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Past, Present, Future: Learn About Portuguese Verb Tenses

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Grammar is generally not a favorite topic amongst Portuguese language learners. The sheer volume of topics, rules, and exceptions is enough to make anybody a bit overwhelmed. Verbs, in particular, make up an aspect of grammar that’s both super-important and quite complex. But don’t worry! We’re here to make it all a bit more digestible for you. In this article, we’ll break down Portuguese verb tenses into simpler terms to make the learning process a little smoother.

We’ll begin with an overview of Portuguese verbs, conjugation, moods, and tenses. Then, we’ll look closer at each of the tenses, using examples to make the concepts more understandable.

By learning the ropes of verb tenses, you’ll be taking a big step toward mastering Portuguese. It will give you the power to talk about the past, present, and future. You’ll be all set to tell stories, make plans, and enjoy each moment! 

Ready to conquer this hairy topic and become a master storyteller? Let’s go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. The Basics of Portuguese Conjugation
  2. Here and Now: Present Tenses
  3. What Once Was: Past Tenses
  4. Planning for Tomorrow: Future Tenses
  5. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. The Basics of Portuguese Conjugation

At first glance, this whole mess of verbs, tenses, moods, and conjugations can seem confusing. But try thinking of it this way: Grammatical tenses express the time at which a verb takes place. In other words, we’re talking about the past, present, and future.

But that’s not all. Tenses don’t exist in a vacuum—and there’s not much you can do with tenses by themselves. Verb conjugation in Portuguese requires moods (or modes) to actually work. 

So, what are grammatical moods? They’re inflections of verbs that allow them to express an attitude. The “attitude” can be an order or command, a statement of fact, a wish, or a plan.

When we combine tenses and moods with verbs, we can do a whole lot with the Portuguese language. 

1 – Moods

The moods we’ll look at in this article are:

  • Indicativo / “Indicative”
    Indicates a fact.
    Example: Ela dorme. / “She sleeps.”
  • Subjuntivo / “Subjunctive”
    Indicates a possibility, a wish, or something that we’re simply not sure about.
    Example: Talvez ela durma. / “Maybe she will sleep.”
  • Imperativo / “Imperative”
    Indicates a command or advice.
    Example: Durma agora. / “[You] sleep now.”
  • Condicional / “Conditional”
    Indicates what one could, would, or should do.
    Example: Eu dormiria agora. / “I would sleep now.”

2 – Tenses 

Remember: Each of the Portuguese verb tenses depends on the mood and vice-versa. So when we talk about tenses, we need to define the mood in which we’re conjugating the verbs.

Here’s a table with the basic tenses and moods:

Indicativo
“Indicative”
Presente / “Simple Present”
Préterito Perfeito / “Simple Past”
Pretérito Imperfeito / “Past Imperfect”
Pretérito Mais-que-perfeito / “Past Pluperfect”
Futuro do Presente / “Simple Future”
Condicional 
“Conditional”
Subjuntivo
“Subjunctive”
Presente / “Present Subjunctive”
Pretérito Imperfeito / “Imperfect Subjunctive”
Futuro / “Future Subjunctive”
Imperativo 
“Imperative”

Besides those tenses, there are other verb forms—called formas nominais (“nominal forms”)—you’ll encounter in Portuguese. These are:

  • The Infinitive

    The infinitive is the basic form of the verb, before any conjugation. You might see it coupled with auxiliary verbs in compound tenses.

    Example: Eu vou dormir muito. / “I will sleep a lot.”

  • The Past Participle

    A form of the verb that can be used with auxiliary verbs to form compound past tenses.

    Example: dormir → dormido / “to sleep” → “slept”

    Quando cheguei, ela tinha dormido. (“When I arrived, she had slept.”)

  • The Gerund

    Widely used in Brazil, it’s the equivalent of the “-ing” ending in English.

    Example: dormir → dormindo (“to sleep” → “sleeping”)

    Elas estão dormindo. (“They are sleeping.”)

3 – Auxiliary verbs

Did you notice that in the last examples above, there are two verbs? 

Elas estão dormindo. / “They are sleeping.”

These are compound tenses, which use an auxiliary verb alongside the main verb. These tenses are very commonly used in spoken Brazilian Portuguese. In the end, that’s good news: It means you can choose to use simple tenses or compound tenses—whichever you find easier!

Some of the most common auxiliary verbs in Portuguese are:

  • Ter / “To have”

    This auxiliary is used in several Portuguese compound tenses, including the preterite subjunctive compound, the pluperfect indicative compound, and the future indicative compound.

    The verb ter is conjugated in the correct tense and the main verb is in the participle form.

    Example: Eu tenho bebido chá verde em vez de café. / “I have been drinking green tea instead of coffee.”

  • Ir / “To go”

    We use this auxiliary to form the compound future, which is more commonly used than the simple future in Brazil.

    The verb ir is conjugated in the future indicative tense and the main verb is in the infinitive.

    Example: Eu vou beber muito suco de fruta. / “I will drink a lot of fruit juice.”

  • Estar / “To be” (temporary)

    This one is used to form the continuous tenses, such as the present continuous and past continuous (both of which are very widely used in Brazilian Portuguese).

    The verb estar is conjugated in the corresponding tense and the main verb is in the gerund form.

    Example: Eu estava bebendo água quando ela contou uma piada. / “I was drinking water when she told a joke.”

There’s much more to learn about verbs and their conjugation according to mood, tense, and person. To study the topic further, check out our guide on Portuguese verb conjugation!

Two Girls Talking about Something

Espero que você siga meu conselho. / “I hope you follow my advice.”

2. Here and Now: Present Tenses

If you need to talk about things happening now, the Portuguese present tense is exactly what you need. 

1 – Presente do indicativo / “Present indicative”

The present indicative is used to talk about things that you usually do. The indicative mood indicates a fact or certainty; coupled with the present tense, it’s perfect for talking about things you know or believe.  

Let’s see some examples:

Eu durmo cedo.“I sleep early.”

Ela sempre dorme muito.“She always sleeps a lot.”

Nós bebemos muita água.“We drink a lot of water.”

2 – Presente contínuo / “Present continuous”

If you want to talk about actions that are happening right now, you can use the present indicative of the verb estar (“to be,” temporary) with the action verb in the gerund form.

The present continuous is very commonly used in Brazil, so it’s an important one to learn!

Ela está dormindo.“She is sleeping.”

Você está bebendo suco?“Are you drinking juice?”

3 – Presente do subjuntivo / “Present subjunctive”

This tense is used to indicate a degree of uncertainty, express a possibility, or talk about a hypothetical situation. If you’re considering whether or not to do something now, or are talking about a request that’s not guaranteed to happen, use this tense.

Talvez eu durma agora.“Maybe I’ll sleep now.”

Sua mãe quer que vocês durmam cedo.“Your mom wants you to sleep early.”

4 – Imperativo / “Imperative”

The imperative is used to give commands, instructions, orders, or advice. In Portuguese, the imperative is undetermined in time, but it’s commonly associated with the present tense as it deals with the present or very near future. 

Durma agora.“Sleep now.”

Bebam água.“Drink water.”

A Mother Sleeping with Her Toddler

Elas dormem cedo. / “They sleep early.”

3. What Once Was: Past Tenses

The Portuguese past tenses can be a bit more complex, as there are different “types” of past one can talk about. Let’s dive into them. 

1 – Pretérito do indicativo / “Preterite indicative”

This tense is used to talk about past events that have already happened and are completed. The equivalent in English is the simple past.

Eu dormi muito bem.“I slept very well.”

Eles já beberam café hoje.“They already drank coffee today.”

2 – Imperfeito do indicativo / “Imperfect indicative”

This tense is used to talk about things that used to happen or to set a scene in some unidentified point in the past. You can use the imperfect to indicate what was happening when something else took place. 

Ela dormia tranquilamente quando alguém bateu na porta.“She was sleeping tranquilly when someone banged on the door.”
The imperfect can be translated to English in the form “was” + “verb” with the -ing ending.

Eu bebia muito quando era nova.“I used to drink a lot when I was young.”
Another way in which the imperfect can be translated to English is: “used to” + verb.

We can also talk about past events that were happening or set a scene by using the progressive imperfect. 

To use this form, conjugate the verb estar (“to be,” temporary) in the imperfect form and couple it with the gerund form of the main verb. This form might be a bit easier for English speakers to grasp, due to the similarities!

Ela estava dormindo tranquilamente quando alguém bateu na porta. “She was sleeping tranquilly when someone banged on the door.”

Eu estava dormindo no sofá.“I was sleeping on the couch.”

Você estava bebendo rápido demais.“You were drinking too fast.”

3 – Pretérito mais-que-perfeito do subjuntivo / “Pluperfect subjunctive”

You can use this tense to talk about possibilities in the past that didn’t happen or how one could have avoided something that did happen

This tense needs the verb ter (“to have”) and the main verb in the past participle.

Se eu tivesse dormido mais, teria acordado mais cedo.“If I had slept more, I’d have woken up earlier.”

Se você tivesse bebido menos, não teria dor de cabeça hoje.“If you had drunk less, you wouldn’t have a headache today.”

4 – Imperfeito subjuntivo / “Imperfect subjunctive”

If you want to talk about hypothetical or uncertain situations that could have happened in the past (but that, in reality, didn’t take place), you can use this tense.

Se eu dormisse cedo, conseguiria trabalhar de manhã.“If I were to sleep early, I would be able to work in the morning.”
Notice that the verb dormir (“to sleep”) is conjugated in the imperfect subjunctive, but the second verb conseguir (“to be able”) is conjugated in the conditional. Also, the sentence normally begins with se (“if”).

A Man Asleep on a Futon with Beer and Pizza Boxes Around Him

Eu comi, bebi e dormi. / “I ate, drank, and slept.”

4. Planning for Tomorrow: Future Tenses

Making plans or dreaming about what tomorrow could be like? Then the Portuguese future tense is indispensable! 

1 – Futuro do indicativo / “Future indicative”

This is equivalent to the simple future form in English, used to talk about something that will happen

Dormirei tarde hoje.“I will sleep late today.”

Beberei um chá antes de deitar.“I will drink tea before going to bed.”

However, in Brazilian Portuguese, it’s more common to talk about the future using the conjugated verb ir (“to go”) in the future indicative tense + the infinitive of the main verb.

Vou dormir tarde hoje.“I will sleep late today.”

Vou beber um chá antes de deitar.“I will drink tea before going to bed.”


2 – Futuro do subjuntivo / “Future subjunctive”

Use this tense to set possible scenes in the future or to talk about future events with some level of uncertainty.

Se eu dormir cedo, vou tomar café da manhã com você.“If I sleep early, I’ll have breakfast with you.”
Notice that the first verb—dormir (“to sleep”)—is conjugated in the future subjunctive, but the second verb is in the future indicative tense—vou tomar (“[I] will have”).

Enquanto você beber café, eu prepararei para você.“As long as you drink coffee, I’ll prepare it for you.”

3 – Futuro do Pretérito or Condicional / “Conditional”

The conditional tense is used to express surprise or uncertainty regarding the future, but in cases in which “would” or “could” are used in English. 

Eu dormiria cedo, mas tenho que trabalhar.“I would sleep early, but I have to work.”

Eu beberia tudo!“I could drink it all!”

A Grandmother Snuggling Her Granddaughter

Amanhã vou dormir na casa da vovó. / “Tomorrow, I’ll sleep at grandma’s house.”

5. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Hopefully this guide has provided you with useful information about the Portuguese tenses and when to use them, helping you progress even more in your Portuguese-learning journey. Don’t forget to come back to this article anytime you need a refresher lesson!

What did you think of this article? Did the examples help you grasp the different tenses in Portuguese? If we missed any aspect of Portuguese verb tenses, let us know in the comments. 

Now, don’t stop learning! There are more free Portuguese resources and a variety of 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. Perfect for anyone who wants to learn from anywhere, feel motivated, and be ready to speak Portuguese with confidence!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Portuguese?

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Most aspiring language learners ask themselves this fundamental question at some point: How long does it take to learn Portuguese? 

Building knowledge is very fulfilling and leads to expectations of improvement, so it’s only natural to wonder what kind of time commitment you’re looking at. However, the answer to this question is quite subjective! 

For example, what’s your definition of “learning” in the first place? 

No, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. 

Everyone needs to master the same basic grammar concepts and learn the same essential vocabulary. There’s definitely a learning curve. But one of the biggest factors in how long it takes to learn Portuguese is the level of proficiency one wants to achieve. 

For example, some people are only seeking enough Portuguese fluency to interact with locals while traveling. Others want to achieve full fluency so they can work or go to universities in a Portuguese-speaking country, which demands a whole different level of knowledge.

In this article, we’ll take a look at additional factors to consider, discuss what language skills and abilities are expected at each proficiency level, and give you advice on how to learn Portuguese faster using the best tools. 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Just One Thing Before We Start
  2. Beginner Level
  3. Intermediate Level
  4. Advanced Level
  5. Conclusion

Just One Thing Before We Start

A Woman Raising Her Hand in Class

If you’re excited to start this learning journey, raise your hand!

This article will provide you with time estimates regarding how long it takes to reach each level of Portuguese, but these times can vary depending on numerous factors. Perhaps the number-one factor to consider is how similar one’s native language is to Portuguese

The timeframes given in this article are for English speakers looking to learn Portuguese. Because Portuguese is a Romance language and English is a Germanic one, there are considerable differences between the two (despite their having some shared influence from other languages, such as French). That said, the United States’ Foreign Service Institute (FSI) ranks Portuguese as a Category I language—this means that it’s relatively easy for native English speakers to pick up, compared to other more “distant” languages. 

As far as ease of learning goes, speakers of other Romance languages (Spanish, Italian, French, Romanian) will have the easiest time picking up the Portuguese language. Those who speak languages far outside the Romance language family (Thai, Japanese, Hungarian, Arabic, etc.) will have a more difficult time. English speakers tend to fall somewhere in the middle. 

The skills we’ve mentioned for each level of learning are based upon the required knowledge for levels A, B, and C of the EPE certificate of Portugal’s Instituto Camões. 

Beginner Level

An Answer Sheet Filled Out

Good resources can lead you to an A grade in the A-level test.

We all have to begin somewhere. For Portuguese learners, mastering levels A1 and A2 is the starting point.

In a nutshell, these are the skills needed for this level:

  • Understand everyday expressions and simple statements.
  • Formulate simple sentences and introduce yourself.
  • Know how to use the present tense.
  • Communicate in most basic everyday contexts. 

The estimated time it takes to reach this point is between 80 and 100 hours of active study. 

Study Tips 

Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips on how to learn Portuguese for beginners. 

  • Reading & Writing. 

    At this point, your reading skills should consist of being able to identify the key information of short texts on different topics. You should also be able to write down very basic sentences. You’ll need to build up a solid core vocabulary and become familiar with Portuguese syntax.

    Here are some useful resources from PortuguesePod101.com you can use to improve your beginner-level reading and writing skills:

    Portuguese Alphabet
    100 Core Portuguese Words
    Cracking the Portuguese Writing System! 

    Make sure to peruse our wide array of themed vocabulary lists and make use of our spaced repetition flashcards (or make your own) to maximize your study efforts. If you opt to go the traditional route, you can place your flashcards on the objects they identify to help you better associate each word with its meaning in context. Either way, we recommend you study them for at least 15 minutes a day!

  • Speaking & Listening. 

    As for speaking and listening, you should be able to interact with native speakers using simple phrasal structures. You should also be able to understand simple daily communication and identify the key information in dialogues.

    You can gain these basic skills by going through short listening exercises, practicing your pronunciation, and engaging in short conversations with native speakers (if possible).

    Here are a few resources on PortuguesePod101.com we recommend:

    Listening Comprehension for Beginners
    Ultimate Portuguese Pronunciation Guide
    Learn Portuguese in Three Minutes

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to learn Portuguese online. For example, there are some interesting flashcard apps such as AnkiDroid (for Android) and Anki (for PC). 

As a beginner, you should also focus your efforts on reading. PortuguesePod101 has several lessons with transcripts you can go over, and you can also check out some Portuguese-language children’s books or magazines. The digital GoRead platform is an interesting source for Brazilian magazines, for instance. 

Intermediate Level

An Up-close Shot of Someone Holding a Television Remote

Meet your new assistant for remote cultural research.

At the intermediate level (B1 and B2), students are able to identify primary and secondary information through both reading and listening. 

In a nutshell, these are the skills needed for this level:

  • Participate in daily interactions.
  • Explain ideas, present opinions, and participate in arguments. 
  • Know how to use different verb tenses.
  • Be familiar with different phrase patterns.
  • Recognize and use both the formal and informal register.
  • Express yourself creatively.

In essence, it’s time for some hard work—that pays off. So how long does it take to learn Portuguese up to the intermediate level? Around 350 to 400 hours of study.

Study Tips

As you approach and make your way through the intermediate level, there’s a lot of new ground to cover and the learning dynamics get more interesting. You’ll find yourself becoming more able to understand complex communication in various contexts. While there are no shortcuts in language learning, we do have some tips on how to learn Portuguese more easily at this stage. 


  • Speaking & Listening.

    There are two things that will immensely help your speaking and listening comprehension at this stage: dialogue-based lessons and Portuguese-language media.

    A good way to start is by watching Portuguese Netflix series, films, and YouTube channels with subtitles. Also, news podcasts are ideal for getting in touch with objective content and plain language, which is easier to understand. At the beginning of the intermediate level, you can focus on shorter podcasts with headlines and then move on to more complex ones.

    Watching and listening to this type of media is also really important because it will help you start grasping cultural context and information. A good Portuguese course will already introduce you to some of this cultural information, but seeing it applied in character and in realistic situations outside the classroom is something completely different.

    Here are some PortuguesePod101 resources for you:

    Intermediate Season 1
    Listening Comprehension for Intermediate Learners
    Must-Know Portuguese Holiday Words

Advanced Level

Suitcases Stacked Up and An Airplane Flying in the Background

Studying abroad can be very helpful for the advanced learner.

You’re almost there. You’re almost fluent in Portuguese.  

Advanced Portuguese fluency corresponds to levels C1 and C2, and this level of fluency is often required for those interested in working or studying abroad. Some people simply want to achieve total fluency for personal reasons or self-satisfaction! 

In a nutshell, these are the skills needed for this level:

  • Interpret and write complex texts using advanced grammar knowledge.  
  • Speak fluently in nearly all contexts. 
  • Be capable of flexible communication.
  • Have a comprehensive vocabulary.

To achieve the advanced level, the student needs 850 to 900 hours of studying. 

Study Tips

This is quite a time commitment, but we have some advice on how to learn Portuguese faster and more effectively. 

  • Reading & Writing. 

    As an advanced listener, you’re expected to comprehend both explicit and implicit information in messages. You must be able to distinguish between factual information and expressions of opinions, feelings, or arguments.

    In terms of writing, you should have enough knowledge of Portuguese grammar and syntax to develop coherent, complex texts on abstract, scientific, technical, and cultural themes.

    At this stage, you may find our Level 5 Portuguese lesson pathway quite useful as you continue to develop and hone your reading and writing skills. You can also continue to expand your reading to include larger books, more detailed magazines or blogs, or anything else you find interesting.

  • Speaking & Listening. 

    Because your speaking and listening skills should be fairly solid by now, you should start conversing with native speakers as often as possible (if you aren’t already!).

