Alfabeto: The European Portuguese Alphabet and Pronunciation

Blog
13 September 2022
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House

Unsplash: Etienne Girardet


European Portuguese is also known as Iberian Portuguese, Portuguese of Portugal, and Peninsular Portuguese. The language is part of the Ibero-Romance group that developed from the different dialects of Vulgar Latin. It was spoken in the Iberian Peninsula before as Galician-Portuguese, but when Portugal became its own country the language turned into Portuguese. The language is divided into Northern and Southern Portuguese, with phonetic differences heard across the country.

Portuguese writing is based on the Latin alphabet and its spelling is mostly phonemic. The Portuguese alphabet consists of 26 letters: with 21 consonants and 5 vowels. In addition, the letters K, Y, and W, were recent additions used for loanwords (estrangeirismos).

Diacritics – a glyph that is used to change the sound-value of the letters to which they are added to

  • ` (grave accent) – Àà
  • ´ (acute accent) – Áá, Éé, Íí, Óó and Úú
  • ^ (circumflex accent) – â, Êê and Ôô
  • ~ (tilde) – Ãã and Õõ
  • (ç) the cedilla – Çç, pronounced as /s/

Digraphs – a pair of consonant letters that represent a single sound

  • Ss – produces a soft /s/ sound
  • Rr – produces a guttural /r/ sound, similar to the French pronunciation of the letter R
  • Ch – produces a soft /sh/ sound
  • nh – produces a nasal sound that sounds like /ng/
  • Lh – produces an /l/ sound close to the word lantern
Letter
Sound
European Portuguese
Word Pronunciation
A a ah Amora (ah-mo-ra)
B b beh Belga (bel-ga)
C c seh Cereja (se-reh-ja)
D d deh Dia (dee-ya)
E e eh Emoji (eh-moh-jee)
F f ehfee Fervo (fer-vo)
G g geh Gato (gah-too)
H h agah Harpa (ar-pa)
I i ee Insónia (in-so-nya)
J j johtah Jarro (ja-ho)
K k cahpah, cah Kiwi (ki-wi)
L l ele Leite (ley-chee)
M m eme Macaco (ma-ka-ko)
N n ene Nachos (na-shos)
O o oh Omelet (o-meh-let)
P p peh Pato (pa-too)
Q q keh Quarto (kwar-too)
R r reh, ehreh Rato (ha-too)
S s ese Sim (sim)
T t teh Toranja (toh-ran-ja)
U u oo Uva (oo-vah)
V v veh Vaca (va-ca)
W w dablee you Wok (wok)
X x shees Xampú (sham-pu)
Y y epseeloohn Yoga (yo-ga)
Z z zeh Zangado (zang-ga-do)

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