How to pronounce the letter ‘o’ in Brazilian Portuguese

In this post we’ll learn the different ways you can pronounce the letter o in Brazilian Portuguese words.

Many students of Brazilian Portuguese often tell me they find it difficult to pronounce the letter o in Brazilian Portuguese, mainly because they can’t actually hear the difference between the open and closed sounds of it.

1. Open sound

Like the in the English word ‘bought’. examples:

bola (ball) 

avó (grandmother) 

(It’s quite common for Brazilians to just say vó without the a)

vó (grandmother) 

cola (glue) 

(dust). 

Note that when the o is under the acute accent [ ´ ] it is always pronounced as an open sound, no matter where it is in the word.

 

2. Closed sound

It’s a short ‘oh’ sound, similar to the  in the English word no:

nome (name) 

avô (grandfather) 

(It’s quite common for Brazilians to just say without the a)

vô (grandfather) 

ônibus (bus) 

Note that when the o is under the circumflex accent [^] is is always pronounced as a closed sound, no matter where it is in the word. 

 

3. oo sound

If the o is the last letter of a word, it is pronounced more like the oo in food.

dedo (finger) 

alto (tall) 

 

4.  Diphthongs (vowel pairs) with the letter o

io

-> at the end of a word: both vowels blend into [ee-oo] as in you 

prédio (building) 

-> not at the end of a word: normal closed sound.

biologia (biology) 

 

oi 

closed o sound combined with ee

noite (night) 

oi (hello/hi) 

 

oa 

The o is pronounced with the oo sound

voar (to fly) 

 

ao

(as in cow)

ao (to)

caos (chaos) 

 

oe 

closed sound (not at the end of a word)

poeta (poet)

 

ou

closed sound – the u is silent.

Ele chegou. (He arrived.)

Sou  (I am) 

5.  Nasal sounds

Brazilian Portuguese has many nasal vowel sounds. They happen when a vowel is followed by the letter m (and sometimes n) or when the vowel combination has a tilde accent [~]. The sound produced is similar to the sound in English words ending in -ng (song, ping) but when the g is barely pronounced. Let’s have  a look at some examples of nasal sounds with the vowel o.

 

ão

I’ve written a post, with a video as well on how to pronounce words with -ão. Click here to be taken to that post.

mão (hand) 

õe

Similar to the -oing sound in boing

Ele põe (He puts) 

 

om

Similar to the -ong sound in gong

bom (good) 

som (sound) 

Now that you know the different ways of how to pronounce the letter o in Brazilian Portuguese try this post: Difficult Sounds in Brazilian Portuguese

 

 

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