    One good way to do this is to visit online chats, forums, and language exchange programs that allow you to converse with native Portuguese speakers. You should also consider doing a student exchange program, which will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture firsthand.

    Culture and language deeply influence each other, so becoming familiar with Portuguese and Brazilian culture will work wonders for your speaking and listening abilities.

    Here are some resources for you:

    Listening Comprehension for Advanced Learners
    Video Culture Class: Brazil Holidays

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question: How long does it take an English speaker to learn Portuguese?

We also went into some detail about what’s expected of a learner at each proficiency level and gave you some useful tips on how to learn the Portuguese language effectively. 

Remember: If your goal is to learn Portuguese fast online, you can’t lower the bar. As presented, learning Portuguese isn’t too difficult for English speakers—but constant learning efforts and motivation are still important, as they can fuel the process to promote lasting results.

These factors, when combined with your learning tools of choice, will determine how well and how quickly you can learn Portuguese. 

PortuguesePod101 is an intuitive and well-structured website that delivers a range of Portuguese learning materials on many topics. Our grammar lessons, listening and reading comprehension exercises, and speaking/pronunciation practice tools are all organized and presented in bite-size chunks that help students learn Portuguese one step at a time. 

We combine video, text, and audio in the right doses to stimulate every learner to achieve their goals. Get access now to digital flashcards, a word bank, personal one-on-one teaching, and much more.

How fast can you learn Portuguese? As fast as you try PortuguesePod101.

Before you go, we’re curious: How likely are you to start learning Portuguese after reading this article? And if you’ve been learning a while, how long did it take you to reach your current level? 

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The Brazilian Wisdom of Portuguese Proverbs

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There’s something very satisfying about using a proverb that perfectly fits the situation. These gems of popular wisdom are passed from generation to generation, sometimes suffering alterations and adaptations, but always remaining witty or wise. Portuguese proverbs are no exception, carrying much meaning in a few words.

Proverbs are also a repository of local culture. Many times, a proverb only makes sense in one place or culture until explained, because it’s very closely tied to local traditions and mindsets. It’s also interesting to see how globalization, miscegenation, and cultural exchanges are reflected in proverbs.

Studying Brazilian proverbs will help you understand a bit more about the country and its people, and also increase your vocabulary. And who knows? It may even impart you with some age-old wisdom! 

In this article, we’ll dive into the curious world of Portuguese proverbs. With each proverb listed, we’ve included a literal translation, an equivalent in English (where one exists), and information about when you can use it. Hope you’re ready for a fun ride!

A Woman Stretching as She Gets Up in the Morning

Deus ajuda quem cedo madruga.
“God helps those who wake up early.”

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Proverbs About Relationships
  2. Proverbs About Work and Success
  3. Proverbs About Life and Wisdom
  4. Proverbs About Overcoming Adversities
  5. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. Proverbs About Relationships

Relationships make life all the more precious, but they can also be quite trying. Below are a few Portuguese proverbs about family, friendship, and romance to give you some cultural perspective on the topic! 

PortugueseDiga-me com quem andas e eu te direi quem és.
Literal translation“Tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
English equivalentA man is known by the company he keeps.
Language noteThe conjugation in this proverb is in second-person singular, which is considered more formal in most of Brazil. 
This saying means that the people we surround ourselves with is a good indication of our character. Another English proverb that comes to mind is, “Birds of a feather flock together.” 

Since people with similar values and dispositions tend to spend time together, we can know a lot about a person based on his/her friends. 

PortugueseCada macaco no seu galho
Literal translation“Each monkey on its own branch”
English equivalent“Every jack to his trade”
This is a witty way to say, “Mind your own business.” It indicates that each person has their place, and shouldn’t try to meddle in other people’s affairs.

Imagine that someone is feeding you some juicy gossip about one of your friends, and asks for your opinion. You could say: Cada macaco no seu galho, eu não sei. / “Each monkey on its own branch, I don’t know.”

PortugueseAmigos, amigos, negócios à parte.
Literal translation“Friends, friends, business aside.”
English equivalent“Business is business.”
This is a warning about the dangers of mixing friendship and money matters. When it comes to business, having a friend as a coworker or business partner can cause the demise of the friendship. 

This Portuguese proverb can be used for any similar situation, whenever professional and personal lives risk getting caught up in each other. For example, if you’re considering whether or not you should lend money to a friend, someone might tell you this proverb as a word of advice. 

PortugueseRoupa suja se lava em casa. 
Literal translation“Dirty laundry is washed at home.”
English equivalent“Don’t wash your dirty linen in public.”
Exactly like its English equivalent, this proverb means that one should not discuss private or family problems in public. 

Imagine a couple is in a shopping mall, and they begin a heated argument. One of their friends approaches and says: Agora não, roupa suja se lava em casa. / “Not now, dirty laundry is washed at home.”

PortuguesePor ele eu ponho minha mão no fogo.
Literal translation“For him, I put my hand on fire.”
Language noteYou can substitute the pronoun ele (“he”) for any other personal pronoun, or even the person’s name.
To ‘put a hand on fire’ for someone means you trust them completely—so much so that you would be willing to go through the terrible pain of having your hands burned for that person. Figuratively speaking, of course.

For example, if someone you trust very much is accused of doing something bad, you could say to everyone: Eu não acredito nisso, por ele eu ponho minha mão no fogo! / “I don’t believe it, for him, I put my hand on fire!”

PortugueseO que os olhos não veem, o coração não sente.
Literal translation“What the eyes don’t see, the heart doesn’t feel.”
English equivalent“Out of sight, out of mind.”
This proverb is common in several cultures, and can be applied to many scenarios. As long as the person doesn’t know about something, it can’t hurt them. 

The most traditional use, however, is to reference romantic relationships and affairs. 


PortugueseA união faz a força.
Literal translation“Unity is strength.”
English equivalent“United we stand, divided we fall.”
We all know it: When people come together, nothing can stop them! Or at least, that’s what this proverb means. It can be used when trying to finish a group project or when you need to convince your siblings to help you clean up quicker. 

PortuguesePimenta nos olhos dos outros é refresco.
Literal translation“Pepper on others’ eyes is a refreshing drink.”
English equivalent“Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else.”
Just like its English equivalent, this Portuguese proverb means that misfortunes can seem less serious—or even funny—when they’re happening to someone else.

Let’s imagine you’re telling your friend about an embarrassing experience you just had, and your friend starts laughing. You could say: Pimenta nos olhos dos outros é refresco, quero ver se fosse com você. / “Pepper on others’ eyes is a refreshing drink, I’d like to see if it were you.”

PortugueseAntes só que mal acompanhado.
English equivalent“Better alone than in bad company.”
Here’s another proverb that has a direct equivalent in English. Sometimes it’s preferable to be alone than to be with someone who causes us pain or wants to bring us down. 

If you have a friend who’s keeping bad company, don’t hesitate to tell them: Você tem que cuidar de si mesmo, lembra que antes só que mal acompanhado. / “You have to take care of yourself, remember that ‘better alone than in bad company.’ “

PortugueseFilho de peixe, peixinho é.
Literal translation“Son of fish is little fish.”
English equivalent“Like father, like son.”
This Brazilian proverb is used to highlight the similarities between parents and their children. Another English equivalent is, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Someone might say this when a child shows interest in the same career as their parent. 

    → Want to learn more sentences about friendship and relationships? Check out our vocabulary list on the Top 10 Quotes About Friendship and practice your pronunciation!

A Picture of a Monkey on a Tree Branch

Cada macaco no seu galho.
“Each monkey on its own branch.”

2. Proverbs About Work and Success

Hard work is an inescapable part of life, and we all hope that our efforts will bring us success. Here are some Portuguese proverbs to inspire and motivate you to be your best. 

PortugueseDeus ajuda a quem cedo madruga.
Literal translation“God helps those who wake up early.”
English equivalent“The early bird catches the worm.”
A similar idea is conveyed in proverbs around the world: wake up early to improve your odds in life. Note that religiosity is present in the Portuguese saying, unlike in its English equivalent.

You could imagine a mother saying this to her children after dinner: Hora de ir para cama. Deus ajuda quem cedo madruga. / “Time to go to bed. God helps those who wake up early.”

PortugueseNão deixe para amanhã o que você pode fazer hoje.
English equivalent“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
Procrastinators are sure to have heard this saying many times. Although one could argue whether this proverb holds a universal truth or not, it’s a good idea to become familiar with it. After all, we have the tendency to think that our schedules and to-do lists in the future will be emptier than they are now…but experience shows that’s not always the case.

Imagine you’re trying to convince a friend to finish his part of the group assignment. You might say: Você consegue fazer a sua parte bem rápido. Não deixe para amanhã o que você pode fazer hoje! / “You can do your part really quickly. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today!”

PortugueseDe grão em grão, a galinha enche o papo.
Literal translation“Grain by grain, the hen fills her belly.”
English equivalent“Little strokes fell great oaks.”
Slowly but surely, we can achieve our goals. With a bit of patience and persistence, we can finish big projects and get far in life. This Portuguese proverb paints a picture in our minds of a hen pecking away, one grain at a time, until she’s no longer hungry.

PortugueseA pressa é inimiga da perfeição.
Literal translation“Haste is the enemy of perfection.”
English equivalent“Haste makes waste.”
Doing things in a hurry can lead to many mistakes and sacrifice the quality of our efforts. Who can’t remember a time when they overlooked an important detail in order to deliver more quickly?

Imagine a mother has just asked her children to help wash the dishes. If they start doing it quickly and poorly, she would surely say: Lave os pratos com mais calma. A pressa é inimiga da perfeição. / “Wash the dishes more slowly. Haste makes waste.”

PortugueseQuem tem boca vai a Roma.
Literal translation“Who has a mouth goes to Rome.”
English equivalent“Better to ask the way than to go astray.”
There are actually two versions of this proverb, and there’s some debate as to which one is the correct and original version: 
  • Quem tem boca vai a Roma. / “Who has a mouth goes to Rome.”
  • Quem tem boca vaia Roma. / “Who has a mouth boos Rome.” 
The latter means that we need to speak up against wrong or negative attitudes.

Regardless, the first form is more widely used. It means that asking questions takes us a long way, so we should feel free to ask away! 

PortugueseO barato sai caro.
Literal translation“The cheap ends up expensive.”
English equivalent“You get what you pay for.”
Saving some money upfront when purchasing a product or service might come back to haunt us, especially if it means opting for a lower-quality version. 

For example, buying a cheap used car might be a good deal at first—but if the car comes with a lot of problems, the repair fees might be much more expensive than the car itself. In that case: O barato sai caro. / “The cheap ends up expensive.”


PortugueseNem tudo o que reluz é ouro. 
Literal translation“Not everything that shines is gold.”
English equivalent“All that glitters is not gold.”
This Portuguese proverb has the same meaning as: As aparências enganam. / “Appearances deceive.”

Just because something shines, it doesn’t mean it’s valuable. It could very well be a cheap imitation or even a wolf in sheep’s clothing. So be attentive and careful when making judgements about something’s value.

PortugueseCavalo dado não se olha os dentes.
Literal translation“In a given horse, we don’t look at the teeth.”
English equivalent“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”
This proverb (or a very close version of it) is present in English, French, Italian, and other languages. By looking at the teeth of a horse, it’s possible to determine its approximate age and thus avoid being swindled in a negotiation. An ill-intentioned seller could very well try to sell you an older horse by making it appear younger, but looking at the horse’s teeth would alert you of such a scam. 

However, when it comes to gifts, it isn’t polite to do that. This proverb means that you should never refuse a gift nor show dissatisfaction with it. 

Lots of Jewelry and a Golden Watch

Nem tudo o que reluz é ouro. 
“Not everything that shines is gold.”

3. Proverbs About Life and Wisdom

We all try to live our lives to the fullest and in the best way possible, and we require a good dose of wisdom to do so. Here are some Portuguese proverbs about life to give you that additional wisdom and insight! 

PortugueseCão que ladra não morde.
Literal translation“Dog that barks doesn’t bite.”
English equivalent“Barking dogs seldom bite.”
Dogs that are always barking are also the least likely to bite. Likewise, this proverb says that those who easily make threats rarely take action. But again, we could argue over the truth of this proverb since it might be better not to tempt a dog. 

You could hear this proverb in the context of a romantic relationship, in which one person is always saying they will leave. In this case, people might say: Duvido que ele vá terminar o namoro. Cão que ladra não morde. / “I doubt he is going to end the relationship. Barking dogs seldom bite.”

PortugueseQuem com ferro fere, com ferro será ferido.
Literal translation“Who hurts with iron, with iron will be hurt.”
English equivalent“Live by the sword, die by the sword.”
This is a way of saying, “What goes around, comes around,” in Portuguese. It means that a person’s bad deeds will come back to them in a similar fashion.

This proverb might come up in a conversation about a person who is always harming others. You could then say: Uma hora ele vai aprender que quem com ferro fere, com ferro será ferido. / “One day he will learn that who hurts with iron, with iron will be hurt.”

PortugueseCasa de ferreiro, espeto de pau. 
Literal translation“Blacksmith’s house, wooden skewer.”
English equivalent“The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.”
Just because someone has a specific skill or profession doesn’t mean they can put it into practice when it comes to themselves or their families. For example, imagine a teacher who never helps their own children with their homework or a doctor who smokes.

PortugueseSaco vazio não para em pé.
Literal translation“Empty sack doesn’t stand still.”
English equivalent“An empty sack cannot stand upright.”
We all know, intuitively, what this saying means: without food, we have no energy to do anything—just like how an empty sack will collapse onto itself when empty, but stand upright when full of potatoes!

You can use this proverb when your boss is holding you up, and all you want to do is have lunch: Daqui a pouco continuamos. Saco vazio não para em pé! / “We’ll continue soon. Empty sack doesn’t stand still.”

PortugueseO seguro morreu de velho. 
Literal translation“The safe person died of old age.”
English equivalent“Better safe than sorry.”
A person who plays it safe and takes care of possible issues before they even occur will die of old age, and not of a preventable disease or accident. Just be careful and protect yourself.

Another proverb with the same meaning in Portuguese is: Um homem prevenido vale por dois. / “A prepared man is worth two.” Its English equivalent would be: “A stitch in time saves nine.”

PortugueseMente vazia, oficina do diabo. 
Literal translation“Empty mind, devil’s workshop”
English equivalent“An idle brain is the devil’s workshop.”
This Portuguese proverb means that if you have nothing to do or to occupy your mind with, you’re more likely to do something bad or mischievous. 

Imagine a grandmother and her teenage grandson living together. The grandmother might think the grandson is spending too much time at home doing nothing productive, and say: Por que você não procura um trabalho? Mente vazia, oficina do diabo. / “Why don’t you look for a job? Empty mind, devil’s workshop.”


PortugueseDe médico e louco todo mundo tem um pouco.
Literal translation“Of doctor and crazy, everybody has a little.”
No one is completely sane, according to this proverb. Everybody has a bit of insanity within them, as well as a responsible side. Just like in the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, both sides of our personality exist. 

PortugueseEm terra de cego, quem tem um olho é rei.
English equivalent“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
This proverb means that you don’t need to be a genius to make the most of an opportunity. For example, having a little bit of knowledge or experience on a topic that those around you do not have can give you a leg up. 

Imagine your company has many technical employees. They’re good at coding, but no one is interested or experienced in business strategy. But if you, as a technical employee, did have this interest or experience, you could quickly climb the ranks. 

PortugueseQuem canta seus males espanta.
Literal translation“Who sings scares away his woes.”
Dom Quixote de la Mancha is known for using this famous saying. The proverb means that singing is good for the soul and will lift your spirits. Next time you’re feeling down, try and put it to the test!

PortugueseNão julgue um livro pela capa.
English equivalent“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Appearances don’t tell the full story of a person, so don’t judge somebody only by their looks or superficial interactions. Take time to read the book—or get to know the person—before making any judgements.

You might hear this proverb, for example, after meeting a very stern-looking person. A friend might tell you: Não julgue um livro pela capa. Ele é muito gentil e bem intencionado. / “Don’t judge a book by its cover. He is very kind and well-meaning.”

PortugueseMentira tem perna curta.
Literal translation“A lie has short legs.”
English equivalent“A lie has no legs.”
According to this proverb, lies are short-lived and can’t go too far before being discovered. This saying exists in several languages, including Italian and Spanish.

PortugueseNão adianta chorar pelo leite derramado.
English equivalent“It’s no use crying over spilled milk.”
This is a reminder that there’s no use stressing out or being sad about things that have already happened. If it can’t be changed or undone, it’s better not to worry about it.

This proverb is originally English, and it was recorded for the first known time in 1659 in the form: “No weeping for shed milk.” In Brazil, the proverb continues to be popular—you can still find children’s books including a story about a farmer girl who spills all the milk she intended to sell and, as you can imagine, cries over it.

PortugueseNão ponha a carroça na frente dos bois.
Literal translation“Don’t put the cart before the oxen.”
English equivalent“Don’t put the cart before the horse.”
This proverb is especially useful when dealing with a hurried person. The saying suggests that people shouldn’t try to hurry things too much, skipping important steps along the way just to complete tasks quicker. It also reminds us to let things run their natural course. 

It’s interesting how the English equivalent mentions horses, while the Portuguese one uses oxen. Although horses are used much more in Brazil as well, using oxen was common during colonial times and is still the norm in some parts of the country.

You could use this proverb when a friend starts telling you about his plans to buy a car and travel the world, before he’s even started working: E com que dinheiro você vai fazer isso tudo? Não ponha a carroça na frente dos bois. / “And with what money are you going to do all of that? Don’t put the cart before the oxen.”

A Man Singing while Listening to Music on His Headphones

Quem canta seus males espanta.
“Who sings scares away his woes.”

4. Proverbs About Overcoming Adversities

Sometimes life hits us hard, people hurt us, and things just don’t go our way. It’s important to remember that you’re never alone in your pain, and that things will always get better in the end. Below are some of the best Portuguese proverbs to help you (or a loved one!) get through tough times. 

PortugueseUm dia é da caça, outro, do caçador.
Literal translation“One day is the hunted’s, another is the hunter’s.”
English equivalent“Every dog has its day.”
We all have good days and bad days. Sometimes things work in our favor, and sometimes they don’t. That’s just a part of life. Keep that in mind when things look grim: a good day is never too far away.

This proverb can be used to cheer somebody up or to give them the motivation they need to continue working toward their goals. For example, imagine someone in your family didn’t get the job they wanted. You could tell them: Não desista; lembre que um dia é da caça, outro do caçador. / “Don’t give up, remember that one day for the hunted, another for the hunter.”

PortugueseQuem não tem cão caça com gato.
Literal translation“Who doesn’t have a dog, hunts with a cat.”
English equivalent“There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
It’s said that the original version of this proverb was: Quem não tem gato, caça como gato. / “Those without a cat, hunt like a cat.” In that case, it would mean that, when the situation requires, people might have to be sneaky and cunning like a cat hunting prey. 

Nowadays, the version we listed is overwhelmingly more popular. It suggests that we need to improvise and use whatever we have available to solve problems, even if the tools we have aren’t ideal.

PortugueseÁgua mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura.
Literal translation“Soft water, hard stone, beats until it punctures.”
English equivalent“Water dripping day by day wears the hardest rock away.”
The Roman poet Ovid wrote that “dripping water hollows out stone,” and this is the origin of similar proverbs in other languages.

The idea is that with perseverance and consistency, we can achieve even the hardest tasks.


