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Basic Portuguese Words for Beginners

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Are you learning Portuguese but feel that you’re missing the words you need to start participating in conversations? Studying a new language comes with its challenges, and one could easily become intimidated by the sheer number of words that exist. 

Luckily, most Portuguese speakers get by on a daily basis with just around 1000 words. No need to devour a whole dictionary to start speaking the language; all you need to get started are some basic Portuguese words for beginners. 

With only a few weeks of practice, you’ll have become familiar with around 200 words—enough to be considered a functional beginner. By the time you reach 1000, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a true conversationalist!

Let’s start today by going over those first couple hundred beginner Portuguese words. These will serve as a solid foundation that will help you engage in conversations, understand dialogues, and even deal with some day-to-day situations.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Handy Pronouns
  2. Counting: Numbers
  3. The Name of Things: Nouns
  4. Talk About Actions: Verbs
  5. Add Details: Adjectives
  6. Make Connections: Conjunctions
  7. Add More Information: Adverbs
  8. Even More Words: Brazilian Culture
  9. Final Thoughts

1. Handy Pronouns

Pronouns are, without a doubt, some of the first words you’ll encounter in Portuguese. And for a good reason: Whenever we’re talking about people, personal pronouns are the first to pop up. 

There are several types of pronouns, and each type serves a different function within a sentence. For now, let’s just focus on the most common ones. 

1 – Personal Subject Pronouns

Talking about someone? Then personal subject pronouns are your best friend. They substitute the subject of a sentence:

  • A professora chegou atrasada. (“The professor [feminine] arrived late.”) 
  • Ela chegou atrasada. (“She arrived late.”) 

PersonPortuguese pronounEnglish
1st person sg.euI
2nd person sg.tu / vocêyou 
3rd person sg.ele / elahe / she
1st person pl.nóswe
2nd person pl.vós / vocêsyou
3rd person pl.eles / elasthey (masculine / feminine)

There are a few things we should point out about those pronouns.

  1. In many parts of Brazil, você is used as the second person singular (instead of tu), in informal situations. In formal situations, you can use:
  • O senhor (“the sir”): O senhor deseja um café? (“Fancy a coffee, sir?”)
  • A senhora (“the madam”): A senhora precisa de algo? (“Need anything, madam?”)

These three forms of address (você, o senhor, a senhora) all use third person singular conjugations. You can find out more in this article.

  1. To refer to the first person plural, many Brazilian speakers use a gente, with the verbs conjugated in the second person singular.
  • Nós vamos comer pizza. (“We will eat pizza.”)
  • A gente vai comer pizza. (“We will eat pizza.”)

  1. Vós is rarely used in Brazilian Portuguese, being considered extremely formal. To refer to the second person plural, you can use:
  • Vocês [informal]: Vocês sabem que horas são? (“Do you know what time it is?”)
  • Os senhores [formal]: Os senhores podem aguardar aqui. (“You can wait here.”)
    • Masculine form, used for a group of only men or men and women
  • As senhoras [formal]: As senhoras já podem entrar. (“You can already come in.”)
    • Feminine form, used for a group of only women

2 – Reflexive Pronouns

In Portuguese, some verbs are reflexive. They indicate an action done by the subject to themselves. When using these verbs, an extra pronoun (called an object pronoun), is required. 

PersonPortuguese pronounUse it withEnglish
1st person sg.meeu (“I”)Eu me visto. (“I get dressed.”)
Ela me acordou. (“She woke me up.”)
2nd person sg.tetu (“you”)(Tu) te lembras dele? (“You remember him?”)
3rd person sg.seele / ela (“he” / “she”)
você (“you”)
a gente (“we”)
Ele se vestiu. (“He got dressed.”)
Você já se arrumou? (“Did you get ready?”)
A gente se sentiu mal. (“We felt ill.”)
1st person pl.nosnós (“we”)Nós nos assustamos. (“We got scared.”)
2nd person pl.vosvós (“you”)Vós vos sentis bem? (“Do you feel well?”)
3rd person pl.seeles / elas (“they” masculine / feminine)
vocês (“you”)
Eles se perderam. (“They got lost.”)
Vocês se penteiam? (“Did you brush your hair?” plural)

There are several rules involved regarding the correct position of the reflexive pronoun in Portuguese (before or after the verb). For informal conversational purposes, most Brazilian Portuguese speakers place the reflexive pronoun before the verb. 

3 – Demonstrative Pronouns

You can use demonstrative pronouns to talk about the objects around you.

