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How to Pronounce the Letter S in Portuguese

Let’s learn how to pronounce the letter S in Portuguese, or I should say European Portuguese to be more precise.

As you may know, one letter can render different sounds depending on its position in the word. For instance, the letter S can make 4 different sounds (/s/, /z/,  /ʃ/, and /ʒ/). Let’s take a look at what these sounds are and when to pronounce either.

Lesson #4 - S and Its Sounds - Portuguesepedia

/s/-sound

The /s/-sound – technically known as a “voiceless alveolar sibilant” – is what you hear in English words such as simple or awesome. Here are the situations where the letter S renders the /s/-sound:

  1. S at the beginning: sumo, saco, sino, santo
  2. S preceded by a consonant, usually r or n: curso, arsenal, tenso, Afonso
  3. Double S in between vowels: assim, pressa, processo, sessão

/z/-sound

The /z/-sound – technically known as a “voiced alveolar sibilant” – is what you hear in English words such as zebra or zest. There’s only one instance where S renders the /z/-sound:

  1. S in between two vowels: casa, mesa, asa, vaso

/ʃ/-sound

The /ʃ/-sound – technically known as a “voiceless postalveolar fricative” – is what you hear in English words such as sure or cash. There are two instances where S renders the /ʃ/-sound:

  1. S at the end: uvas, bananas, laranjas, peras
  2. S before voiceless consonants: teste, máscara, mosca, espera

/ʒ/-sound

The /ʒ/-sound – technically known as a “voiced postalveolar fricative” – is what you hear in English words such as measure or treasure. There’s one instance where S renders the /ʒ/-sound:

  1. S before voiced consonants: esboço, prisma, desde, desvio

And that’s it for the S letter and how to pronounce it. If you want to dive deeper into the Portuguese sound system, consider taking a look at my in-depth course Portuguese Sounds where I break it all down for you.

Because Pronunciation Matters.

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Olá! This is Pedro and I'm the founder of Portuguesepedia, a platform created to support and accelerate your Portuguese learning journey. Até já, p

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