Portuguese/Contents/Complete Pronunciation

Portuguese alphabet, like in other Romance languages has a natural evolution from Latin and so it is not strictly phonetic and has some features inherited from its history. Although, compared to English or even French it is easy to read and not so hard to write.

LettersEdit

The sounds are better explained in the next chapters.

Glossary:

  • Coda: the sounds in a syllable after the vowel, for example t in spit;
  • Onset: the sounds in a syllable before the vowel, for example sp in spit;
  • Nucleus: the vowel of a syllable;
  • Glide: the sounds /j/ and /w/;
  • Stressed: (of a syllable) which is pronounced more emphatically, for example compounding.
Letter Context Sound (IPA) Sound (compared to English) Example
A Stressed and preceding a nasal consonant; unstressed. /ɐ/ ~ /ə/ Similar to u in under or a in beta.
Guarda; Alvito; Santana
Stressed and not preceding a nasal consonant. /a/ Similar to a as in English father, but the tongue is more to the front.
Guarda; Crato; Ovar
B Not word-initial and not following a nasal vowel. /β/ As in Spanish vivir.
Abrantes; Sabugal; Borba
Word initial or following a nasal vowel. /b/ B as in bee.
Borba; Braga; Pombal
C Preceding a, o, u or a consonant. /k/ K like in skip (avoid aspiration).
Cascais; Cadaval; Constância
Preceding e and i. /s/ C like in since.
Barcelos; Cinfães; Constância
D Not word-initial and not following a nasal vowel nor a consonant. /ð/ Th as in this.
Almada; Mêda; Pedrogão Grande
Word initial or following a nasal vowel or a consonant. /d/ D as in dozen, but have the tip of your tongue touch your teeth.
Mangualde; Fundão; Guarda
E Stressed. /e/ A as in English bait (but avoid turning it into a diphthong), é as in French fiancée, or e in Spanish negro.
Vila Verde; Alcochete; Madalena
Stressed. /ɛ/ E as in English bed.
Pinhel; Palmela; Penela
Unstressed. /ɨ/ ~ /ɯ/ Similar to u in put, but without rounding your lips.
Castelo de Vide; Loures; Penela
Unstressed, in unguarded speech: word-final or word-initial following s and another consonant. Silent.
Espinho; Monchique; Nordeste
F /f/ F as in fine.
Fafe; Fronteira; Penafiel
G Preceding a, o, u and following a non-nasal vowel or a consonant. /ɣ/
Golegã; Arganil; Melgaço
Preceding a, o, u or a consonant and following a nasal vowel or word-initial. /g/ G as in ago.
Guarda; Angra do Heroísmo; Golegã
Preceding e or i. /ʒ/ S as in pleasure or as French j in Jean. Gelo; agir
H Soundless. H in hour.
Horta
I Syllable nucleus. /i/ Ee as in bee, but shorter; or as Spanish i in mina.
Espinho; Alvito; Idanha-a-Nova
following a vowel (most cases). /j/ Y in yes.
Oleiros; Góis; Cascais
J /ʒ/ S as in pleasure or j as in French Jean.
Beja; Montijo; Alijó
L Syllable onset. /l/ L as in lamb, but have the tip of your tongue touch your teeth.
Alijó; Alandroal; Loulé
Syllable coda. /ɫ/ L as in jungle, but have the tip of your tongue touch your teeth.
Funchal; Alandroal; Melgaço
M Syllable onset. /m/ M as in mother.
Almeirim; Armamar; Mafra
Syllable coda (word-final or preceding b or p). Nasalises preceding vowel.
Almeirim; Coimbra; Campo Maior
N Syllable onset. /n/ N as in never, but have the tip of your tongue touch your teeth.
Santana; Nisa; Alcanena
Syllable coda (preceding consonants other than b and p). Nasalises preceding vowel.
Santana; Esposende; Entroncamento
O Stressed. /o/ As o in boat (but avoid turning it into a diphthong), as French o in mot or as Spanish o in no.
Lisboa; Fornos de Algodres; Corvos
Stressed. /ɔ/ A as in ball or aw as in law
Mora; Fonos de Algodres; Murtosa
Unstressed. /u/ Oo as in boot, but shorter. Or as French ou in fou.
Espinho; Fornos de Algodres; Corvo
Following a vowel: always in ão, sometimes in other cases. /w/ W in win.
Gavião; Olhão; Sátão
P /p/ P as in spit (avoid aspiration).
Serpa; Porto; Praia da Vitória
Q /k/ K as in skip (avoid aspiration).
Monchique; Ourique; Vila Nova da Barquinha
R Syllable coda; following a consonant or non-nasal vowel, but never word-initially. /ɾ/ Dd as in ladder in American English, or r as in Scottish English free
Ribeira Brava; Rio Maior; Trofa
Word-initial; following nasal vowels. /ʁ/ ~ /ʀ/ R in French rouge.
Resende
S Word-initial; following consonant; (sometimes) between a nasal vowel and a vowel. /s/ S as in since.
Santo Tirso; Sousel; Reguengos de Monsaraz
Between two non-nasal vowels; between a vowel and a glide; (sometimes) between a nasal vowel and a vowel. /z/ Z as in zoo.
Sousel; Esposende; Nisa
Syllable coda, preceding a voiceless sound or no sound. /ʃ/ Sh as in shine.
Esposende; Arruda dos Vinhos; Cascais
Syllable coda, preceding a voiced sound. /ʒ/ S as in pleasure.
Lisboa; Arruda dos Vinhos; Angra do Heroísmo
T /t/ T as in stick (avoid aspiration).
Sintra; Tomar; Trofa
U Syllable nucleus. /u/ Oo as in boot, but shorter. Or as French ou in fou.
Cuba; Sabugal; Tábua
(Usually) following a vowel. /w/ W as in win.
Arouca; Viseu; Vouzela
V /v/ V as in victory.
Viseu; Vagos; Povoação
X Word initial (always); following /j/ (most cases); otherwise only in some cases. /ʃ/ Sh as in shine.
Carta'xo; Seixal; Vila Franca de Xira
Not word initial. /ks/ X as in oxyde. xi (taxi)
Not word initial. /s/ S as in since. Trouxe (brought); Máximo (maximum)
Not word initial. /z/ Z as in Brazil. Exacto/exato (exact)
Brazilian Portuguese Soundless. Exceção (exception)
Z Syllable onset. /z/ Z as in Brazil.
Nazaré; Vizela; Azambuja
Syllable coda, preceding a voiceless sound. /ʃ/ Sh as in shine.
Porto Moniz; Santa Cruz; Vila Nova de Foz Côa
Syllable coda, preceding a voiced sound. /ʒ/ S as in pleasure.
Santa Cruz da Graciosa

