Portuguese language alphabet

First things first. So this blog’s first post must be about alphabet. Like English alphabet, the official Portuguese alphabet has 26 letters, from A to Z. Before the last spelling reform in Portuguese language, which took place in 2008, the Portuguese language alphabet had only 23 letters. Letters K, W and Y where not considered as part of the alphabet.

Beside the fact that Portuguese and English alphabets are equal, the letters are pronounced differently. You can hear the sounds of the letters in Portuguese language below:

In Portuguese language, vowels can have some accents, in order to stress the syllable they are in and/or change its sounds. The accents that are used in Portuguese, as well as their Portuguese names, are listed below:

  • ´ -> acento agudo (ex: água);
  • ^ -> acento circunflexo (ex: pêssego);
  • ~ -> til (ex: caminhão);
  • ¨ -> trema (discontinued by last spelling reform, now being used only in foreign names, like Müller);
  • ` -> acento grave (most known as crase).

Also, there is a variation of letter C, which is Ç. It is called “cê cedilha” and will never appear in the beginning of a word or before E or I. It changes the C sound to S sound. Ex: aço, moça, Iguaçu, soluço.


Not all vowels can get all the accents. In fact, only acento agudo can be used on all the vowels (árvore, café, símbolo, ódio, número). The other accents can be used as follow:

  • acento circunflexo: only on A, E and O (lâmpada, você, ônibus);
  • til: can be used only on A and O (ação, opções);
  • acento grave/crase: only on letter A, but in some specific cases, which will be explained futurely.
  • trema: it was used only on letter U, in syllables GUE/GUI and QUE/QUI, in order to change their sounds (the letter U in these cases is a silent letter, and then the “trema” was used to make the U letter “pronunciable”. Some exemples were agüenta, cinqüenta and conseqüência). As mentioned earlier, it is no longer used in Portuguese language.

Most of words don’t get any accent. Almost all words with accent have only one accent, in the stress syllable. There are, however, words with two accents, like bênção and órfão, but this is a rare thing to see.

In future posts, I am going to explain the accentuation rules.

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Feel free to leave any comment below.

See you next time,


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