How to speak Portuguese as if you were from Rio

For those of you who have been following my latest mission, I was successful in convincing several Cariocas (residents of Rio de Janeiro) that I was one of them. This involved working on two parts of how I interacted with people; my body language/outward behaviour and my spoken Portuguese.

In today’s post I am going to go into the technical details of what I did to improve the level of my already fluent Portuguese, but with a typical gringo accent, to the point where I could convince a local that I was one of them (talking for about 20-30 seconds until I slipped up), as long as I was focussed.

With a time limit greater than 3 months I could have stretched that 20-30 second timespan further and reduced the number of mistakes, and not needed to be so focussed, as it would have come more naturally with practise.

Despite that, I’m pretty sure I’ve discovered the main things that someone in the same starting position would have to work on, if they were aiming for the same goal.  Here they are!

Improving your Portuguese

The only book I studied this time for improving my Portuguese (since most of my work was practical and hands-on) was Colloquial Portuguese of Brazil 2, which you can get off Amazon (UK or US). There is also a part 1 here: (Amazon US/UK), but part 2 already presumes that your level of Portuguese is quite good.

It goes into slang and informal usage and gives a lot of dialogue examples; it definitely focusses on Portuguese as it’s actually spoken, where most books will teach you the formal language. I highly recommend it for someone who already has a pretty good grasp of Portuguese.

If you’ve only learned Spanish, you need to be aware of the many differences between Portuguese and Spanish and work on your Portuguese grammar (components like the future subjunctive don’t exist any more in other European languages for example), expand your vocabulary and practise a lot until you reach fluency or are at least speaking pretty well.

Even without using books, in this article I’ll presume that your Portuguese is already quite good if you aim to speak like a Carioca.

Without a very good level of Portuguese, the mistakes you make will give you away. Cariocas themselves do not actually speak the formal Portuguese that nearly all courses teach you (why I liked the untraditional book above), but the “mistakes” they make are very specific. They can be emulated, but ideally you would work “down” from a good level.

For example, in Rio, there is a frowned upon yet extremely common use of the “tu” (second person) pronoun with “você” (third person) conjugation. This gives us tu vai, tu sabe, tu é, etc. Absolutely “wrong” Portuguese, but you will hear this regularly among Cariocas. This happens in English too in some dialects, but is very restricted.

However, you can’t ever say “eu vai”, “eu sabe” as well as less obvious mistakes; i.e. only the accepted mistakes (if that isn’t an oxymoron) should be repeated. It is better to work on your “formal” Portuguese first, if possible, and then to focus on the Carioca dialect from there ;)


Gírias (Turns of phrase, expressions) are the padding to soften formal language beyond pure fact and literal translations. Their use will make you sound more local than the most formal and perfect Portuguese ever can. I always make it a point to learn these as soon as possible in any language, and in trying to emulate a native, it was essential to increase my usage of them.

Instead of saying “OK” to confirm you want to go to a praia you can say Partiu! or Demorou! Look for equivalents to English expressions; the ironic “yeah right!” has its “Até parece!” and standard words have their informal replacements. Mentira becomes caô, feia becomes canhão, inteligente becomes cabeçudo and legal (cool) becomes irado or maneiro!

It would be impossible for me to list all of these here, but a good place to start for general Portuguese expressions (i.e. not specific to Rio, but just as important in Rio) is this list on Wikipedia.

A much more amusing list that is very specific to the Carioca dialect, is given on the Portuguese version of the uncyclopedia, on the article on Carioquês <– definitely worth a read. It mentions more typical Carioca examples like meu irmão, mó etc. Both the “desciclopédia” and the wikipedia articles are in Portuguese of course.

Finally, cursing is, once again, frowned upon by formal learners, but essential if you want to understand and attempt to blend in with locals. Any frustration must be indicated with words like Porra, and referees who make decisions you don’t like must be loudly instructed to vai tomar no cu! Here is an excellent sample dictionary of Portuguese curses <–> English (most of these are general and not Rio specific). Listening to locals for even a few short hours and emulating them will quickly give you hundreds of curse words!


The above focusses on what you are saying but not how you say it. Your accent will be the defining factor in convincing locals you are one of them. I’ve already discussed some general tips to reduce your English-speaking accent, that should definitely be kept in mind.