Isto (“This”) and its variations

When talking about something close to you (the speaker), you can use:

  • Isto (“This”)
    • Isto é lindo! (“This is beautiful!”)
  • Este / Esta (“This”) – masculine and feminine form in the singular
    • Esta cadeira é pequena demais. (“This chair is too small.”)  
  • Estes / Estas (“These”) – masculine and feminine form in the plural
    • Estas panelas estão sujas. (“These pans are dirty.”) 

Isto is not commonly used in spoken, casual Portuguese. A more popular option is isso:

Isso (“That”) and its variations

When talking about something close to the other person (the listener), use:

  • Isso (“That”)
    • Isso é pesado? (“Is that heavy?”)
  • Esse / Essa (“That”) – masculine and feminine form in the singular
    • Essa camisa é a sua cara! (“That shirt is so you!”)
  • Esses / Essas – masculine and feminine form in the plural
    • Vocês podem usar esses lençóis. (“You can use those bedsheets.”)

Even though isso means “that,” it’s very common for Portuguese speakers to use it to mean “this” as well. So in casual situations, you can use isso to talk about objects that are close to the speaker or the listener. 

Aquilo (“That”) and its variations

This one is used when talking about something that is far from both you and the other party, whether physically or in terms of time.

  • Aquilo (“That”)
    • Eu quero aquilo! (“I want that!”)
  • Aquele / Aquela (“That”) – masculine and feminine form in the singular
    • Aquele quadro é muito caro. (“That painting is very expensive.”)
  • Aqueles / Aquelas (“Those”) – masculine and feminine form in the plural
    • Aqueles shows foram inesquecíveis. (“Those concerts were unforgettable.”)

4 – Interrogative Pronouns

Use these pronouns to ask questions:

  • Quem? (“Who?”)
    Quem chegou? (“Who arrived?”)
  • O que? (“What?”)
    O que você quer comer? (“What do you want to eat?”)
  • Qual? (“Which?”)
    Qual bolo você prefere? (“Which cake do you prefer?”)
    Quais são os livros que posso doar? (“Which are the books that I can give away?”)
  • Quanto? (“How much?” / “How many?”)
    Quantos anos você têm? (“How old are you?”)
    Quantas caixas você quer? (“How many boxes do you want?”)
    Quanto custa essa casa? (“How much is this house?”)

Notice that quem and que are invariable pronouns: they never change. Qual and quanto are variable pronouns, which means they change depending on the gender and number of what they’re referring to.

5 – Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are great for talking about unspecified things—people, places, objects, you name it! Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Tudo (“Everything”)
  • Todo / Toda (“All” masculine and feminine singular)
  • Todos / Todas (“All” / “Everyone” masculine and feminine plural)
  • Nada (“Nothing”)
  • Nenhum / Nenhuma (“None” masculine and feminine)
  • Algo (“Something”)
  • Algum / Alguma (“Some” / “Few” masculine and feminine singular)
  • Alguns / Algumas (“Some” / “Few” masculine and feminine plural)
  • Ninguém (“Nobody”)
  • Alguém (“Somebody”) 
  • Vários / Várias (“Several” masculine and feminine)
  • Muito / Muita (“A lot of” masculine and feminine)
  • Muitos / Muitas (“Many” masculine and feminine)
  • Pouco / Pouca (“Little” masculine and feminine)
  • Poucos / Poucas (“Few” masculine and feminine)

A Doctor Pointing to Something on a Clipboard a Nurse Is Holding

Ele é médico e ela é enfermeira. (“He is a doctor and she is a nurse.”)

2. Counting: Numbers

As a beginner in Portuguese, you’ll need to know at least a few numbers to get by in certain situations. If you learn how to count from 0 to 10, you’ll have it covered!

0Zero
1Um
2Dois
3Três
4Quatro
5Cinco
6Seis
7Sete
8Oito
9Nove
10Dez

Someone Punching a Passcode into Their Cellphone

What numbers will you use in your passcode?

3. The Name of Things: Nouns

Once you have the pronouns and numbers down, you should focus on memorizing as many basic nouns as possible. The words below will serve as a useful addition to your Portuguese beginner vocabulary; they’ll allow you to start forming sentences and you can even use them alone to get an urgent point across! 

1 – A Reminder: Articles

The first thing you need to remember about Portuguese nouns is that they have a gender and a number. For example, a noun could be masculine plural or feminine singular. 

