Portuguese phonology

From Academic Kids

Main article: Portuguese language

Template:IPA notice


The sound system of Portuguese is somewhat more complicated compared to Spanish. There are a greater number of vowels, and there is not a simple rule relating written vowels to their sounds, as there is in Spanish. Similarly to French, Portuguese has a set of nasal vowels and a set of nasal diphthongs.

Oral monophthongs
Portugal Brazil
vi 'saw' (1 sg)
v 'see' (3 sg)
s 'cathedral'
sou 'I am'
mudo 'mute' (m)
pagar 'to pay'
pegar 'to grip'
Nasal monophthongs
Portugal Brazil
vim 'came' (1 sg)
entro 'enter'
antro 'den'
som 'sound'
mundo 'world'
Oral diphthongs
Portugal Brazil
sai 'go out' (3 sg)
sei 'know' (1 sg)
anéis 'rings' (n)
sei 'know' (1 sg)
mói 'grind' (3 sg)
moita 'thicket'
anuis 'agree' (2 sg)
viu 'saw' (3 sg)
meu 'mine' (poss m)
véu 'veil'
mau 'bad' (m sg)
Nasal diphthongs
Portugal Brazil
me 'mother'
cem 'hundred'
anões 'dwarves' (m)
muita 'much, many' (f)
mão 'hand' (n)

Post-stressed o is normally /u/, and post-stressed a is normally an open central vowel. The same changes happen to pre-stressed vowels in Portugal, but not Brazil.


Bilabial Dental Palatal Velar
Plosive [[voiceless bilabial plosive|]] b [[voiceless dental plosive|]] d [[voiceless velar plosive|]] g
Nasal [[bilabial nasal|]] [[dental nasal|]] [[palatal nasal|]]
Lateral approximant [[lateral dental approximant|]] [[lateral palatal approximant|]]
Labiodental Alveolar Postalveolar Uvular
Fricative [[voiceless labiodental fricative|]] v [[voiceless alveolar fricative|]] z [[voiceless postalveolar fricative|]] [[voiced postalveolar fricative|]] [[voiced uvular fricative|]]
Tap [[alveolar tap|]]
pato 'duck' (m)
bato 'I strike'
mato 'I kill'
fato 'costume'
vinha 'vine'
tacto 'tact'
dato 'I date'
nato 'innate' (m)
caço 'I hunt'
caso 'I marry'
cacto 'cactus'
gato 'cat'
pinha 'pine cone'
chato 'flat'
jacto 'jet'
pira 'pyre'
rato 'mouse' (m)
linha 'line'
pilha 'battery'

There are palatal consonants lh and nh (the equivalent of Spanish ll, ñ). The consonants ch, j are postalveolar fricatives, IPA , , or the same sound as in French.

In Portugal (most dialects) and Rio de Janeiro, the letter s when final or followed by another voiceless consonant is , or before a voiced consonant . So the escudo (the previous currency - now Portugal uses the Euro) is , plural escudos . In other regions of Brazil and other former Portuguese colonies, the s is merely voiced (to ) when before a voiced consonant. The Beiro dialect of central Portugal, pronounces the final 's' as 'j'.

The letter l when final or followed by a consonant in is pronounced as in most of Brazil, and in the Caipira dialect as . In most of Brazil (excluding the North and the areas south of So Paulo), the syllables ti and unstressed te are pronounced as and di and unstressed de as . In most of Brazil with the exception of the deep South, initial, final, double and preconsonantal r are pronounced as a voiceless uvular fricative or as . In northern Portugal, in the Alto-Minhoto and Transmontano dialects, ch is spoken as . Also, in Northern Portugal's dialects, v is pronounced as .

The Portuguese language is particularly interesting to linguists because of the complexity of its vowels. The language contains 9 oral vowels (7 in Brazil), 5 nasal vowels and a large number of diphthongs.

letter Portuguese Meaning IPA letter Portuguese Meaning IPA
a talha cut a lh alho garlic ʎ
a amo master ɐ¹ a² m- mapa map m
alto, rvore tall, tree ɑ n- nmero number n
am, an campo, canto field, corner nh ninho nest ɲ
b bola ball b o santo, logo saint, soon u
ca, co, cu casa house k , om, on limes, montanha lemons, mountain
a, ce, ci, o, u cedo, ma early, apple s morte, moda, n death, fashion, knot ɔ
ch cheque check ʃ ovo, olho, av egg, eye, grandparent o
d dedo finger d p parte part p
e leite, vale milk, valley ɨ¹ i or e² qua, quo quanto, quotidiano how much, daily kw
resto, festa, caf rest, party, coffee ɛ que qui aquele, aqui that one, here k
medo, letra, voc fear, letter, you e -r mar, Marte sea, Mars ɾ¹ or x²
em, en lembrar, ento remember, then r coro, caro choir, expensive ɾ
f ferro iron f r, rr rosa, carro rose, car ʀ¹ or x²
ga, go gato cat g s, ss sapo, assado frog, roasted s
ge, gi gelo ice ʒ -s galinhas, arcos chickens, arcs ʃ or ʒ or z ³
gua gua water gw (vowel)s(vowel) raso evenness z
gue, gui portugus, guia Portuguese, guide g t tosta toast t
h harpa harp - u uvas grapes u
i idiota idiot i diphthongs with o or u ao, mau to, bad w
diphthongs with 'i' nacional, ideia national, idea j un, um um, untar one, to dip in grease
im, in limbo, brincar limb, to play v vento, velocidade wind, velocity v
j jogo game ʒ x caixa, Xadrez, texto box, chess, text ʃ
l logo soon l x prximo next s
-l Portugal, Brasil Portugal, Brazil ɫ¹ w² z, exa, exe, exi, exo, exu exame, natureza exam, nature z
¹ European/African Portuguese Standard
² Brazilian Portuguese Standard
³ The \z\ is used if followed by another word (if not a pause, only), in the cases when it precedes a vowel, and it will be [ʒ] if followed by sonorous consonants (such as "b", "m" or "n"). It will be [ʃ] in the rest of the cases. In most of Brazil and Angola the sound is allways \z\ and in Beira region (Portugal), the sound is always [ʒ].
pt:Fonologia do portugus

Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)


  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Personal tools