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Archive for the 'Portuguese Phrases' Category

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?

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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.

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.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese

Top 10 Portuguese Sentence Patterns You Will Actually Use

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Learning a language is a never-ending journey. Even our own mother tongue can be surprising at times! But let’s be honest: the language we use in the majority of our daily interactions tends to repeat itself. That’s why one of the smartest things to do when learning a new language is to cut to the chase and pick up the most common sentences.

No need to waste lots of time with grammar rules or perfecting each little sound. Instead, practice these common Portuguese sentence patterns and boost your communication skills! Once you have them down, each of your interactions with a native speaker or a fellow language-learner will fill you with more confidence and expand your vocabulary. All it takes to begin is getting comfortable with these straight-to-the-point sentence patterns in Portuguese.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover some easy Portuguese sentence patterns, as well as more complex and detailed ones; these will give you the flexibility to build your own Portuguese phrases. The examples we provide will help you understand the context in which each one is used. Practice these sentence patterns until they become second-nature to you. We guarantee that it will give you a big advantage in your language-learning journey as you continue improving!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. A is B
  2. The Current Moment
  3. I Want
  4. I Need
  5. I Like and I Love
  6. Asking Someone for Something: Please
  7. Asking for Permission
  8. Asking for Information
  9. Asking About the Time
  10. Asking About Location
  11. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. A is B

Sentence Patterns

This Portuguese sentence pattern is extremely versatile! Whether you want to link two nouns or a noun and an adjective, this is the structure you’ll use. This makes it handy for talking about, or describing, people and objects. 

The foundation for this type of sentence in Portuguese is the verb ser (“to be”). If you need a quick refresher, check the conjugation of the verb.

  • Eu sou alta. (“I am tall.”) [female]
  • João é simpático. (“João is nice.”)
  • Marta é minha esposa. (“Marta is my wife.”)
  • O médico é muito experiente. (“The doctor is very experienced.”)
  • Minha mãe era professora. (“My mother was a teacher.”)
  • O churrasco é amanhã. (“The barbecue is tomorrow.”)
  • Esta universidade era a melhor do país. (“This university was the best in the country.”)

As you can see, by using the different conjugations of the verb ser, you can add information about the subject. Following the verb, you can use a noun, an adjective, or an adverb.


2. The Current Moment

While in English, we use the verb “to be” to talk about both permanent and temporary characteristics, in Portuguese, there’s a difference. In the previous Portuguese sentence pattern, we already saw the verb ser being used. Now, let’s see the sentence structure used to talk about things in the current moment.

For this, let’s invite the verb estar (“to be,” impermanent). Estar is another one of those useful little verbs that appear all the time. It might be used to talk about something we are temporarily:

  • Eu estou confusa. (“I am confused.”)
  • Meu filho está com fome. (“My son is hungry.”)
  • O dia está nublado. (“The day is cloudy.”)
  • Nós estamos muito atrasados. (“We are very late.”)
  • O jantar estava uma delícia! (“The dinner was delicious!”)
  • Nós estamos no shopping. (“We are at the mall.”)

But it doesn’t stop there. The verb estar is also used to talk about things we are doing or the weather.

  • Nós estamos limpando a casa. (“We are cleaning the house.”)
  • Estou chegando. (“I’m arriving.”)
  • Está chovendo. (“It’s raining.”)
  • Você estará em casa amanhã? (“Will you be home tomorrow?”)
  • Ele estava correndo quando você ligou. (“He was running when you called.”)

When talking about actions that are happening in this moment, or that were happening in the moment you’re referring to, the gerund form is commonly used.

Someone Sitting on a Dock with an Umbrella

Está nublado. (“It’s cloudy.”)

3. I Want

Let’s say you’re walking around a famous city in Brazil, under the hot sun, and you see a juice stand with mouthwatering fruit juices. You want to get one ASAP! How can you let them know you want an ice-cold glass of juice?

The verb querer (“to want”) is used to express something you want. If you need to, you can check the conjugation of the verb querer.

  • Eu quero um suco de laranja gelado, por favor. (“I want a cold orange juice, please.”)
  • Eu quero comprar um (par de) sapato(s). (“I want to buy a pair of shoes.”)
  • Você quer ir no show? (“Do you want to go to the concert?”)
  • Meu pai quer ir no jogo de futebol. (“My dad wants to go to the soccer match.”)

There are also a couple of ways to express something similar: “I would like.” For that, use the verb gostar (“to like”) in the subjunctive mode.

  • Eu gostaria de um copo de água. (“I would like a glass of water.”)
  • Ela gostaria de te ver. (“I would like to see you.”)
  • Você gostaria de vir? (“Would you like to come?”)

That’s great, but what if you have to make sure the people at the juice stand don’t put sugar in your juice? For situations like this, you need to learn how to say you don’t want something. It’s very easy: simply put the word não (“no”) before your verb.

  • Eu não quero açúcar. (“I don’t want sugar.”)
  • Meu pai não quer ir ao jogo de futebol. (“My dad doesn’t want to go to the soccer match.”)

4. I Need

When things go up a notch, you might prefer making it clear that you need something! For this, you’ll use the verb precisar (“to need”). Regardless of what your needs are—food, drinks, shade on a hot day, a friend to go to the beach with—this verb has got you covered!

