ti / te and di / de

The rules for ti and di, in other words with i are very simple. The rules for te and de, with an e are more tricky. The combination of ti or di is always, wheter at the beginning of word, in midst of a word or at the end of a word is pronounced /tsh/ or /dshi/. In this pseudo phonetic transcription t means unvoiced and d means voiced. Concerning the difference between voiced / unvoiced see In the pseudo phonetic transcription /tsh/ stands for unvoiced, because the t is always unvoiced, and /dsh/ for voiced, because the d is always voiced. This is actually the difference between t and d. This pseudo phonetic transcription is often used in grammar books.

Concerning te and de a distinction is to be made. If the words ends in e and the stress is not on the last syllable, it is pronounced i. In this case we have the same situation as if it were ti / di and the pronounciation is the same as in the case of ti / di. At the beginning of a word or in midst of the word however the e is pronounced as an e, similar to the e in ever, in any case not as an i, and therefore te / de is pronounced /te/ and /de/.

ti / di always pronounced /tshi/ [tʃi] or /dshi/ [dʒi]
divulgar (to diffuse)
difícil (difficult)
difusão (diffusion)
dica (tipp)
relativo (relative)
instituto (institute)
tio (uncle)

te is pronounced /tshi/ [tʃi] and de is pronounced /dschi/ [dʒi] in stressed final syllable
morte (death)
chocolate (choclate)
forte (strong)
unidade (unit)
grande (big)
de (of / from )

Note: In words like até (until) the last syllable is stressed and therefore the e is pronounced as an e. Furthermore the rule that the e is pronounced as an i in unstressed last syllable is only valid for Brasilian Portuguese.

te pronounced /te/ and de pronounced /de/
dedo (finger)
aldeia (village)
devo (I should )
interno (internally)
categoria (category)

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