PortugueseDeus escreve certo por linhas tortas.
Literal translation“God writes straight over crooked lines.”
Here’s another proverb with a strong religious connotation. This saying means that, even when facing adversities, you can expect some good to come of it. This might be because there’s a divine plan laid out for you, because of destiny, or simply because you’re an optimist…it’s up to you to decide!

PortugueseHá males que vêm para o bem.
Literal translation“There are evils that come for good.”
English equivalent“A blessing in disguise.”
Sometimes we don’t see it immediately, but the negative or difficult situations we face could have positive outcomes. 

Maybe you lost a job opportunity, just to find out later that it was all a scam. Or perhaps you were rejected by a love interest who wasn’t that good of a person. Sometimes, bad experiences turn out to be good things!

A Kitten and a Puppy against a White Background

Quem não tem cão, caça com gato.
“Who doesn’t have a dog, hunts with a cat.”

5. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Now you’re ready to start using these smart-sounding Portuguese proverbs in a variety of situations! But don’t stop here! There are many more fun and interesting sayings used in Brazil, so you should continue learning Portuguese, expanding your vocabulary, and sounding profoundly wise!  

Did you find this article helpful? Did we miss any popular proverbs you know? Drop us a comment with your thoughts!

And now, it’s time to continue your Portuguese learning journey. You can read more in-depth articles about the language and culture on our blog page, or scour through our vocabulary lists or the other free resources on PortuguesePod101.com.

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. Perfect for anyone who wants to learn from anywhere, feel motivated, and be ready to speak Portuguese with confidence!

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Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide: Places to Visit

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All you need to know before landing in the Wonderful City for a good time

So, you’re booking a trip to Rio de Janeiro. A lot has been said and sung about the city’s natural beauty and cultural diversity, but it’s impossible to grasp entirely the fascination behind its beaches, architecture, food, dances, and people.

Rio de Janeiro is the famous postcard of Brazil, and there’s a reason for this. Actually, a lot of reasons! The city is a marvel unlike anything else in the world, hence the importance of getting the facts straight before packing up and enjoying a memorable trip. This is where our handy Rio de Janeiro travel guide comes in! 

There are hundreds of attractions you could see in this vast city, but time is limited. To help you plan for a fulfilling trip, PortuguesePod101.com has compiled a list of places you must visit in Rio de Janeiro during your stay. We’ve included a blend of perennial classics and unique, hidden gems that deserve a closer look. 

We’ve also assembled a list of simple preparatory steps to take before your trip and some essential language tips that will help you explore the delights of Rio de Janeiro more easily. 

Bem-vindo!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Travel Tips for Visiting Rio de Janeiro
  2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip
  3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)
  4. Portuguese Survival Phrases
  5. Conclusion

1. Travel Tips for Visiting Rio de Janeiro

There are a few things to know before visiting Rio de Janeiro that can really make or break your entire trip. Following is a quick guide concerning various aspects of the city. 

Facts and Stats

Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s second most populated city. According to 2019 statistics, it contains 6,718,903 inhabitants—that’s 3% of the country’s population! The North Zone of the city is the most densely populated area, while the West Zone is the least densely populated.

The city is often considered a “melting pot,” featuring an ethnically diverse population with Amerindian, European, and African ancestries. This mixture of ethnic roots can be accredited to the city’s previous role as Brazil’s capital from 1763 (when Brazil was a colony of the Portuguese empire) to the democratic period of 1960.

Actually, even though Brasília is the current capital of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is still largely responsible for presenting the national image to foreign lands. Indeed, it’s a culturally rich place with a natural beauty that’s hard to parallel.

When to Visit Rio de Janeiro

You probably already know that Rio is a tropical destination. The local median temperature is 23.3ºC (about 74ºF), but the temperature may rise above 40ºC (104ºF) in the summer. Besides being too hot, summer is not the best time of the year to visit this city because it tends to be expensive and crowded during this period. If you do decide to visit during summer, don’t forget to bring sunscreen and insect repellent with you!

The best time to visit Rio de Janeiro is between April and June, since the weather is milder and the beaches and streets are calmer. But if you’d like to visit Rio de Janeiro for Carnival, then you should arrive in February, toward the end of summer. Also, keep in mind that rain can be pretty tough from November to March.

Let’s Talk About Money

Now that you know the best time to visit Rio de Janeiro, let’s talk about money and organization. The first thing to consider when financially planning the trip is the local currency. The Brazilian Real (R$) has been through some major fluctuation and is now severely undervalued in comparison to the US Dollar.

Then come the basic costs to calculate. For transportation, the bus (R$4.05 a ticket) is the most common resource available. There are also trains and the subway (R$5.00) in the public transport system, and you can also rely on Uber and yellow taxis—in these cases, you should insist that the driver toggle the meter on, to avoid extra charges. Don’t accept a fixed fee to take you to your hotel or a tourist site, and turn on a GPS with your destination if you think the ride is taking too long.

The cost to visit Rio de Janeiro depends on where you plan to lodge and dine. That said, a frugal stay would likely cost around R$65 a day for individual meals and R$550 a day for a comfortable hotel room for a couple.

Additional Tips

A major motivation for learning Portuguese before your trip to Rio de Janeiro is the small number of English speakers in the city. Despite the overall hospitality of the locals, it’s hard to find someone who speaks English well (if at all). At best, workers of luxurious hotels, airports, and restaurants in the most touristic areas will speak some English. 

Most tourists don’t need to file for a visa before the trip, but people of certain origins do need a visit visa. You can check here to see if this applies to you. If so, you can claim it in Embassies, General Consulates, Consulates, and Vice Consulates of Brazil abroad. For identification purposes during your Rio de Janeiro travels, your passport is normally sufficient.

Is Rio de Janeiro Safe to Visit?

Before you travel to Rio de Janeiro, know that Brazil is a violent country. But this shouldn’t keep you from visiting! Pickpocketing and petty theft are the usual problems, though there are also some more serious crime possibilities for visitors. You can make your visit to Rio de Janeiro safer by taking some useful precautions:

  • Keep valuables safe and don’t show off electronics or luxury items (watches, purses, fancy shoes, clothing).
  • Carry only the necessary amount of cash.
  • Avoid going through favelas and suburbs unless on a guided tour.
  • Avoid going out alone after dark. If you do, take an Uber or taxi.
  • While in a car, check the GPS to make sure you’re on a safe path, away from the areas you should avoid.
  • If you’re visiting during Carnival, bring a money belt or carry the least amount possible (and keep it hidden).

2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip

There are places to visit in Rio de Janeiro to suit many different tastes. We’ve selected five delightful locations in the Marvelous City you should definitely see if you’re short on time.

Sugarloaf

The Pão de Açúcar mountain (a.k.a. Sugarloaf), is one of the most famous postcard shots of the country. The summit presents travelers with an amazing panoramic view of the bay. Also, there’s a cable car ride—buy your ticket in advance, if possible.

The area around the Sugarloaf is safe and has some cool beach options, most of which are about forty minutes to an hour away on foot (or less by bus/car). These beaches include Urca, Vermelha, and de Fora.

Both nature-lovers and tourists of general interest will find Pão de Açúcar an interesting attraction—it’s a classic. But be sure to arrive before ten a.m. or after three p.m., so you don’t have to wait in line for the cable car.

The Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Christ the Redeemer is one of the unavoidable landmarks of Rio de Janeiro.

Corcovado

Corcovado (or the “camel-back mount” in a loose translation) is another trademark Brazilian landscape. It includes the forty-meter-tall statue of Cristo Redentor (“Christ the Redeemer”) at the top, which was inaugurated in 1931. 

The hill is open for hiking (the path is steep, be warned) or you can enjoy the ride by train or taxi-van; either way, you’ll be able to take in quite a view at the top. Once again, book tickets for the ride and visit beforehand, if possible.

Another classic touristic feature of the city, Corcovado combines architectural and natural elements for tourists to enjoy.

Leblon Beach

Leblon Beach, or Praia do Leblon, stands right beside Ipanema Beach on the same strip of sand. Despite being less popular than its neighbor, Leblon Beach is equally beautiful and much cleaner; it’s also less crowded.

If you only have time to visit one of these beaches, Leblon should be your number-one pick. To find it, aim just below Morro Dois Irmãos (“The Two Brothers Hill”), which, by the way, is open for hiking and presents a beautiful view without requiring you to buy an expensive entrance ticket.

The Leblon neighborhood is located in the South Zone of Rio and is famous for having the most expensive residential square meter of the country. Apart from many luxury buildings, there are also good, affordable bars and restaurants as well as a shopping mall.

Leblon Beach is the ideal place to spend some hours relaxing, playing volleyball, bathing in the sea, and eating some good food. There are many food vendors and eating options nearby. Also, you can rent an umbrella or deckchair here.

Botanical Garden

Rio’s Jardim Botânico comprises 8,000 species of plants and 140 species of birds, all packed into an oasis in the middle of the city. The city’s Botanical Garden was created by decree of King Dom João VI in 1808, when his Court fled from Napoleon’s invasion of Portugal and moved to Brazil.

This hidden gem is an amazing place for a relaxing stroll, during which you can behold giant water lilies and hear the birds sing. There’s even a café inside! This location is ideal for people who love to get in touch with nature and relish the calmer moments of life. It’s budget-friendly and easily accessible via public transportation (R$7 entrance fee).

The Garden is fairly close to the Rodrigo de Freitas lake, which is another cool attraction to visit if you have more time to spend in town (see below).

Rio’s Art Museum

Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR) is a good pick for a rainy day and for people who want to get a deeper look into the city’s history. The entrance fee for this museum is R$20, though people under 21 can get in for half that price; the museum is free on Tuesdays and closed on Mondays.

The highlight of MAR is the permanent exhibition of historic paintings and photographs of Rio landmarks, though there are also temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. The collection assembles more than 8,000 items.

By visiting MAR, you’ll be able to comb through a rich collection of history, art, and architecture all in one place. That said, the fun begins before you even set foot inside the museum, since its site and surroundings are very interesting to visit.

It’s set in two buildings in the city center, in Praça Mauá (“Mauá Square”). One of them was King Dom João’s palace and the other a modernist bus terminal. Praça Mauá was founded in the early 1900s and refurbished in 2015. It’s the path of access to Rio’s port zone and to Museu do Amanhã (“Tomorrow’s Museum”), a Calatrava-designed science museum.

3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)

If you have more time available to visit Rio de Janeiro, there will be many opportunities for you to catch a clearer glimpse of what the carioca (a person born in the city of Rio) way of life looks like.

There are several must-visit places in Rio de Janeiro that we recommend you see during a longer stay.

Rodrigo de Freitas Lake

Located in the South Zone of Rio, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is a traditional promenade site often associated with sports. The lake is where rowing and nautical teams of famous Brazilian clubs (Flamengo, Vasco da Gama) meet up, and it’s located near Rio’s Jockey Club.

This is the perfect place for a stroll, since it features a nice bike lane and a boardwalk. If you’d like to experience a mild ambience in this sunny city, you’ll love the water view here!

Before hitting the boardwalk and watching the sun go down, you can head out to the bars, restaurants, markets, and grocery stores in the surrounding areas. Also, the lake is a “hub” that connects some of the city’s other cool attractions: the Botanical Garden, Parque Lage, Ipanema Beach, and the Natural Park of Catacumba.

A Father and Son Riding Bikes on a Nature Trail

Cycling in Rio is a fun and exciting option for discovering the city’s features on the street level.

Seaside Cycling

The seaside cycling lane is a relatively recent attraction in the city. The 14-km (8.7-mi.) bicycle circuit ranges from Marina da Glória up to Leblon. It’s increasingly popular among tourists, especially since some enterprises have started to provide bike-rent services.

The proposition here is simple, yet attractive: spend a small fee to rent a bike and ride along the bike lane that surrounds the shoreline of the city. This may be a nice option if you’re traveling with children, as it will allow them to spend some energy without having to plan much. Then you can relax at the beach at the end!

It’s also a great option for travelers on a honeymoon or friends on a group trip. You can experience the city from a fresh perspective and then chill around the world’s most beautiful natural views.

Samba Sessions

A samba session is called a Roda de samba, or “samba circle” when loosely translated. The crowd gathers around talented musicians to hear, sing, and dance. Hence, this is a highly energetic cultural experience and a celebration of life.

This is the best way to get in touch with a very distinct local rhythm being played in a traditional manner. Luckily, this major cultural asset of Rio is being promoted and kept very much alive through such platforms as the Rodas de Samba website, which is a digital agenda of concerts and samba sessions. Another resource is the Facebook page Rede Carioca de Rodas de Samba (“Carioca Samba Sessions Network”).

A Woman Lying in the Grass with Headphones On

Parque Lage is the ideal place for nature-lovers in Rio.

Lage Park

Parque Lage (pronounced “lah-jee”) is a peaceful place with jaw-dropping architecture, surrounded by the Tijuca National Park’s gardens. It’s a breathtaking park that offers easy access to seniors and people with disabilities.

Honeymooners can visit the free art gallery or sit at a table in the café, set in a reformed and stunning 1920s mansion. There are artificial caves to observe and twelve amazing aquarium tanks to explore with the kids.

The place is conveniently located very close to Rodrigo de Freitas lake—in fact, this area belonged to Freitas’s family for many years.

Glória Street Market

Feira da Glória is the biggest street market in the South Zone of Rio, held on Sundays from seven a.m. to four p.m. This is an interesting event for tourists because it’s an authentic local option for inhabitants eager to buy groceries and eat out.

The Glória Street Market presents a lot of fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables. In addition, there’s no shortage of opportunities to taste a wide array of street foods, purchase clothing, and admire artisanship.

This is a budget-friendly, fascinating place to spend a few hours exploring, eating, and watching some local attractions. Gourmands fill their bellies while watching Capoeira groups gather and walking through art-vending corridors of various expressions.

4. Portuguese Survival Phrases

A Woman Shouting Something

Knowing some basic phrases can help a lot when you visit Rio de Janeiro.

Knowing the best places to visit in Rio de Janeiro is a good first step. But we also recommend that you learn some basic expressions in Portuguese to help you get around and communicate more effectively with the locals. 

These are the most relevant Portuguese survival phrases for travelers visiting Rio de Janeiro:

  • “Hello!” – Olá!
  • “Thank you.” – Muito obrigado. (masculine) / Muito obrigada. (feminine)
  • “Goodbye!” – Tchau!
  • “Sorry.” – Me desculpa. / Desculpe.
  • “Very good.” – Muito bom!
  • “I don’t/can’t understand you.” – Não estou te entendendo. / Não consigo te entender.
  • “Where is the restroom?” – Onde fica o banheiro?
  • “How much is it?” – Quanto custa isto?
  • “I want this.” – Eu quero isto. / Eu quero este (this one).
  • “Help!” – Socorro! / Ajuda, por favor!

Conclusion

You’ve just read about the most interesting places to visit in Rio de Janeiro and learned some essential expressions to communicate in the city. But why stop there? 

PortuguesePod101.com is packed with digital libraries containing fun and effective lessons for language learners of all levels. Our platform brings together brief thematic entries and complex grammar lessons, both presented in a light and engaging fashion. Don’t miss this rich opportunity. 

Before you go: Which location do you most want to visit, and why?

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Discover Porglish: Common English Words Used in Portuguese

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In this interconnected world, it’s no surprise that many English words have made their way into the Portuguese vocabulary. As we consume entertainment from other cultures and travel the globe, the constant exchanges result in new words and an ever-expanding language. 

The term Porglish (or Portuglish) refers to the phenomenon of using both English and Portuguese words in a given sentence. Many of the common English words used in Portuguese entered the language via English speakers living in Portuguese-speaking countries (and vice-versa). Now, with the internet and the limitless opportunities to watch movies or listen to songs from anywhere in the world, the Porglish phenomenon has become more widespread. 

For Portuguese-speaking millennials, born in the social media era, Porglish words are part of the daily vocabulary. This is, in part, because English words that were introduced in the past are now better consolidated into the Portuguese language. On the other hand, English words are entering the language faster than ever due to the always-developing digital landscape. For many of the same reasons, you’ll also find a few English words of Portuguese origin. 

In this article, we will cover all sides of the Porglish phenomenon: common English words in Portuguese, changes in pronunciation, and the most common loanwords between the two languages.

Ready to discover the curious world of Porglish?

A Woman Walking Along a Busy Street with Her Cell Phone and Headphones

You won’t need to translate a lot of words related to technology!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Some Traps
  2. Friendly Loanwords
  3. Pronouncing Brand Names and Titles in Portuguese
  4. Portuguese Words in English
  5. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. Some Traps

To start, let’s look at some English words used in Portuguese with a different meaning than the original. 

They can be a bit tricky, leading you to think they mean one thing when they’re something else entirely. But as you can see, there are not too many of them—and seeing these different translations might even make you laugh!

  • Chip
In English, a “chip” can refer to many things: a computer chip, a snack food, or a fragmentation of something. In Brazil, it’s the word used for SIM cards. 
Preciso comprar um novo chip pro meu celular. (“I need to buy a new SIM card for my cell phone.”)

  • Outdoor
In English, it means “done, situated, or used out of doors.”In Brazil, it’s used to refer to billboards.
Você viu aquele outdoor? (“Did you see that billboard?”)

  • Step
In English, this word has several meanings: a “doorstep,” the act of putting one foot in front of the other, or a stage of a project or process. In Brazil, it refers to the spare tire kept in cars.
Não se preocupe, temos um step no porta-malas. (“Don’t worry, we have a spare tire in the trunk.”)

  • Smoking
In English, “smoking” is often associated with cigarettes or cigars.In Brazil, it refers to a tuxedo.
Quero usar um smoking para o evento. (“I want to use a tuxedo for the event.”) 
The origin of the word smoking in Brazilian Portuguese can probably be traced back to when smoking jackets were popular—although they are very different from a tuxedo. A smoking jacket is an informal lounge jacket normally made from velvet or silk, while a tuxedo (smoking, in Brazil) is considered semi-formal attire for evening events.

  • Notebook
In English, the word “notebook” is used to refer to a small, slim type of laptop computer. It can also refer to a paper notebook. In Brazil, the word refers to all kinds of laptops.
Você vai comprar um novo notebook? (“Are you going to buy a new laptop?”)

A Man Wearing an Elegant Tuxedo

Você fica muito elegante de smoking. (“You look very elegant in a tuxedo.”)

2. Friendly Loanwords

Now, let’s look at English loanwords used in Brazil with their original English meaning. Learning these loanwords will give you quite an advantage, since they will automatically boost your vocabulary! 

Here are some examples for you, but keep in mind that there are many more Portuguese words of English origin for you to discover.

Business

Merchandise O merchandising continua a ser muito importante para nossa empresa. (“Merchandising continues to be very important for our business.”)

RoyaltyO livro terá os royalties revertidos para caridade. (“The book will have its royalties reverted to charity.”)

PerformanceSua performance foi impressionante este ano. (“Your performance this year was impressive.”)

FreelancePrecisamos contratar um freelancer para essa tarefa. (“We need to hire a freelancer for this task.”)

RankingNosso competidor lidera o ranking de melhor empresas para investir. (“Our competitor leads the ranking of best companies to invest in.”)

Food

DeliveryEstamos abertos para delivery. (“We are open for delivery.”)

LightCompra a opção light pra mim, por favor. (“Buy the light version for me, please.”)

