Topic: Learning Tips

How to Pronounce the Letter X in Portuguese

July 10, 2018
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Compared to some other languages, Portuguese pronunciation is relatively consistent, once you learn and follow the basic rules. A huge exception to this idea lies the letter X, which is one of the most challenging sounds – even for more intermediate learners.

That’s because this letter makes a several different sounds, and it varies unpredictably… for the most part. To get started, let’s see what Sherlock has to say on the topic:

(A special thanks to our friend Wayne Wilson for not only writing and animating this video, but for also providing the voice of Sherlock! Please help us thank him below or in the YouTube comments!)

As you saw in the video, there are 5 different ways to pronounce X in European Portuguese. But when you see a new word that contains this letter, how will you know which of the 5 pronunciations to use?

The only way to be fully sure is to memorize the individual words. But to hopefully give you a head start, let’s explore some of X’s common pronunciation patterns:

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Getting Past Beginner’s Intimidation On Your Way To Portuguese Fluency

July 29, 2015

We get amazing emails from our members daily, and we usually just respond to them privately. But since the response got quite long and involved, I decided to go over it a couple times before sending and try to turn it into a more or less intelligible article that others might be able to relate to… but you can be the judge! – Joel

Question (Edited slightly): I need inspiration and a plan. I am a subscriber and like the Podcasts a lot. Husband is Portuguese and I have taken lessons, can read and write pretty well but am so reluctant to speak. I did go to his village in central Portugal for three weeks alone to force myself to speak. (had no choice!).

Oh, I am 69 years old. I know that I know more each year but as time passes am more and more reluctant to talk. I guess it is me evaluating myself? And of course it is marido’s native language so I just let him do all the talking when we are in Portugal. We go often, at least once a year. Listening to the podcasts is really good for me.

But what do you suggest? I know that immersion would be key but at my age I am not interested in spending one or two months away from meu marido. Of course the big challenge is verbs and yes, I know when I talk I am translating. When I write it seems to come much more naturally but then I am calm and I am a very visual person (writer and painter). Meu Deus! I bet you didn’t expect a message like this. But what do you think? What would be a good plan? I am a very disciplined person and just need a boost of inspiration.! Thanks in advance, Obrigadinha, K.

Joel’s Response:

Hi K,

Great to hear from you and thanks for taking the time to write. Thanks also for your support these last few months, we really appreciate it.

I started writing this then realized it might be interesting for others to read so I tried to write it more like an article. So if it’s ok with you, I’ll post the question and answer (without your name of course), on the long-neglected blog section of our site!

It is also inspiring that even though you are beyond the age of your average language learner, you are still taking your language learning seriously (keeps the mind sharp… many people stop learning after their schooling and our brains quickly get lazy with every year that passes!)

Bringing the Learned Vocabulary / Grammar the Surface (a.k.a. Activating a Language)

I was exactly in your position when I started learning – I had studied a bunch of grammar and vocabulary, but it seemed like there was a great distance between the knowledge in my brain and the words coming out of my mouth… in other words, if I was writing or had a few seconds to think, I could construct the phrases, but to immediately recall the vocabulary, verb conjugations etc instantly in a conversation was another challenge. Studying a language on paper is one thing, but then it takes hours of listening, speaking and therefor months / years of feeling dumb on a daily basis in real-life conversations. (After almost 3 years of speaking the language, those moments of feeling dumb are less frequent, but they still happen frequently!)

Intimidation in Speaking a New Language

I totally understand your intimidation with the language and your reluctance to speak. I find it especially happen during weeks where I am working mostly with English clients and communicating a lot with my Canadian family/friends – If you spend hours and days away from the language, it takes a little while to warm up the Portuguese muscle again.

It also doesn’t help that most of the population (especially the young generations and those in hospitality/tourism) seem to speak near-perfect English. So as new Portuguese speakers, it is intimating and frustrating to know that any second, we may make a mistake that will cause them to start speaking English to us, (rendering our Portuguese-learning efforts useless!)

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Subscribing to Practice Portuguese on Android

May 16, 2015

We recently had a user ask us how to download our podcast for offline listening using an Android device. In the past, we have used and enjoyed Pocket Casts, a “podcatcher” app for Android, but the process should be similar regardless of which app you choose.


In the App Store (on your Android Device it may be called Android Market, Google Play Store), search for and install the Pocket Casts app (by Shift Jelly)

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