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The Best Ways to Improve Your Portuguese Conversation Skills

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Why are you learning Portuguese? Odds are, you want to communicate in the language. Although learning the many grammar rules and new vocabulary is important, the ultimate goal is to allow you to understand and be understood when talking in Portuguese. So if you want to convert your hours of language learning into real-life Portuguese conversation skills, you found the right article!

Together, we will cover the must-know sentences to deal with different situations, the best ways to present yourself to get a chat going, and how to improve your Portuguese conversation skills. We will begin by creating your personalized language profile, which will help you feel at ease with ready-to-use phrases and conversation topics. 

Of course, just reading about improving your conversation skills won’t do the trick. That’s why the last section of the article covers the best ways to move forward and how to take action.

If you feel ready for amazing conversations in Portuguese with friends, colleagues, and fellow language learners, let’s get started!

Three Friends Holding Drinks

Get the conversation going in Portuguese!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Getting Started With a Conversation Cheat Sheet
  2. Learn Portuguese Reactions
  3. Portuguese Filler Words
  4. Common Questions and Answers in Portuguese
  5. Portuguese Conversation Starters
  6. Best Ways to Improve Your Conversation Skills
  7. Continue Learning More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. Getting Started With a Conversation Cheat Sheet

A conversation cheat sheet, also known as a language profile, is the perfect starting point to improve your conversation skills. It is basically a one-stop-shop for the words, sentences, and conversation starters that you can use when speaking Portuguese. But it isn’t a general list. On the contrary: it is a personal, tailored-for-you cheat sheet with phrases you would use in real life to talk about yourself, your interests, and your routine.  

1 – Why Should You Have a Conversation Cheat Sheet

The main advantage of having a language profile is that you will have talking points ready to go whenever you start a conversation in Portuguese.

That’s why it is important that the phrases in your conversation are not cookie-cutter sentences but rather relevant to you. When you are presenting yourself or starting to talk with someone new, you’ll be able to rely on words and sentences you are comfortable with. Most importantly, it will give you ideas and help you overcome fears of speaking Portuguese when still learning.

Keep in mind that you don’t always have to use the language profile in its entirety, like a rehearsed introduction. But you will be ready to answer questions about yourself, your life and hobbies, and your family. From there, you can ask some related questions to the other person and get the ball rolling. 

2 – How to Make Your Conversation Cheat Sheet 

Let’s start writing a simple introduction: your name, your age, and where you are from. From here, everything depends on your personality and tastes. For example, are you studying at the moment? Maybe you’d like to talk about student life. Or if you have children, that might be something you’d mention. 

It can be helpful to think of some of the situations you may find yourself in: meeting a co-worker, going on a first date, or getting introduced to your partner’s family. You can also consider these questions:

  • Why are you learning Portuguese?
  • What interests or hobbies do you pursue in your free time?
  • What do you spend most of your time doing?
  • Where did you live in the past 5 years?

Based on these questions, you can create sentences that tell a bit more about yourself. For example:

  • Eu comecei a aprender Português há três anos. (“I started learning Portuguese three years ago.”)
  • Eu me mudei para o Brasil porque o meu marido é brasileiro. (“I moved to Brazil because my husband is Brazilian.”)
  • Eu gosto de conhecer novas culturas e aprender novas línguas. (“I like to get to know new cultures and learn new languages.”)

  • Eu gosto de correr e nadar. (“I like to run and swim.”)
  • Cozinhar é uma das minhas paixões. (“Cooking is one of my passions.”)
  • Estou aprendendo a… (“I’m learning to…”)

  • Eu trabalho no centro da cidade. (“I work downtown.”)
  • Eu estudo de manhã e trabalho de tarde. (“I study in the morning and work in the afternoon.”)
  • Estou aposentado. (“I’m retired.”)

  • Eu nasci na Inglaterra, mas morei muitos anos nos Estados Unidos. (“I was born in England but lived in the United States for many years.”)
  • Antes de vir para o Brasil, nunca tinha saído da minha cidade. (“Before coming to Brazil, I had never left my city.”)
  • Já morei em 4 países diferentes. (“I’ve lived in 4 different countries.”)

3 – Examples of Conversation Cheat Sheets

Now it’s time to put it all together. Your language profile for some informal self-introductions can look something like this:

Oi! Eu sou a Maria. Eu sou francesa, mas me mudei para o Brasil no ano passado. Eu tenho 28 anos, e estou fazendo o meu PhD no Rio de Janeiro. Já passeei bastante pela cidade, mas agora quero conhecer outros lugares no país. Amo viajar e conhecer pessoas novas. Também gosto de praticar português!
“Hi! I am Maria. I’m French, but I moved to Brazil last year. I’m 28 years old, and I’m doing my Ph.D. in Rio de Janeiro. I’ve been around the city a lot, but now I want to know other places in the country. I love traveling and meeting new people. I also like to practice Portuguese!”

