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The pronunciation of the Portuguese of Portugal - Alphabetic listing

Alphabetic listing

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a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Letter of the alphabet Combination / context 1) Phonemic symbol 2) Example word English translation Comments
a a (unstressed) /3/ Lisboa ©, catedral © Lisbon, cathedral The first a of both falamos and falámos also falls in this category.
aNMNH /3/ falarão ©, falamos ©, entramos © they will speak, we speak, we enter  
â /3/ câmara chamber/room  
á /a/ falámos ©, entrámos ©, lágrimas ©, água © we spoke, we entered, tears, water In this sample of "lágrimas" the difference between the two sounds spelled "a" can be very clearly heard.
à /a/ à, àquela, toda a vida [toDaviD3] © to the, to that, all his life  
a (stressed, not before m, n, nh) /a/ velejar © to sail  
a[CP][CÇT] /a/ actor, actual, acção, aptidão actor, actual, action, aptness/ability Before an (often silent) c or p before c, ç or t, a written a always has the open quality, whether stressed or unstressed. So this too results in open vowels in unstressed position, which is otherwise rare.
alC /a/ alcácer, alcance, aldeia, Algarve, almirante, faltar, faltou castle, reach, village, Algarve, admiral, be missing, it was missing The rule also applies to algures (somewhere), but not to alhures (elsewhere, somewhere), because lh is not l + consonant, but a consonant in its own right.
ã /3~/ manhã, rã, irmã © morning, frog, sister  
ai /ai/ cai, raiva © it falls, rage In stressed position; otherwise it's /3i/.
/3i/ pairar, caibamos, gaiteiro © to hover/float, that we fit, bagpipe player In unstressed position; otherwise it's /ai/.
ãe /3~i~/ mãe ©, cães, pães, alemães mother, dogs, loaves, Germans The merging of ãe and em, both sounding as /3~i~/ is a peculiarity of the Portuguese in Portugal, or more accurately, in the middle-class accent of Lisbon. It doesn't take place in Brazil, other parts of Portugal (Porto, north), Madeira, Africa.
In Portugal, the accent of Coimbra was always seen as the standard pronunciation, but nowadays the middle-class accent of Lisbon is becoming more influential, and developing into a de facto standard.
ão /3~u~/ falarão ©, dirão ©, não © they will speak, they will say, no Nearly always in stressed position. But the phoneme /3~u~/ is sometimes also written ão in unstressed position: sótão (attic), órgão (organ), acórdão (sentence/judgement), Estêvão (Stephen), Joãozinho (Johnny), órfão (orphan), órfã (female orphan), bênção (blessing), côvão (fish-trap), romãzeiro (pomegranate (romã) tree).
amF /3~u~/ falam, falaram ©, they speak, they spoke Final, in unstressed position. Only used with conjugated verbs.
amC /3~/ campo field  
âmC /3~/ câmbio exchange/change The circumflex is used here, not the acute accent, because nasalised sounds are always of the more close variety. See also Accent marks for more details.
anC /3~/ canta, rasgando © sing/he sings/she sings, cleaving  
âmC /3~/ câmbio exchange/change The circumflex is used here, not the acute accent, because nasalised sounds are always of the more close variety. See also Accent marks for more details.
ao /au/ ao, aos on the, on the  
au /au/ mau bad Before /l/ and /u/, the open and clear sound [a] turns into a much darker [A]: Examples are mau, mal, and fatal ©.  
b b /b/ Lisboa ©, Lisboa © vai o bem fugindo © Lisbon, Lisbon, the good  
c cAOU /k/ cão dog The choice of /k/ and /s/ sounds for written c works the same as in French, but not as in Spanish.
çAOU /s/ faço I do, I make
cEI /s/ céu ©, céus © heaven(s)/sky/skies
ch /S/ chama, chego © he/she calls/flame, I arrive
d d /d/ Deus © God  
e e (unstressed) /1/ velejar ©, sempre ©, horizonte ©, que © to sail, always, horizon  
e (stressed) /E/ emprego I use  
e (stressed) /e/ sede, emprego thirst, use/usage  
é /E/ é, exército, pé marés © he/she/it is, army, foot, tides  
e[CP][CÇT] /E/ direcção, recepção, réptil direction, reception, reptile Before an (often silent) c or p before c, ç or t, a written e always has the open quality, whether stressed or unstressed. So this too results in open vowels in unstressed position, which is otherwise rare.
ê /e/ dês ©, quê, êxito, estrela © that you give (subj.), something/letter Q, success, star  
e /i/ e, exame, estação and, exam, station Occurs in the word for "and", and also initially when unstressed, before a sibilant, written s, or x pronounced /z/ or /S/. Then often very short or fully absent.
eV /i/ compreender, se existe © understand, if it exists /1/ becomes /i/ before a vowel.
emF /3~i~/ tem ©, vem, cem, sem ©, nem ©, margem he/she/it has, he comes, one hundred, without, nor, border/margin  
êmF /3~i~3~i~/ têm ©, têm ©, vêm, mantêm © they have, they come, they maintain