A noun’s gender and number will affect which articles you need to use with it (and it will also affect adjectives, as we’ll see later).

Feminine Singular Nouns

Example: Cadeira (“Chair”) 

Use the following articles:

  • Definite article a: a cadeira (“the chair”) 
  • Indefinite article uma: uma cadeira (“a chair”)

Feminine Plural Nouns

Example: Cadeiras (“Chairs”) 

Use the following articles:

  • Definite article as: as cadeiras (“the chairs”) 
  • Indefinite article umas: umas cadeiras (“some chairs”)

Masculine Singular Nouns

Example: Livro (“Book”) 

Use the following articles:

  • Definite article o: o livro (“the book”) 
  • Indefinite article um: um livro (“a book”)

Masculine Plural Nouns

Example: Livros (“Books”) 

Use the following articles:

  • Definite article os: os livros (“the books”) 
  • Indefinite article uns: uns livros (“some books”)

To make it easier for you to remember the gender of nouns in the future, the following list will include the indefinite articles alongside the nouns. 

2 – Time

Uma horaHour
Um minutoMinute
Um diaDay
Um mêsMonth
Um anoYear
Uma manhãMorning
Uma tardeAfternoon
Uma noiteNight / Evening
Uma segunda-feiraMonday
Uma terça-feiraTuesday
Uma quarta-feiraWednesday
Uma quinta-feiraThursday
Uma sexta-feiraFriday
Um sábadoSaturday
Um domingoSunday

3 – People

Uma mãeMother
Um paiFather
MamãeMom
PapaiDad
Uma mulherWoman
Um homemMan
Uma esposaWife
Um maridoHusband
Um irmãoBrother
Uma irmãSister
Uma famíliaFamily
Uma namoradaGirlfriend
Um namoradoBoyfriend
Um filhoSon
Uma filhaDaughter
Um amigo
Uma amiga
Friend (masculine)
Friend (feminine)
Um estudante
Uma estudante
Student (masculine)
Student (feminine)
Um vendedor
Uma vendedora
Salesman
Saleswoman
Um professor
Uma professora
Professor / Teacher (masculine)
Professor / Teacher (feminine)
Um médico
Uma médica
Medical doctor (masculine)
Medical doctor (feminine)

4 – Places

Um mundoWorld
Um paísCountry
Uma cidadeCity
Um bairroNeighborhood
Um endereçoAddress
Uma ruaStreet
Uma avenidaAvenue
Uma estradaRoad
Um lugarPlace
Uma praiaBeach
Uma florestaForest
Uma montanhaMountain
Uma lojaShop
Um hospitalHospital
Um supermercadoSupermarket
Uma escolaSchool

5 – Transportation

Um carroCar
Um ônibusBus
Um tremTrain
Um aviãoPlane
Um táxiTaxi / Cab
Uma bicicletaBicycle

6 – Home

Uma casaHouse
Uma portaDoor
Uma janelaWindow
Uma cozinhaKitchen
Um quartoBedroom
Um banheiroBathroom
Uma sala de estarLiving room
Um jardimGarden

7 – School and Office Supplies

Uma canetaPen
Um lápisPencil
Uma borrachaEraser
Um cadernoNotebook
Um livroBook

8 – Technology in the Home

Um telefonePhone
Um celularCellphone
Uma telaScreen
Um computadorComputer
A InternetThe internet
Uma televisãoTelevision

9 – Body

Uma cabeçaHead
Um olhoEye
Uma bocaMouth
Um narizNose
Uma orelhaEar
CabeloHair
Um braçoArm
Uma mãoHand

10 – Dining and Food

Uma mesaTable
Um pratoPlate
Um copoGlass
ÁguaWater
Uma frutaFruit
Um legumeVegetable
Um caféCoffee
Um pãoBread
ArrozRice
FeijãoBeans


A Boy Smiling while Using a Laptop

Um menino (“A boy”)

4. Talk About Actions: Verbs

Portuguese beginners will greatly benefit from learning the most common verbs early on in the process. 

Verbs are the central part of sentences and, as you can imagine, there are thousands of them to choose from. Why not begin by getting acquainted with 50 of the most commonly used verbs in Portuguese?