In the Carioca dialect of Portuguese, some other tips include:

  • Make the r guttural. This only applies to initial or ending rs, double rs or those preceded by an n or l (i.e. Rio, carro, tenro but not compras or espera). It is not as harsh a guttural sound as in other languages, and you can get away with simply pronouncing it like a forced “h” some of the time (as they do in other parts of Brazil), but other times you do need to really go for the ch sound in loch to make it sound authentic.
  • s chiado - another typical Carioca sound is changing an s specifically at the end of a word/syllable followed by an unvoiced consonant (t, c, f, p) to sh. So meus pais is pronounced mih-oosh pah-eesh, although the most famous example that I’m obligated to give is biscoita, pronounced as if the s was replaced by a Portuguese x. Before a voiced consonant (b, d, g, m, n, r) the chiado actually becomes more like the French j or the s in measure (Israel, rasgar etc.)
  • Join the words together! One of the most obvious ways a Brazilian (not just a Carioca) can recognise a speaker of English (or German etc.) is by the seemingly “robotic” way of separating words. Those… imitating… me… said… that… I… speak… like… this. In Portuguese (and more famously, French with its liaison), words flow together to make one sound. This is in combination with the wave that I’ll be discussing below. So, no pauses mid-sentence. Pronounce everything before a comma or full-stop as if it was “one word”, while saying it clearly; you do not have to speak quickly to achieve this.
  • One consequence of the above rule is how the previously mentioned chiado and r pronunciation works. Although the r at the end of “por” would be pronounced as a guttural r if said in isolation, at the very end of a sentence or when followed by consonants in the next word, it would actually be rolled (as in single r in Spanish/Italian) if the next word begins with a vowel. So por você and por isso both have different r sounds. This principle also works with the chiado. So mais um has the s pronounced as it would be if that were one word maisum and not as a chiado sound (as in mais bonita).
  • Don’t overdo the chiado! The above point in combination with the fact that sometimes even Cariocas occasionally say it like the rest of Brazil, means you shouldn’t force this sound; my over-enthusiasm with the chiado at first made me sound quite strange.
  • Open vs Closed vowels. This one is generally a tricky part of Portuguese, since there are two ways of pronouncing some vowels depending on the acute accent ó (open) or circumflex ô (closed). Unfortunately, most of the time these accents are not written if the stress would fall on that syllable without the accent. So “olho” can mean both “eye” and “I look”, but is pronounced ôlho for the first and ólho for the second. Vaguely, ó is “aw”, ô is “oh”, é is “eh” and ê is “i” in “sin”. An important subtle difference is that he is êle but she is éla (both not actually written with accents).
  • Southern preference for closed vowels and t/d chiado. Before Rio, I had spent more time in the Northeast, where there was a preference for open vowels, while in the south/southeast of Brazil, they prefer closed ones. So it’s pronounced dêzembro in the South/Southeast and dézembro in the northeast (even though it’s not written with either accent). T & D are also more phonetic in the northeast and have a chiado applied in the south. So teatro is pronounced as spelt in the Northeast but as tiatro (ch sound like in “chain” on the t) in the south/southeast.
  • Carioca diphthongs on single vowels. When speaking certain words, Cariocas open their mouth wider when saying stressed vowels, which results in a diphthong. So the word “Carioca” actually sounds like Cariôaca (subtle “a”), “amigos” can sound like “amíegos” (subtle “e”), apartamento actually sounds like apartame(a)nto, (with both e and a nasalised due to n) etc.
  • Unstressed o becomes u. When starting to learn Portuguese, you will quickly see that os at the end of words require a u sound, but I found out that (at least in the Carioca dialect) some unstressed os in other syllables also become u. So bonito is pronounced “buni(e)tu”, dormir is durmir etc.
  • Softer consonants and open mouth on vowels. Something I mentioned early on in the mission is that in English we tend to eat unstressed vowels. I also found out that a typical English accent forces consonants too much. ps and bs do not need to be so “explosive” and every other consonant should be sound less stressed.


Another thing I mentioned at month 1 in the mission was that sentence rhythm was essential to improving my accent. The “wave” in Portuguese, or specifically in the Carioca dialect, must be adhered to closely, as English (and other languages such as German) speakers can be spotted immediately by their robotic way of speaking.

