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Saying No

The Basics: No & Not

This is how to say no in Portuguese:
Não paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio No, not
The simplest way to make a sentence negative in Portuguese is just to place the word não paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio no, not before the verb. This is the Portuguese equivalent of adding “no” or “not” to a sentence in English. Examples:
Esta mota é rápida. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio This motorbike is fast.
Esta mota não é rápida. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio This motorbike is not fast.
Não is also used at the beginning of sentences, when replying “no” to a question:
Queres água? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Do you want some water?
Não, obrigado. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio No, thank you. (male speaker)
Não, obrigada. Play normal audio No, thank you. (female speaker)
In future units, we’ll cover negation in more detail, but for now, let’s practice with não in the next lesson!


  • Boa Tarde

    Apologies for the lack of accents it’s my keyboard
    I’m new to this site and loving it so far but I have question.
    When you pronounce Rs is it from the back of the throat or rolling your tongue similar to the Spanish? I can’t seem to match Rui’s pronunciation.

    • Olá, Rebecca! You’ll hear both versions of the R depending on where in Portugal you are or who you talk to. Rui, as someone from Lisbon, pronounces it in a more guttural way, similar to the French R. Rui and Joel actually talk about and demonstrate different pronunciations of the R in their latest podcast: Maratona de Leitura (especially from 22:43 to 25:00 and from 38:45 to 39:17)

  • Obrigadinha Joseph I will look into that as I sound like I’m trying to cough a furrball up when I’m trying to pronounce it

  • Ola guys. I have a similar question… Regarding the pronunciation of words ending in ’em.’ As a beginner, this is a new phonetic. I have written it as ‘engm’ to help learn the pronunciation. Is that close?


    • Olá! Yes, that looks good. Just note that we don’t close our mouths to pronounce that final M, we just let it ring nasally, so take care not to overpronounce it 🙂 You can hear examples of that sound all over the website, but maybe this Learning Note about the preposition “em” can be a good reference point: The Preposition “Em”

  • Ola team (sorry I also don’t have accents on my keyboard.)

    Can I ask about the pronunciation of s in “Queres agua”?
    I notice here it’s pronounced just as an s, not a sh sound. Is that because of the vowel a that follows?

  • I’ve done some searches on the correct way to pronounce ão, such as in não. In one explanation it was suggested that it sounds sort of like “nown”, but with the n mostly clipped. Another example said it was more like “nowm”, with a clipped m. It explained that on old maps São Paulo was sometimes listed as Sam Paulo. Who do I believe?

    • I think the vowel in both “nown” and “nowm” would sound the same if you clip the final letter. The main takeaway is that you want to add some nasality to the vowel. The air flow will go through your mouth and nose instead of just through your mouth. You may have already seen this, but the Learning Note here provides some helpful tips and examples for vowel pronunciation: European Portuguese Vowels.

  • When I said “clipped” above, I meant the sound was shortened, not completely removed. I should have been more precise. Is there a difference in how ão is pronounced in Brazilian Portuguese compared to European Portuguese? This is one of the links I came across:
    This example came up even though I was looking specifically for European Portuguese, but that’s Google trying to be helpful. Regardless, as you can see, this guy definitely adds an “m” in his pronounciation. I guess that’s not how it sounds in European Portuguese. In the future, I’ll make sure to avoid Brazilian Portuguese examples.

    • Generally speaking, the difference between the sound of “não” on either side of the ocean is not significant, but this can vary with different regional accents. The pronunciation on that video is absolutely fine 🙂

  • Olá Rui e Joel,

    I just signed up with your Learning Studio and am enjoying the syllabus thus far.
    May I ask why sometimes the e is pronounced and sometimes it is not? Esta for example is clearly pronounced and in como está, it sounds like sta instead of está?
    Hope to hear from you.


    • Olá, Josephine! Welcome to the fold and thanks for commenting 🙂
      In the examples you gave, the pronunciation differs according to where the stressed syllable is:
      Esta -> First syllable is the stressed one, so the vowel E is clearly pronounced and sustained and the ending A is soft and brief
      – Es -> Last syllable is the stressed one, so the starting vowel E is barely acknowledged and the ending A is strong and sustained

      In cases like this, these pronunciation differences are really important to let us distinguish between very similar words 🙂 In other cases, the explanation may be different or there might not be one! 🙂

      By the way, here’s a video you might find interesting: Mystery of the Disappearing Sounds (in European Portuguese!)

    • Olá, Gabriele 🙂 “Moto” is a feminine noun and is what Brazilians typically use. In European Portuguese, we say “mota”, which is also a feminine noun. So, it’s either “a moto” (Brazilian Portuguese) or “a mota” (European Portuguese). “O moto” actually doesn’t exist.

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