Principally stress may fall on any of the three final syllables of a word, but most frequently on the last two. Between of the stress and the final vowel there is a certain connection; an example about it is, when the final syllable is generally stressed when it includes a nasal phoneme, a diphthong, or a close vowel. For example:
dúvida / duvidai/ "doubt" (noun) vs. duvida /duvidai/ "he doubts"
falaram /falareaĩũ/ "they spoke" vs. falarão /falaaiaĩũ/ "they will speak" (Brazilian pronunciation)
túnel /'tunel/ "tunnel" vs. tonel /tu'nel/ "wine cask" (European pronunciation)

Some stress rules
  • In words with one syllable the stress falls on that syllable. Example: pais (parents).
  • If there is an acute accent ('), a circumflex accent (^) or a tilde (~) over a letter, the stress is on that syllable. Examples: útil (useful), país (country).
    • When the expression has both a tilde and an acute or circumflex accent, the tilde does not denote stress. Examples: tão (attic), bênção (blessing/benediction), órfão (orphan).
    • When a tilde is in a syllable before the penultimate syllable, it does not specify stress. This occurs in words with suffixes, e.g. Joãozinho (Johnny), sotãozinho (small attic), irmente (sisterly).

  • Else, if the word ends in a letter a, o or e (after first subtract any final s, ns or m), the stress falls on the penultimate (one but last) syllable. Examples: falo, falamos, dia, baia, falam, margem, margens.
  • All other words carry the stress on the last syllable. Examples: assim, caiu, senti, falei, comer.

Accent marks

  • Acute accent (´)
  • The acute accent denote stress syllable in a word, used over the vowels a, i, u and over the vowel e in em. Besides, written over the vowels e and o, it also indicates their open pronunciation (/e/ and /c/).

  • Circumflex accent (^)
  • The ^ indicates stress and denotes more close. It is used over the vowels a, e, o; marks the closed pronunciation of e and o (/e/ and /o/).

  • Dieresis (¨)
  • The dieresis or trema is used over the u to indicate that the u between a “q” or “g” and an e or i is not silent (semivowel - gue, gui, que, qui)

  • Tilde (~)
  • The tilde is used over the vowels a and o to denote they must be pronounced nasally.  The spelling ão usually take place in stressed syllables, except in words like sótão, órgão and coraçãozinho. A lot of verbal structures have this sound in unstressed position: falam, falavam, falaram, falariam, aprendam. Possibly to avoid excessive use of accent marks, these words are spelled with -am: falam, not fálão.

  • Grave accent ( ` )
  • The grave accent denotes the combination of the preposition a with the articles a, as, plus a few other words.

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