Parallel to the point I mentioned on not pausing, the wave must continue uninterrupted to avoid this robotic sound. This is something I will go into in much more detail another time, but for the moment the best comparison I can give without providing recordings or going into musical analogies is to imagine how the Indian accent sounds in English. This up-down movement within words may sound weird to us, but it is the music of other languages that makes English sound so monotone to other speakers.

The music of this wave in the Carioca dialect is not the same as it is in Indian English, but applying this up-down pattern fluidly will improve your accent. It’s important to note that the sentence usually ends on a down tone (even in many questions, unlike in English), and that some words get stress more in Portuguese than they do in English such as “e” (and) and key words of the sentence.

Not applying this rhythm will make your sentences sound incomplete or confusing; when I travelled deep inside Brazil away from large cities, they had trouble understanding me exactly because of this. In cities like Rio, they may understand you, but it’s only because they are used to so many foreign accents. The best way you can improve the musicality of your sentence rhythm is by mimicking how people speak (less annoying if you do it with the TV or radio!)

Finally, the music of a sentence is improved if you put emotion into your voice. This is especially true when reading, where it would come out quite dull otherwise. When reading a newspaper article aloud I imaged how I would read it to a child to make it sound more alive, rather than how we would naturally read most English.

Dr Seuss once said “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” That is how I feel about my amazing time in Rio!

Before I wrap up the Brazilian mission, I still want to briefly mention How to act like a Carioca, and I will be summarising all the posts of the last 3 months before discussing the next mission! In the next post, on Wednesday, I’ll ask a favour of 3 minutes of your time – anyone who has it, it would be appreciated :)

With regards this post and the expressions, musicality and the Portuguese-improving aspect of sounding like a Carioca, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts! Almost everything I discussed here was something that I have learned in the last 3 months; this should make it clear why I had to be so focussed and would only make it to 20-30 seconds before slipping up. It’s a lot to remember!! Practise would make it come more naturally ;)

For those who speak Portuguese, is there something that I left out (that wasn’t mentioned in the links I gave either)? For those who speak other languages, do you find any of this can apply to that language too? Do you strongly agree or disagree with any of my recommendations? Do let us know in the comments! :)



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  • Lorenzo

    Hi Benny. Thanks for writing such an interesting and rich article! By the way, I have a couple of remarks about it:

    “I found out that (at least in the Carioca dialect) some unstressed os in other syllables also become u. So bonito is pronounced “buni(e)tu”, dormir is durmir etc.” This phenomenon is referred to in Portuguese as “Alçamento das vogais” by linguists and can be found at least to some extent in the speech of many – or possibly most – other Brazilians, even outside Rio or indeed the Southeast. It is not limited to the vowel “o”, but also affects e's, which often sound “i” in pretonic – and sometimes even posttonic – syllables as a result. Ex.: “menino” is pronounced “mininu”, “perigo” sounds “pirigu”, “Ceará” is “Siará”, “fêmea” becomes “femia” etc.

    “Before Rio, I had spent more time in the Northeast, where there was a preference for open vowels, while in the south/southeast of Brazil, they prefer closed ones. So it’s pronounced dêzembro in the South/Southeast and dézembro in the northeast”.
    You may find it interesting to know that there exists in fact an imaginary line running across Brazil which effectively splits the country into two major dialect areas: a northern and a southern half, with pretonic o's and e's being often open north of this linguistic boundary and invariably closed below it. This rough dialect map of Brazil was first drawn by Brazilian linguist Antenor Nascentes back in the 1950s, when he identified opening of pretonic vowels as the main speech feature clearly distinguishing northern dialects from southern ones.

    • Sherise Alexis

      Very interesting! I always wondered why my teacher was always correcting words that I thought I was pronouncing perfectly fine.

      I spent a year in Salvador and Bahians were impressed with my sotaque. Only to come to the US under a Portuguese teacher from RS and get corrected mercilessly. 

      It was those pesky ê and é!

