Grammar Tips (#13): Turning English words into Portuguese (4): Spelling changes cheat sheet

In this fourth and final installment of this guide into the connections between some English words (mainly borrowings from Latin and Greek) and their Portuguese counterparts, I’ll use some tables to show the spelling changes between both languages that can be readily be applied when you start thinking in Portuguese (a few of which I’ve already talked about in a previous post about h).

Since I’ve already dealt with Greek and Latin suffixes in the previous article, this post will serve to showcase just letter/digraph relationships in root words or prefixes.

Greek/Latin/French spellings retained in English Portuguese equivalent Example EN>EP
 ae/e e arch[a]eology > [a] arqueologia

encyclop[a]edia > [a] enciclopédia

 oe/e e (before consonant)

ei (before vowel)

coelacanth > [o] celacanto

c[o]eliac > celíaco/a

apn[o]ea > [a] apneia


[at the start of a syllable inside a word]

– [absent] inhibit > inibir

exhibit > exibir

 ch (sound /k/) c [before a, o, u, and consonants] cholera > [a] cólera

chromium > [o] crómio

qu [before e and i] chemotherapy > [a] quimioterapia

chitin > [a] quitina

 (p)ph f philosophy > [a] filosofia

sapphire > [a] safira

(r)rh (r)r rhizome > [o] rizoma

arrythmia > [a] arritmia

th t theater > [o] teatro

arthropod > [o] artrópode

ps (sound /s/ when initial, /ps/ otherwise) ps (always /ps/) psychology > [a] psicologia

apsis > [a] apside

sc (sound /s/) science > [a] ciência

abscess > [o] abcesso


[at the start of a word]

esqu scheme/a > [o] esquema

schizophrenia > [a] esquizofrenia


[when inside a word]

i dynamo > [o] dínamo

tachyon > [o] taquião

double consonants except ss and rr one consonant abbreviation > [a] abreviação

accelerate > acelerar

pudding > [o] pudim

efficient > eficiente

aggressive > agressivo/a

allergy > [a] alergia

accommodate > acomodar

tennis > [o/os] ténis

appendix > [o] apêndice

attraction > [a] atra[c]ção

¹ Exceptions include words from the family of adolescence: adolescente (teenager); adolescência (teenage years)

As you can see from pudim and ténis, the double consonant rule also work for borrowings that were taken directly from English. There are always exceptions to this rule – [o] puzzle comes to mind.

2 thoughts on “Grammar Tips (#13): Turning English words into Portuguese (4): Spelling changes cheat sheet

  1. Yuliya June 10, 2016 / 4:47 am

    Olá, Luís! Obrigada por estes materiais muito úteis.
    Parabéns pelo dia de Portugal!

    Liked by 1 person

    • luisdomingos June 10, 2016 / 1:46 pm

      You’re welcome! I’m glad the tips are helpful to you (: Happy June 10th to you too – este dia é de todas as pessoas que gostam de Portugal e da língua portuguesa (:


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