DietNão gosto de produtos diet. (“I don’t like diet products.”)

Milkshake Adoro milkshake de chocolate! (“I love chocolate milkshakes!”)
In Portugal, it’s also called batido.

BaconQuer adicionar mais uma porção de bacon? (“Do you want to add an extra portion of bacon?”)
The words toucinho and torresmo can also be used, although bacon is already more popular amongst younger generations. 

CupcakeQue tal um cupcake de sobremesa? (“What about a cupcake for dessert?”)
Other baked goods that keep their English name in Portuguese are: brownie, waffle, cake pop.

Self-serviceTem um restaurante self-service aqui perto. (“There is a self-service restaurant closeby.”)
Pay per kilo self-service restaurants are very common in Brazil.

Happy hourVamos no happy hour hoje? (“Are we going to the happy hour today?”)

Some words have minor changes in the way they are written, but you can still recognize them.

PiclesO picles acabou, pode comprar mais para mim? (“I’m out of pickles, can you buy some more for me?”)

UísqueEsse uísque é um dos melhores que temos. (“This whiskey is one of the best we have.”)

SanduícheEstou com vontade de comer um sanduíche! (“I’m craving a sandwich!”)

HambúrguerVou te levar para comer o melhor hambúrguer do mundo! (“I’ll take you to eat the best hamburger in the world!”)
When it comes to cheeseburgers, these are often called X-burguer, because in Portuguese, the letter x sounds similar to the word “cheese.”


Technology

MouseAcho que o meu mouse quebrou. (“I think my mouse is broken.”)
In Portugal, the literal translation of “mouse” is more commonly used: rato.

EmailQual é o seu email? (“What is your email?”)

Site / WebsitePreciso criar um site para o nosso restaurante. (“I need to create a website for our restaurant.”) 

ChatVou perguntar no chat no site da empresa. (“I’ll ask in the chat on the company’s website.”)

InternetA velocidade da nossa internet é muita boa. (“The speed of our internet is very good.”)

DownloadNão consigo fazer download do documento. (“I can’t download the document.”)

TabletQuero comprar um tablet novo. (“I want to buy a new tablet.”)

There are also several new and easily recognizable verbs used in Portuguese that derive from English technology-related words. 

DeletarVou deletar esses documentos. (“I’ll delete these documents.”)

LogarConseguiu logar no site? (“Were you able to log in to the site?”) 

HackearHackear não é muito difícil. (“Hacking is not very hard.”)

PausarVou fazer pipoca, pausa o filme. (“I’ll make popcorn; pause the movie.”)

PostarPosso postar essa foto? (“May I post this photo?”)

Sports and Entertainment

FitnessÉ muito difícil ser fitness. (“It’s very hard to be fit.”)
“Fitness” is used colloquially as an adjective to indicate being fit or liking to exercise.

Personal trainerVamos contratar uma personal trainer esse ano. (“We’ll hire a personal trainer this year.”)

SurfeEssa praia é boa para surfar. (“This beach is good for surfing.”)

BoxeEle gosta muito de boxe. (“He really likes boxing.”)

HobbyMeu hobby é correr. (“My hobby is running.”)

SpoilerNão vai me dar spoiler! (“Don’t give me spoilers!”)

Video gameQuero jogar esse video game novo. (“I want to play this new video game.”)

TrailerJá assistiu ao trailer? É incrível! (“Have you seen the trailer? It’s incredible!”) 


Other Loanwords

JeansVocê gosta dessa calça jeans? (“Do you like these jeans?”)

ShortEstá calor, vou colocar um short. (“It’s hot, I’m putting on shorts.”)

CardigãNão esquece de trazer o meu cardigã. (“Don’t forget to bring my cardigan.”)

LaserO laser é muito utilizado na medicina. (“Lasers are often used in medicine.”)

SprayTambém temos esse produto em spray. (“We also have this product in spray.”)

FreezerO nosso freezer está cheio. (“Our freezer is full.”)

BullyingEssa campanha contra o bullying é importante. (“This campaign against bullying is important.”)

TáxiElas vão vir de táxi. (“They will come by taxi.”)

Air bagHoje em dia, todos os carros têm air bag. (“Nowadays, all cars have airbags.”)

Identical Twin Girls Raising Their Arms in the Air

You can think of loanwords as linguistic twins!

3. Pronouncing Brand Names and Titles in Portuguese

English brand names are generally not translated, while movie and book titles are.

That said, there are a few changes in the Brazilian pronunciation. The term for this is abrasileirar (“to make it Brazilian”).

1 – Rule of Thumb

Brand names are “made Brazilian” with a few slight pronunciation changes. In general, most of the English words that end in consonants other than R and L gain a slight Y sound. For example:

  • Facebook – pronounced as Facebook-y.
  • McDonald’s – pronounced as McDonaldy’s, or simply Méc-y.
  • Walmart – pronounced as Walmart-y.

2 – Acronyms

English names made up of acronyms are pronounced according to Portuguese phonetics. For example:

NameLetter soundLetter sound (IPA)
KFCCá – Efe – Cê/ka/ – /ˈɛfi/ – /se/
C&ACê – E – A/se/ – /i/ – /a/
H&MAgá – E – Eme/aˈɡa/ – /i/ – /ˈemi/
M&MEme – E – Eme/ˈemi/ – /i/ – /ˈemi/
IBMI – Bê – Eme/i/ – /be/ – /ˈemi/
LGEle – Gê/ˈɛli/ – /ʒe/
HPAgá – Pê/aˈɡa/ – /pe/

3 – Entertainment

Book and movie titles are generally translated to Portuguese. Sometimes those translations are almost literal, and other times they make no sense. Some of the most famous franchises, like Star Wars and The Hunger Games, might be recognized by their English names, but it’s a good idea to check the particular title in Portuguese.

Here are some famous titles and their Brazilian Portuguese version:

Original titleBrazilian Portuguese title
Star WarsGuerra nas Estrelas (“War in the stars”)
The HangoverSe Beber, Não Case (“If you drink, don’t get married”)
Die HardDuro de Matar (“Hard to kill”)
The Hunger GamesJogos Vorazes (“Voracious games”)
Home AloneEsqueceram de Mim (“They forgot me”)
The GodfatherO Poderoso Chefão (“The powerful big boss”)
Mean GirlsMeninas Malvadas (“Mean girls”)
TwilightCrepúsculo (“Twilight”)
The Sound of MusicA Noviça Rebelde (“The rebel novice”)
To Kill a MockingbirdO Sol É para Todos (“The sun is for all”)
Animal FarmA Revolução dos Bichos (“The animal revolution”)
    → Curious about other entertainment options that can help you learn Portuguese? Then check out our list of must-watch Brazilian TV shows!

A Woman Holding Popcorn and a Drink for the Movies

Going to watch a movie? Check the Portuguese title and see how different it is!

4. Portuguese Words in English

The relationship between Portuguese and English is not unilateral, and you can find several English words from Portuguese as well. 

Many of the Portuguese words you’ll encounter in English refer to food, animals, and culture. With time, as the internet and social media continue to connect us across borders, more people around the world recognize these Brazilian specialties, such as açaí and samba

CapoeiraAn Afro-Brazilian martial art that has spread across the world

SambaA Brazilian music genre, as well as a kind of dance

Bossa NovaA style of Brazilian music from the 1950s and 1960s

CaravelFrom the Portuguese word caravela, which is a small ship that was common between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries

Baroque From the Portuguese word barroco, which is a style of art, architecture, and music

AlbinoFrom the Portuguese and Spanish word albo, which comes from albus in Latin, meaning “white”

BreezeProbably from the Portuguese or Spanish word briza (nowadays, brisa), originating in the sixteenth century

AçaiThe fruit of a palm tree very common in northern Brazil (called Açaizeiro) that produces dark purple berries

CaramelFrom the Portuguese word caramelo

CashewFrom the Portuguese word cajú, the name of the fruit that carries the cashew nut (castanha de caju)

ManiocAlso known as cassava; comes from the indigenous Tupi word mandioca

MarmaladeFrom the Portuguese marmelada, meaning “quince jam”

MolassesFrom the Portuguese word melaço, the dark syrup obtained from sugar canes when refining sugar

MosquitoOriginated from the Portuguese word for the diminutive of mosca (“fly”), mosquito

Several Samba Dancers Dressed in Blue

The Brazilian samba is famous around the world!

Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

As you can see, English is very much present in the Portuguese language. Hopefully, this article helped you expand your Portuguese vocabulary and made you feel more confident about Porglish! And now you’ll also be able to impress your friends with your knowledge about the origin of words like “cashew” and “albino”! 

Did you enjoy learning about the English words used in Portuguese? Any Porglish details you wish we’d covered? Let us know in the comments. 

And now, it’s time to continue your Portuguese learning journey. You can read more in-depth articles about the language or go ahead and explore the numerous vocabulary lists or other free resources available on PortuguesePod101.com.

If you want to take your learning experience further, become a member! Members of PortuguesePod101.com 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. 

Happy learning!

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Portuguese Quotes That Will Blow Your Mind

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Music is a universal language. If it appeals to one person, it may appeal to others as well and lead to communication. Well, poetry isn’t that far off from music! And what is poetry but words that contain music within themselves to produce a more potent feeling? 

Good poetry casts a net of fascination over those people who devote their time to understanding its meaning and the sounds it contains. In this vein, Portuguese quotes are similar to poetry. From expressing an individual verve to passing down popular knowledge, these artful words can serve as a gateway to communication and mutual understanding.

What’s more, studying quotes in Portuguese can be useful to you as a language learner! Doing so will allow you to learn rich expressions that you can start using today to sound more like a native speaker. In addition, these quotes can lend you insight into the culture of Portuguese-speaking countries, which will be a valuable asset for effective communication.

In this article, you’ll learn several quotes in Portuguese that touch on a variety of topics, from success to human relations. To ensure you walk away with a comprehensive view of how to use different sayings in a variety of contexts, we’ve included both native Portuguese quotes and quotes from other languages that have been translated into Portuguese. 

Feel free to compare versions and practice your skills!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Language Learning
  2. Quotes About Success
  3. Quotes About Love
  4. Quotes About Time
  5. Quotes About Human Relations
  6. Quotes About Life
  7. Conclusion

1. Quotes About Language Learning 

Let’s begin our list with some inspirational quotes in Portuguese that are sure to motivate you in your language studies.


#1 Os limites da minha linguagem são os limites do meu mundo.

Literal translation: “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”

Our first quote is from Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951). It’s not a Portuguese saying, but it’s one of the best motivational quotes we could think of to begin this list on the right foot.

It’s invigorating to understand that the boundaries of one’s world are nothing more than the thoughts they can put into words. This means that the more languages you learn and the more experiences you exchange, the more opportunities you have to expand the boundaries of your world.

#2 Um passo à frente e você não está mais no mesmo lugar.

Literal translation: “A step forward and you’re not in the same place anymore.”

This phrase was coined by late Brazilian composer Chico Science (1966 – 1997), and it’s part of the tune Passeio no Mundo Livre. In this context, roaming is a symbol of freedom and the song’s carefree persona.

Additionally, a step forward could symbolize transformation. To take a step and go ahead holds the promise of certain change—and, sure, it applies to learning new languages. Every step forward, however small it may be, results in a noticeable difference in the level of knowledge one possesses. To some degree, someone who learns something new is always a different person than they were before.

2. Quotes About Success

Quotes about success abound on the internet, and for good reasons. The following trio of success quotes in Portuguese will hopefully bring you some practical knowledge for your life, as well as insight into the Portuguese language. 


#3 Quem não arrisca não petisca.

Literal translation: “Those who don’t take a risk don’t have a snack.”

This popular Brazilian Portuguese quote describes the dynamics of success in a nutshell: You have to put something at stake to make progress.

The proverbial snack is as tasty as the potential sacrifices one has to make to obtain it. The saying applies to  both financial contexts and other situations in life, from flirting to business and everything in-between.

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that the world has many more cases of failure than of success. Among these failures, there’s always someone who thinks he’s the only one that lost, but should’ve won. So, this phrase can also be used as an excuse by someone who lost something important in a bet of some kind.

Two Fishermen Casting Their Nets

“If it fell into the net, it’s fish.”

#4 Caiu na rede, é peixe.

Literal translation: “If it fell into the net, it’s fish.”

This old Brazilian saying contains an interesting piece of wisdom, and we consider it one of the most inspirational quotes in Portuguese on our list. The quote means that results, even though they might be small, can be considered a catch.

Oftentimes, success is only a matter of perspective. Sometimes we have a “squid” or a “big fish” in our “nets” but don’t have eyes for it, always looking for a bigger catch that may never come—and for what? It’s like Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

Also, gathering many little fish is more interesting in the long run than waiting for one big one. From a complementary point of view, this saying can be interpreted as: “Something is better than nothing.” You can also use this quote to refer to someone who never refuses a deal or a date.

#5 Há males que vêm para o bem.

Literal translation: “Some bad things come for good.”

This traditional Brazilian saying argues that some adversities should be taken lightly.

Fate (or karma, if you believe in it) and the passing of time can extract advantages from difficult situations.

3. Quotes About Love

Our list of the best Portuguese quotes wouldn’t be complete without some words on love and romance. Here are a couple of romantic quotes in Brazilian Portuguese we think you’ll enjoy.


#6 A melhor definição de amor não vale um beijo de moça namorada.

Literal translation: “The best definition of love isn’t worth a kiss of the valentine lady.”

This line is from Brazilian writer Machado de Assis (1839-1908), author of some of the most notable national novels. His works account for some of the most famous Portuguese quotes in Brazil, such as this one.

This quote comes from a tale by Assis called O Espelho (“The Mirror”), from the book Papeis Avulsos (“Random Papers”). In the original context, it’s a mere metaphor for the importance of a thorough exposition of facts, for the comprehension of the main character’s metaphysical theory (according to which, each individual has two souls, one that’s projected outwards and another that’s projected inwards).

The story was published in 1882 and really isn’t bad. In fact, it’s a sample of some of Assis’s more mature writing traits: dynamic storytelling, philosophical inventions applied to trivial situations, and social criticism injected with remarkable flair.

That said, love is not the main topic of the story. But it doesn’t matter: the “empirical love” sentence is one of the finest love quotes in Brazilian Portuguese.

A Picture of a Man

Loverboy Machado de Assis in a meditative pose

#7 Obrigado por ser sempre o meu arco-íris depois da tempestade.

Literal translation: “Thank you for always being my rainbow after the storm.”

This anonymous saying depicts the fact that hard times may come and go, but one’s better half is always a bright and colorful symbol of peace and serenity.

4. Quotes About Time

Time is a very rare commodity nowadays. We tend to run out of it very easily and look for activities with instant results. Portuguese and Brazilian wisdom concerning this matter indicates that this may not be the best way to go about spending our time. Here are a couple of meaningful quotes in Portuguese on the concept of time.

#8 Devagar se vai ao longe.

Literal translation: “To go slowly gets you yonder.”

This is an old Brazilian saying that’s featured in Joge Ben Jor’s song Bicho do Mato.

The message here is simple: take your time. If you keep calm and just do what you have to do, you can achieve your goals.

Also, this quote expresses the importance of being resilient. Being persistent concerning ideals will lead somewhere, eventually.

#9 A tradição é que faz a Humanidade.

Literal translation: “Tradition makes Humanity.”

This is a quote by Portuguese writer and diplomat Eça de Queirós (1845-1900), author of many important novels—some say that his Os Maias (“The Maias”) is among the greatest Portuguese novels ever.

This Portuguese quote about time was originally written in Queirós’ newspaper O Distrito de Évora (“The District of Evora”). It was part of a larger reflection piece on the importance of growing old and of elderly people as a reference for society.

The sentence makes it clear that the formation and practice of habits makes us what we are. Things in life don’t happen by chance, but bloom from “seeds” we plant. Tradition is understood here as habits that we cultivate in order to achieve some criteria for preserving what we understand as “human.”

A Monument

Eça de Queirós embodies the virtues of tradition: he became a monument in France!

5. Quotes About Human Relations

As they say, no man is an island. Here are some quotes in Portuguese about friendship, family, and other human relations to get you thinking about your own relationships!


#10 Suporta-se com paciência a cólica dos outros.

Literal translation: “One endures patiently the others’ colic.”

This is another one from Brazilian writer Machado de Assis. The sentence is part of the novel Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas (“Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas”), published in 1891.

This is considered Assis’ magnum opus and was revered by American literary critic Susan Sontag as an undercover gem of universal literature. The narrative consists of the biographical ramblings of Brás Cubas, a bored elite man without a significant legacy.

This quote is one of five other lines Cubas composed in times of boredom. While three of the sentences are just silly, this one is an interestingly selfish take on human feeling: only our own pain feels legitimate.

#11 Águas passadas não movem moinhos.

Literal translation: “Past waters don’t move mills.”

This is a popular saying in Portuguese and Brazilian cultures, nearly equivalent to the English expression, “It’s all water under the bridge.”

#12 Cada macaco no seu galho.

Literal translation: “Each monkey on its branch.”

This is an old Brazilian saying that gives name to a samba by late composer Riachão (1921-2020). The message is loud and clear: take care of your own business.

It can be applied to business situations or in other relationships, such as one’s friendship or love life.

6. Quotes About Life

For lack of a better way to group these Portuguese quotes, “life” is the most suitable label for them. The diversity of situations and imagery they represent make these Portuguese quotes about life a kaleidoscopic depiction of this phenomenon. 

Some of them sound grim while others are more lighthearted. 

#13 Cão que ladra não morde.

Literal translation: “A dog that barks doesn’t bite.”

Appearances can deceive, and we often perceive dangers as being worse than they really are. This expression can be used in reference to someone who likes to threaten people and scare them off, but actually doesn’t do much. 

#14 A mentira tem pernas curtas.

Literal translation: “The lie has short legs.”

This Brazilian saying states that while you can get away with lies for a little while, people will eventually catch up with the truth and figure it out.

#15 Na cama que farás, nela te deitarás.

Literal translation: “You’ll lie on the bed you’ll make.”

This old Portuguese saying means that the decisions we make today have an impact on our future. All of our actions have consequences.

This saying can be applied to both practical and moral contexts. In the first case, it’s related to the direction of our lives. In the second case, one could interpret it to represent the idea of karma or the law of retribution.  

#16 Em terra de cego, quem tem olho é rei.

Literal translation: “In a land of the blind, a one-eyed man is a king.”

The “eye” in this proverb can be interpreted as resourcefulness. Even if someone has only a little bit of insight, that insight can make a huge difference among people who don’t have it.

Desiderius Erasmus (Erasmus of Rotterdam, 1469-1536) was one of the first to use this phrase. However, the phrase is still rather popular in Portuguese culture to this day.

#17 Em boca fechada não entra mosca.

Literal translation: “A fly doesn’t enter a closed mouth.”

If you keep quiet, there’s a lower chance of bad consequences. This Brazilian saying is widely used by parents to discipline naughty, insubordinate children.

#18 Ladrão de tostão, ladrão de milhão.

Literal translation: “The thief of a penny is a thief of a million.”

This popular Brazilian saying states that if a person is willing to steal a small amount, there are no moral boundaries to keep them from stealing more.

The quote can also be applied in broader contexts unrelated to stealing. For example, it may be a categorical affirmation that small deeds are significant in shaping a person’s character.

#19 Ninguém diga: desta água não beberei.

Literal translation: “Thou shalt not say: of this water, I shall not drink.”