Olá, prazer em te conhecer. Meu nome é Marc e tenho 40 anos. Eu venho da Austrália, e estou viajando pela América do Sul. Já estou estudando português há dois anos, desde que conheci minha namorada. Temos um cachorro e um gato, mas eles ficaram em casa enquanto viajamos. Quando não estou no escritório, onde trabalho em Marketing, gosto de escutar música latina e de surfar. 
“Hi, nice to meet you. My name is Marc, and I am 40 years old. I come from Australia, and I’m traveling around South America. I’ve been studying Portuguese for two years now, since I met my girlfriend. We have a dog and a cat, but they stayed at home while we traveled. When I’m not at the office, where I work in Marketing, I like listening to Latin music and surfing.”

Oi, tudo bem? Eu sou a Alice. Sou professora de inglês e trabalho online. Em alguns anos eu vou me aposentar, e então quero viajar pelo Brasil e Portugal. Por isso, comecei a estudar português no meu tempo livre. Além disso, gosto de visitar meus filhos e meus netos, fazer caminhadas no parque e assistir filmes estrangeiros. Também gosto de ler biografias e livros de ficção histórica.
“Hi, how are you? I’m Alice. I’m an English teacher and I work online. In a few years I’m going to retire, and then I want to travel around Brazil and Portugal. That’s why I started studying Portuguese in my spare time. Also, I enjoy visiting my children and grandchildren, taking walks in the park, and watching foreign movies. I also enjoy reading biographies and historical fiction books.”

And here is an extra example for more formal situations:

Olá, como vai? Prazer em conhecê-lo/conhecê-la. Meu nome é Andrew. Acabo de chegar no Brasil por motivos de trabalho. Ainda não conheço bem a cidade, então adoraria receber algumas dicas de locais para visitar. Quando não estou no escritório, gosto de ler, pintar e ir à praia. E é claro, estou sempre buscando formas de melhorar o meu português. 
“Hello, how are you? Nice to meet you (masculine ad feminine forms). My name is Andrew. I just arrived in Brazil for work reasons. I still don’t know the city well, so I’d love to get some tips on places to visit. When I’m not at the office, I like to read, paint and go to the beach. And, of course, I am always looking for ways to improve my Portuguese.”


Three Women on a Couch, Smiling

With your own language profile, you will feel more confident!

2. Learn Portuguese Reactions 

Reaction words and phrases are important to create a dynamic conversation and show the other person you care about what they say. Use the right ones at the right times, and be seen as a great listener!

That’s Exciting!

Q: Vou passar as férias no Rio de Janeiro. (“I’m going to spend my vacation in Rio de Janeiro.”)

A: Legal, aproveite muito! (“Cool, enjoy it a lot!”)
A: Que demais! Você vai gostar, tenho certeza. (“How awesome! You’ll like it, I’m sure.”)

Disbelief and surprise

Q: Ele perdeu a carteira ontem. (“He lost his wallet yesterday.”)

A: Sério? Que dor de cabeça! (“Seriously? What a headache!”)
A: Meu Deus, outra vez? Não pode ser! (“My God, again? It can’t be!”)
A: É mesmo? E agora, o que ele vai fazer? (“Really? And what is he going to do now?”)

Bad news

Q: Não fui bem na prova. (“I didn’t do well in the exam.”)

A: Poxa, sinto muito. (“Oh no, I’m sorry.”)
A: Ah, que pena! Como você está se sentindo? (“Oh, what a pity! How are you feeling?”)

Poxa is a common interjection for disappointment or surprise.

Annoyance

Q: O carro está na oficina mais uma vez. (“The car is in the shop once more.”)

A: Que droga, não vamos poder passear hoje então. (“Shoot, we’re not going to be able to walk today then.”)
A: Que saco, esse carro sempre tem algum problema. (“Darn it, this car always has a problem.”)

    ➜ There are many other reaction words and expressions you can use in Portuguese. Check out this blog article on Intermediate Portuguese Phrases for much more!

An Angry Man Holding His Laptop, with Smoke Coming Out of His Ears.

Que droga! (“Shoot!”)