  • Benny the Irish polyglot

    Lorenzo! Firstly, thanks so much for treating me to the Orange Juice! I'm going out to get it now and share it with my sister ;)

    Since I'm just randomly and informally stumbling through languages, I keep forgetting that people have studied these kinds of differences for hundreds of years, and that there are technical words for all of them! Thanks for sharing :D This “Alçamento das vogais” as a formal concept is not new to me, since it is part of formal Catalan that unstressed “o”s are always pronounced as “u”s. Apart from the ends of words, that was never indicated to me in Portuguese courses. Good to know it's not just unique to Rio!

    Found that imaginary line theory fascinating!! Thanks for sharing the facts and history behind my some points on my list :)

    I would just slightly disagree with you on unstressed “e”s changing to “i”s. I took a few lessons from Portuguese teachers to help me really work on some hard points and a music teacher (I prefer music teachers to language teachers at this stage) assured me that most unstressed “e”s are pronounced like the English i (like sin, pit etc.) would be and not the “ee” sound suggested by “i” (at least, this is the case in Rio). I could hear this difference myself. So she would say m[i]ninu (English “ih”) and not m(i)ninu (Portuguese “i”). These sounds are close though. Perhaps in other parts of Brazil this is true.

    Thanks again for the interesting comment!

  • Lorenzo

    Hi, Benny! First of all, I'm very happy that you found my comment useful and that it helped draw your attention to aspects of the language you weren't quite aware of. As for your remark to the contrary, sorry but there was clearly a misunderstanding – in fact, nowhere in my previous post did I state that ALL unstressed e's change to i's as a result of “alçamento das vogais”: this only affects SOME (but by means all or even most) pretonic e's and, to a much lesser extent, some postonic e's as well. Perhaps I didn' make this point clear enough in my comment, so please accept my apologies for that. Also, this “alçamento das vogais” is nonexistent in the speech of many – if not most – Brazilians living in Brazil's three southernmost states (i.e. Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul).

    By the way, I hope you received my answers to your online questionnaire. Enjoy your (short) time back home and…see you in 2010 (hopefully)!

  • Lorenzo

    Sorry I meant “(…) but by NO means all or even most (…)”

  • Priscila

    Hi Benny,

    I'm Priscila and I'm in charge of's twitter account. As we're mutually following each other there, I ended up stopping by to read your blog. I'm Brazilian and loved this post about Portuguese! I love languages and have studied English, Spanish and a bit of German, but I had never thought about the way a foreigner learns my own language. Well done!! :)

  • Troy


    Great post! I love the Carioca accent and it drives my wife insane because she is Paulistano. You've given me more ammo to torture her more :-) Seriously, it is amazing how different the sotaque paulista and sotaque carioca are given how close they are geographically. Do you agree?

  • Benny the Irish polyglot

    Thanks so much Priscila! has sent me a huge amount of traffic thanks to the top 100 language blogs list, so I'm glad to see you are enjoying my blog as I'll be entering that competition again in 2010!! :P
    Glad you liked my post about Portuguese from a gringo's perspective!! :D

  • Kay

    “This up-down movement within words may sound weird to us, but it is the music of other languages that makes English sound so monotone to other speakers.”

    Interesting! One thing I've heard constantly when learning Japanese is to use a constant pitch and not go up-down all the time like we do in English. :-)

  • Gleydson Macedo

    Oi Benny! Parabéns pelo blog e pela paixão pelas línguas!

    Eu também gosto muito do assunto e no momento estou me concentrando no francês e dando umas olhadelas no japonês.

    Morei no Rio por 1 ano e alguma coisa e você não poderia ter resumido melhor o “carioquêixxx”. Rererererere… Só uma outra observação: a palavra “porra” no Rio é também usada como vírgula. :-)))

    Já adicionei seu blog na minha lista de favoritos.


  • Izabella Miranda

    Hello, I really like the way you've captured the Brazilian way of speaking. Even thou I'm from Brazil, I hadn't really noticed some of the things you've pointed out, as for example “mais um has the s pronounced as it would be if that were one word maisum”. Obviously I speak that way, but if I had to explain it to someone I wouldn't be able to do it as clearly as you have. Good job! Keep up the good work. I wish you could add (I don't know how) an option so that we could also hear you speaking. It's just an opinion… well anyways, love your website.

  • Vítor De Araújo

    Also, this “alçamento das vogais” is nonexistent in the speech of many – if not most – Brazilians living in Brazil's three southernmost states (i.e. Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul).”