This is the most popular form of a common Brazilian saying. A longer version of it adds that the path may be long and the person can get hungry or thirsty on the way.

This Portuguese quote is nearly equivalent to the English proverb, “Never say never.”

A Man Getting Water Sample

I shall not drink this water… unless the thirst is appalling!

#20 Se você vir a barba do vizinho pegar fogo, coloque a sua de molho.

Literal translation: “If you see the neighbor’s beard catching fire, you should dip yours.”

The meaning of this old Brazilian saying is this: Be careful. Watch for signs and act in response to them in an appropriate manner. Sure, dipping one’s beard in water may not be the most reasonable course of action, but it gets the point across. This is one of the oddest and most funny Portuguese quotes on this list.

#21 Macaco velho não mete a mão em cumbuca.

Literal translation: “The old monkey does not put his hand in a bowl-shaped fruit.”

Here’s another old Brazilian saying that’s built upon imagery that may be strange to foreigners. It basically means that smart and experienced people don’t interfere in situations which may lead to potential harmful consequences. 

7. Conclusion

In this article, you learned some quotes in Portuguese on a variety of topics. Which one was your favorite, and why? What are some popular quotes in your language? We look forward to hearing from you!

When it comes to Portuguese quotes and numerous resources for better learning, PortuguesePod101 is one of the richest online Portuguese learning platforms. We offer a nearly endless collection of YouTube videos and lessons on our YouTube channel, and our website features articles, vocabulary lists, and many other types of engaging media that will teach you Portuguese in the fastest, easiest, and most fun way.

Happy Portuguese learning!

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Your Guide to Portuguese Business Phrases and Vocabulary

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When it comes to conducting business, knowing the everyday vocabulary might not be enough. There are plenty of situation-specific sentences, words, and greetings that you should become familiar with in order to create an amazing first impression and navigate professional relationships. So whether you’re keen on working in Brazil or you have a business trip lined up soon, it will be very helpful to master some Portuguese business phrases.

Fortunately, things won’t get overly complicated in this article! You don’t have to worry about learning complex ways of addressing people or memorizing huge lists of vocabulary that you’ll rarely use. We’ll focus on introducing handy vocabulary for different situations and helping you understand some of the most commonly used sentences in work or business contexts. From job interviews to work trips and interactions with colleagues, we’ll cover it all.

With this guide, you’ll be able to avoid many of the embarrassing situations that result from communication misunderstandings, and you’ll soon be comfortable dealing with all of the dynamic challenges that arise in your professional life. Ready to dive right in?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Getting the Job
  2. Interacting with Coworkers
  3. In a Meeting
  4. Business Phone Calls and Emails
  5. Business Trips
  6. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. Getting the Job

Job Interview

Let’s start with the step that comes before the actual work. Getting the job pretty much always requires a job interview, a situation that’s already quite stressful by nature. We hope that, with our list of useful Portuguese for business interviews, you’ll be able to relax on the language front and focus on showcasing your strengths!

First, let’s go over some useful words related to job interviews:

  • Entrevista de trabalho/emprego (“Job interview”)
  • Candidatura (“Application”)
  • Perguntas (“Questions”)
  • Respostas (“Answers”)
  • Trabalhar (“To work”)
  • Estudar (“To study”)
  • Formar / Graduar (“To graduate”)
  • Oportunidade (“Opportunity”)
  • Qualidades (“Qualities”)
  • Pontos fortes (“Strengths”)
  • Defeitos (“Faults”)
  • Pontos fracos (“Weaknesses”) 

First of all, congratulations on getting an interview! Once you arrive at the place of the interview, the first thing you should do is greet the interviewer with a handshake and the customary greeting sentences in Portuguese.

  • Olá, bom dia. (“Hello, good morning.”)
  • Olá, boa tarde. (“Hello, good afternoon.”) 
  • Olá, boa noite. (“Hello, good evening.”)

It’s also polite to ask how the other person is, in a more formal way.

  • Como está? / Como vai? (“How are you?”)

Next, introduce yourself. The interviewer will probably address you by your name in their greeting, but in case they don’t know how to address you, make sure to say it.

  • Muito prazer, meu nome é [nome]. (“Nice to meet you, my name is [name].”)

One of the first things that comes up in a job interview is your previous academic and professional experience. Here, you can talk about what you studied, when you graduated, where you’ve worked, and what kind of tasks you’ve performed!

  • Eu estudei Engenharia Química na Universidade X. (“I studied Chemical Engineering at X University.”)
  • Eu me formei em 2019. (“I graduated in 2019.”)
  • Tenho um mestrado em Marketing. (“I have a Master’s degree in Marketing.”)
  • Trabalhei na empresa X por 2 anos, como coordenador de Recursos Humanos. (“I worked in the company X for two years, as a Human Resources coordinator.”)
  • Minha função era coordenar os funcionários. (“My role was coordinating the employees.”)

Also take the opportunity to showcase your strengths and accomplishments!

  • Minha maior qualidade é a dedicação à equipe. (“My biggest quality is dedication to the team.”)
  • No meu último trabalho, consegui resolver desafios na área de marketing. (“In my last job, I solved challenges in Marketing.”)
  • No meu último emprego, tive a oportunidade de aprender novas técnicas. (“In my last job, I had the opportunity to learn new techniques.”)

The interviewer may also ask you to talk about both your strong and weak points:

  • Quais são seus pontos fortes e seus pontos fracos? (“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”)
  • Meus pontos fortes são a organização e ambição. Meus pontos fracos são a teimosia e falta de experiência na área. (“My strengths are organization and ambition. My weaknesses are stubbornness and the lack of experience in the field.”)

If the interviewer is speaking too quickly, you can ask him or her to slow down or repeat the sentence.

  • Desculpe, não entendi. Pode falar mais devagar? (“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand. Could you speak slower?”)
  • Desculpe, não entendo. Pode falar de novo? (“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Can you say it again?”)

Finally, once the interview is over, let them know you’re thankful for the opportunity!

  • Obrigada pela oportunidade! Aguardo seu contato. (“Thank you for the opportunity! Looking forward to hearing from you.”) 

Note that, in the sentence above, obrigada is the feminine form.

Remember that job interviews are all about seeing if you and the company, as well as the job, are a match. It’s always a good idea to go in with a few questions of your own to ask, to see if you’d like working there.

→ Practice more important questions in Portuguese with PortuguesePod101!

Two Men Conducting a Job Interview

Qual é a sua experiência na área? (“What’s your experience in the field?”)

2. Interacting with Coworkers

Now that you’re already in, it’s time to meet your colleagues and prepare for some amazing times together at work. Your coworkers will be of much help in getting you acquainted with the new responsibilities, and they’d definitely love to take you out for some drinks afterwards!

First, let’s take a look at the most useful Portuguese business words for dealing with coworkers.

  • Colegas (“Colleagues” / “Coworkers”)
  • Setor (“Sector”)
  • Gestor / Gerente (“Manager,” male) – Gestora / Gerente (“Manager,” female)
  • Chefe (“Boss”)
  • Supervisor (“Supervisor,” male) – Supervisora (“Supervisor,” female) 
  • Funcionário (“Employee,” male) – Funcionária (“Employee,” female)
  • Escritório (“Office”)

In your first few days, there will be a lot of greetings and introductions. Just use the same self-introduction sentence from the job interview section. You can also add some information about the work you’ll be doing.

  • Olá, muito prazer. Meu nome é Luís, eu sou o novo funcionário de Finanças. (“Hello, nice to meet you. My name is Luís, I am the new Finances employee.”)

You might need to ask about the names or functions of your colleagues while you’re still getting acquainted.

  • Quem é aquela pessoa? (“Who is that person?”)
  • Qual é o nome do supervisor? (“What is our supervisor’s name?”)
  • Quem é o nosso gerente? (“Who is our manager?”)

Asking for help is a great way to accelerate your learning curve and help you form bonds with your colleagues! So don’t be shy about asking for some support.

  • Será que você pode me ajudar com isso? (“Would you be able to help me with this?”)
  • Você pode me mostrar como fazer a reserva? (“Could you show me how to make the reservation?”)
  • Você poderia me ensinar a finalizar o processo? (“Could you teach me how to finalize the process?”)

Inevitably, you will make mistakes on the job. That’s okay! Just nail these Portuguese business phrases that you can use to apologize. 

  • Sinto muito! Fiz algo errado. (“I’m sorry! I did something wrong.”)
  • Me desculpa, confundi os arquivos. (“I’m sorry, I confused the files.”)
  • Sinto muito pela confusão! (“I’m sorry for the mix-up!”)

Also let your coworkers know that you appreciate all of their effort. This is an essential part of creating a good work environment!

  • Obrigada pela sua ajuda! (“Thank you for your help!”)
    • Obrigada is the feminine form.
  • Muito obrigado por ser tão prestativo. (“Thank you so much for being so helpful.”) 
    • Obrigado is the masculine form.

Note /!
In the sentences above, you can see that obrigada/obrigado can be followed by different words that mean the same thing, since they are variations of por (“for”).

– Por (“For”) 
– Pelo = por + masculine article o
– Pela = por + feminine article a

And, of course, enjoy a nice evening out with your colleagues! In Brazil, it’s common to go out for happy hour after work to share some beers and talk!

  • Vamos tomar uma cerveja? (“Let’s have a beer?”)
  • Vamos beber uma cerveja? (“Let’s drink a beer?”)
  • Hoje tem promoção de happy hour no bar. Vamos? (“There is a happy hour promotion at the bar today. Let’s go?”)
  • Vamos jantar todos juntos essa sexta-feira? (“Let’s have dinner together this Friday?”)
Business Phrases

3. In a Meeting

We know you want to sound smart when attending a meeting in Brazil, once the time comes. Don’t worry! We’ll show you the Portuguese business phrases you need to do exactly that.

Some of the words you should become familiar with for meetings are:

  • Reunião (“Meeting”)
  • Apresentação (“Presentation”)
  • Relatório (“Report”)
  • Acordo (“Agreement” / “Compromise”)
  • Concordar (“To agree”)
  • Discordar (“To disagree”)
  • Parceria (“Partnership”)
  • Proposta (“Proposal”)

When it comes to setting the date for a meeting, you might encounter phrases like these:

  • Vamos marcar uma reunião na sexta-feira. (“Let’s have a meeting on Friday.”)
  • Podemos marcar uma reunião esta semana? (“Can we set up a meeting this week?”)

You can answer with a yes or no, and suggest a time for the meeting.

  • Sim. Estou disponível todos os dias. (“Yes. I am available every day.”)
  • Não, esta semana não estarei na cidade. (“No, I won’t be in town this week.”)

During the actual meeting, your colleagues will want to know your opinions and insight. 

  • Eu acho que os números não estão corretos. (“I think the numbers are not correct.”)
  • Eu penso que essa estratégia vai funcionar. (“I think this strategy will work.”)
  • Eu acredito que todos estamos interessados nessa parceria. (“I believe that we are all interested in this partnership.”)

In addition, you’re likely to either agree or disagree with someone else’s opinion.

  • Estamos todos de acordo? (“Are we all in agreement?”)
  • Eu concordo com a Maria. (“I agree with Maria.”)
  • Eu discordo dessa análise. (“I disagree with this analysis.”)

Note that the structure you use will be different depending on whether you’re agreeing or disagreeing: 

     – When agreeing, the verb concordar (“to agree”) is followed by com (“with”).
     – When disagreeing, the verb discordar (“to disagree”) is followed by de (“of”).

Also notice that com (“with”) and de (“of”) might be followed by a definite article: a (feminine form) or o (masculine form). The use of the article will depend on the direct object or, in other words, the person or thing we agree or disagree with.

When de (“of”) is followed by the article, it becomes da (de + a) or do (de + o).

Here are a few examples to make it all a bit clearer:
  • Object (in this case, você) doesn’t require an article:
    • Eu concordo com você. (“I agree with you.”)
    • Eu discordo de você. (“I disagree with you.”)
  • Object (in this case, professor) requires an article. The masculine word uses the article o:
    • Eu concordo com o professor. (“I agree with the professor.”) – male
    • Eu discordo do professor. (“I disagree with the professor.”) – male
  • Object (in this case, diretora) requires an article. The feminine word uses the article a:
    • Eu concordo com a diretora. (“I agree with the director.”) – female
    • Eu discordo da diretora. (“I disagree with the director.”) – female

In a meeting, it might also be necessary to negotiate a bit, talking about proposals, partnerships, and compromises. Here’s some practical Portuguese business language to help you make it through negotiations.

  • Acredito que podemos chegar a um acordo. (“I believe we can reach an agreement.”)
  • Queremos seguir em frente com essa parceria. (“We want to move forward with this partnership.”)
  • Essa é a nossa proposta final. (“This is our final proposal.”)

After the meeting, you may all agree that you need to report to your supervisor by delivering a report or sending him/her the presentation through email.

  • Posso enviar a apresentação por email. (“I can send the presentation by email.”)
  • Já enviei o relatório que você me pediu. (“I already sent the report you asked for.”)

→ Learn how to talk about your job with PortuguesePod101.

4. Business Phone Calls and Emails

Phone calls can be quite nerve-wracking, especially in a business setting and in another language. That’s why it’s important to be familiar with what you can expect to hear during a phone call. Emails tend to be a bit better, since you have time to read and re-read, search for unfamiliar words on Google, and correct any errors.

Words you can expect to hear during calls or see in emails include:

  • Alô (“Hello,” used in phone calls)
  • Mensagem (“Message”)
  • Mensagem de voz (“Voice message”)
  • Caixa postal (“Voicemail”)
  • Ocupado (“Busy”)
  • Ligação / Chamada (“Call”)
  • Caixa de entrada (“Inbox”)
  • Anexo (“Attachment”)
  • Documento (“Document “)

1 – Phone Calls

When starting a phone call, the first word you will say and hear is Alô (“Hello”). But you will also encounter different sentences, especially in business settings. Some people might say their first and last name, or the business’ name. You might even hear:

  • Pois não? (“May I help?” or “Yes?”)
  • Com que eu falo? (“Whom am I talking to?”)

Not being able to reach the person you want to talk to is very common. Maybe the line is busy, they don’t pick up, or there is a poor connection.

  • Não consegui falar com ele. Está ocupado. (“I could not talk to him. [The line] is busy.”)
  • Chama, chama e ninguém atende. (“Nobody is picking up.”)
  • Não consigo ouvir, a ligação está ruim. (“I can’t hear, the connection is bad.”)

Perhaps someone else picks up and you can leave a message.

  • Posso deixar uma mensagem? (“Can I leave a message?”)
  • Posso passar sua mensagem para ela. (“I can pass your message on to her.”)

Sometimes, you might dial the wrong number. In such cases, simply say:

  • Desculpe, foi engano. (“Sorry, it was a mistake.”)

Finally, when it’s time to wrap up the call, end it with one of these sentences:

  • Muito obrigado, tchau. (“Thank you very much, bye.”)
    • Obrigado is the masculine form.
  • Até logo. (“See you soon.”)
  • Ligo novamente mais tarde. (“I’ll call again later.”) 

→ Practice your listening skills with this phone conversation on PortuguesePod101!

A Woman Staying Late at Work, Answering Emails and Phone Calls

Ligo novamente amanhã. (“I’ll call again tomorrow.”)

2 – Emails

When writing an email or business letter in Portguese, things might change depending on the corporate culture. Some businesses are all about speed and prefer short, to-the-point messages. Others are more traditional and like a formal approach. Here, we’ll show you a semi-formal and widely used way to write an email.

First, you open the email by respectfully addressing the other person with words like:

  • Prezado/Prezada [nome] (“Dear [name]”) – masculine and feminine form
  • Caro/Cara [nome] (“Dear [name]”) – masculine and feminine form
  • A bit less formal, but still appropriate: Bom dia. / Boa tarde/ / Boa noite. (“Good morning.” / “Good afternoon.” / “Good evening.”)

In case your email has an attachment, you can say:

  • Envio o documento em anexo. (“I’m sending the document attached.”) 

There’s a variety of semi-formal email endings to pick from. First, let the recipient know whether you’re expecting an answer.

  • Aguardo seu contato. (“Looking forward to hearing from you.”)
  • Aguardo sua resposta. (“Looking forward to your reply.”)

Then, say goodbye!

  • Atenciosamente, [nome] (“Sincerely, [name]”)
  • Cordialmente, [nome] (“Cordially, [name]”)
  • Antecipadamente grata/grato, [nome] (“Thanks in advance, [name]”) – feminine and masculine form
a man working on his laptop with a coffee in one hand

Send the best emails in Portuguese with our tips.

5. Business Trips

It’s traveling time! If you have a business trip coming up soon, there are a few handy Portuguese business phrases to help you navigate the journey.

Here are some important words to know:

  • Viagem (“Trip”)
  • Passagem (“Ticket”)
  • Reserva (“Reservation” / “Booking”)
  • Hotel (“Hotel”)
  • Itinerário (“Itinerary”)
  • Mapa (“Map”)

First things first. It’s possible that you’re the one left in charge of booking airplane tickets or making hotel reservations. 

  • Gostaria de reservar dois quartos de hotel. (“I would like to book two hotel rooms.”)
  • Já comprei nossas passagens. (“I already bought our tickets.”)
  • Eu fiz a reserva. (“I’ve made the reservation.”)

If that’s the case, you also have to tell your colleagues what the plans and itineraries are.

  • Vamos viajar às 9h da manhã. (“We are going to travel at nine a.m.”)
  • O vôo é sexta-feira de tarde. (“The flight is Friday afternoon.”)
  • Chegamos na cidade às 10 horas, e a palestra começa às 11 horas. (“We arrive in the city at ten a.m., and the lecture starts at eleven a.m.”)
  • Vamos participar da conferência pela manhã e, depois, passear pela cidade. (“We will participate in the conference in the morning and then take a tour of the city.”)

Once you get to your destination, check in like a native Portuguese speaker!

  • Olá, bom dia. Temos uma reserva para cinco pessoas. (“Hello, good morning. We have a reservation for five people.”)

Before you wrap up your trip, don’t forget to thank your hosts for their hospitality.

  • Obrigada por nos receber. (“Thank you for having us.”) – feminine form
  • Obrigado pela hospitalidade. (“Thank you for your hospitality.”) – masculine form

Finally, people will probably ask you some questions about your trip once you’re back.

  • Como foi a viagem? (“How was the trip?”)
  • A viagem foi ótima! A conferência foi muito produtiva e a cidade é muito bonita. (“The trip was great! The conference was very productive and the city is very beautiful.”)

→ Discover all about how to get a job in Brazil with this complete guide by PortuguesePod101!

A Man Checking in at a Hotel

Tenho uma reserva para hoje. (“I have a reservation for today.”)

6. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Practice the sentences introduced in this article and continue improving your Portuguese. When the time comes, we’re sure you’ll be ready to do business in Portuguese at your new workplace! Impress your coworkers with your language skills—they might even give you some Portuguese speaking tips over a beer during happy hour! 

Did you like this guide to Portuguese business phrases? Did we miss some important aspect that you wish we had covered? Let us know in the comments; we would sincerely love to hear from you. 

Now, don’t stop learning! There are more free Portuguese resources and a variety of vocabulary lists to train your ear, all 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. Perfect for anyone who wants to learn from anywhere, feel motivated, and be ready to speak Portuguese with confidence. 

Happy learning, and good luck with your business endeavors!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Portuguese

Is Portuguese Hard to Learn?