3. Portuguese Filler Words

Filler words can help make you sound like a native speaker if used right. They make the speech sound a bit more natural and alive. Another bonus: filler words give you time to think about what to say next, which is always helpful! 

Just be careful not to overuse those words. Native speakers sometimes fall into this trap and punctuate every sentence with slang or filler words, which can be unnerving for anyone listening. Try to use it sparsely at first. As you become more used to speaking Portuguese, you will find the right balance for you!

TipoEnglish equivalent: “Like”
Ela quer comprar um vestido, tipo, um vestido chique. (“She wants to buy a dress, like, a fancy dress.”)
Tipo… Não sei, as coisas estão estranhas. (“Like… I don’t know, things are weird.”)

BomEnglish equivalent: “Well”
Bom, nesta história, ninguém é santo. (“Well, in this story, no one is a saint.”)
Bom… Podemos sair mais tarde, mas agora não posso. (“Well… We can go out later, but now I can’t.”)

EntãoEnglish equivalent: “So”, “well”
E então, novidades? (“So, any news?”)
Então, eu já tentei falar com ele. (“Well, I already tried talking to him.”)

Ééé…English equivalent: “Uh…”
Ééé… vou tomar um café puro. (“Uh… I’ll have a black coffee.”)
Vamos visitar a… ééé… esqueci o nome dela. (“We are going to visit… uh… I forgot her name.”)

English equivalent: “You know”, “right”
Não é uma situação fácil, né. (“It’s not an easy situation, right.”)
Eu já esperava esta reação, né. (“I already expected this reaction, you know.”)


A Man Thinking, with His Finger on His Chin

Ééé… não sei. Bom… (“Uh… I don’t know. Well…”)

4. Common Questions and Answers in Portuguese

When meeting new people, you can be sure there will be many questions and answers being exchanged. Even with old friends, questions are the perfect way to keep the conversation interesting. That’s why it is a good idea to be comfortable with common Portuguese questions and different ways to answer them.

In this article, we are focusing on easy-to-use structures and many real-life sentences. But if you need to review the theory behind the phrases presented here, be sure to read our complete guides, which you can find for free on PortuguesePod101. A good starting point is the blog article on Portuguese Questions and Answers.

“What’s your name?”

Q: Qual é o seu nome? (“What’s your name?”)
Q: Como você se chama? (“What are you called?”)

A: Eu sou a Maria (“I’m Maria.”)
A: Eu me chamo Luís. (“I’m called Luís.”)

“How are you?”

Q: Como você está? (“How are you?”, more formal)
Q: Tudo bem? (“All right?”, more casual)

A: Estou bem, obrigada. (“I am well, thank you.”, spoken by a female speaker).
A: Tudo bem, e você? (“All good, and you?”)

“Where are you from?”

Q: De onde você é? (“Where are you from?”)
Q: Onde você nasceu? (“Where were you born?”)

A: Eu sou australiano. (“I’m Australian.”, spoken by a male speaker)
A: Eu nasci em Tóquio, no Japão. (“I was born in Tokyo, in Japan.”)

“How long have you been studying Portuguese?”

Q: Você estuda português há quanto tempo? (“How long have you been studying Portuguese?”)
Q: Quando você começou a estudar português? (“When did you start studying Portuguese?”)

A: Já faz três anos. (“It’s been three years.”)
A: Eu comecei a aprender português em 2019. (“I started learning Portuguese in 2019.”)

“Why are you learning Portuguese?”

Q: Por que você está aprendendo português? (“Why are you learning Portuguese?”)

A: Porque eu acho que é uma língua linda. (“Because I think it’s a beautiful language.”)
A: Porque quero morar no Brasil. (“Because I want to live in Brazil.”)

“What are you doing?”

Q: O que você está fazendo? (“What are you doing?”)
Q: Você vai fazer alguma coisa hoje? (“Are you going to do something today?”)

A: Agora eu estou trabalhando. (“Now I am working.”)
A: Hoje eu vou encontrar alguns amigos. Você quer ir? (“Today I’m going to meet some friends. You want to go?”)


Three Men in a Bar, Holding Beers and Cheering

– O que você vai fazer hoje? (“What are you doing tonight?”)
Vou no bar com um amigo. (“I’ll go to a bar with a friend.”, informal)

5. Portuguese Conversation Starters

We can also use a little help with getting conversations started with strangers, even in our mother tongues. When learning another language, things become a bit harder, as we try to remember particular words, the right grammar structure, and the correct pronunciation.