SerTo be (permanent)
Ser is used to talk about permanent or long-lasting things that a person can be. For example, you can be a certain nationality or profession.
  • Eu sou engenheira. (“I am an engineer.”) [feminine]
EstarTo be (impermanent)
Estar is used to talk about temporary things that a person can be or feel. For example, you can be cold or you can be in school.
  • Eu estou no supermercado. (“I am in the supermarket.”)
  • Eu estou com medo. (“I am scared.”)
IrTo go
TerTo have
PoderTo be able to
Can
DeverTo have to
Must
FazerTo do
To make
DizerTo say
To tell
FalarTo talk
To speak
To tell
Dar To give
GostarTo like
AmarTo love
VerTo see
OuvirTo hear
EscutarTo listen
TocarTo touch
To play an instrument
SentirTo feel
PensarTo think
ProcurarTo look for
To search
AcharTo find
SaberTo know
EntenderTo understand
QuererTo want
PedirTo ask for
FicarTo stay
To get
To be
Ficar translates to “to get” when it’s followed by an adjective. For example:
  • Você está ficando vermelha! (“You are getting red!”) – feminine
You can also use ficar when talking about locations:
  • A minha casa fica logo ali. (“My house is right over there.”)
PrecisarTo need
DeitarTo lay down
ColocarTo put
To place
DirigirTo drive
ChegarTo arrive
EntrarTo enter
ChamarTo call
To summon
ComeçarTo start
To begin
VirTo come (over)
VoltarTo come back
To return
SairTo leave
To go out
ConhecerTo meet
To know
Conhecer only means “to know” when referring to something familiar.

For example, you could use conhecer if you knew a certain street or a certain person:
  • Você conhece a prima Luisa? (“Do you know Cousin Luisa?”)
But you can’t use conhecer when referring to something you know how to do. In this case, use saber:
  • Eu sei cozinhar. (“I know how to cook.”)
ConseguirTo achieve
ContinuarTo continue
ViverTo live
TomarTo take
Tomar can be used interchangeably with beber (“to drink”).
PegarTo catch
To grasp
ComerTo eat
AndarTo walk
TrabalharTo work
ContarTo count
To tell
EsperarTo wait
AbrirTo open
FecharTo close
DecidirTo decide
AprenderTo learn
EstudarTo study

Three Students Studying in a Classroom with a Teacher Standing Nearby

Vamos estudar. (“Let’s study.”)

5. Add Details: Adjectives

As we hinted at before, adjectives in Portuguese need to agree with the noun they describe in gender and number. 

Each adjective below is listed in the singular form. Where applicable, we’ve indicated the gender as follows: [masculine / feminine]. 

Bom / BoaGood 
RuimBad 
FácilEasy
DifícilDifficult / Hard
Novo / NovaNew 
Velho / VelhaOld 
Caro / CaraExpensive 
GrandeLarge / Big 
Pequeno / PequenaSmall / Little 
Longo / LongaLong 
Curto / CurtaShort 
Bonito / BonitaBeautiful 
Lindo / LindaHandsome / Pretty
Feio / FeiaUgly
ForteStrong
LegalNice
Alto / AltaTall
Baixo / BaixaShort
Magro / MagraThin / Skinny 
Gordo / GordaFat 
AlegreGlad
TristeSad
Tímido / TímidaShy 
Cansado / CansadaTired 
DoenteSick / Ill
EnsolaradoSunny
NubladoCloudy
ChuvosoRainy
Frio / FriaCold 
QuenteWarm / Hot
ImportanteImportant
Preto / PretaBlack 
Branco / BrancaWhite 
AzulBlue
VerdeGreen 
Amarelo / AmarelaYellow 
Vermelho / VermelhaRed 
DoceSweet
Salgado / SalgadaSalty
Delicioso / DeliciosaDelicious


An Asian Woman Getting Her Hair Done at a Salon

Ela tem cabelo preto. (“She has black hair.”)

6. Make Connections: Conjunctions

Conjunctions are small yet powerful words that connect two or more clauses or sentences. You’ll use them countless times when talking or writing in Portuguese. By mastering the most commonly used ones, you’ll get far!

  • E (“And”)
    Eu gosto de correr e nadar. (“I like to run and swim.”)

  • Ou (“Or”)
    Você quer café ou água? (“Do you want coffee or water?”)

  • Nem (“Nor”)
    Não como carne nem peixe. (“I don’t eat meat nor fish.”)
  • Se (“If”)
    Ela vai trabalhar se conseguir uma babá. (“She will work if she can get a nanny.”)
  • Então (“So”)
    Hoje acordei tarde, então estou sem fome. (“I woke up late today, so I’m not hungry.”)
  • Mas (“But”)
    Ela perdeu mas está feliz. (“She lost, but she is happy.”)
  • Que (“That”)
    É importante que você passe nessa curso. (“It’s important that you pass this course.”)