Thumbnail

Learning a new language is one of the best decisions a person can make. It widens one’s horizons, opens professional and social doors, and it even has health benefits! But we also know it comes with its challenges, so choosing the right language to learn is an important step. One of the questions you might be asking yourself right now is: “Is Portuguese hard to learn?”

The answer is…it depends. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but bear with me! It will all make sense really soon. 

One factor that can affect whether Portuguese is hard for you or not is what languages you already know. Portuguese is one of the Romance languages, so if you know another Romance language, you have a huge advantage! 

Another important aspect is how motivated you are to learn the language. Just think about how much easier it is to spend hours doing an enjoyable activity versus something that feels like a chore. Lastly, each person responds differently to various learning strategies. If you use the right resources for you, learning Portuguese will be so easy. 

In the end, as long as you have some strategies in place and motivation driving you to succeed, we can say with all confidence that learning Portuguese won’t be too hard!  

Don’t believe us? Just take a look at how the U.S. Foreign Service classified Portuguese. They’ve labeled it as Category 1, meaning it’s one of the easiest languages to learn! 

In this article, we’ll examine what factors might make the Portuguese language hard to learn and how to overcome those challenges. After all, it does have a few particularities and some annoying exceptions. But—and you can sigh with relief now—we’ll also see what the easiest things about the language are. And once we’ve covered the basics, we’ll talk about the best way to approach your Portuguese-learning journey, from where to start to how you can accelerate the process. 

By the end of this guide, we’re sure you’ll be convinced that you can take on this amazing challenge and master Portuguese!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. The Real Deal: The Hardest Things About Portuguese
  2. A Reason to Celebrate: The Easiest Things in Learning Portuguese
  3. Getting Started with Portuguese
  4. Advice for the Road
  5. Why is PortuguesePod101 Great for Learning Portuguese?
  6. Get Down to Business with PortuguesePod101

1. The Real Deal: The Hardest Things About Portuguese

Let’s rip off the Band-Aid quickly. What are the hardest parts about learning Portuguese? After all, we can’t deny that there are some challenges along the way, especially when you first start the process of learning this beautiful language. 

But because the best part of language-learning is improving every day and seeing our capabilities constantly expanding, we’re also going to show you how to make those challenges manageable.

1 – Listening challenges: What are they saying? 

About 280 million people speak Portuguese, and in Brazil alone, there are 207 million native Portuguese-speakers. Just imagine the variety of accents, local differences, and expressions you can encounter! Brazilian Portuguese is full of colloquialism and has an always-expanding vocabulary that includes slang and even internet-born sayings. 

It’s no surprise, then, that when listening to Portuguese-speakers, you might become confused and overwhelmed. An accent can make a big difference, and if you’re used to one particular accent, you’ll need some time to adapt to other ways of speaking Portuguese. 

So yes, listening to native speakers can be hard. But on the other hand, it’s the only way to really learn how real-life Portuguese is spoken! Besides, listening also helps to improve your speaking abilities. 

There are a few tips you can follow to mitigate this difficulty. Even if you choose a particular Portuguese accent to learn, you should make the effort to listen to Portuguese-speakers from other regions from time to time. You can find YouTube videos, look for Brazilian movies and songs, or participate in a language exchange. If you hear any unfamiliar expressions, take note and look them up online. 

Lastly, if you’re interacting with a native speaker, don’t be afraid of asking them to speak slowly. Brazilians love to help foreigners speak Portuguese, and they’ll be happy to explain anything that might be confusing you!

And remember, some things can be challenging even for Brazilians, so don’t worry too much about it. 

For example, there are words that make sense to people from the North of Brazil, but might not mean anything to someone from the southeast or south of the country.

As long as you feel comfortable looking things up or asking questions, you’ll easily get over the difficulties!

2 – A fork, a knife: Word gender.

Oh, gender. This can be the source of many mistakes and confusion. But Portuguese-learners aren’t the only ones who have to suffer through this. French and Spanish, for example, also present this challenging aspect. 

Basically, nouns in Portuguese have a grammatical gender, and this will affect the articles used with said nouns. For example:

  • A casa (“The house”) – feminine word
  • O carro (“The car”) – masculine word
  • Uma cadeira (“A chair”) – feminine word
  • Um avião (“An airplane”) – masculine word

Luckily, there’s a rule you can follow to know whether a word is feminine or masculine. Unfortunately, there are always exceptions. Obviously, you can’t memorize all of the feminine and masculine words in Portuguese. But as long as you try to follow the rule and are open to learning whenever you come across an exception, you’ll do very well.

So what is this rule we keep mentioning? Look for the letter at the end of the noun. If the word ends in -a, chances are it’s a feminine word. If it ends in -o, it’s likely a masculine word. 

  • O gato (“The cat,” masculine)
  • A gata (“The cat,” feminine)
  • Um livro (“A book”) – masculine word
  • Uma escova (“A brush”) – feminine word

Similarly, if the word ends in -or, it’s probably masculine; -ora endings indicate feminine words:

  • O cantor (“The singer,” masculine)
  • A cantora (“The singer,” feminine)
  • O escultor (“The sculptor”)
  • A escultora (“The sculptress”)

Take a look at this list of the 50 most common nouns in Portuguese for more examples.

3 – All those sounds: Pronunciation.

Portuguese pronunciation is hard for English-speakers—and even for Spanish-speakers—to get the hang of. This is because Portuguese has some difficult sounds, like the infamous nasal sounds, which are present in common words like:

  • Não (“No”)
  • Mãe (“Mother”)
  • Manhã (“Morning”)

As you can see, the tilde (~) indicates the nasal sound.

Some other complicated sounds are the -lh and –nh combinations. They sound a bit different from anything in the English language, but not so different that you can’t approximate them using familiar sounds. For example:

SoundAppears inSounds similar to
LhAlho (“Garlic”)
Ilha (“Island”)
Mulher (“Woman”)
Lh in “silhouette”
NhCaminho (“Way,” “Path”)
Minha (“Mine,” “My”)
Dinheiro (“Money”)
Gn in “lasagna”

This guide has even more details about Portuguese pronunciation and how to master it. It’s a great resource to begin with. Follow it up with lots of listening, and record yourself speaking in Portuguese; listening to yourself can really help you identify particular aspects you need to work on!

4 – Not quite sure: The subjunctive mode.

The subjunctive mode in Portuguese is used to convey doubt or uncertainty. It’s yet another one of those cases where even Brazilians make mistakes.

What you need to know about the subjunctive mode is that it indicates something that’s not entirely real. It might be an assumption about something, a hope, or a dream. There are three subjunctive tenses: present, past, and future. The verbs will be conjugated according to the tense being used. We won’t really dive into the subjunctive mode in this article, but we will give you a few tips. 

First and foremost, take your time with it! It’s not one of the first things you should learn. Although it’s useful for communicating in cases of uncertainty, it’s not the most common grammatical aspect of Portuguese. 

Secondly, learn the rules of the subjunctive mode—but instead of focusing too much on the theory, try to create your own sentences using it. If you have a native or advanced speaker to help you along the way, all the better! 

And lastly, don’t worry if you make mistakes. As we said, the subjunctive mode can be intimidating even for Brazilians, and they’ll understand your struggles!

Yes, There are Some Challenges. But with a Bit of Help, you Can Conquer Them!

2. A Reason to Celebrate: The Easiest Things in Learning Portuguese

Rejoice! We’re done with the hardest parts of Portuguese, and now we can look at the easiest aspects of this language. You’ll see that, compared to other languages, Portuguese has some advantages!

1 – The fundamentals are easy.

There are some core structures you have to learn, but once you get the hang of those, you can begin communicating in most situations. 

Portuguese word order is straightforward, and in fact, similar to that of English: Subject Verb Object. This makes Portuguese much easier to grasp than languages with different word order patterns! So, you’ll encounter sentences like:

  • Pedro dorme muito. (“Pedro sleeps a lot.”)
  • Nós perdemos nossos livros. (“We lost our books.”)

See how you can translate word-for-word? The sentence structure is straightforward most of the time, and similar to English. 

The truth is, if you learn the structure for affirmative and negative statements and questions, you already know enough to start conversations in Portuguese!

2 – A big happy family: Romance languages.

Portuguese is one of the Romance languages (yay!). This is great, because if you already know how to speak Spanish, French, Italian, or even Romanian, you have a huge advantage. The shared roots of these languages will give you a head-start in your vocabulary and grammar knowledge! 

It’s true that the similarities can, in some cases, generate confusion. But the advantages far surpass the disadvantages in this regard. 

And even if you don’t speak any Romance languages, it still makes things easier for you. Considering how many people speak Romance languages, you’ve probably been in contact with at least one such language through the internet, movies, TV shows, and more. For example, chances are that you’ve heard more Spanish or French in your lifetime than Korean or Russian. 

3 – No need to invert, Baby.

Step aside, English and French. We don’t need your complicated inversions to ask simple questions! In Portuguese, you don’t have to worry about inverting the subject and verb to ask questions like:

  • Você foi à festa? (“Did you go to the party?”)

In fact, all you have to do is use the same affirmative statement structure and add a question mark at the end.

We can also make direct questions by using question words. These are fairly straightforward too, requiring only a question word at the beginning of the sentence. For example:

  • Quando você vai viajar? (“When will you travel?”)

Super-simple!

4 – The Brazilian charm.

Lastly, we need to mention it: Most Brazilians are very supportive of foreigners learning their language. Strangers will be more than happy to help you, give you some tips to improve, and encourage you. 

Even if you don’t have the opportunity to talk with native Portuguese-speakers on a daily basis, it’s still very easy to find a Brazilian online to chat! Data from 2019 shows that Brazil is the country with the fourth-largest number of Internet users! In other words, you’ll have an easy time finding someone willing to speak in Portuguese with you online. 

This also means that there’s an abundance of resources for you to practice your listening and reading skills. Brazilians produce much content in the form of YouTube videos, podcasts, articles, and social media accounts for you to follow.

Português é Fácil! (Portuguese Is Easy!)

3. Getting Started with Portuguese

Now that we’ve shown you how hard Portuguese is to learn (and why it’s easier than you think!), we hope you’re excited to begin! To guarantee your success, we’ve put together the four main things you should focus on in the beginning. 

1 – Build your vocabulary.

One of the reasons why starting a new language can be so frustrating is the lack of vocabulary. There are so many things we want to say and express! But even if we know the sentence structure, we can feel stuck if we don’t have the words to fill in the blanks.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to begin by learning the most common and helpful words—those you’ll use pretty much every day. Generally, these include verbs, nouns, adjectives, and pronouns, as well as some adverbs. 

Jotting down important words in a notebook or a digital flashcard deck is very useful! Take a look at some vocabulary lists and start becoming familiar with the Portuguese vocabulary.

2 – Conquer the pronunciation.

Remember when we mentioned that pronunciation can be a difficult aspect for Portuguese-learners? Although this is true, it only applies to a small fraction of Portuguese pronunciation. Most of the sounds in Portuguese are actually familiar to English-speakers! 

Thankfully, words in Portuguese are spelled the way they’re pronounced. There’s a silent letter here and there, but they’re not very common! Therefore, as soon as you recognize how the syllables are pronounced, you can read Portuguese sentences out loud—even before you know what they mean!

As for the challenging parts of Portuguese pronunciation, the sooner you get familiar with them, the better. Start listening to how native speakers pronounce nasal sounds, and begin slowly practicing them yourself. 

3 – Listen to native speakers.

Continuing the thread of the previous point, it’s never too early to start listening to Portuguese-speakers. Become familiar with the rhythm and intonation of the language, the different sounds, and the common sentences. You can do this by listening to music, finding amazing movies and TV shows, listening to podcasts during your commute, finding a buddy to practice with… Resources abound! 

Why is this important? Well, not only will it offer you new and useful vocabulary, but it will also show you how Portuguese is spoken in real life. In some cases, you might learn the grammatically correct version of a sentence, but find out that native speakers use a different structure. You can only learn about these nuances through lots of listening! 

It’s also an opportunity to find out about the different accents in Brazil, and in other Portuguese-speaking countries! 

4 – Speak often.

Listening is great, and definitely super-helpful! But don’t stop there. Make an effort to speak Portuguese right from the beginning. 

Yes, we know it might be intimidating, especially when you don’t have a solid vocabulary yet. But trust us, it’s okay. Put whatever you know into practice. You can speak and record yourself or, better yet, talk to native speakers. In the early stages, it’s especially helpful to have a tutor (like the one you’ll get with our MyTeacher feature) to help you overcome shyness or fear, and give you helpful feedback. 

Remember, learning a new language is all about being able to communicate. Why would you learn Portuguese and not use it to talk to someone? At the same time, it’s totally acceptable to make mistakes when you’re learning, as the main goal is to get the message across and improve along the way!

Engage in Portuguese Conversations at Every Opportunity.

4. Advice for the Road

Here are a few things to keep in mind to make it easier for you to learn Portuguese. 

1 – Feedback is your friend.

Humans don’t really like being corrected all that much. As such, it’s only natural that we try to avoid making mistakes. If you’re a perfectionist, you might feel this even more strongly. 

However, you have to remember that it’s impossible to learn without making mistakes. And if there’s someone who can point out those mistakes for you, it will really accelerate your learning process! 

Whenever possible, try to frame feedback and corrections as a tool, an ally that allows you to increase the pace of your learning. With time, you’ll become more appreciative of them, and you’ll soon be glad for every opportunity to improve!

2 – Make it fun.

Tell us if you’ve ever had this experience:

You decide to focus on learning something: an instrument, a new drawing technique, a recipe, a complex math challenge… You start working on it and when you finally look at the clock, hours have gone by! “Where did the time go?” you think to yourself. 

This is what happens when you’re in a state of flow, enjoying the process so much that you’re completely involved in it. Those moments of flow normally happen when we’re doing something we like, something challenging but engaging.  

You can apply this concept to your Portuguese-learning, as well! Start by thinking about why you want to learn Portuguese. Whatever your reason is, make it part of your language-learning journey. Here are some examples.

  • Let’s say you want to learn Portuguese because you like the culture of a Portuguese-speaking country. As part of your listening practice, discover a new song every day and listen to it a couple of times.
  • Do you have friends or family from that country? Write a short message talking about your day or asking for news about their life in Portuguese, and send it their way!
  • Maybe you plan to live in a Portuguese-speaking country at some point. Take some time to watch a video about living there, learn about their celebrations and holidays, or visit the official websites for different cities. 

By adding something that makes your heart flutter a little, the process will be much more fun. You can also include some Brazilian jokes, comedy sketches, funny expressions, and hilarious podcasts in your routine, if you’re looking to add some laughs and humor to your learning!

3 – Persistence and consistency are key.

Those two words might be the most important of them all if you’re just starting to learn Portuguese. 

You will have ups and downs. At some points, you might lose your motivation, be short on time, or just want to give up. It’s totally understandable, and we all go through it. 

However, to master any new skill, constant practice is essential. Even if there are days when you only practice one new word, keep going! Your motivation will eventually return, and you’ll be so happy you didn’t give up.

Remember: A little effort every day will take you a long way!

Do You Dream of Visiting a Portuguese-speaking Country?

5. Why is PortuguesePod101 Great for Learning Portuguese?

By now, we hope you’re ready to embark on the exciting, challenging, and fun journey of learning this language. It’s not always going to be easy, but you’re going to love it. If you want an easy way to learn the Portuguese language, PortuguesePod101 might be exactly the ally you need!

1 – Freebies

Regardless of your current Portuguese knowledge, you can benefit from the free content available on PortuguesePod101.com. Every day, you can get a Daily Dose of Portuguese sent straight to your email inbox! As we mentioned before, consistency is an essential part of your language-learning journey, and daily contact with it is very helpful. 

Our vocabulary lists are also a great tool, as they help you practice your pronunciation and listening skills. Learn key phrases and the most common words in Portuguese, all for free.

2 – Tailor-made lessons

With PortuguesePod101, you can find lessons that suit your specific needs and current abilities. Advance your learning journey with pathways and lessons that fit your preferences. Are you looking to accelerate your reading & writing skills? There’s a pathway for you. Perhaps you prefer using only video resources? You can filter your lessons and find exactly the type of activity that works best for you. 

Most importantly, we offer lessons that include different skills, so you can approach Portuguese learning in a holistic way!

Whether you’re a beginner or are looking to get back into the groove of learning Portuguese, you can find useful resources on PortuguesePod101.com.

3 – Mobile app 

Do you like to learn on the go? You can find PortuguesePod101’s app in the major app stores, like Google Play and the App Store, and on Kindle Fire. 

This will allow you to take notes, track your progress, and continue learning from anywhere! Even if you need to be offline, you can still access your lessons thanks to the Download Manager integrated into the app.

4 – MyTeacher service

If you’re ready to take your Portuguese to the next level, you might want to consider the premium personal coaching offered through MyTeacher. This service connects you to a private Portuguese tutor who will help you advance more quickly. By offering personalized feedback, exercises that fit your current abilities, and opportunities to improve where you need to, MyTeacher is guaranteed to give you a push.

Put your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills into practice with a native Portuguese tutor with this exclusive service!

Ready to Speak Portuguese and Have a Great Time?

6. Get Down to Business with PortuguesePod101

Hopefully, this guide has shown you how easy learning Portuguese can be, even though there are a few challenges along the way. Being motivated and consistent, and most importantly, having fun, are sure to make the process more enjoyable and manageable for you! 

Learning Portuguese is an amazing decision, and we hope to help you do it. If you feel you’ve learned something new after reading this guide, tell us in the comments! Do you feel ready to start or get back to learning Portuguese now? Did we miss some important aspect you wish we had covered? We want to hear from you. 

Be sure to check the free Portuguese resources available on PortuguesePod101.com. There are plenty of vocabulary lists to train your ears! 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 offered through MyTeacher. Perfect for anyone who wants to learn from anywhere, feel motivated, and be ready to speak Portuguese with confidence.

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The Top 10 Common Mistakes in Portuguese to Avoid

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Most people would agree that Portuguese is a complicated language. Add to this the sheer number of people speaking the language around the world, and making mistakes in Portuguese is actually pretty common! Even native speakers confuse certain grammar rules or use the wrong word when trying to show off their vocabulary. As you move along in your Portuguese-learning journey, you’re bound to make some errors yourself…and that’s part of the process! 

Mistakes are actually an important part of improving your language skills, and they also provide an amazing opportunity to engage with native speakers and get feedback. Besides, the entire process of understanding why something is wrong and working to address it is a valuable skill you can use in other domains of your life! So see the mistakes for what they are: a completely normal and essential part of learning Portuguese. 

This article will help you understand what some of the most common mistakes are and how to correct them. From pronunciation tips to grammar rules and vocabulary mishaps, we’ll cover every mistake in Portuguese you need to know and how to fix or avoid them! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Pronunciation Mistakes
  2. Vocabulary Word Mistakes
  3. Word Order Mistakes
  4. Grammar Mistakes
  5. In the Real World
  6. The King of All Mistakes
  7. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Stressed Woman Holding Her Head with Her Hand

Worried about Portuguese mistakes? Don’t sweat it!

1. Pronunciation Mistakes

Most sounds in Portuguese are familiar to English-speakers. That’s great news! But a few peculiar Portuguese sounds can be challenging to master, and therefore, pronunciation mistakes are quite common for foreigners. However, this kind of error in Portuguese is fairly easy to spot, so you should have no problems as you work to improve your pronunciation skills and get over these common mistakes. 

