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portuguese alphabet

The European Portuguese Alphabet

This Learning Note will teach you how to spell using the letters of the European Portuguese alphabet, which will likely come in handy if you ever travel or move to Portugal. Receiving packages, making phone calls, and setting up services often require you to spell your name or other personal information, such as the name of the street you live on.
While the Portuguese alfabetoalphabet contains practically the same letters as the English one, and the original Latin alphabet for that matter, the names for each letter and the sounds (also called fonemasphonemes ) associated with each letter are quite different.

The Letters of the Portuguese Alphabet

Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz

There weren’t always 26 letters in the Portuguese alphabet. Only recently were Kk, Ww, and Yy officially integrated into it, as they’re only present in certain words, such as foreign people’s names, foreign places, units of measurement, symbols, and acronyms. They are also present in estrangeirismosforeign loanwords, like “software”, “whiskey”, “yoga”, “baby”, “megawatt”, and many others, which have found their way into daily conversations.
As with any other alphabet, the Portuguese letters also have names and are divided into vogaisvowels and consoantesconsonants . We’ll take a look at each group below.

Vowels

Aa  Ee  Ii Oo Uu
As you may have noticed, some vowels appear with accents in order to denote stress or to indicate a specific pronunciation. Here are the ones that exist in Portuguese:

  • ` (grave accent) – Àà;
  • ´ (acute accent) – Áá, Éé, Íí, Óó and Úú;
  • ^ (circumflex accent) – Ââ, Êê and Ôô;
  • ~ (tilde) – Ãã and Õõ;

You can read more here about how to pronounce the sounds associated with each vowel of the European Portuguese alphabet.

Consonants

Bb Cc *Dd Ff Gg Hh
Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Pp
Qq Rr Ss Tt Vv Ww
Xx Yy Zz
*There’s also Çç, which is C with a cedilla (Spanish word) and appropriately called C-cedilha or C-cedilhado .

Let’s Practice!

Now we can practice how to spell in Portuguese letters. See if you can answer the following questions (you can make up the answers!), with some help from the Portuguese alphabet audio above. Here are a couple other words that may come in handy: maiúsculouppercase, capital minúsculalowercase

  • Como se soletra o seu nome?How do you spell your name? / Como se soletra?How is it spelled?
    • O meu nome soletra-se...My name is spelled... : ________
  • Em que rua mora?What street do you live on?
    • Eu soletro-a...I'll spell it... : ________
  • Qual é o código de reserva?What is the reservation code?
    • O código é...The code is... : ________
  • Qual é a palavra-passe?What is the password?
    • A minha palavra-passe é...My password is... : ________

Comments

    • Olá, Sabine. Não consegui confirmar se existe algum alfabeto oficial deste género! Talvez exista um padrão oficial em áreas como a aviação, por exemplo, mas no dia a dia, penso que a maioria das pessoas usa qualquer palavra que sirva. Por isso, na prática, usar o alfabeto sugerido na Wikipédia ou qualquer outro não fará diferença 🙂

  • Olá Joseph!
    obrigada pelo empenho fazer um “inquérito”
    Vou-me orientar no futuro no alfabeto que encontrei na Wikipédia.

  • Thank you once again for a brilliant website!! I appeciate all the ways you find to help us learn European Portuguese.

  • I don’t know exactly when you added this but I sat down today and I was going to send you an email asking for this!
    I’m still far from being able to hold a “grown-up” conversation but the knowledge you have given me has been invaluable a number of times.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Hi Guys very usefull, my name PAT is easy peasy, but my wife is ANN, in English we say NN or double N, but in French you would say “deux Ns”, inPortuguese………..?

  • Ola ! With the letter Y some alaphabet lessons pronounce it as ipsilon instead of egrego, why is this? Obrigada

    • Olá, Sally. Both are commonly used and accepted. Ípsilon obviously comes straight from the original Greek name of the letter, and “I grego” is, very literally, “Greek I” 🙂

    • Olá! You should write your name exactly as it is. If it has a umlaut (we call it trema in Portuguese), by all means use it 🙂

  • I have now been in Portugal for almost two months. I am very eager to learn Portuguese. Thanks for having this website.

  • I’ve been learning on Duolingo which has been good, despite differences with a few words and pronunciation. A friend introduced me to Practice portuguese. Let’s see how I get on!

  • Ola!
    Am thrilled to be actually studying a second language. Having lived as an expat in Asia for many years and slid by with just the basics, I’m really hoping that I’ll be better able to participate in lively conversation when I am in Portugal!

    Finding the structure and user-friendliness of you program most helpful – particularly the recorded pronunciations scattered throughout the instructional text!

    What are people finding the most productive amount of time to spend on the site? Once per day for an hour? More? Less? I know we all learn at different speeds but am keen to know how others are pacing themselves.

    Obrigada!

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