    I am from Rio Grande do Sul, and while this is true for the inner accents of RS, this “alçamento” is present in the accent of the metropolitan region of Porto Alegre. (Though I guess it is less prominent than in RIo de Janeiro.)

  • Benny the Irish polyglot

    Thanks for the compliment! It's always curious to hear people analyse the way you speak naturally; I know this from teaching English and analysing my own accent…
    to hear me speak Portuguese, you can always check out my videoblog in Portuguese (click Brazilian flag on the right), but I haven't uploaded any videos recently so I don't have the Carioca accent in any video. I'll make a new video soon in Portuguese :)

  • Benny the Irish polyglot

    huahuahuahuahua a palavra “porra” é usada como vírgula – adorei :D

  • Benny the Irish polyglot

    English is musical compared to Japanese?? Wow… I'll get to that language soon enough and see for myself of course :)

  • Benny the Irish polyglot

    Definitely agree – I get teased now when I meet Paulistanos abroad because of my current Carioca accent. It's hard to turn off :P

  • Clayton

    Your description of the Carioca accent is very good, indeed. I'd just like to emphasize that it while it may be totally appropriate to speak like that in order to “blend in”, caution should be used if you try to speak so outside Rio de Janeiro. While the Carioca accent is ubiquitous in television in arts and well accepted, some parts of your description makes you sound like a “malandro” and it is frowned upon outside Rio de Janeiro (and even in RJ, depending on whom you're talking to). I'm well aware it's a matter of stereotype, but I'd just like to make sure foreign learners of Portuguese may be able to distinguish regionalisms from what is spoken elsewhere (and reproduce them as they please). As you pointed out, there is also plenty of very interesting slang that can be used anywhere without making you sound “too” regional. :)

  • Dominique

    Saluton Benny. Mi nur devas rimarki gravan aferon. Tiu cxi acxento, karioka acxento, por aliaj brazilanoj sonas kiel fi-acxento en la senso ke gxi sonas kiel la parolmaniero de sxtelistoj aux uloj kiu logxas en la faveloj kaj planas fari ion malbonan al vi. Klare, ne signifas ke ili estas nek ke kiu logxas en faveloj estas malbonaj personoj, ne temas pri tio. Temas nur pri kiel aliaj brazilanoj auxdas tiu cxi acxento.

    Alia efekto estas ke kiam brazilanoj auxdas vortoj kiel: manero, mané, porra, já é, partiu playboy, demoro kaj la aliaj el karioka dialekto el portugala, kiel vi nomis gxin, sonas kiel la karioka ulo kiu parolas ilin ne respektas vin, ke li/sxi estas tre konvinkoplena kaj bezonas grandan spacon por montri ke tiu cxiu ulo gravas pli ol aliaj (portugale, li or sxi estas folgado/a).

    Mi intervujis plimalpli 200 brazilanoj kiuj logxas en Dublino pri tio kaj 100% sentis tion. Ili estis el diversaj partoj el Brazilo (Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais, Goiás, Distrito Federal, Bahia, São Paulo, Pará, Tocantins etc), sed cxiuj sentas la saman. Estrange, cxu ne? 100%!

    Kiam mi demandis “kiu brazila acxento vi tute na sxatus havi kiel la via?” 100% diris: karioka acxento.

    Mi ne scias se tiu cxi opinio gravas al viaj sercxoj pri lingvoj al en tiu cxi speciala kazo, portugala lingvo, sed jen mia kontribuo.

    Gxis. Salutas Vin, Dominique, Brazilano el Dublino.

  • João Paulo

    Sou fascinado por línguas, gramáticas, pronúncias e etimologias há mais de vinte anos, e é sempre uma enorme satisfação encontrar análises como a sua, sob ângulos não padronizados.
    Desta vez, o que me foi particularmente interessante foi isto: como sempre acontece, o Outsider (neste caso, você) fez-me perceber algumas coisas de que eu não tinha me dado conta em relação a minha própria língua. Na verdade, é por isso que, muitas vezes, gosto de ler as perspectivas de quem está de fora. O ponto de vista inovador sempre sai dos clichês acadêmicos e finalmente me ensina aquilo que eu ainda não sabia. Sabe como é, o peixe não vê a água.
    Sucesso na missão húngara!