The grapheme êm is not always pronounced with this double nasalised diphthong. See note 17 for more on this.

enS /3~i~/ tens, margens ©, you have, borders  
émF /3~i~/ também, porém, ninguém © also, however, nobody  
emC /e~/ tempo © time  
enC /e~/ penso, mentira ©, desventura © I think, lie, misfortune  
éi /Ei/ hotéis, papéis hotels, papers In Lisbon, and increasingly elsewhere in the country: /3i/, just like the written ei without the acute accent.
ei /3i/ morrerei ©, sei © I will die, I know  
éu /Eu/ céu ©, céus ©, chapéu heaven(s)/sky/skies, hat  
eu /eu/ meus ©, seu, Deus ©, deu ©, correu © my, his, God, (he/she/it) gave, (he/she/it) ran Exception: name of the European currency, note 18.
enh, ex /3i/ venho, tenho ©, tenho ©, sexto sentido ©, I come, I have, sixth sense  
f f /f/ afago © caress  
g gAOU /g/ afago ©, afago © caress The choice of /g/ and /Z/ sounds for written g works the same as in French, but not as in Spanish.
guEI /g/ guerra war
gEI /Z/ longe, refúgio © far away, refuge
h hV // there is Written h is always silent. In the combinations ch, lh and nh the h only modifies the meaning of the preceding c, n or l, and it doesn't have a sound of its own.
ch /S/ chama he/she calls, flame
i i, í /i/ Lisboa ©, baía, lírios ©, Índia Lisbon, bay, lilies, India The accent on the í is merely a stress marker, and doesn't influence the timbre. The stress rules are described here.
ViV /j/ caiu, baia he fell, stall/box/bail  
CiV /j/ lírios lilies Perhaps this is a [j] (/lirju/), or maybe rather a short and unstressed [i].
imF /i~/ fim ©, assim © end, so
imC /i~/ Coimbra Coimbra
inC /i~/ minto I lie
j j /Z/ already
k k /k/ kilowatt kilowatt The letter k is never used in any real Portuguese word.
l l /l/ velejar ©
Lisboa ©
to sail
Lisbon
lh /L/ mulher, olho, olhos © woman, I look/eye, eyes

See /O/ and /o/ for the sound difference between "I look" (/OLu/) and "eye" (/oLu/), both written olho. See also note 7.

Cf. ll of Spanish, but see the discussion of the difference under /L/.

