Language Information

Portuguese has two major written forms:

  • European and African Portuguese
  • Brazilian Portuguese.

In Brazil most first 'c's in 'cc', 'cç' or 'ct'; and 'p's in 'pc', 'pç' or 'pt' were eliminated from the language, since they are not pronounced in the cultivated spoken language, but are remnants from the language's Latin origin and sometimes take place in Europe and Africa.

Also, there are differences in accent marks, due to:

  • Different pronunciation.
  • Easier reading.

Portuguese is written using the Latin alphabet with 26 letters. Three of them (K, W and Y) are only used for non-Portuguese origin words. It uses ç and acute, grave, circumflex and tilde accents over vowels, as well as, in some forms and only in Brazil, diaeresis on a U.

Pronunciation

The Portuguese language has a complex phonetic structure.

Pronunciation of the Portuguese of Brazil

Pronunciation of the Portuguese of Brazil

         e = [ e ] when unstressed and non-final, [ e ] or [ ɛ ] when stressed, [ i ] when final

  • o = [ o ] when unstressed and non-final, [ ɔ ] or [ o ] when stressed, [ u ] when final
  • c = [ s ] before i or e, [ k ] elsewhere
  • d = [ ʤ ] before i or a final unstressed e, [ d ] elsewhere
  • g = [ ʒ ] before i or e, [ g ] elsewhere
  • gu = [ g ] before i or e, [ gw ] elsewhere
  • m is nasalized when at the end of a syllable and preceded by a vowel.
  • n is nasalized when at the end of a syllable, preceded by a vowel and followed by a consonant.
  • l = [ w ] after vowels, [ l ] elsewhere
  • qu = [ k ] before I or e, [ kw ] before a, o or u
  • r = [ r ] after consonants (except n) and before a vowel or at the end of a word if the next word begins with a vowel, [ x ] elsewhere. When at the end of a word and followed by a word beginning with a vowel = [ r ], otherwise = [ x ]. In São Paulo, r sometimes = [ ɽ ].
  • s = [ s ] at the beginning of words, [ z ] between vowels. In Rio de Janeiro, s = [ ʒ ] before d, g, l, m, n, r and v, [ ʃ ] before c, f, p, qu and t.
  • t = [ ʧ ] before i or a final unstressed e, [ t ] elsewhere
  • x = [ ʃ ]  at the beginning of a word and before a consonant (except c), pronounced [ s ] before ce or ci, ex + vowel = [ z ], elsewhere x = [ ʃ ], [ ks ] or [ s ].
  • z = [ ʒ ] at the ends of words and [ z ] elsewhere

Pronunciation of the Portuguese of Portugal

As in Brazil, except:

         a = [ ə ] when unstressed or at the ends of words, [ a ] or [ ɐ ] elsewhere.

  • e = [ ə ] when unstressed or at the ends of words, [ e ] or [ ɛ ] elsewhere. Often barely pronounced at the ends of words.
  • b = [ β ] between vowels, [ b ] elsewhere
  • d = [ ð ] between vowels, [ d ] elsewhere
  • g = [ ɣ ] between vowels, [ g ] elsewhere
  • gu = [ ɣw ] in some words
  • r = [ ʀ ] or [ rr ] when at the beginning of words, [ r ] elsewhere
  • rr = [ ʀ ] or [ rr ]
  • s = [ s ] at the beginning of words, [ z ] between vowels and at the end of a word when preceded by a vowel and followed by a word beginning with a vowel, [ ʃ ] after a vowel and before and consonant and at the end of words.
  • t = [ t ]

Grammar

Verbs are divided into three conjugations, which can be identified by looking at the infinitive ending, one of "-ar", "-er", "-ir" (and "-or", which is present in a small number of verbs). Most verbs end with "-ar". All verbs with the same ending follow the same pattern.

In Portuguese, verbs are divided into moods:

  • Imperative. Used to express a wish, command or advice
  • Indicative. Used to express a fact
  • Subjunctive. Used to express a wish or a possibility

All Portuguese nouns have one of two genders: masculine or inclusive and feminine or exclusive. Most adjectives and pronouns, and all articles indicate the gender of the noun they reference. The noun and the adjective must always be in agreement.

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