4 Ways to Pronounce the Letter ‘X’ in Portuguese

The pronunciation of the letter “x” in Portuguese can be very confusing. 

In the Portuguese language, there are four different ways of pronouncing “x”. This article help you to understand these differences!

Be sure to take a look at the YouTube link at the bottom of the blog for pronunciation.

In Portuguese, “x” can be pronounced with these different sounds: SH, Z, [ʃ], KS. There are some rules for each case, but yes, there are also exceptions!
Let’s take a look!


In these cases, the pronunciation of “x” is like SHHH. Often pronounced like this after diphthongs (two vowels that make one sound together) and after the prefix “en”. Let’s look at some examples:

Ameixa  – plumb

Peixe – fish

Caixa – checkout / box

Abaixo – below

Enxada – hoe

Enxame – swarm

Enxuto – dry

Other words where the “x” has the sound of “sh”, are: 

Xale – shawl

Lixo – rubbish

Xadrez – chess

Xícara – cup

Xingar – to curse

Mexer – to move

As you can see the above words do not follow the same rules. 🤣


In general, “x” is pronounced with a “z” sound when it appears between two vowels. it is very similar to the English equivalent in these words:

Exame – exam

Exato – exact

Êxodo – exodus

Exercício – exercise

Exílio – exile

Exército – army

Exemplo – example

Exibição – exhibition

Exagero – exaggeration 

3. ‘X’ WITH [ʃ]  SOUND

(a little like the ‘s’ in the English word ‘treasure’.)

The “x” is often pronounced like this before the letters P, C, T. Here are some cases:

Expressar – to express

Explorar – to explore

Experiência – experience

Excepcional – exceptional

Exceção – exception

Excelente – excellent

Texto – text

Extremo – extreme

Externo – external

Extrovertido – extroverted

Sexta – Friday 

4. ‘X’ with the sound of ‘KS’

This sounds very much like it does in English, in the word “experience”. It took me ages to be able to say the word ‘Tàxi’ properly as I was sure it would be pronounced differently. Let’s look at more examples in Portuguese:

Sintaxe – syntax

Ortodoxo – orthodox

Paradoxo – paradox

Tórax – thorax

Fixo – fixed

Anexar – annexed

Prefixo – prefix

Táxi – taxi

And finally the word you have all been waiting for!


As you can see, there is not always a rule for the pronunciation of “x” and, even when there is, there are many exceptions! The tip is: train your ear! You can download podcasts in Portuguese, listen to the radio and watch television programs, and films.

Here is the YouTube link: How to Pronounce the Letter ‘x’ in Portuguese.

Do you know how to pronounce the word ‘próximo’?




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