Learn European Portuguese Pronunciation

Complete Guide

Portuguese pronunciation is known as very difficult. It's complex indeed, but the good news are: it's not anarchic.

With the rules presented in this tutorial you will be able to know how written portuguese actually sounds like.

If you already know consonant pronunciation, you can jump to vowel pronunciation.
If you already know all this, and just want to improve your European Portuguese accent, you can see our subtitled video examples.

Let's begin with the basics:

LetterIPAPortuguese ExampleEnglish Approximation
B/b/ bananabanana
D/d/ dosedose
F/f/ faceface
L/l/ listalist
M/m/ manualmanual
N/n/ normalnormal
P/p/ partepart
Q/k/ qualidadequality
S/s/ socialsocial
Z/z/ zebrazebra
T/t/ táxitaxi
V/v/ visitavisit

These were really easy, right?
Let's continue!

LetterFollowed ByIPAPortuguese ExampleEnglish Approximation
CA, O or U/k/ culturaculture
E or I/s/ centrocentre
Ç-/s/serviçoservice
GA, O or U/g/ gasolinagasoline
E or I/ʒ/ génerogenre (ZH)
J-/ʒ/ JaimeJacques (ZH)
HWord beginningSilent horahour
RWord beginning/ʁ/ recente(Guttural R)
Otherwise/ɾ/centralcity (AE)

Now lets see the digraphs:

LetterIPAPortuguese ExampleEnglish Approximation
CH/ʃ/ charadacharade (SH)
LH/ʎ/brilhantebrilliant
NH/ɲ/canhãocanyon
RR/ʁ/correto(Guttural R)
SS/s/clássicoclassic

Coda consonants:

Some consonants will have a different sound when they are at the end of a syllable. This is the case of M, N, S and Z.

LetterIPAPortuguese ExampleComment
MSilentimportantePrecedent vowel becomes nasal
NSilentcontacto

Followed by unvoiced consonant (c, ç, ch, f, p, q, s, t) or pause:

LetterIPAPortuguese ExampleEnglish Approximation
S/ʃ/InglêsEnglish
Zfaz três

Followed by voiced consonant (b, d, g, j, l, lh, m, n, nh, r, rr, v, z):

LetterIPAPortuguese ExampleEnglish Approximation
S/ʒ/Islândiacasual (ZH)
Zfelizmenteseizure (ZH)

Between vowels:

LetterIPAPortuguese ExampleEnglish Approximation
S/z/visitavisit
Zfeliz aniversáriolazy

Any consonant other than these (M, N, S, Z) won't change. Lets continue.

The sounds of X:

I left out X to the end on purpose. This is the only ambiguous consonant in Portuguese:

LetterRuleIPAPortuguese ExampleEnglish Approximation
XWord beginning/ʃ/ xampôshampoo
After diphtongcaixa
After MEmexicano
After ENenxame

At de end of syllables it will follow the same rules applied to S and Z.
In other cases it may have one of the following sounds:

LetterIPAPortuguese ExampleEnglish Approximation
X/ʃ/luxúriashop
/s/ximosocial
/z/existexylophone
/ks/xitaxi
/gz/hexadecimalexample

This is it. We've seen all consonant sounds.

Click here to continue to the second part of this tutorial: vowel pronunciation. ⇨

Exercise: pay attention how the consonants sound:

Continue to the second part of this tutorial: vowel pronunciation. ⇨

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