m VmV /m/ amanhã tomorrow
BmV /m/ manhã morning The circumflex is used here, not the acute accent, because nasalised sounds are always of the more close variety. See also Accent marks for more details.
amF /3~u~/ falam they speak Final, in unstressed position. Only used with conjugated verbs.
amC /3~/ campo field
âmC /3~/ câmbio exchange/change The circumflex is used here, not the acute accent, because nasalised sounds are always of the more close variety. See also Accent marks for more details.
emF /3~i~/ tem ©, vem, cem, sem ©, nem ©, margem he/she/it has, he comes, one hundred, without, nor, border/margin
êmF /3~i~3~i~/ têm ©, vêm they have, they come The grapheme êm is not always pronounced with this double nasalised diphthong. See note 17 for more on this.
émF /3~i~/ também, porém, ninguém © also, however, nobody
emC /e~/ tempo © time
imF /i~/ fim ©, assim © end, so
imC /i~/ Coimbra Coimbra
omF /o~/ bom, tom ©, com © good, pigeon, with
omC /o~/ pombas brancas © white doves
um /u~/ um dia fatal ©, comum, chumbo a/one, common, lead
n VnV /n/ ano year
BnV /n/ não ©, nem ©, novo /novo/ ©, nova /nOv3/ © no, nor, new (masc.), new (fem.)
anC /3~/ canta, rasgando © sing/he sings/she sings, cleaving
ânC /3~/ importância importance The circumflex is used here, not the acute accent, because nasalised sounds are always of the more close variety. See also Accent marks for more details.
enS /3~i~/ tens, margens © you have, borders
onC /o~/ conto I tell/ I count/ account / story / 1000 escudos / 5 euro
enC /e~/ penso, mentira ©, desventura © I think, lie, misfortune
inC /i~/ minto I lie
unC /u~/ mundo, junto world, joined
nh /J/ manhã, ganhar © morning Like Spanish ñ, Italian and French gn (as in cognac).
o CoV /w/ mágoas ©, Coimbra, moeda hurts, Coimbra, coin In unstressed positions. Mágoas © and águas © rhyme, despite the spelling difference regarding o/u.
o (unstressed) /u/ afago ©, falámos ©, fado louco ©, se douram ©. caress, we spoke, mad fado, they are gilded/become bright
o[CP][CÇT] /O/ adoptar, óptimo, nocturna © adopt, excellent, nightly Not all unstressed letters o are pronounced /u/. Before an (often silent) c or p before c, ç or t, a written o always has the open quality, whether stressed or unstressed. This results in open vowels in unstressed position, which is otherwise rare.
o /O/ sol, voz ©, porta © roda © sun, voice, door, wheel  
o /o/ cor, boa, Lisboa ©, porto (first o) © color, good, Lisbon, harbour  
ó /O/ só, fósforo, nós © alone, match, we/us  
ô /o/ pôr, pôr do sol put, sunset  
ou /o/
(but /ou/ in the north)
ou, chegou, fado louco ©, or, he/she/it arrived, mad fado  
omF /o~/ bom, pombas brancas ©, com © good, white doves, with  
omC /o~/ pombo pigeon, dove  
onC /o~/ conto I tell/ I count/ account / story / 1000 escudos / 5 euro  
oi /oi/ foi ©, foi ©, dois © he was/went  
ói /Oi/ dói ©, dói ©, para os heróis ©, it hurts, for the heroes  
õe /o~i~/ põe /po~i~/, põem /po~i~3~i~/, ilusões ©, eleições ©, condições © he puts, they put, illusions, elections, conditions Occurs mostly almost in the plural ending -ões of words that in the singular end in -ão. (But some words in -ão have plurals in -ães or -ãos). This diphthong tends to more like [O~i~] than [o~i~], which is strange, because all nasalised vowels are of the more close variety (o~, not O~, e~, not ~E, and 3~, not a~).
See also note 9
p p /p/ pai, porto © father, harbour  
q quAO /k/ quase almost The u is sounded, as /w/.
quEI /k/ quente quem quer ©. warm/hot, who In most words of this type, the written u is not sounded.
r VrV /r/ morrerei (2nd r) ©, mentira © I will die  
VrC /r/ porto ©, surda © port, mute  
VrF /r/ velejar © to sail  
BrV /R\/ raiva © anger  
LSNrV /R\/ bilro, chilrear, honra, Israel, mil-reis, ab-rogar bobbin, chirp, honour, Israel, former monetary unit, abrogate
VrrV /R\/ morrerei (1st r) © I will die  
s BsV /s/ sem © without  
VsV /z/ casa, meus olhos © house, my eyes  
VssV /s/ disse he said, she said, I said
Vs /s/ (allophone [S]) fazes you do, you make
VsC /s/ (allophone [S]) Lisboa © Lisbon
t t /t/ triste ©, tom © sad, tone
u CuV /w/ guardar, quase, água © keep, almost, water
VuV /w/ cauã, acauã, uacauã Names of a Brazilian bird
u, ú /u/ caiu, útil, refúgio ©, surda ©, uma voz © he fell, useful, refuge, deaf/dull/secret, a voice The accent on the ú is merely a stress marker, and doesn't influence the timbre. The stress rules are described here.
um /u~/ um dia fatal ©, comum, chumbo a/one, common, lead
unC /u~/ mundo, junto world, joined
ui /ui/ fui © I was/went
ui /u~i~/ muito © many, much Occurs only in this single word! (and in its derivatives, "muita", "muitas" and "muitos". Nasalisation is not shown in the spelling in this special case.
v v /v/ verde, voz ©, vai o bem fugindo © green, voice, there goes
w w /w/ O Word Word The letter w is never used in any real Portuguese word. Where it occurs in foreign names or words, it usually sounds as /w/, as in the name of the word processor: "O Word".
x x /S/ paixão, peixe, deixar, excelente passion, fish, leave/let/etc., excellent This is the most common sound for written x.
BexV /z/ exame, existir exam, exist Initial ex followed by a vowel.
x /ks/ fixar, maxila fix/fasten/attach, jaw In some words.
x /s/ máximo, próximo, trouxe, auxiliar maximum, next, he brought/carried, help/support In some words, most of which are mentioned here.
y y /j/ Yuan Yuan (Chinese currency unit) The letter y is never used in any real Portuguese word.
z zV /z/ fazes you make
zF (also zC) /z/ (allophone [Z]) faz, voz © he does

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