3.3.1. 2 [ẽ]

graphem = the presentation in writing of sound. A graphem can have several phonetic values or phonems and a phonem can have several graphems. The English th for instance can be pronounced voiced and unvoiced and the English a can have two phonetic values (and <=> after). In informatics we would say that we have a n to n relationship.

The sound [ẽ] , or phonem for the people who like seldom used words, is represented by the graphems en / em. (You can pay attention to the pronouciation of the r, although we will discuss about the pronunciation of the r in detail later, see 3_4_7_2_2.)

IPA DarstellungAudioGraphem Beispiele ton
[ẽ]tonemempregado (Angestellter), Setembro (September) ,
[ẽ]tonenenredo (Intrige), entender (verstehen) ,

As the graphem -am the graphem -em can be pronounced as a diphtong, but, surprise, the nasal full vowel is [ɐ̃], the same as in the case of -an and -am. What changes is the attached semivowel.

This diphtong [ɐ̃j] is as important as [ɐ̃w ], because the third person plural of the verbs ending in -er and -ir end in -em. What is true for -am is true as well for -em. Only at the end of a word it is pronounced as as diphtong.

IPA presentation graphem exemple ton
[ɐ̃j]em vendem (they sell),dormem (they sleep) ,
[ɐ̃j]en benfeitor (benefactor)
[ɐ̃j]ãe mãe (mother) alemães (germans) ,

Pay attention to the stressed syllable. You hear the correct and the wrong pronunciation. Right now we are not interested in the use of the verbal tenses, we will study that in detail later, see 6.2.5 (presente) and 9.2 (perfeito simples). Right no we only care about the pronunciation.

example correct wrong meaning
falam they speak
vendem they sell
partem they leave
falaram they talked
venderam they sold
partiram they left

If someone has problems to hear the differences, below you can here both together, am [ɐ̃w ] and em [ɐ̃j] together.

graphem audio exammple
em vendem (they sell)
am falam (they speak)
ãe mãe (mother)
ão mão (hand)


1. The nasale monophthong [ẽ] is presented by the graphems en and em.
2. If em / en is pronounced as a nasale vowel it is pronounced as [ɐ̃] to which is added the semivowel j. -em as a diphtong has the same phonetic value as -ãe. The full nasale sound ist the same as in -am, -an.
3. In ending syllable or if the word only consists of one syllable em is pronounced as a diphtong.

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