1 – Nasal Sounds

Nasal sounds are all about…you guessed it, the nose. More specifically, the air released through the nose. If it sounds odd, just think about what happens when you hum: you naturally force the release of air through the nose, as you make the sound. That’s exactly what should happen when you pronounce a nasal sound, only now, your mouth should be open.

In Portuguese, you’ll encounter nasal sounds in certain situations:

  • When the ~ (til) is used: Ã and Õ
       For example: maçã (“apple”), pão (“bread”), leões (“lions”)
  • When a vowel is followed by an M or N.
       For example: mentira (“lie”), cantar (“to sing”), atum (“tuna”)

The best way to get the hang of nasal sounds is to do a lot of listening and speaking practice. 

2 – Open and Closed Vowels

A single vowel can have both open and closed sounds in Portuguese. Sometimes, the accent mark used will clearly indicate how to pronounce it, although that’s not always the case.

VowelExamplePronounce as in the word
APapa (“Pope”)“Father”
EMel (“Honey”)Chapéu (“Hat”)“Get”
Closed EVocê (“You”)Mesmo (“Same”)“Way”
IIlha (“Island”)“Penny
OPorta (“Door”)Órbita (“Orbit”)“Got”
Closed OFolha (“Leaf”)Robô (“Robot”)“Most”
ULuz (“Light”)“Flu

When you see the acute accent (´), like in the word chapéu (“hat”), expect to encounter an open vowel sound. On the other hand, the circumflex accent (^), like the one in você (“you”), indicates a closed vowel sound. In this case, the vowel should be pronounced with the lips slightly more closed. 

Another thing to keep in mind when you encounter accents is that they indicate which syllable should be stressed or emphasized when pronouncing it.

3 – Intonation

Intonation is particularly important in differentiating between questions and statements. In Portuguese, it’s possible to use the same sentence structure to do both things, changing only the intonation.

If your question uses any of the question words—such as quem (“who”), quando (“when”), onde (“where”), and others—it’s easier to identify a question. Of course, intonation is still an important aspect even in those cases. But it really bears weight when you don’t use question words at all.

Luckily, the intonation you have to adopt is the same as in English: raise your voice at the end of the sentence to make it sound like a question. If you’re curious to learn all the details and nuances of Brazilian Portuguese intonation and sound very scholarly next time you discuss the topic, here’s an entire academic study about it!

A Group of Friends Chatting with Drinks

Master Portuguese pronunciation and feel confident!

2. Vocabulary Word Mistakes

Another type of mistake Portuguese-learners and native speakers alike make relates to vocabulary. Sometimes, we’re just excited to use a new word and don’t really understand its nuanced meaning. Let’s see how to avoid some of the most common Portuguese vocabulary mistakes.

1 – False Friends

There are many Portuguese words that might look familiar to an English-speaker, and in some cases, those similar words have the same meaning. For example, família translates to “family,” universo means “universe,” and elefante is “elephant.”

Unfortunately, not every word that looks the same actually has the same meaning. That’s exactly the case with false friends. Those tricky words appear to be the same or very similar, but their meanings are different. Here are some common examples of false friends to keep in mind.

False friendsWhat you should say instead
Amassar = “to crush”Acumular = “to amass”
Entender = “to understand”Pretender = “to intend”
Pretender = “to intend”Fingir = “to pretend”
Assumir = “to take over”Presumir = “to assume”
Avisar = “to warn”Aconselhar = “to advise”
Advertir = “to warn”Anunciar = “to advertise”
Pular = “to jump”Puxar = “to pull”
Puxar = “to pull”Empurrar = “to push”
Suportar = “to withstand,” “to tolerate”Apoiar = “to support”
Assistir = “to watch”Ajudar = “to assist”
Enrolar = “to roll up”Inscrever = “to enroll”
Recordar = “to remember,” “to recall”Gravar = “to record”
Resumir = “to summarize”Continuar = “to resume”
Noticiar = “to inform,” “to report”Reparar, Perceber = “to notice”
Procurar = “to look for”Obter, Adquirir = “to procure”

False friends continuedWhat you should say instead
Balcão = “counter”Sacada = “balcony”
Taxa = “rate,” “fee”Imposto = “tax”
Recipiente = “container”Beneficiário = “recipient”
Atualmente = “currently”Na realidade = “actually”
Costume = “habit”Fantasia = “costume”
Educado = “polite”Instruído = “educated”
Estrangeiro = “foreigner”Estranho = “stranger”
Parentes = “relatives”Pais = “parents”
Novela = “soap opera” Romance = “novel” 
Êxito = “success”Saída = “exit”
Lanche = “snack”Almoço = “lunch”
Legenda = “subtitles”Lenda = “legend”
Injúria = “insult”Ferimento = “injury”
Livraria = “bookshop”Biblioteca = “library”
Esperto = “clever”Especialista = “expert”

2 – Similar Portuguese Words

One letter or one extra space can make all the difference in meaning. Some pairs of words are prone to causing a lot of confusion, especially when writing. Check them out:

Mas = “but”Mais = “more,” “plus”
Mal = “badly” – an adverb or nounMau = “bad,” “evil” – an adjective
Bem = “well” – antonym of mal Bom = “good” – antonym of mau
Agente = “agent”A gente = “us,” “we”

Besides the pairs listed above, there’s a group of similar words that gets people confused:

  • Por que = “why”
    Por que não vamos no cinema hoje? (“Why are we not going to the movie theater today?”)
  • Porque = “because”
    Porque seu pai está doente. (“Because your father is sick.”)
  • Por quê = “why” – at the end of the sentence or as a stand-alone sentence
    Você desistiu, por quê? (“You gave up, why?”)
    Por quê? (“Why?”)
  • Porquê = “the reason why”
    O porquê eu não sei. (“The reason why, I don’t know.”)

And as a bonus, if you want to really impress your Portuguese-speaking friends, you can explain to them the difference between these expressions that sound exactly the same:

  • Acerca de = “about”
  • Há cerca de = “about this long ago” (state how long right after)
  • A cerca de = “the fence of” (yes, as in a physical property limit)
A Man in a Suit Holding a Question Mark Sign in Front of His Face

False friends and similar-looking words can cause a lot of confusion.

3. Word Order Mistakes

Putting words in the right order is just as important as choosing the right words! 

As a quick recap, remember that Portuguese follows the Subject + Verb + Object structure. That said, let’s jump right into the most common word order mistakes.

1 – Adjectives

Most of the time, the adjective comes after the noun it refers to. For example:

  • Eu gosto de vinho tinto. (“I like red wine.”)
  • Ela não come comidas picantes. (“She doesn’t eat spicy food.”)

If you inverted the word order in those examples, the sentences wouldn’t make sense. However, because Portuguese is never completely straightforward, there are some exceptions! 

Sometimes, the adjective can come before the noun. Below are a couple of tips to help you know where the adjective should go.

  • When the adjective is adding an objective or direct attribute to the noun, place it afterwards:
    Ganhei um presente grande. (“I got a big gift.”) – a large gift
  • When the adjective is adding a more subjective, connotative, or even poetic attribute to the noun, it can be placed beforehand:
    Ganhei um grande presente. (“I got a great gift.”)

Unfortunately, this is not a rule that works every time. 

  • Seu livro antigo (“Your old book”)
  • Seu antigo livro (“Your old book”)

As you can see above, both sentences work and the meaning does not change. With time and practice, knowing the position of the adjective will become more natural to you. But in case you have any doubts, opt to place it after the substantive!

2 – Position of Reflexive Pronouns

When we use certain verbs in Portuguese, it’s necessary to use reflexive pronouns. Because many Portuguese reflexive verbs are not reflexive in English, this causes some confusion. Thus, the improper placement of reflexive pronouns is an error Portuguese-learners make often! 

In Brazil, you’ll usually hear people placing the reflexive pronoun before the verb. However, it’s also correct to place the pronoun after the verb, and this is very common in Portugal. Compare both forms below:

  • Eles se banharam. (“They bathed.”)
  • Eles banharam-se. (“They bathed.”)

We suggest that you learn and use the first form, as it’s simpler and will be widely understood. So, remember that the pronoun goes immediately before the verb.

  • Nós nos conhecemos na festa. (“We met each other at the party.”)
  • Eu não me arrumei. (“I didn’t get ready.”)
  • Eles se odiaram assim que se conheceram. (“They hated each other as soon as they met.”)

A Chef about to Cut a Yellow Cake

Um bolo amarelo (“A yellow cake”), not um amarelo bolo.

→ Discover more about the Top 5 Portuguese Mistakes to Avoid on PortuguesePod101.com!

4. Grammar Mistakes

Oh, grammar. Not the coolest kid on the block, we have to admit. But by understanding and avoiding these common mistakes, your Portuguese will improve by leaps and bounds!

1 – Gender Agreement

Nouns in Portuguese can be masculine or feminine, even when it doesn’t really make sense—who says a knife is female? Regardless, this is how Portuguese grammar works. Keeping this gender factor in mind, the article that comes before the noun has to agree with the gender.

As a rule of thumb, most words that end in -a are feminine, and most words that end in -o are masculine. Take a look: 

Feminine words
  • A mesa (“the table”)
  • A casa (“the house”)
  • A ideia (“the idea”)
  • Uma cama (“a bed”)
  • Uma escova (“a brush”)
  • Uma máquina (“a machine”)
Masculine words
  • O barco (“the boat”)
  • O pato (“the duck”)
  • O tronco (“the trunk”)
  • Um colchão (“a mattress”)
  • Um garfo (“a fork”)
  • Um livro (“a book”)

Of course, there are always exceptions in Portuguese. For example:

  • Dia (“day”) is masculine → O dia (“the day”)
  • Planeta (“planet”) is masculine → Um planeta (“a planet”)

If the words don’t end in -a or -o, it’s a matter of looking it up online and trying to remember as best as you can!

  • A colher (“the spoon”)
  • O mar (“the sea”)
  • A cruz (“the cross”)
  • O rapaz (“the guy,” “the boy”)

You might also come across words that have both genders or vary in gender depending on their meaning. 

  • Mascote (“mascot”) may have either gender → A mascote (feminine); o mascote (masculine)
  • Rádio (“radio”) changes gender → A rádio (“the radio station,” feminine word); o rádio (device used to listen to radio stations, masculine word)

It might look a bit complicated at first, but don’t give up! With time, it will become easier and easier to master the gender of words in Portuguese.

2 – To Be or Not to Be: Ser vs. Estar

Unlike in English, in Portuguese, we have two verbs that mean “to be”: ser and estar. At first, it may be quite confusing for you, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never make this mistake again!

Here’s the trick: Think of the difference between the two verbs in terms of permanence and impermanence.

You can be something permanently (or at least for a long time): a nationality or profession. In this case, use the verb ser.

  • Eu sou médico. (“I am a doctor.”)
  • Eu sou alta. (“I am tall.”)

Or you can be something for a short period of time (temporarily): you can be cold, you can be sunblind, or you can be in school. In this case, use the verb estar.

  • Você está bem? (“Are you alright?”)
  • Eu estou nervosa. (“I am nervous.”)

The verb estar is also commonly used as an auxiliary verb in continuous tenses, when you want to say that you “were doing” or “are doing” something.

  •  Eu estou saindo agora. (“I am leaving now.”)
  • Você estava contando uma história. (“You were telling a story.”)

3 – Irregular Comparatives and Superlatives

When making comparisons in Portuguese, there are some rules you should follow:

  • More than → mais [adjective] que
  • Less than, fewer than → menos [adjective] que 

However, some of the most common comparative adjectives are irregular. On the positive side, they’re not all that different from the irregular comparatives in English.

  • Bigger than → maior
  • Smaller than → menor
  • Better than → melhor que
  • Worse than → pior que

Now you know you should never say mais bom!

What about the superlatives? In some ways, handling these can be easier in Portuguese than in English. Instead of having different superlatives for each adjective, you can add one of the following expressions:

  • O mais [adjective] O mais alto (“The tallest” – male)
  • A mais [adjective] → A mais alta (“The tallest”- female)
  • O menos [adjective] → O menos engraçado (“The least funny” – male)
  • A menos [adjective] → A menos engraçada (“The least funny” – female)

The exceptions are the same adjectives mentioned before:

  • The biggest → o maior
  • The smallest → o menor
  • The best → o melhor
  • The worst → o pior 

Portuguese does have more superlatives than those listed above. However, they’re not frequently used in colloquial conversation, so for the scope of this article, we won’t discuss them.

A Girl Trying on Shoes at a Shoe Store

Preciso de um sapato maior. (“I need a bigger shoe.”)

5. In the Real World

When covering common Portuguese mistakes, we also have to address some of the real-life situations you might face. Like every other language, Portuguese is constantly evolving and changing. As you travel around Brazil and meet native speakers from different parts of the country, you might notice that spoken Portuguese has many “incorrect” formations. 

There’s a rich and complex discussion around this topic, with experts and researchers arguing that there’s no one right way to speak a language, and that there’s no one way that’s better than another. 

Why is this important? Well, you might be puzzled when hearing some grammatically incorrect phrases from native Portuguese-speakers, and it’s important to recognize when they’re acceptable.

To highlight this point, take the case of using tu and você. Both words translate to “you” and both are second person singular pronouns. However, when using você, verbs are conjugated in the third person singular. 

  • Você é alto. (“You are tall.”)
  • Tu és alto. (“You are tall.”)

The examples above are officially correct. But in some parts of Brazil, like the state of Rio Grande do Sul, tu is conjugated in the third person singular (like você). Although not dictionary-perfect, we can hardly say that they’re making a mistake. This is just an historical evolution in the spoken Portuguese of the region. 

Depending on where in Brazil you want to go or which form (and accent) of Portuguese you prefer learning, you might end up discovering interesting variations of the spoken language. 

6. The King of All Mistakes

We’ve covered all kinds of common Portuguese mistakes so far, from pronunciation to word order and grammar. 

But you know what? The biggest mistake of them all is being afraid of making mistakes. Many studies have already shown that making mistakes is essential in improving one’s learning. So when the fear of making mistakes stops you from trying, experimenting, saying the wrong thing, or using the wrong word order…you’re actually robbing yourself of another learning opportunity. 

Just think about it. When we make mistakes, our attention focuses on how to correct those errors. It also makes us want to understand why it was incorrect and focus our efforts on improving. On the other hand, when we’re right, there’s a sense of not having to be in our sharpest state of mind. 

This is true in many different areas of our lives, but this is especially true when it comes to learning a new language. After all, we need to use different mechanisms in our brain, such as recalling things from memory and associating words and sounds with images in our mind. This requires practice—lots and lots of practice. 

So if there’s one main takeaway from this article, let it be this: Go forth and make mistakes! Afterwards, try to understand those mistakes and work hard to overcome them…and then make other mistakes!

If this concept still makes you cringe a little, here are three handy tips to help you feel better and bounce back quicker when you make mistakes.

1. Welcome corrections. Whenever you get a chance to talk with other Portuguese-speakers, ask them to point out your mistakes. Since you’re asking for corrections, it will feel more comfortable. 

2. Try to use the correct form after identifying a mistake, to solidify the correct form in your mind.

3. Talk openly about errors. By talking about your most common difficulties and mistakes with peers, you’ll encourage them to adopt a positive mindset about mistakes and feel better about your own.

Young People Having a Celebration Party

Celebrate your mistakes! They’re an important part of your journey.

7. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

We really hope this article helped you identify some common Portuguese mistakes you might be making. But even more importantly, we hope it has changed the way you think about making mistakes! Be proud of your errors—and the improvement that follows as you continue on your language-learning journey. Come back to this article whenever you need some encouragement or want to refresh your memory.

What did you think about the mistakes we covered today? Do you think we forgot an important aspect? Tell us in the comments!

To take your skills to the next level, continue exploring PortuguesePod101.com! There are lots of free Portuguese resources and vocabulary lists to prepare you for any situation. 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. Perfect for anyone who wants to learn from anywhere, feel motivated, and be ready to speak Portuguese with confidence. 

Happy learning!

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Asking and Answering the Top 10 Questions in Portuguese

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Asking interesting questions is one of the secrets to a good conversation. Regardless of the language, questions are an essential tool in your conversation toolbox. They can help you learn basic information about the person you’ve just met or dive deep into what makes them unique! Pretty cool, huh?

That’s why knowing how to ask and answer a question in Portuguese will take you a long way toward mastering the language. By practicing the sentences and patterns you’ll see in this article, you’ll begin to feel comfortable during interactions with native speakers. Simply ask interesting questions every now and again, and see how smoothly your conversation will flow.

To help you navigate the world of questions in Portuguese, we’ll introduce you to the top ten questions you can ask, alongside the translation of each word used in the sentences. You’ll also see how to answer them, broken down by the pattern so you can create your own answers. And of course, there will be plenty of examples along the way, to make sure you really grasp the concepts. Ready?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. The Building Blocks
  2. The Top 10 Portuguese Questions and Answers to Learn
  3. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Man Giving a Speech

Get ready to ask and answer questions like a pro!

1. The Building Blocks

Before we see how to ask questions in Portuguese, let’s take a quick look at the building blocks to do so: the question patterns and the Portuguese question words. By learning these elements, you’ll better understand the sentences in this article, and you’ll also be able to create your own questions in the future.

1 – Portuguese Question Words

These are the most common question words in Portuguese that you can use to form direct questions.

“What”O que
O quê
(if it’s at the end of the sentence)
O que você quer comer? (“What do you want to eat?”)
Você quer comer o quê?
(“What do you want to eat?”)
“Why”Por que
Por quê (if it’s at the end of the sentence)
Por que vamos sair? (“Why are we leaving?”)
Vamos sair por quê? (“Why are we leaving?”)
“Where”Onde (used if the subject is not moving)
Aonde (used if the subject is moving)
Onde está meu remédio? (“Where is my medicine?”)
Aonde você vai? (“Where are you going?”)
“When”QuandoQuando é a festa? (“When is the party?”)
“Who”QuemQuem era aquele homem? (“Who was that man?”)
“How”ComoComo elas chegaram aqui? (“How did they get here?”)
“Which” Qual
Quais (plural)
Qual é o seu sabor de sorvete favorito? (“What is your favorite ice cream flavor?”)
Quais são os seus livros? (“Which ones are your books?”)
“How much” / “How many”Quanto (male singular form)
Quanta (female singular form)
Quantos (male plural form)
Quantas (female plural form)
Quanto custa esse livro? (“How much does this book cost?”)
Quanta água você tem? (“How much water do you have?”)
Quantos bebês nasceram hoje? (“How many babies were born today?”)
Quantas pessoas vieram? (“How many people came?”)
“Whose”De quemDe quem é esse carro? (“Whose car is this?”)

2 – Portuguese Question Patterns

There are two main patterns for asking questions in Portuguese that you need to be familiar with.

Question word + subject + verb + complement

Using this pattern, you can ask a huge variety of questions. It follows the same word order as a declarative sentence does. The difference is that you add a question word to the beginning and a question mark at the end. Most of the sample Portuguese questions we saw in the previous table feature this sentence pattern.

Examples:

  • Quando vocês chegam? (“When do you arrive?”) – plural
  • Onde posso deixar minha mala? (“Where can I leave my luggage?”)

In some cases, you can also see the question word at the end of the sentence, instead of at the beginning. For example:

  • A festa é quando? (“The party is when?”)

