - at the end of a word or syllable, before another consonant is ‘sh’.

- For Example: Inglês (English)

S - In other situations, it sounds like the ‘s’.

- For example: sol (sun)

X - There aren't really any rules governing the pronunciation of ‘x’. But, I will try to give some tips.

- at the beginning of a word, after a diphthong, in words beginning with the prefix "en", in words initiated by syllable ‘me’ and at the end of a word ‘x’is pronounced ‘sh’.

- For example: xadrez (chess), baixo (small), enxaguar (rinse), mexer (move)

- in words that begin with ‘ex’ followed by a vowel, the sound is ‘z’.

- For example: exemplo (example)

-  sometimes ‘x’ can sound like ‘ks’, but for the most part you will just have to learn by exposure.

- For example: sexo (sex)

Z - sound like ‘s’ in final position and before unvoiced consonants.

- For example : eficaz (effective)

I hope you found this interesting and worth reading!

Até à próxima!