Can "Lenha" be pronounced as "lanha" or "lênha"? Why not "lénha"? More explicitly: Why the e sound in some words become an a (uh) sound or an ê (en) sound? Why not an é (eh) sound?

A few words where I believe this difference in pronunciation happens:

  • lenho
  • vermelho
  • sobrancelha
  • castanheiro
  • francelho
  • velenho
  • verdelha
  • soutenho
  • menhir ?

In banho, manha and rebanho, for example, I assume the a is never pronounced as ê, or am I wrong?

I assume that the difference between a and ê may reside in the proximity of -nho(a/e/i) or -lho(a/e/i) and perhaps in the standard pronunciation of Portuguese (which some may refer to the latter (ê) as the most proper pronunciation (from Coimbra?)).


Relating to this question (thanks Jacinto):

Quando é que "e" se pronuncia /ɐj/?

I'm adding a few more examples:

  • telha
  • coelho
  • fedelho
  • grelha
  • venha

Not having -lh(vowel) or -nh(vowel) and also possibly being pronounced differently according to the region:

  • ex-ministro
  • sexta
  • texto
  • êxtase
  • flecha
  • 1
    This question may address your doubts to some extent. Maybe you'd like to focus your own question in light of it. "Menhir"? You meant mentir, right?
    – Jacinto
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 13:39
  • Hehe :) menhir=menir, maybe it's not an usual word.
    – Armfoot
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 14:06
  • Regions like Minho which is in the north of Portugal often pronounce 'e' as it was 'a', but I believe that there no such word in portuguese that the 'e' is pronounced as 'a' Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 16:40
  • At most is just a north pronounce Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 16:41

1 Answer 1


My answer concerns ptBR only.

In ptBR the "e" in these words is never pronounced as an "a" sound. The "e" in "grelha" and "flecha" is pronounced as an open "e" ("é"). The "e" in all other words is always pronounced "ê". Of importance is the fact that about half of those words are rarely used in ptBR (lenho, francelho, velenho, verdelho, soutenho, menhir).

Lenha is pronounced lênha. Why not "lénha" ? Because that's the way it is pronounced. Simple as that.

Edit - The "a" before "nh" is always pronounced as "ã"

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