  • João Paulo

    Sou fascinado por línguas, gramáticas, pronúncias e etimologias há mais de vinte anos, e é sempre uma enorme satisfação encontrar análises como a sua, sob ângulos não padronizados.
    Desta vez, o que me foi particularmente interessante foi isto: como sempre acontece, o Outsider (neste caso, você) fez-me perceber algumas coisas de que eu não tinha me dado conta em relação a minha própria língua. Na verdade, é por isso que, muitas vezes, gosto de ler as perspectivas de quem está de fora. O ponto de vista inovador sempre sai dos clichês acadêmicos e finalmente me ensina aquilo que eu ainda não sabia. Sabe como é, o peixe não vê a água.
    Sucesso na missão húngara!

  • Benny the language hacker

    The books I linked to are the biggest help. Otherwise try to watch novelas based in Rio to hear the accents :)

    • Orang

      The novelas do not show the carioca accent, but rather a “Globo
      standard” speech, a mix between carioca and paulistano, which was formed
      upon a long training by speech terapists. The only one that still keeps
      the real carioca accent — due to the fact that their teenager artists
      were not yet submitted to this therapy — is “Malhação”.

  • Benny Lewis

    I lived in São Paulo state for an entire month ;)

  • chandlerbing

    I’m from rio de janeiro, visit my blog, maybe I can help you guys ..

  • operário das artes x

    Interesting text. But why don’t you post a video showing your carioca accent?

  • Benny Lewis

    Pode deixar ;)

  • Valdir Lima

    Olá, Benny! Sou professor de inglês aqui no Rio. Estudo alemão há algum tempo e sonho em ser fluente nesta língua. Como faço (além de ter que estudar horas e horas)? Um abraço.
    from Rio.

  • Valdir Lima

    For sure nasal sounds are hard for Germanic languages to reproduce in speech.

  • Benny Lewis

    Entendi ;) Vc vai ver daqui a uma semana que vou aprender a minha próxima língua no país errado também! Se procura o site pra ver os meus artigos sobre “any language anywhere”, vai ver algumas idéias!

  • Lidi

    Oi Benny! Eu to muito feliz por você ter gostado tanto do meu país, e devo te dizer que estou gostando também muito do seu, a Irlanda é maravilhosa também.
    Li todos os comentários e reforço a opinião de que o sotaque carioquexx soa forçado e, me desculpem cariocas, as vezes me dá embrulhos. Particularmente tenho um sotaque do sul fortemente influenciado pela descendência alemã e italiana e, conforme outros também já mencionaram aqui, eu recomendaria sem sombra de dúvidas o paulistano como sendo o mais “puro” português para se falar. Você pode verificar em todos os canais na TV, nos mais diversos TV shows, nas soap operas ou em qq lugar onde a língua é mais formal, ninguém fala com o sotaque do X como onde tu vaix, paix, expera e blablabla…
    Quero parabenizar você pela coragem de se largar nesse mundão, por conseguir abraçar e absorver tão diversas culturas e enxergar o que cada uma tem de bom, ma principalmente por se dedicar em compartilhar tudo isso com a gente! Abração

  • Fibs

    Hey Benny, I just stumbled here and was amazed by this post, it’s really great, congratulations!
    I just gotta say something: if you ever say ‘biscoita’ here in Rio people will immediately know you’re not from Brazil. It’s “biscoito”, masculine. I just had to mention it hahaha, sorry : )
    But congratulations again, what an amazing site!

  • James Hall

    Cara, muito bom mesmo! Great post. And, spot-on. ~an american living in rio há 8 anos. Valeu!

  • RaquelMLA

    Funny how most foreigners prefer the Rio accent (perhaps because it is the most ‘exported’) while the locals suffer ‘serious prejudice’ in here. Not so much exaggerated prejudice, but pulled over to the side of stereotypes, many say that carioca’s accent is the ‘criminal’s accent’ (because of the high rate of violence in the city etc, São Paulo is also quite violent but Rio was marked having the ‘gangster accent’) Often people from other states, particularly São Paulo (pretty obvious to anyone who knows the ‘eternal rivalry’ Rio haha x SP) and Southern states say that they speak ‘ correct Portuguese’ that ‘the cariocas assassinate the Portuguese’, but honestly I think the accent of Rio is the most unique, what stands out most of the other states to be quite different but is neither better nor worse, because there is no ‘correct accent ‘, diversity is what gives them their value :) Oh and I’m carioca hahaha I really liked your article, kisses

