Portuguese Pronunciation Guide

portuguese pronunciation
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How many languages can you speak? Many people are multilingual and therefore they excel in providing language assistance services. But the question is about their Portuguese pronunciation. There are not many people who can accurately pronounce the languages they can speak. And this article is about the Portuguese language and Portuguese pronunciation guide which is unfamiliar to many people.

To the untrained ears, Portuguese may sound like Spanish but there is once certain aspect that distinguishes it from Spanish which is the way it is pronounced. The accent and the different tones explain that Portuguese and Spanish are two different languages. Here is a complete on Portuguese pronunciation guide for you to clear the misunderstandings about Portuguese and Spanish languages. Let’s go!

About the Portuguese Language

Portuguese is a beautiful language with a rich and dynamic history. Being a romance language, it has around 215-220 million native speakers of and around 234 million speakers worldwide. With these many speakers, it has been ranked as the 9th most spoken language. Most Portuguese speakers live in Brazil. Due to its complexity and its familiarity with Spanish, only native speakers can know its details and pronounce it accurately.

Therefore, if you’re an English speaker and you are trying to learn this language, it may become a lot challenging for you. As the name indicates, you’ll probably guess that it is the official language of Portugal. In Romance languages, it is on the second number after Spanish in terms of importance. This language differs based on the region where it is spoken.

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portuguese pronunciation guide

For instance, Brazilian Portuguese varies from European Portuguese in several respects. This causes a lot of confusion, but don’t worry. After reading this blog, you’ll figure out the differences much clearly. Checkout our latest post here about 25 nice Portuguese phrases!

Portuguese Pronunciation Guide

When learning about Portuguese pronunciation, you should first know about the way it sounds. As a whole, Portuguese tends to have a naturally more nasally sound. It has few additional accents which make it complex. If you have finally decided to learn Portuguese, you should focus more on how to speak it because that is what’s more important.

Learning Portuguese means that you’ll have to leave your foreign accent. Well, almost every sound in Portuguese exists in the English language as well. If you’re a native English speaker, then this lingo will be a lot easier for you to learn because both languages use identical alphabets. Portuguese structure is simpler than English structure and the nasal sounds aren’t that difficult to pick up. However, there are some tricky words and combinations.

Although the Portuguese language adopted some spelling reforms in the past years that facilitate writing and reading, that didn’t affect pronunciation. This topic is very important and needs attention because clear sounds are vital to exclude the insecurities when you are talking in your target language. Further, pronunciation rules are different for Brazilian pronunciation. If you’re confident in speaking Portuguese, you’ll be likely to engage yourself more in conversations which in turn makes your pronunciation clearer and develops an articulate speech.

Portuguese pronunciation practice will build fluency in your tone. With this much guide, you’ll be able to comprehend the importance of learning Portuguese pronunciation briefly. Let’s explore more!

Alphabets and Letters

Just like English, the Portuguese language also uses Latin alphabets in which there are 26 letters. The better you’ll understand the word, the more accurately you’ll be able to pronounce it. Learning the alphabet is the first thing every beginner should do. But you should also know how to properly pronounce a specific Portuguese alphabet. Following are the Portuguese European alphabets that shape this language:

A [ah], B [beh], C [seh], D [deh], E [ay], F [ehf], G [geh], H [a-gah], I [ee], J [jota], L [éhl], M [éhme], N [éhne], O [óhr], P [peh], Q [qay], R [éh-rre], S [éh-sse], T [têh], U [oo], V [vay], X [shish], Z [zay]

The letters K, W, and Y are missing because they are only used in foreign loan words. Reading these alphabets will help you understand how much Portuguese vocabulary is similar to English. But there is one thing you need to know about the letter X that it has four different sounds. Most commonly, this letter produces a hushing sound. All words starting with x render that sound as in xadrez. But when x is stuck between vowel sounds, the case is different. Broadly, this letter has three different cases i.e. (ks, z, and s). But once you look at it, you’ll learn it instantly.

pdf format portuguese pronunciation
european portuguese pronunciation guide


Now when you know about alphabets and letters, you should learn about the Portuguese vowel sounds. When we talk about vowels, we mean those sounds that we produce without blocking the air from going out. Broadly there are about 5 vowels in this language. But there are about 9 different vowel sounds that each vowel letter represents. These vowel letters are a, e, i, o, and u. Among these, the vowel e alone stands for five different sounds. But in general, the Portuguese vowel sounds are not new to English native speakers.

Further, nasal vowel sounds are also similar to English words like anger, kindness, and mantra. There are three statuses for Portuguese vowels including close, open, and mute. Various accent marks may sometimes appear over vowels, which sometimes change their sounds slightly, but the differences are insignificant for radio purposes. Lastly, diphthongs are the gliding vowel sounds between two vowels.


Most consonant words are also present in English but not with the same sound. In general, Portuguese consonants aren’t different from English, but in some cases, you should follow the rules to know which sound to use for the same consonant. The Portuguese language has about 21 consonants with 23 consonant sounds. Some of the examples are:

C/Ç: In English, we just have the letter C, but in Portuguese, two Cs can sound quite different depending on the following letter. If a word has the letter C followed by A, O, or U, the letter C takes on a sound like a letter K. However, if the letter E or I follow the letter C, its pronunciation is similar to the letter S.

J: This letter has a soft pronunciation like the ‘zh’ sound.

L: This special pronunciation of the letter L pertains to Brazilian Portuguese. If the word starts with the letter L, it is pronounced like the English L. But, if a word ends in the letter L, it is pronounced as a ‘w’ sound.


A syllable is an important part of a word. Portuguese uses vowel height to contrast stressed syllables with unstressed syllables; the vowels /a ɛ e ɔ o/ tend to be raised to [ɐ ɛ ɨ ɔ u] (although [ɨ] occurs only in EP and AP) when they are unstressed. Any syllable with an acute or circumflex accent mark (á, â) over it is stressed. Grave accents (à) do not indicate stress. But if there is no mark, then you can apply the following rules:

  • Any word with a nasal diphthong (ão, ãe, or õe) in the last syllable has this syllable stressed.
  • If a word ends with a vowel or -s or -em, then the second to last syllable is usually stressed. This applies also to adjectives ending in -vel or -il.
  • Verbs ending in -mos-, superlative adjectives, and many words ending in -as, -ea, -es, -eo, -io, -va, and -ua are stressed on the third to last syllable.
brazilian portuguese pronunciation guide

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