Note: the letter q is always followed by a u.

DigraphsEdit

Digraphs is a pair of letters used to sign one sound.

Digraph Context Sound (IPA) Sound (compared to English) Example
CH /ʃ/ Sh as in she.
Chaves; Machico; Coruche
LH /ʎ/ Similar to lli as in million. As gli as in Italian figlio.
Batalha; Covilhã; Olhão
NH /ɲ/ Similar to ny as in canyon. As ñ as in Spanish mañana.
Espinho; Cantanhede; Lourinhã
GU Preceding e or i (usually). /g/ G as in go.
Felgueiras; Guimarães
Preceding a or o; (rare) preceding e or i. /gw/ Gw as in Gwen.
Mortágua
QU Preceding e or i (usually). /k/ K as in skip.
Ourique; Monchique; Vila Nova da Barquinha.
Preceding a or o; (rare) preceding e or i. /kw/ Qu as in quite. Quatro (four); aquoso (watery); frequência (frequency); aquífero (aquifer)
RR /ʁ/ ~ /ʀ/ Carro (car)
SS /s/ S as in since. Passo (step)

DiacriticsEdit

In Portuguese, a letter with or without Diacritics is considered the same.

Letter with diacritic Name Sound (IPA) Sound (compared to English) Example
á a com acento agudo stressed a a as in english father cálice calix
à a com acento grave (Crase) aː a as in english father, but longer. Fui à cidade. I went to the city
ã a com til ã a as in French dans não no
ç ce cedilha s s as in since moça girl
é e com acento agudo stressed ɛ ai as in french Palais or e as in English bed patético pathetic
ê e com acento circunflexo stressed e é as in French fiancée or e in Spanish negro bêbado drunk
í i com acento agudo stressed i ee as in bee or i as in French midi Líbano Lebanon
ó o com acento agudo stressed ɔ a as in ball or aw as in law próprio proper
ô o com acento circunflexo stressed o o as in French mot or o as in Spanish no avô grandfather
õ o com til õ aprox. on as in French bon canções songs
ú u com acento agudo stressed u oo as in boot, but shorter or ou as in French fou múltiplo multiple
Last modified on 5 February 2013, at 18:31