X letter in Portuguese

We have good news and bad news about this Portuguese grammar topic. The letter X in Portuguese has 5 different sounds.

The good news first: from these 5 sounds, there are 4 rules that are very easy to learn and apply.


1: Every time we have an X in the beginning of a word you know that the sound is [sh]. Examples: XAVIER, XERIFE.

2. If the word starts with EX and if it is followed by a vowel, the sound of the X is [Z]. Examples: exemplo, exótico.

3. When the Portuguese word ends with X, you know that the sound of that X is [ks]. Examples: Fax

4. A word that starts with EX but that is then followed by a consonant, the sound is [EIS]. Example: Excitante.

Now the bad news; sometimes there aren’t simple rules to apply. Sometimes the sound of a particular X is related to the etymology of the word. In that case, the best suggestion for your Portuguese learning process is, just go with the flow!


It is called “cedilha”. The C letter with cedilha transforms [K] sound into an [S] sound. If you have a C and after it an E or an I, the sound will be [C].

Nasal sound “ão” – The true nightmare for English speakers as they don’t have this sounds in their language. the symbol ~ is called Til. Every time you see a Til you should know that a nasal sound is coming!

Word “Cabeleireiro”

ei – you should pronounce it as “ay”.

r – In Portuguese, if you have only one “r” in the middle of the word, you should produce a soft sound. Try the following technique: Say as long as you can dadada…. Your “d” will become softer after a few repetitions and your “dadada” will become a dadarara…Try it!

Word “Otorrinolaringologista”

It is a long Portuguese word and it has many funny sounds. Let’s see:

[rr] sound – The sound that we produce when we have an R at the beginning of a word is the same sound that we produce when we have two R in the middle of the word.

[go] – An a, o or u after a G produces a [gê] sound. If you have an e or i after a G, you will have a [gê] sound, such as the world “goal”

[gi] – The sound that you have to produce here is the same sound that you produce in the world: “GIgolo”.