  • Claudia Sarmento

    é isso aih, mandou bem meu camarada!!! =^D

  • Felipe Damázio Pacheco

    Well, I´m brazilian from the south and I feel a little jealous of that “carioca love” lol That is, why “carioca accent”? Carioca accent is cool, you may say, but it is not the most representative accent of Brazil at all. Carioca accent in other regions may seem even a little weird, or inadequately “funny”. Namely, the “chiado” sound of the s and some gírias, as well as the super opening of some vowels (alçamento) are not well accepted in other states, and if it´s a foreign guy trying to immitate, believe, seems ridiculous! I recommend foreign speakers to immitate São Paulo accent, perhaps Brazilia accent for one simple reason: this city received people from all over the country, they actually have mixed accents. I love your explanation about linking words, it´s very useful, and about the R pronunciation. By the way, the most “brasilian” pronunciation of the R (ops) are: “french” style at the beginnin (rato), spanish style, roled, between vowels (caro) and OMITTING, specially in informal conversation, in the end (ator, fazer) and before a consonante, VERY SOFT “h” sound, or VERY SOFT “american r” sound. The “brazilian s” is not chiado, it´s an s or a z, depending on the position. it is often ommited in the plurals in informal conversation. I recommend, finally, to learn with Brazilian tv, which even in the newspapers avoid excessive formal or “gramatical” portuguese. Thank you very much for your effort to learn our beautiful and beloved portuguese :D

  • Felipe Damázio Pacheco

    Oh, yes, the nasal sounds, I forgot! If you want to “be” brazlian, you must learn how to say the NASAL SOUNDS! By the way, portuguese is the language of “ão” :D

  • Luisa Oliveira

    Really glad I found this post and this blog. I’m Brazilian and I teach English and Portuguese. Right now I’m teaching an online course about the different brazilian accents and the students’ favorite is always the Carioca!

  • Get English

    Parabens Benny! Excellent post!

    Just recently found this blog and the information is both excellent and entertaining.

    Tog go bog e!

  • Pedro Henrique Köhler

    Sou brasileiro e vi alguns videos seus. Seu sotaque nao é ruim, mas ninguém que falasse com você por mais do que 5 segundos iria te confundir com um carioca. Está muito mais para um português de Portugal do que carioca. Então duvido fortemente que você tenha convencido alguem de que era carioca, e, se as pessoas falaram isso, foi só para brincar com você, ou porque nao queriam ser rudes. Meu objetivo não é ofender, apenas prezo pela verdade.


  • Matheus

    you are a fucking genius man! I’ve lived my whole life in rio, and now that I live in Quebec, other brazilians often tell me how my “rio accent” is actually pretty strong. So I found your website and it’s amazing! It’s all true! I mean, every single sentence wrote by you is actually 100% true. I am amazed, you, from wherever you are, know more about my language than me! Good job fella!

  • Bruno Della Motta

    As a native Carioca, I can say that you grasped pretty well our dialect. My only tips are: the guttural ‘rr’ only happens in interjections or if you really want to make the word sounds very emphatically, like “Porra!” (if you got the “carioquês”, you know what I mean). The palatas ‘s’ is very subtle and its voicing very rare; it’s better to stick with the voiceless one and let the voiced one goes only when it would be impossible to articulate otherwise, because if you say “mezhmo” or “razhgar” in a forcible way it will sound very “gringo”. About the open and closed vowels, stick to the rule that in southern portuguese there are no non-accented vowels that sounds open. But take care with the vowels reductions: ‘o’ becomes ‘u’ and ‘e’ becomes ‘i’ at the end of the words but in other parts varies and is possibly related with the position of the accented syllable and would be impossible to cover it here, but take care because reducing it in all the positions would sound very ‘archaic’ because only very old people do that. As I said, there is probably some rule but it also varies and can only be learned by experience and thorough analysis. Also, about the diphthongs, those lengthenings (‘cariocas’ to ‘carioacas’ or ‘cario@cas’ [a ‘schwa’]) are very subltle and if you try to force ‘em it will sound worst than if you didn’t: when some brazilian from other parts of the country tries to do it, it sounds more like he’s mocking us than trying to pass for a Carioca. And also, what is usually written ‘ei’ or ‘ou’ sounds more like a long ‘e’ or a long ‘o’ than tru diphthongs: ‘mane:ro’ instead of ‘maneiro’ and ‘po:co’ instead of ‘pouco’. But there are exceptions like at the end of words (‘ei’ will always be ‘ei’ at the end; ‘ou’ is a lil inbetween) and like ‘feito’ that is always ‘feito’ and I think it happens before dentals, velars or palatals. Ah! And you forgot something very important! Never pronounces the end of infinitives. Say ‘cantá’ instead of ‘cantar’, ‘parti’ instead of ‘partir’, &c. (though I think it’s a general feture of portuguese and not only carioquese, in southern Brazil, like Rio Grande do Sul, there are some parts where they speak the full rolling ‘rr’. Well… they speak the full rolling ‘rr’ wherever there is an ‘rr’ or initial or final ‘r’ anyway…). That’s it. Cheers and keep the good work!