Subject + verb + complement

This sentence pattern is basically a statement followed by a question mark. Intonation is an essential aspect of asking questions with this pattern, since it’s the only thing differentiating it from a declarative statement. 

The intonation is fairly similar to the one used to ask questions in English. Simply raise your voice slightly at the end of the sentence.

Examples:

  • Você vai sair hoje? (“Are you going out today?”)
  • Podemos começar? (“May we begin?”)

Regardless of the question pattern, keep in mind that, sometimes, the subject is implicit. This happens fairly often in Portuguese, and you might see question examples in which the subject doesn’t appear. In cases like this, the subject can be inferred by looking at the verb. Take this sentence, for example:

  • Vamos sair agora? (“Are we leaving now?”)

The subject in this sentence is nós (“we”), as the conjugation of the verb indicates. You can opt to include the word nós in the sentence or leave it out.

Group of Students Studying on Lawn

Vamos estudar? (“Let’s study?”)

2. The Top 10 Portuguese Questions and Answers to Learn

From the more basic Portuguese questions you can ask during a first meeting to questions that can take the conversation to the next level, you’ll see it all in this article. Pay attention to how the answers normally use elements from the questions—this can help you get your bearings when you’re asked a brand-new question!

1 – What’s your name?

First Encounter

This is probably the first question you’ll hear or ask a Portuguese-speaker. Take your time to learn this question by heart. 

Question

  • Qual é o seu nome? 
Qualéo seunome?
What (in this case, qual translates to “what,” and not “which”)isyourname?
  • Como você se chama?
Comovocêse chama?
Howdo youcall yourself?

Answer

  • Meu nome é [nome].
Meunomeé[nome].
Mynameis[name].

You can use this same structure to answer what your nickname or family name is.

  • Meu apelido é [apelido]. (“My nickname is [nickname].”)
  • Meu sobrenome é [sobrenome]. (“My family name is [family name].”)
  • Eu me chamo [nome].
Eume chamo[nome].
Icall myself[name].

Putting it all together

  • Q: Qual é o seu nome? (“What is your name?”) 
  • A: Meu nome é Maria. (“My name is Maria.”)
  • Q: Como você se chama? (“What are you called?”)
  • A: Eu me chamo Gustavo. (“I’m called Gustavo.”)

2 – Where are you from?

Here’s another great icebreaker question for getting to know people!

Question

  • De onde você é?
Deondevocêé?
Fromwhereyouare?
  • De onde você vem?
Deondevocêvem?
Fromwhereyoucome?

Answer

  • Eu sou de [local].
Eusoude[local].
Iamfrom[place].
  • Eu venho de [local].
Euvenhode[local].
Icomefrom[place].

Note that, in both cases, the preposition de (“of” / “from”) should agree with the following word in gender and number. Check it out:

  • Eu sou de Portugal. (“I am from Portugal.”)
  • Eu venho da África do Sul. (“I come from South Africa.”)
  • Eu sou dos Estados Unidos. (“I am from the United States.”)

You can also answer the question by stating your nationality:

  • Eu sou brasileiro. (“I am Brazilian.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: De onde você é? (“Where are you from?”)
  • A: Eu sou do Rio de Janeiro. (“I’m from Rio de Janeiro.”) 
  • Q: De onde você vem? (“Where do you come from?”) 
  • A: Eu venho da Índia. (“I come from India.”)

3 – Do you speak Portuguese?

People in Brazil will likely be very curious to know more about your Portuguese-learning experience. Expect to hear some questions about it!

Question

  • Você fala [idioma]?
Vocêfala[idioma]?
YouspeakPortuguese?

You can also add more details to your question at the end of the sentence. For example:

  • Você fala inglês fluentemente? (“Do you speak English fluently?”)
  • Você fala francês há muito tempo? (“Have you spoken French long?”)

Answer

  • Eu falo [idioma].
Eufalo[idioma].
IspeakPortuguese.

You can begin the sentence with sim (“yes”) or não (“no”), and then complete your answer with the pattern above.

  • Sim, eu falo Português. (“Yes, I speak Portuguese.”)
  • Não, eu não falo Espanhol. (“No, I don’t speak Spanish.”)

And, just like before, you can add more details to your answer using adverbs and adjectives.

  • Eu falo um pouco de Português. (“I speak a bit of Portuguese.”)
  • Eu falo Espanhol muito bem. (“I speak Spanish very well.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você fala Italiano? (“Do you speak Italian?”)
  • A: Sim, eu falo Italiano. (“Yes, I speak Italian.”)
  • Q: Ela fala português? (“Does she speak Portuguese?”)
  • A: Não, ela não fala português. (“No, she doesn’t speak Portuguese.”)
Different Language-learning Books

Você fala todas essas línguas? (“Do you speak all of those languages?”)

4 – How long have you been studying Portuguese?

After successfully explaining what languages you speak, it’s time to show off your skills. After all, it takes a while to master a new language, and you deserve to brag a little!

Question

  • Você estuda [idioma] há quanto tempo?
Vocêestuda[idioma]quanto tempo?
YoustudyPortuguesehave beenhow long?

The translation you see above might confuse you a bit, so let’s unpack it. When we use the verb haver (“to have”) with another verb in the present tense (like estuda), it describes an action that started in the past and continues in the present.

The verb haver can be substituted by the verb fazer (“to make”), which in this case, will have the same meaning as haver:

  • Você estuda [idioma] faz quanto tempo?

It’s also common to see this question pattern inverted:

  • Há quanto tempo que você estuda [idioma]?
  • Faz quanto tempo que você estuda [idioma]?

Answer

You can answer this Portuguese question in a more complete way by repeating part of the question, or in a more direct way, just using the verb and the amount of time.

  • Eu estudo [idioma] faz / há [tempo].
Euestudo[idioma]faz / há[tempo].
IstudyPortuguesefor[time].
  • Faz / há [tempo].
Faz / há[tempo].
For[time].

Note that, regardless of the number of years or months you answer with, the verb is always in the singular form. That happens because, when referring to actions that started in the past and continue in the present, the verb doesn’t vary in number.

  • Faz um ano. (“For one year.”)
  • Eu estudo inglês faz dez anos. (“I have been studying English for ten years.”)
  • Eu estudo japonês há um ano. (“I have been studying Japanese for one year.”)
  • Há dez anos. (“For ten years.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você estuda coreano faz quanto tempo? (“How long have you been studying Korean?”)
  • A: Faz três anos. (“For three years.”)
  • Q: Você estuda português faz quanto tempo? (“How long have you been studying Portuguese?”)
  • A: Eu estudo português há dois meses. (“I have been studying Portuguese for two months.”)
Introducing Yourself

5 – Have you been to [place]?

Traveling is always an interesting topic for conversation, and some of the most common Portuguese questions for foreigners are related to this topic.

Question

  • Você já foi para [lugar]?
Vocêfoipara[lugar]?
Youalreadyhave beento[place]?

After the preposition para (“to”), it might be necessary to add articles that agree with the gender and number of the place.

  • Você já foi para São Paulo? (“Have you been to São Paulo?”)
  • Você já foi para o Rio de Janeiro? (“Have you been to Rio de Janeiro?”)
  • Você já foi para a China? (“Have you been to China?”)
  • Você já foi para os Países Baixos? (“Have you been to the Netherlands?”)

Answer

This question can be answered with a simple sim (“yes”) or não (“no”). However, to really make it count, you can add information about how many times you’ve been or when you went there. You can add this information at the end of the sentence.

Sim / Não,eu(não) fui[complemento].
Yes / No,Ihave (not) been[complement].
  • Sim, eu fui uma vez. (“Yes, I’ve been once.”)
  • Não, eu nunca fui. (“No, I’ve never been.”)
  • Sim, eu fui lá ano passado. (“Yes, I went there last year.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você já foi para Roma? (“Have you already been to Rome?”) 
  • A: Sim, eu fui para Roma várias vezes. (“Yes, I’ve been to Rome several times.”)
  • Q: Ele já foi para o nordeste? (“Has he already been to the northeast [of Brazil]?”) 
  • A: Não, ele não foi. (“No, he has not.”)

→ Explore more travel-related vocabulary and essential phrases with PortuguesePod101!

Woman Taking Photo of Something in Paris

Você já foi para Paris? Sim, já fui! (“Have you been to Paris? Yes, I’ve been!”)

6 – Do you like [country’s] food?

You can’t talk about traveling without bringing up all of the delicious local cuisine! And you can bet that Brazilians will ask you about your thoughts on Brazilian food

Question

  • Você gosta da comida de [país]?
Vocêgosta dacomidade[país]?
Do youlikefoodofBrazil?

Once again, the preposition de (“of”) has to agree with the country or place. 

  • Você gosta da comida do Brasil? (“Do you like Brazil’s food?”)
  • Você gosta da comida da França? (“Do you like France’s food?”)

Instead of using “de + country,” you can also use the adjective that refers to that country. For example:

  • Você gosta da comida brasileira? (“Do you like Brazilian food?”)
  • Você gosta da comida francesa? (“Do you like French food?”)

If you want to make the question more specific, you can add adjectives after the word comida (“food”):

  • Ela gosta da comida tradicional japonesa? (“Do you like traditional Japanese food?”)
  • Você gosta da comida vegetariana da Índia? (“Do you like vegetarian Indian food?”)

Answer

The answer pattern here is very similar to the one we saw for the previous question. You can start with sim (“yes”) or não (“no”), and then add more information to make your answer complete.

Sim / Não,eu(não) gosto[complemento].
Yes / No,I(don’t) like[complement].
  • Sim, eu gosto. (“Yes, I like it.”)
  • Sim, eu gosto da comida peruana. (“Yes, I like Peruvian food.”)
  • Não, eu não gosto muito. (“No, I don’t like it very much.”)
  • Não, eu não gosto da comida daqui. (“No, I don’t like the food from here.”) 

To emphasize how much you like (or don’t like) the local food, you can use stronger verbs than gostar (“to like”).

  • Sim, eu adoro. (“Yes, I adore it.”)
  • Sim, eu amo a comida da Colômbia. (“Yes, I love Colombian food.”)
  • Não, eu odeio a comida alemã. (“No, I hate German food.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você gosta da comida da Tailândia? (“Do you like Thailand’s food?”) 
  • A: Sim, eu gosto da comida tailandesa. (“Yes, I like Thai food.”)
  • Q: Você gosta da comida do Chile? (“Do you like Chile’s food?”)
  • A: Não, eu odeio. (“No, I hate it.”)

7 – How is ___?

This is a versatile question pattern for you to learn. Let’s say you just made a delicious batch of cookies and offered some to your brand-new acquaintances. Now, you want to know what they think about them. What do you say?

Another scenario: You’re going to visit a friend in another city, but before packing, you want to know what the weather is like there. How can you ask? 

In both cases, the question is about how something is at the moment. For this reason, you should use the temporary form of the verb “to be” in Portuguese: estar.

  • Como está o / a [complemento]? 
Comoestáo / a[complemento]?
Howisthe[complement]?

Use this question pattern to ask how a singular thing or event is. The articles will change depending on the gender of the thing or event. Take a look at the examples:

  • Como está o bolo? (“How is the cake?”)
  • Como está a comida? (“How is the food?”)
  • Como está o clima aí? (“How is the weather there?”)
  • Como está a festa? (“How is the party?”)
  • Como estão os / as [complemento]?
Comoestãoos / as[complemento]?
Howarethe[complement]?

Use this second pattern to talk about plural things or events. Once again, make sure the article agrees with the thing or event.

  • Como estão os biscoitos? (“How are the cookies?”)
  • Como estão as férias? (“How is the vacation?”)

But what about asking a question about the essence or a permanent characteristic of something? In this case, you should use the permanent “to be” verb, which is ser

  • Como é o/a [complemento]?
Comoéo / a[complemento]?
Howisthe[complement]?
  • Como é a casa nova? (“How is the new house?”)
  • Como é a sua vizinha/ o seu vizinho? (“How is your neighbor?”)
  • Como é o gato? (“How is the cat?”)
  • Como são os/as [complemento]?
Comosãoos / as[complemento]?
Howarethe[complement]?
  • Como são as pessoas da cidade? (“How are the people of the city?”)
  • Como são os móveis novos? (“How is the new furniture?”)

If you need to refresh your memory, check the conjugation for the verbs ser and estar.

Answer

It’s fairly simple to answer these types of questions. Use the same verb that was used in the question (paying attention to the conjugation), and add the adjectives and/or adverbs you want. To make it more complete, you could also add the subject before the verb.

Sujeitoverbocomplemento.
Subjectverbcomplement.
  • Está boa. (“It’s good.”)
  • A comida está boa. (“The food is good.”)
  • Estão gostosos. (“They’re tasty.”)
  • Os biscoitos estão gostosos. (“The cookies are tasty.”)
  • É fofo. (“It’s cute.”)
  • O gato é fofo. (“The cat is cute.”)
  • São simpáticas. (“They’re friendly.”) 
  • As pessoas são simpáticas. (“The people are friendly.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Como está o namoro? (“How is the relationship?”)
  • A: Está muito bem, obrigado! (“It is very well, thank you!”)
  • Q: Como são os novos colegas? (“How are the new colleagues?”)
  • A: São muito simpáticos. (“They’re very friendly.”)
  • Q: Como está a sopa? (“How is the soup?”)
  • A: A sopa está muito salgada. (“The soup is very salty.”)
Child Eating Ice Cream

Como está o sorvete? (“How is the ice cream?”)

8 – What are you doing?

Here’s another versatile Portuguese question that, with just a few tweaks, can be used in a variety of situations.

Question

  • O que você está fazendo?
O quevocêestáfazendo?
Whatyouaredoing?

By adding more information at the end of the sentence, you can ask more-specific questions. 

  • O que você está fazendo agora? (“What are you doing now?”)
  • O que você está fazendo hoje? (“What are you doing today?”)
  • O que você está fazendo sozinho aqui? (“What are you doing alone here?”)
  • O que você está fazendo na sala? (“What are you doing in the living room?”)

In Portuguese, you can use this exact pattern to ask what someone is making in the kitchen:

  • O que você está fazendo para o almoço? (“What are you making for lunch?”)
  • O que você está fazendo no forno? (“What are you making in the oven?”)

You don’t need to be stuck with the verb fazer (“to do” / “to make”). By using other verbs in the gerund form, you open up many more possibilities:

  • O que você está assistindo? (“What are you watching?”)
  • O que você está cortando? (“What are you cutting?”)
  • O que você está ouvindo? (“What are you listening to?”)
  • O que você está assando? (“What are you baking?”)

Answer

To answer, you’ll need to describe the action you’re doing in the gerund form.

Euestou[verbo no gerúndio][complemento].
Iam[verb in gerund form][complement].
  • Eu estou lendo um livro. (“I am reading a book.”)
  • Eu estou limpando o quarto. (“I am cleaning the room.”)
  • Eu estou assando um bolo. (“I am baking a cake.”)
  • Eu estou tomando banho. (“I am taking a shower.”)
  • Eu estou correndo. (“I am running.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: O que você está fazendo? (“What are you doing?”) 
  • A: Estou arrumando a garagem. (“I am organizing the garage.”)
  • Q: O que você está fazendo no quarto? (“What are you doing in the bedroom?”) 
  • A: Estou estudando. (“I am studying.”)
  • Q: O que vocês estão fazendo? (“What are you doing?”) – plural
  • A: Estamos assistindo um filme. (“We are watching a movie.”)
Group of Guys Watching a Soccer Game on TV

Estamos assistindo futebol. (“We are watching soccer.”)

9 – Are you all right?

This is certainly an essential question in our daily interactions with friends, colleagues, loved ones, and relatives!

  • Você está bem?
Vocêestábem?
Youarealright?

If you want to ask this question about somebody else, it’s easy: simply use the name or the pronoun instead of você (“you”).

  • Ela está bem? (“Is she alright?”)
  • Luís está bem? (“Is Luís alright?”)

You may also hear a simple: Tudo bem? (“Alright?”). It means the same thing!

Alternatively, there’s another question you can ask to discover how a person is. The pattern might look familiar to you.

  • Como você está?
Comovocêestá?
Howyouare?

Once again, you can ask the same question using other subjects:

  • Como ele está? (“How is he?”)

Answer

Euestou[complemento].
Iam[complement].

It’s common to see these sentences without the subject, as well.

  • Estou bem. (“I’m alright.”)
  • Eu estou muito bem. (“I am very well.”)
  • Ela está bem. (“She is alright.”)
  • Eu estou triste. (“I am sad.”)
  • Eu estou meio doente. (“I’m a bit sick.”)

If the question was Você está bem? (“Are you alright?”), you can also add sim (“yes”) or não (“no”) before the rest of the sentence.

  • Sim, estou bem. (“Yes, I am well.”)
  • Não, eu estou mal. (“No, I’m not well.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você está bem? (“Are you alright?”) 
  • A: Sim, eu estou muito bem! (“Yes, I am very well!”)
  • Q: Tudo bem? (“Alright?”)
  • A: Não, não estou muito bem. (“No, I’m not very well.”)
  • Q: Como você está? (“How are you?”)
  • A: Estou preocupada. (“I’m worried.”)

10 – How much is it?

When shopping, eating out, or hiring a service, this is a must-ask question.

Question

  • Quanto custa?
Quantocusta?
How muchdoes it cost?
  • Quanto é?
Quantoé?
How muchis it?

These are very simple Portuguese questions for asking how much something costs. If you’re holding an item and showing it as you ask, it’s clear enough what you’re referring to. But if you need to make it more specific, add the name of the product or service at the end of the sentence.

  • Quanto custa esse livro? (“How much does this book cost?”)
  • Quanto é a massagem? (“How much is the massage?”)
  • Quanto custa a fatia de bolo? (“How much does the slice of cake cost?”)
  • Quanto é esse anel? (“How much is this ring?”)

Answer

To answer, you can simply state the value, or start the sentence with one of the verbs used in the question:

Custa / é[valor].
It costs / it is[value].

Remember that, in Brazil, the currency is the Real (R$). So when you’re talking about monetary values, you have to use the word reais and centavos (“cents”).

  • Custa cinco reais e cinquenta centavos. (“It costs R$5,50.”)
  • É vinte reais. (“It’s R$20,00.”)
  • Custa um real. (“It costs R$1,00.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Quanto custa o quadro? (“How much does the painting cost?”) 
  • A: Custa 150 reais. (“It costs R$150,00.”)
  • Q: Quanto é a mensalidade da academia? (“How much is the gym monthly fee?”) 
  • A: É 80 reais. (“It’s R$80,00.”)
Couple Grocery Shopping Together

Quanto custa esse iogurte? (“How much is this yogurt?”)

→ Want to practice your pronunciation? Listen to the Top 25 Portuguese Questions on PortuguesePod101!

3. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

This was a long lesson, but hopefully it gave you everything you need to know about asking Portuguese questions. Before you know it, you’ll be spouting them left and right! So take your chances and satisfy your curiosity by putting these questions into practice. Remember, they can be of great help when you’re feeling stuck in a conversation.

Did you like the way the questions and answers were presented? Did we leave out any questions you were hoping to see? Tell us what you think in the comments below! And feel free to come back to this article whenever you feel like it.

Now is the time to continue on your language-learning journey! There are more free Portuguese resources and a variety of vocabulary lists available on PortuguesePod101.com. Go ahead and choose your favorite tools to expand your learning opportunities.

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