But don’t worry! By learning some handy Portuguese conversation starters, you’ll always have something to say. The best part is that you can practice these sentences ahead of time and use them whenever you have the chance. Depending on the situation, you can change these ready-to-use sentences to fit your conversation. 

Some examples:

  • Você conhece o Marcos? Você conhece a Alice?
    “Do you know Marcos?”, masculine name
    “Do you know Alice?”, feminine name
  • No que você trabalha?
    “What do you do for work?”

  • Hoje é o meu primeiro dia trabalhando aqui. E você, faz quanto tempo que você trabalha aqui?
    “This is my first day working here. And you, how long have you been working here?”

  • De que tipo de música você gosta?
    “What type of music do you like?”

  • Quanto tempo! Como está tudo?
    “It’s been so long! How is everything going?”
  • Você tem planos para o fim de semana? Vamos fazer alguma coisa!
    “Do you have plans for the weekend? Let’s do something!”

    ➜ If you need more Portuguese conversation starters for your first day in a new school or workplace, first dates, reaching out to friends and more, take a look at this complete article on Conversation Starters by PortuguesePod101.

6. Best Ways to Improve Your Conversation Skills

1 – Listen to a lot of Portuguese

Listening is one of the best ways to improve your speaking skills. Use podcasts, TV shows, YouTube, audio and video lessons… whatever you can – and like – do to get exposure. It is important that you like it, as it will make it easier for you to stick with it. 

It might help you if you try to listen to the kind of Portuguese you are interested in. If you want to move to Portugal, focus on European Portuguese media. If you love the culture of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, there are many YouTube channels of cariocas (people from Rio). 

2 – Go Beyond Listening

While watching or listening to Portuguese content, there are some things you can do to improve your pronunciation and conversation skills. For example, give shadowing a try. Repeat after the native speakers, saying it out loud. You can even record yourself and listen back to see what needs to be improved. 

You can also use extensions and plugins to see subtitles when watching videos or change speed. This way, you can see how certain expressions and slang are written and then keep a list you can refer back to. 

3 –  Be (A Little) Prepared

Do you know that feeling of knowing exactly what you want to say, but the words keep escaping you? It can be so frustrating! When learning a language, this lack of vocabulary can be a major bottleneck. So it is a good idea to improve your vocabulary, either by reading, watching Portuguese media, or using the free PortuguesePod101 vocab lists. And of course, have your language profile and cheat sheets close by to use whenever the situation arises! 

4 – Speak Even If Not Ready

It’s very common to feel like you are not ready to speak in Portuguese while still learning. But the truth is, nothing helps you to improve your speaking skills as much as just doing it. So yes, even if it is scary at first, go for it! By engaging in conversation, you’ll learn from your mistakes, become quicker on your feet, and develop more confidence.

If you are living in a place where Portuguese is spoken, perfect. Try to speak the language in the grocery store, the doctor, co-workers… But if you can’t talk with native speakers, fret not! Nowadays, you can pick and choose from a variety of online services to connect with other Portuguese learners or speakers.

When chatting in Portuguese, don’t shy away from feedback. Ask your conversation partner or friend to give you pointers on what to improve. Trust us, it will help a lot, even if it is a bit uncomfortable at first.

Now, if you want to take it to the next level, you can look into learning Portuguese with a private teacher, in person or online. For example, with Premium PLUS on PortuguesePod101, you can have 1-on-1 Interactions with your personal teacher, guidance and ongoing assessment, and your own personalized learning program!

Nine People Hugging, Smiling and Looking at the Camera

Improve your Portuguese conversation skills and make new friends!

7. Continue Learning More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

In this guide, we covered many ways to improve your Portuguese Conversation skills. From having a handy Language Profile to help you with self-introductions to the most useful fillers and conversation starters, we hope you are prepared to speak a lot more Portuguese! Whenever you need to get out of a conversation rut, feel free to come back to this article and try out our tips. 

What did you think of this guide? Are you feeling inspired to go out and chat with other Portuguese learners? Do you think we missed any useful tips and conversation starters? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

Now, continue learning Portuguese with the hundreds of free Portuguese resources and the many vocabulary lists available on PortuguesePod101.com. Go ahead and choose your favorite tools to expand your learning opportunities.

If you want to take your learning experience further, members of PortuguesePod101.com get access to the largest language lesson library in the world, with thousands of real lessons by real teachers. With Premium PLUS, you will have your own personalized learning program with weekly assignments based on your needs. Perfect for anyone who wants to learn from anywhere, feel motivated, and be ready to speak Portuguese with confidence. And in the meantime, continue exploring PortuguesePod101!

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