Appendix:Portuguese spellings

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This appendix explains how particular sets of characters and diacritics are found in Portuguese language.


The trema (also called trema in Portuguese) had several purposes in Portuguese.


The trema (¨) served the purpose of being placed above u (resulting in ü) to distinguish whether “qu” and “gu” are digraphs or diphthongs. If a trema exists, the u was pronounced as /w/; if not, the u is mute.

This use of the trema was deprecated in Portugal by the 1945 spelling reform, and in Brazil by the Orthographic Agreement of 1990 (which came into effect in 2009).

Examples of obsolete spellings using trema for diaeresis in Portuguese
With trema Pronunciation (Brazil) Meaning Without trema Pronunciation (Brazil) Meaning
qüe / que freqüência IPA(key): /fɾe.ˈkwẽ.sjɐ/ frequence quente IPA(key): /ˈkẽ.t͡ʃi/ hot
qüi / qui aqüífero IPA(key): /a.ˈkwi.fe.ɾu/ aquifer aqui IPA(key): /a.ˈki/ here
güe / gue agüentar IPA(key): /ˌa.ɡwẽ.ˈta/ to withstand, to put up with guerra IPA(key): /ˈɡɛ.ʁɐ/ war
güi / gui pingüim IPA(key): /pĩ.ˈɡwĩ/ penguin guia IPA(key): /ˈɡi.ɐ/ guide


The trema was placed over the second vowel of non-stressed hiatus. Example: gaüchismo (manner or word proper of a Gaucho), pronounced IPA(key): /ˌɡa.u.ˈʃ, not IPA(key): */ɡaw.ˈʃ

This usage was made obsolete in Portugal by the 1945 spelling reform, and in Brazil by the 1971 spelling reform.


In the current orthography, the trema is only used where it exists in a foreign word. Examples: hübneriano (Hubnerian), from the German personal name Hübner.

Grave accent[edit]

The grave accent (`) is called acento grave or crase in Portuguese.


The grave accent is used to mark crasis of the preposition a (to) with another word which starts with the letter a. Examples: à (preposition a + feminine article a, to the), àquele (to that).

Secondary stress[edit]

The grave accent was used to mark secondary stress in suffixed words when the root also had an accent. Examples: (alone)sòmente (just; only), café (coffee)cafèzinho (small cup of coffee).

This usage was made obsolete by the 1973 spelling reform in Portugal and by the 1971 spelling reform in Brazil.


The tilde (~, called til in Portuguese) is used to indicate nasalisation of a vowel followed by another vowel. This only occurs as ã and õ. Ã is also used word-finally to indicate stress (unless there is an acute or circumflex accent elsewhere in the words).

Acute and circumflex accents[edit]

The acute accent (´, called acento agudo in Portuguese) and the circumflex accent (^, called acento circunflexo in Portuguese) are used to mark a stressed syllable and either may occur only once in a word. It is only necessary to mark stress in the following situations:

  • the word is a proparoxytone; Examples: fôlego, último;
  • the word is a paroxytone and ends in , -ão, -i, -u or a consonant except -m and -s (but including -ns). Example: bênção;
  • the word is an oxytone and doesn’t end in , -ão, -i, -u or a consonant except -m and -s (but including -ns). Examples: café, matinê;
  • certain monosyllabic verbs and nouns, when the same form exists as another part of speech. Examples: pôr (to put), por (by);
  • a vocalic u or i would otherwise be an approximant. Examples: país (country) (IPA(key): /pa.ˈis/), pais (parents) (IPA(key): /pajs/).

In paroxytones, when the same form existed with an open and a closed vowel, a circumflex accent was placed in the word with the closed vowel. Example: êle (he) (IPA(key): /ˈ and ele (name of the letter L) (IPA(key): /ˈɛ.li/). This usage was made obsolete by the 1945 spelling reform in Portugal, and by the 1971 spelling reform in Brazil.

The acute accent is used above open vowels and the circumflex above closed vowels, in vowels where such distinction exists (a, e and o):

Pronunciation of vowels with acute and circumflex accents in Portuguese
acute circumflex
a á IPA(key): /a/ â IPA(key): /ɐ/
e é IPA(key): /ɛ/ ê IPA(key): /e/
i í IPA(key): /i/ - -
o ó IPA(key): /ɔ/ ô IPA(key): /o/
u ú IPA(key): /u/ - -