Portuguese pronunciation especially European Portuguese can be quite daunting. I often hear people say that Portuguese sounds like Russian. Brazilian Portuguese has a softer pronunciation similar to Latin American Spanish and normally a bit easier for native English speakers to pick up. Either way, both are very nasal so when you first start speaking you could try putting a peg on your nose, but it’s best to pick up the nasal sound quickly so you don’t have to do this for long!
Let’s have a look at some basic rules for pronunciation:
Assuming you’ve done your homework and learnt the Portuguese alphabet pronunciation here are four rules to help you know how to pronounce a word in Portuguese.
1. More often than not Portuguese words are stressed in the second to last syllable.
Me-sa, ca-ma, sa-co, te-cla-do, ca-ne-ta, con-to, li-vro, ca-mi-sa, sa-pa-tos, ga-ra-gem, sol-da-do, trans-for-ma, sis-te-ma, bo-la, me-ni-no, bor-ra-cha,
2. Words ending with L, Z, R, U and I, are stressed in the LAST syllable.
Jornal, Papel, Feliz, Natal
3. Written accents are stronger than any other rule.
Yes, in fact, if you have a word that has a written accent you must ignore all the other rules and stress the syllable with the accent.
4. You normally pronounce every single letter in a word.
except the H that is always silent.
So this should get you off to a good start. The best way to practice pronunciation is to listen to native Portuguese speakers and practice as much as you can. The more you hear and the more you speak, the easier it will be to pick up an ‘authentic’ Portuguese accent.
Então, falamos! – So let’s talk!
So if you want to learn the basics or even more advanced Portuguese, have a look at our “Portuguese Tuition” page to find out how we can help you get speaking Portuguese in no time at all.