When to use Ç [ mini lesson ]

I've explained this in a few sentence discussions, and thought it might be helpful early on. It is a relatively easy rule, but it is not explained anywhere here, so I thought I'd explain the use of ç in Portuguese to those who are meeting it for the first time. Ready? Here is the trick!

A lot of us learn to memorize this (written phonetically for you):
KÁ - SSÉ - SSÍ - KÓ - KÚ

This is essential to understand "ç", so look at it again and say it out loud-- you'll understand this much better if you do! What the thing you hopefully just read out loud and kind of memorized does, is it shows you the natural state of the "c" sound. Here are words to show that:

Café -- Cerveja -- Cidade -- Cobra -- Cubo

As you might have noticed, without modifications, c+e and c+i have an SS sound, and the other ones have a K sound. So, In order to make the ones that have the K sound have an SS sound, we put a little sssnake at the bottom of the c. Because ce and ci already have the SS sound, you never use ç before an i or an e.... Never. Ever.

SO, an all-SS-sound row would look like this:
ÇÁ -- -- -- ÇO -- ÇU

Examples: Cabeça -- Você -- Macio -- Braço -- Açúcar

Cabeça without the second ç (cabeca) would be pronounced "kabayka". There is a similar rule for the use of G, and whether you should add the U after it or not. ( GÁ - XJE - XJI - GÓ - GÚ ), but that is too much for one post. =)

Important: A word will NEVER begin with ç. If it sounds like Çapato, it starts with an S.

edit: I had previously stated that K only exists in names and foreign words, but not in the official alphabet. However, K W and Y were reintroduced to the Portuguese alphabet in 2009 by the famous "new rules" of Portuguese.

I made the snake thing up, although I wouldn't be surprised if someone told me that when I was learning to write. In short, never use ç before i or e! I hope this helps and I hope you enjoy learning Portuguese! =]

January 13, 2014


I want to give you lingotçççç

January 13, 2014

That's adorable! I'll give you one for reminding me to add that you can't end a word with a ç (or several) either. =)

January 13, 2014


Nada de snakes com lingots pra fora.

January 13, 2014

This is an awesome explanation! We could need more of this kind Have my Lingot, please...

January 13, 2014

Este é muito fácil, muito útil, e muito diversão. Muita Obrigada!

August 15, 2015

you got my first given lingot! this is a great thing to know . i was so confused!

July 8, 2014


October 6, 2015

Well done, it is unfortunate that this post will be buried and lost after sometime though. But this thread gave me an idea based on something we used to do in a programming forum.

Every once in a while talented or experienced users would explain how to do certain things. Some users divided the lessons into several parts, and created new lessons whenever they wished.

Perhaps the users here could do something similar, starting from the basics of a language up to the more advanced things. Then we could create a main thread referencing the individual lessons. Nothing too lengthy or complicated, just short lessons highlighting important concepts native speakers take for granted.

Also other users could create certain exercises to test concepts learnt in a particular user created lesson. Although, it would be more meaningful to do if we had sub-categories in Duolingo discussions.

We could even reward our students with lingots for getting all answers correctly, the possibilities are endless.

January 13, 2014

We already have a discussion area per Skill. Most of these are not too messy yet, and if you have a really useful hint about the aspect of the language tested by that skill, there would be the best place to post it. Those posts also appear here so it is best to mention the name of the Skill in the post to avoid the confusion that sometimes happens when somebody leaves a message saying something like "These lessons are hard!"; although the context is clear when read in the Skill area it begs the question "Which lessons?" when read here.

As an example, if you had something interesting to say about Portuguese pronouns, rather than only posting it in the general discussion area, where as you point out it will disappear quickly, post it here: instead. (If anyone reading this can't see that page, it is because you haven't reached that point in your tree yet.)

This post needs to placed somewhere early in the tree. Possibly even Basics-1 isn't too early: because maçã is introduced there.

January 13, 2014

Yes, it is way more organized. Though, I don't see it working in Duolingo, creating linked threads just makes a mess, and then it will show up here like you said. Even if we put the tag indicating which lesson it comes from, it is the same thing.

Anyway, it is unfortunate but the current state the forums just makes it far too complicated to post anything constructive. Those immersion guidelines I posted for example, are long buried. People refer to it, but I highly doubt there are more than two dozen people that know of its existence.

That is the main difference between these forums and the programming forums I used before.

January 13, 2014

I've been gathering some links I find around. So I can repost them whenever a doubt regarding those matters appears.

January 13, 2014

I now know of the fabled immersion guidelines... so begins my mission to find them.

September 30, 2014

Good luck. It shouldn't be that hard to find them, but my point was that you'll only find them if you know about them. :)

September 30, 2014

If it helps, I posted this current discussion under the skill Basics 2. It just shows up in the general Portuguese discussion area as well. :)

January 15, 2014

Perhaps what Davu meant is that you should rename the thread, put something like, " [Basics 2 user-lesson] - When to use Ç [ mini lesson ], or something like that...

January 15, 2014

Portuguese, Swedish, English, Italian, and German; you're quite the polyglot, Vivisaurus. What's your native language?

August 15, 2015

It seems like the new design hides skill discussions, so never mind =(

February 10, 2014

You're right. They are still there but inaccessible unless you know the right incantation. For example, your article is the top entry in the Basics-2 area: (link courtesy of Portofan I hope Duolingo brings them back.

February 10, 2014

Amazing! thanks for the simpliest explanation of all! :D

January 14, 2014

This lesson is really good, and the same rules apply for all the language with "ç". I gave you a lingot.

April 7, 2014

Really? Other languages follow the same rules?

April 18, 2014

As a native speaker let me just add some other details to when ç is used and when ss is:

ç has a subtle faster sound than ss. You can compare here:

Because ss pronunciation is slightly longer hyphenation divides it in half:
Pássaro is Pá
Roça is Ro.ça

October 21, 2015

very good,

January 13, 2014

muito bom

January 13, 2014

Thank you so much. That definately helped a lot.

January 18, 2014

Thank you so much! This was very helpful!! :)

January 18, 2014

Outstanding explanation, very usefull and straight foward. Many thanks for sharing it!

January 19, 2014

Very Helpful! Thanks so much!

January 30, 2014

I had guessed what you put in your post before I saw it but I wasn't sure.
Thank you for confirming it.

October 12, 2015

obrigada, eu gosto deste muito

October 17, 2015

had to give a lingot for this great explanation :) obrigada

September 5, 2016

The spelling of -s- sound is Portuguese it very complicated. There are a lot of remainders of ancient traditions and old but disappeared sounds. E.g: "Eu faço" is why not "Eu fasso"? "Passaro" is is why not "paçaro", "caçar" is why not "cassar". Sometimes the "z" in corresponding Spanish words helps.

March 21, 2017
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