    • Bruno Della Motta

      ps: what I said about the guttural ‘rr’ only applies to its realization as ‘ch’ as in german (‘Bach’, ‘Buch’, e.s.f.) or gaelic (‘loch’). But you’re right: it’s guttural, but almost always as an ‘h’ and sometimes disappearing like at the end of infinitives and other specific instances I have no formula, but…
      Also, there’s specific realization of ‘s’ like in the word ‘mesmo’ that makes it sound like ‘mermo’ or ‘mehmo’ (or even ‘mẽ@hmo’) and it also happen in other instances but I also have no set formula for that. It’s like porteño (argentine) spanish, but less guttural.
      And you cannot forget about the nasalizations of vowels that are specific of portuguese but more peculiar in carioquese… Like the ‘mẽ@hmo’ (i’ve put a tilde above the ‘e’ to sign it, but, if a weird character shows up, it was ‘me~@hmo’). But, in that case it’s subtle nasalization and it differs from ‘mente’, for instance, where it’s fully realized. And in portuguese there are many nasalizations thare are not written, like ‘banãna’ instead of ‘banana’ and ‘mũito’ or mu~ito’ instead of ‘muito’, and I think that lenghthening of simple vowels is due to that: a subtle ‘ã’ or ‘schwa+tilde’ inserted in some accented syllables.

  • Manuela Dossantos

    Hi Benny. I’m a first gen from Brazil learning more about the language, and this article was really interesting. It brought up a lot of things that I’ve noticed, but never really thought about. My situation is also a bit different because my Dad is from the South, but his family is from the Northeast, while my mom was born in São Paulo, but her family is from Portugal. Because I learned Portuguese by ear, my accent is a mix of the different accents I hear. It’s really cool to learn about where each difference is from.

  • Tay Carvalho

    I loved your advices about how to learn “Carioquês”, it was funny to me!

    I’m from Rio de Janeiro and you showed me many things about my “dialect” that I had never paid attention before. :)

  • Higor Elias

    Sou carioca, e achei muito enteressante tudo o que vc disse, só discordo da parte que vc fala sobre as gírias, elas realmente existem mas eu por exemplo não falo muitas dessas que vc colocou aí algumas delas como ” canhão ” são meia ultrapassadas raramente vc diz que uma pessoa é um canhão. E outras gírias que vc pós aí nos cariocas vemos apenas na televisão(novelas, filmes, etc) e se falarmos em um diálogo comum soa muito forçado, como ” cabeçudo” e ” irado” ( a gíria ” cabeçudo ” geralmente são as pessoas mais velhas que falam, tipo minha avó), mas tirando isso a matéria é FODA parabéns

  • Kyler

    Hello Benny. I was wondering how you pronounce the r’s at the end of your words in Brazilian Portuguese, as I understand there are multiple ways to do it.

    • Joe Gabriel – Fi3M Team

      What’s up Kyler!

      Benny wrote 6 Ways to Roll Your R’s that might help with this question. He uses a similar method for different languages that require a little somethin’ extra for the r’s ;) Let me know if this helps or if you’re looking for something else!

      Happy language learning!
      Fi3M Language Encourager