LearningPortuguese

Consonants

Mostly the same as English, but…

c

Soft (like in ‘lace’) if followed by an ‘e’ or ‘i’, otherwise hard (as in ‘cold’). The only exception is where a cedilla is used (‘ç’) – which forces it to be pronounced softly even though the letter following is not ‘e’ or ‘i’ (note, the cedilla must not be used if the following letter is ‘e’ or ‘i’).

nação criança cuidar
kowzar
asaytahvel
akabar
nassow[ng]
kriansa
kwidar
alkansa

 

g

Soft if followed by an ‘e’ or an ‘i’ (the same as a soft ‘j’ – like the ‘s’ in ‘measure’), otherwise hard (as in ‘gold’). If the ‘g’ is followed by the letters ‘ui’ or ‘ue’, the ‘u’ is only there to ‘harden’ what would otherwise be a soft ‘g’ – the ‘u’ is therefore silent (or rather, it joins with the ‘e’ or ‘i’ to form a diphthong). Occasionally (in Brazilian Portuguese), you might still find a ‘u’ with a diaeresis (ü) following a ‘g’ (or a ‘q’). This signifies that the ‘u’ is not silent. A natural consequence of placing a vowel after a pronounced ‘u’ is that the ‘gu’ sounds like ‘gw’. Please note, however, that under the new Portuguese spelling agreement the diaeresis (ü) must not be used anymore.

agir água lingüística guerra fugir gato
ganyar geeyandu gwardar azhir ahgwa lingwishtica gairra foozhir gahtu

 

h

Silent if at the start of a word; pronounced like a ‘y’ if it comes after an ‘l’ or ‘n’. Can be used with ‘c’ to form ‘ch’ which is pronounced ‘sh’. Never pronounced like the typical English usage!

honesto
chuva houve
te[ay]nyu oneshtu shoova a ohve fal-ya

 

j

Always soft – like the ‘s’ in ‘measure’.

jogar jantar lojas julgar queijo
zhogar zhantar lozhash zhoolgar kay-zhoo)

 

m/n

When at the end of a word, ‘m’ is pronounced nasally, almost like ‘ng’ or ‘ny’. Rather than close the lips (like you would in English), try to kind of swallow the ending. When words that end with ‘m’ are made plural, the ‘m’ is replaced with an ‘n’ (eg. ‘jovem’ becomes ‘jovens’) – but still with the same nasal quality.

sim[ng] taym[ng] fazaym[ng] bom[ng] zhovayn[g]sh bayn[g]sh algun[g]sh
uns trabalham vantagem
un[g]sh trabalyam[ng] vantazhaym[ng] fim[ng] matar mora veeyahzhen[g]sh

 

q

Like in English, ‘q’ is always followed by ‘u’ in Portuguese. If an unaccented ‘e’ or ‘i’ follows the ‘u’ (which is quite common), pronounce like ‘k’, otherwise ‘kw’. If the ‘u’ has a diaeresis accent (ü), the ‘q’ should be pronounced ‘kw’ despite the following ‘e’ or ‘i’. This rule is not always followed by European Portuguese (as they never use a diaeresis, whereas Brazilians sometimes do, even though it is no longer officially part of the language).

quer qual porque que conseqüências (br) quem
kair kwal porke keh or ke konsekwensiash kaym[ng]

 

r

‘Rolled’, or flicked off the tongue(except at the end of a word) – more vigorously for a double ‘r’. This is particularly difficult to achieve when in full flow, but for most people will come with practice. Brazilians tend to pronounce it like a guttural ‘h’, which is a lot easier and an acceptable alternative if you really can’t manage to rrrrrrrrrrr. When a word ends with ‘r’, some European Portuguese speakers add an ‘e’ sound to the end.

respeito terra grupo parar engarrafamento
rreshpaytu terrrrrrra grroopu parrar engarrrrrrafamentu

 

s

Pronounced ‘sh’ or like a soft ‘j’ if it immediately precedes a consonant (even if the consonant is the start of the next word) or if used at the very end of a sentence (Brazilian pronunciation however, is just like an English ‘s’ in these circumstances). When situated between 2 vowels (even if the following vowel is at the start of the next word), it is pronounced like a ‘z’. At all other times, it is a simple ‘s’ sound.

casa Cascais senhor
kahza Kashkaish senyor dezhde eshperra rrrezhmungar
meus esposa lembrar-se as outras pessoas reveses
mayoosh eshpoza laym[ng]brarse az ohtrash pess-oh-ash revesezh

 

v

Should be pronounced like in English, but often mutates to a ‘b’ especially by the northern Portuguese. This is due to lazy articulation – much the same as many English will mutate ‘th’ to ‘f’ or ‘v’.

 

x

There aren’t really any rules governing the pronunciation of ‘x’! Some of its forms: j; sh; ks; s; z. If in doubt, pronounce it like a slushy mixture of a soft ‘j’ and ‘sh’. For the most part, you just have to learn by exposure. It normally takes the form that is easiest to articulate for the given word, so you can usually take a fairly good guess.

táxi baixo excelente exemplo conexão próximo
taxi by-shu eshelente ezemplu koneksow[ng] prossimu

 

z

If at the end of a word (with no vowel following at the start of the next word), pronounce like a soft ‘j’. Otherwise, like the English ‘z’.

trazair fazh eficazj limpe[ay]za

People from certain parts of Brazil have a habit of pronouncing the letters ‘de’ and ‘di’as a hard ‘j’ (like the English ‘j’), so they say things like ‘Bom Jia’. Similarly, they often pronounce the letters ‘te’ and ‘ti’ like the ‘ch’ in ‘chair’.

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