Portuguese Grammar/Orthography

Portuguese orthography is close to the Latin one, although not so close as French is. Written, it is very similar to Italian. A text in Portuguese is easy to read, and the reader will have trouble only with the letters x, e and o. However, writing is more complicated and involves etimological rules, i. e., the spelling of some words are defined by Latin. The phoneme s, for instance, can be written in seven ways: s, c, ss, x, ç, sc or ,

About the letters edit

c edit

  • c represents the phoneme /s/ before the vowels e (é, ê) and i (í).
  • c represents the phoneme /k/ in all other situations.

g edit

  • g represents the phoneme /ʒ/ before the vowels e (é, ê) and i (í).
  • g represents the phoneme /g/ in all other situations.

h edit

As h is never pronounced, it is written by etymological reasons or in digraphs.

In the beginning of the word1, h are sometimes written in words that also begin in h in Latin:

  • haver (to have)
  • honra (honor)
  • homem (man)
  • honesto (honest)
  • hora (hour)
  • horta (kitchen garden)
  • harmonia (harmony)

Contrarely to Italian and French, but similar to Spanish, Portuguese does write the letter h in all the forms of the verb haver (to have / there be): hão, havia, houvera, .

In the middle of the word, there is never a mute h and it is suppressed in compound words, except if hyphen is used:

  • habilitar → reabilitar
  • harmonia → desarmonia
  • higiênico → anti-higiênico

In the end of the word, it is used just in a few number of interjections 2:

  • ah!
  • oh!
  • puh!

m, n edit

These letters, normally represents the phonemes /m/ and /n/, but, after a vowel, it indicates the nasalisation of the preecedent vowel.

  • assunto → /as&u#771;to/
  • conta → /kõta/
  • impar → /ĩpaɾ/
  • mentiroso → /mẽtiɾozu/
  • sambar → /sãbaɾ/

A number of Portuguese speakers, however, still pronounce the m and n (in free variation as either /n/ or /ŋ/) at the end of syllables.

As sign of nasalisation, we use m before p and b and n in the other cases.

r edit

r represents two phonemes.

  • The r is pronouced strong - /ʁ/ - in the beginning of the word, after a consonant or when it is doubled, in the digraph rr.
  • In all other situations, r is pronounced weak, /ɾ/.

s edit

s is pronouced /z/ between two vowels. In all other situations, it is pronouced /s/.

x edit

x can be pronouced in five different ways. In the beginning of the word, x is generally pronouced /ʃ/.

  • mexer → /meʃer/ (to stir)
  • xarope → /ʃaɾopi/ (syrup)
  • xeque-mate → /ʃekimati/ (checkmate)

x is pronouced /s/ before a consonant. Before /s/ spelled as c, the letter is soundless.

  • exceto → /esɛto/ (except)
  • exportar → /espoɾtaɾ/ (to export)
  • explodir → /esplodiɾ/ (to explode)
  • ex-prefeito → /esprefeɪtu/(ex-mayor)

It is pronounced /ks/ in loan words and between two vowels.

  • óxido → /ɔksidu/
  • tóxico → /tɔksiku/

Finally, it can be pronounced /z/, between two vowels.

  • exato → /ezatu/
  • exigência → /eziʒẽsia/

k, w, y edit

These letters are used only in loanwords and international abbreviations, and were not an official part of the Portuguese alphabet until 2009:

  • byronista
  • delivery
  • kilômetro (also spelled quilômetro)
  • rock
  • skate
  • show
  • wagneriano
  • whiskey

The diacritics edit

Cedilha edit

Portuguese, as French and Catalan, uses cedilla (in Portuguese, cedilha) to spell the sound /s/ before the letters a, o, u.

  • caçar - /kasaɾ/
  • criança - /kriɐ̃sɐ/ (children)
  • paço - /pasu

Tilde edit

Tonic accent edit

Note 1: In vocative, the interjection used is ó: Ergue-te, ó Radamés, ó meu vassalo (Luís Delfino).

Note 2: There is only one exception: the interjection ha! or hahaha!