X in Portuguese

portuguese students during a brazilian cooking class. example of use for x in portuguese. headline: "você prefere comer peixe ou carne?"

Hi everyone, how’s it going? Well, in today’s Dica, you will learn how to pronounce the letter X in Portuguese. Some letters might look difficult in Portuguese because of accents and pronunciation but don’t worry! We are here to help you out, even with the X-sound in Portuguese!

Letter X in Portuguese

Many foreigners are initially afraid of pronouncing the portuguese X, but it doesn’t need to be difficult. This happens because, depending on the word, the X can have different sounds. And as you already know, we have a lot of exceptions in Portuguese, so of course this also happens with the letter X. But let’s learn the sounds one by one so you won’t get confused anymore.

X in Portuguese: Sound of CH

couple hugging each other. example of use of x in the word baixo in portuguese. headline: "o homem é mais baixo que a mulher."

The X can have the same sound that in English SH makes (a quite common sound for the carioca accent), like when you silence someone “Shhhhhh”. So now we will see in which cases this happens. Check it out:

After a Diphthong

Diphthong is the meeting of two vowels that belong to the same syllable and are pronounced in a single continuous sound. So, when we have the letter x in Portuguese followed by a diphthong, the sound will be like shhhhh. Check out the examples:

A ameixaThe plum
A faixaThe ribbon
BaixoLow / Short
DeixarLeave / Let
PeixeFish
A caixaBox

After EN

Another instance where the X sounds like shhhhh is when it is preceded by the syllable EN. Check out the examples below:

A enxadaThe hoe (gardening tool)
O enxameThe swarm
O enxovalThe trousseau
EnxaguarTo rinse
EnxutoDry

Exceptions

You’ve already studied a lot of Portuguese with our online classes, right? So, you know that Portuguese has lots of exceptions and exceptional cases. With the Portuguese X it’s no different.  Check out special cases where the letter X still makes the SH sound:

OxaláI hope so / Divinity of Afro-Brazilian religions
MexerTo move something / interfere
AlexandreAlexander
MéxicoMexico
XadrezChess

Some other exceptions to this rule are the words: lixo (garbage), puxar (pull), xícara (cup). And if the word starts with an X the sound will be SH too.

X in Portuguese: Sound of Z

five portuguese students hanging out in catete palace, in rio de janeiro. example of use of x in the word exato. headline: "exato, eles estão no parque do catete!"

So here we move on to another sound: X equals Z. The letter X in Portuguese can also have a ZZZZZ sound. It usually occurs when the X is between two vowels. Let’s look at some examples:

O êxodoThe exodus
O exameThe exam
O exercícioThe exercise
Exato!Correct!
A execuçãoThe execution
O exércitoThe army
O exílioThe exile

So, there you have it, when the X lies between two vowels, it sounds like the Z.

X in Portuguese: Sound of S, SS and SC

two people hang gliding in rio de janeiro. example of x in the word experiência in portuguese. headline: "como será a experiência de voar de asa delta?"

Did you think it was over? No, no, no! The Portuguese x can still sound like an S, SS and SC. Let’s see what happens in each case.

X with the sound of S

When the X is before P, it sounds like S. Check out:

ExpressarTo express
A experiênciaExperience

When the X  is before T, the sound is also like S:

TextoText

X with the sound of SC

When the X is before C, it sounds like SC:

A exceçãoException
ExcelenteExcellent

X with the sound of SS

If we have the X after AU, it will sound like double S:

AuxiliarAuxiliary

Of course, we have some words that don’t follow these rules like: próximo (next), and máximo (maxim).

X in Portuguese: Sound of KS

seven friends hanging out at the beach under the hot sun of rio de janeiro. example of use for the x in the word fixo. headline: "a praia é o nosso ponto fixo de encontro!"

Well, here we go with another X, but this time with the sound of KS. Here we don’t have a specific rule. Can you notice the sound of the KS? It’s happens with a lot of words that come from the English language, or Latin too. Let’s see here some words like this:

OrtodoxoOrthodox
ParadoxoParadox
TóraxThorax
FixoFixed
AnexarAttach
PrefixoPrefix
TáxiTaxi
SexoSex

Practice X Sound in Portuguese

To make sure you understand all the X-sounds, let’s watch Moises’ explaination of the words you’ve just learned. For more Dicas like this, check out our Youtube channel. Don’t forget to turn the subtitles on.

Now that you know how to pronounce X in Portuguese, let’s practice!

Exercises for Portuguese X

  1. Find two words with the same X sound. Match each word in the chart to a word listed below the chart which has the same X sound.
1. Baixo(_) Puxar
2. Exato(_) Exorcismo
3. Extrato(_) Tóxico
4. Exceto(_) Excesso
5. Oxítona(_) Exemplo
6. Auxílio(_) Auxiliar

2. Listen to the following words, what are their X sounds?

(A)
(B)
(C)
(D)

Let’s wrap up here, thank you for learning with us today! Once again, you all know you can contact us though our web page, which is Rio & Learn and can also follow our social media, if you want.

As we say here, a tight hug to you all, and until next time.
Tchau, tchau!         

Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
Vowels in Portuguese
R in Portuguese
L in Portuguese
Alphabet in Portuguese

 

Answers

  1. (1) Puxar – CH sound, special case
    (2) Exorcismo – Z sound, between two vowels
    (5) Tóxico – KS sound, doesn’t have a specific rule
    (4) Excesso – x before c
    (2) Exemplo – Z sound, between two vowels
    (6) Auxiliar – S sound, X after AU
  2. a – Texto – S sound
    b – Exato – Z sound
    c – Excelente – SC sound
    d – Oxítona – KS sound

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

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