Ele, Ela – Aa-lee, Eh-lah – He, She

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First Published: 8th of December, 2020 by Patrick Carpen.

Last updated: March 3, 2021 at 20:56 pm

Ok, if you are wondering what are all those confusing words up there: the answer is: we’re trying to explain a tricky pronunciation.

Many foreigners mispronounce the words “ele” and “ela” in Portuguese. Why? Because, as we said above, it’s tricky! Let’s take a look.

Ele = He. Pronunciation: aa-lee

Ela = She. Pronunciation: eh-lah

Note the difference? The first syllable of the masculine form is pronounced with a strong “a” sound while the second syllable of the masculine form is pronounced with a strong “ee” sound. On the other hand, the feminine form is pronounced as a soft “e” and then a soft “a.”

When I first landed in Brazil, I pronounced both of the first syllables the same way, but I was misunderstood a lot and eventually corrected. Many foreigners make the same mistake and the Brazilian listener cannot understand whether they mean “he” or “she.”

Try practicing these two words using the following simple sentences.

She is beautiful. Ela é bonita.
He is handsome. Ele é bonito.
He is going to the shop. Ele está indo para a loja.
She is going to school. Ela está indo para a escola.
He is tall. Ele é alto.
She is short. Ela é baixa.
He is doing well. Ele está indo bem.
She is doing well. Ela está fazendo bem.

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