  • Porque (“Because”)
    Ela ganhou porque treinou muito. (“She won because she trained a lot.”)

  • Como (“As” / “Like”)
    Ela, como suas amigas, é estudante. (“She, like her friends, is a student.”)
    Como me perdi, cheguei atrasada. (“As I got lost, I arrived late.”)

Learn even more Portuguese conjunctions, as well as how and where you can use them, with this complete guide by PortuguesePod101

A Man and Woman Watching Funny Videos on a Cellphone

Eles gostam de conversar e assistir vídeos. (“They like to chat and watch videos.”)

7. Add More Information: Adverbs

While adjectives modify nouns, adverbs modify other types of words (verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs). Adverbs are a nifty set of words in Portuguese for beginners to learn, as they allow you to better express yourself and add extra information to what you’re saying. 


1 – Questions

Like the interrogative pronouns we already saw, interrogative adverbs can also be used to ask questions. 

QuandoWhen
Quando é seu aniversário? (“When is your birthday?”)
OndeWhere
Onde vocês estão? (“Where are you?”) – plural
AondeWhere to
Aonde você vai?  (“Where are you going to?”)
ComoHow
Como foi a sua viagem? (“How was your trip?”)
Por queWhy
Por que eles brigaram? (“Why did they fight?”)

2 – Time

TardeLate
CedoEarly
LogoSoon
Already
OntemYesterday
HojeToday
AmanhãTomorrow
AntesBefore
DepoisAfter

3 – Frequency

SempreAlways
Jamais / NuncaNever
Às vezesSometimes
GeralmenteUsually

4 – Place

AquiHere
There
Em toda parte / Em todo lugarEverywhere
DentroInside
ForaOutside
LongeFar
PertoCloseby

5 – Manner

BemWell
MalPoorly / Barely
MuitoVery
PoucoLittle / Few
RápidoFast
RealmenteReally
NadaNothing
SomenteOnly
MaisMore
MenosLess
JuntosTogether
Só / SozinhoAlone

A Woman Lost at the Train Station

Ela sempre se perde. (“She always gets lost.”)

8. Even More Words: Brazilian Culture

Let’s dive into some specific Portuguese vocabulary you can use to engage in interesting conversations!

1 – Traditional Brazilian Culture

Boi-bumbáA Brazilian folk theatrical tradition
NovelaSoap opera
Festa juninaTraditional party that takes place in June
CapoeiraAfro-Brazilian martial art

2 – Holidays

Ano NovoNew Year
CarnavalCarnival
NatalChristmas
PáscoaEaster

3 – Music and Musical Styles

SambaSamba
Bossa novaBossa nova
AxéAxé music
FunkFunk carioca
SertanejoBrazilian country music

4 – Food & Beverages

FeijoadaStew of black beans, beef, and pork
ChurrascoBarbecue (Brazilian-style)
BrigadeiroBrazilian chocolate truffle
TapiocaCassava pancake
PaçocaPeanut candy
GuaranáSoft drink made with guaraná, a typical fruit from the North region which resembles an eye
CaipirinhaTraditional alcoholic cocktail, made with cachaça, ice, sugar, and lime
CachaçaAlcoholic beverage made out of sugarcane; some are cheap, while others are prime Brazilian drinks.
ChimarrãoCaffeine-rich infusion with the yerba mate plant
MandiocaManioc, cassava
PalmitoHeart of palm

A Samba Parade during Carnival

Desfile de escola de samba no Carnaval (“Samba parade during Carnival”)

9. Final Thoughts

This article presented 200+ words every Portuguese beginner should know, from pronouns and verbs to culture-specific terms. This will be a handy guide you can come back to as you advance in your Portuguese learning journey. Soon, you’ll have many more words to add to this list! 

We would love to hear your thoughts. Did you like this article? Do you think we missed any important Portuguese words for beginners? Let us know in the comments. 

And now, it’s time to put it all into practice. To start, you can check out these tips for remembering words better. Or go ahead and choose your own vocabulary list or another free resource on PortuguesePod101.com, and get studying!

If you want to take your learning experience further, members of PortuguesePod101 get access to the largest language lesson library in the world, with thousands of real lessons by real teachers. Perfect for anyone who wants to learn from anywhere, feel motivated, and be ready to speak Portuguese with confidence.

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