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The Portuguese Writing System

The Standard Portuguese writing system, as well as that used for Brazilian Portuguese, is based on the Latin alphabet with 26 letters. Despite several attempts at orthographic reform during the 20th century (the last attempt taking place in 1990), Portugal and Brazil still do not share a standard form of the written language.

Below are some of the main features of both the Standard and Brazilian Portuguese writing systems:

    Use of the following diacritic or “accent” marks1

      Acute and circumflex accents (´ and ˆ) to indicate stressed syllables.
    • The tilde (˜) to show “nasalized” vowel sounds.
    • The grave accent (for example, “À”).
    • The dieresis mark with the letter u (“ü”).
    • The cedilla with the letter c (“Ç”).
  • Three of the 26 letters in the Standard and Brazilian Portuguese alphabets — K, W and Y — are reserved for spelling loan words from other languages.
Additional resources on the Standard and Brazilian Portuguese writing systems can be found on the Web at:

For information on The Portuguese Language, please see our Quick Facts Library.

1 “Portuguese alphabet” Wikipedia

[Accessed November 25, 2004]