Portuguese alphabet and pronunciation

Portuguese Alphabet Pronunciation

Portuguese alphabet or “Alfabeto” consists of 23 letters. It is derived from Latin as is our own English alphabet. Letters K, W and Y are missing from the Portuguese alphabet. That hapens because these letters only appear in foreign words. Y used to be used (although rarely) during the Renaissance but in 1911 The Portuguese spelling reform displaced the letter Y forever – prefering to signify its sound by the letter ‘i’ – “Iate (yacht) is a great example.

Just Like English some letters are pronounced in different ways according to where and how they appear in a specific word. Per instance, in English we have the words ‘ever’ and ‘even’. Both start with the letter ‘e’ but this ‘e’ is pronounced differently in each of the words referred. Whilst I think it is difficult to reflect on your own native tongue, it seems to me that Portuguese language is more structured than English when it comes to pronunciation.

There are some rules to follow which do need to be learned but you will find that if you listen to Portuguese a lot these rules eventually become absorbed and you will instinctively know how the letters should be pronounced. Compared to the English language, Portuguese is much more ‘say it as you see it’.
I imagine for someone trying to learn English they might struggle with words such as ‘though’, and ‘rough’! You can chill with Portuguese because once you’ve learned the rules, you can make a reasonably accurate stab at pronouncing the word you see.

We are now going to analyze the different ways the letters are pronounced. You will notice the terms ‘stressed’ and ‘unstressed’.

Lets check the Vowels

Stressed: like a in ‘father’ Fado (Fado music)
Unstressed: Like a in ‘ago’. Mesa (table)

Stressed: ranges from e in ‘they‘ to e in ‘let’. Sete (seven)
Unstressed: Like ey in ‘prey‘. Bebida (drink)

Stressed and unstressed are the same: Like ‘i’ in ‘bin’. Idade (age)

Stressed: ranges from o in ‘opera’ to o in ‘sore’. Bolo (cake)
Unstressed: Like oo in ‘book’. Fado (fado music)
Note at the end of a word this letter often almost disappears

Stressed and unstressed are the same. Like oo in ‘roof’. Susto (fright)
However it is not pronounced in the following combinations


Click HERE to get more information about our courses