Here are some tips for pronouncing “nha”, “nho”, and “nhei” in Portuguese:

“Nha” – This is pronounced like the “nya” sound in “canyon”. The ‘nh’ together makes a nasal palatal approximant sound. Say it almost like the name “Nia” but relax the vowel after the ‘n’.

“Nho” – The ‘nh’ here makes the same “nya” sound as in “nha”. The ‘o’ is pronounced short like a lax back rounded vowel. Overall it sounds similar to “nyo”.

“Nhei” – The ‘nh’ makes the “nya” nasal palatal approximant again. The ‘ei’ diphthong is key – say it smoothly like the ‘ay’ in “say” or “way” in English.


  • The ‘nh’ sound doesn’t occur in English. Listen closely to native audio.
  • Shape your mouth and tongue as if to say ‘nya’, letting air flow through your nasal passage.
  • Relax your pronunciation of the vowels instead of stressing them.
  • Contrast with ‘ha’, ‘ho’, ‘hei’ to compare the nasal vs oral vowels.
  • Words like “menino” also contain the ‘nh’ sound. Practicing similar words will help build familiarity.

With attentive listening and practice, the ‘nh’ nasal palatal sound and ‘ei’ diphthong will start to feel more natural. Imitate native speakers until these unfamiliar sounds become second nature.

Josh Plotkin Changed status to publish August 25, 2023