The moment you start learning Portuguese you might be disappointed to realise the way we speak and write doesn't always match. So before jumping into memorised scripts, and to avoid the danger of having monologues, it's a good idea to focus on understanding how we speak first.

Understanding pronunciation of individual letters and words is obviously important, but even more so of words within the context of a sentence.

While 'que' would equate to [ke] (a closed 'e', as in 'moment'), we never say it in isolation. It often comes in the combination 'o que é que', as in:

Desculpe, não percebi o que é que disse. [dshkoolp, não prsbi u kEHk dees] (Sorry, I didn't understand what you said.)

If you're scared of sounding too native and being confronted with high-speed Portuguese in return, just throw in a:

Estou a aprender português. I am learning Portuguese.

[shto AHprender purtughêsh], notice how an 'a', when facing another 'a' at the start of the following word, can't help it but unit forces into a very open 'A'.

In case you prefer a shortcut, just say 'diga?'

And don't forget the patterns:

es- = [SH], escola [shkola] (school), just forget there's an E and think it's Russian you're learning.

-s = [SH], sacos [sakush] (bags), but if a vowel comes afterwards, eg. sacos azuis, then we get [sakuzaizuish].

Yes, the [SH] turns into a [Z] sound; some sort of fatal attraction.

If you have enjoyed this quick lesson and would like to learn more Portuguese outside of the box, then please contact Catarina from The Language Unschool -