Notice that, when the verb precisar is followed by another verb, you don’t need any preposition in between them. Also, the verb that follows precisar is used in the infinitive form. For example:

  • Eu preciso dormir. (“I need to sleep.”)
  • Precisamos conversar. (“We need to talk.”) – the pronoun “we” is implicit in the sentence
  • Eu preciso voltar para a academia. (“I need to go back to the gym.”)

Now, you can also use the verb precisar with a nominal phrase, or in other words, a phrase without a verb. In these cases, you’ll need the preposition de (“of”). Here are a few examples of this Portuguese sentence construction:

  • Você precisa de algo? (“Do you need something?”)
  • Ela precisou de remédio. (“She needed medicine.”)
  • Vocês vão precisar de um carro. (“You will need a car.”)
A Little Girl Hugging Her Dog

Preciso de um abraço! (“I need a hug!”)

5. I Like and I Love

There are a couple of different ways to express the things you like, adore, and love in Portuguese. Some people would argue that there should be more words to cover the entire spectrum of love we feel, but for now, there are only three Portuguese sentence patterns you need to learn! 

The first is the sentence using gostar (“to like”):

  • Eu gosto de você. (“I like you.”) 
  • Ela gostava de fazer compras. (“She liked shopping.”)
  • Nós gostamos de gatos. (“We like cats.”)
  • Gosto muito de dançar. (“I like to dance very much.”)
  • Vocês gostam muito dessa cidade! (“You like this city a lot!”)

Two things to notice: 

1) The verb gostar is followed by a preposition. In most cases, the preposition is de (“of”).

2) As you can see in the last two examples, you can add the adverb muito (“very” or “a lot”) after the verb to amplify the intensity! This way, you can say that you like something a lot.

Now, if you really like something, you might use the verb adorar (“to adore”). It’s commonly perceived as being a bit more intense than gostar. Although the literal translation is “to adore,” unless you’re talking about a religious setting, it’s more correct to translate it to “like very much” or even “love.”

  • Ela adora comida italiana! (“She loves Italian food!”)
  • Nós adoramos a sua casa. (“We like your house very much.”)
  • Eu adoraria ir à festa. (“I would love to go to the party.”)
  • Eles adoram cozinhar. (“They love to cook.”)

Lastly, to express love or fondness for just about anything, use the verb amar (“to love”). But know that Brazilians are intense, and the verb amar is used very often. Saw a movie you liked? You can say you loved it. Your friend sent you a relatable meme? You can reply with amei (“loved it”)! Want to tell your best friend you love them? Yep, you would use the same verb.

  • Amo muito meus pais. (“I love my parents a lot.”)
  • Minha mãe ama meus amigos. (“My mother loves my friends.”)
  • Eles amavam comida mexicana. (“They loved Mexican food.”)
  • Eu te amo. (“I love you.”)

The last example is an interesting case: although in Brazil, the pronoun você (“you”) is most commonly used in speech, eu te amo is actually conjugated in the second person of the speech (tu). Don’t worry about it, though! Do as most Brazilians do, and say Eu te amo to that special person.

Note that in Portuguese, there’s another verb to express being in love: apaixonar.

  • Estou apaixonado por você. (“I’m in love with you.”)
  • Maria está apaixonada por João. (“Maria is in love with João.”)
A Woman Biting into a Chocolate Bar

Eu amo chocolate. (“I love chocolate.”)

6. Asking Someone for Something: Please

Por favor (“please”) is your go-to expression for asking for something politely. There are two places where you can place it: at the beginning or at the end of the sentence. 

When asking, place por favor at the end. When politely reminding someone of a favor or something you asked, it can go at the beginning or the end. Let’s take a look at some examples of possible Portuguese sentence structures:

  • Você pode pegar a caixa, por favor? (“Can you get the box, please?”)
  • Por favor, não esquece do bolo! (“Please, don’t forget the cake!”)
  • Mãe, por favor, bata na porta antes de entrar. (“Mom, please, knock on the door before coming in.”)
  • Me ajuda, por favor? (“Help me, please?”)
  • Fecha a porta, por favor. (“Close the door, please.”)

7. Asking for Permission

Use the verb poder (“can” or “may”) to talk about permission, both to ask for it and to grant it.

  • Eu posso entrar? (“May I come in?”)
  • Pode me dar um copo de água? (“Can you give me a glass of water?”)
  • Com licença, pode me ajudar? (“Excuse me, can you help me?”)
  • Posso pedir uma sobremesa? (“Can I order a dessert?”)
  • Podem entrar! (“You may come in!”)

An important expression is com licença, which translates to “excuse me.” If you need to stop somebody in the street to ask for directions, use the expression at the beginning. For example:

  • Com licença, pode me dar uma informação? (“Excuse me, can you give me some information?”)
Sentence Components

8. Asking for Information

Let’s go back to our imaginary juice stand on a hot day in Brazil. Very likely, you’ll find some different fruits, maybe even one you’ve never seen before. How can you ask for information about the fruit, or for its name? Let’s take a look at the various ways to ask “What is…?”

  • O que é isso? (“What is this?”)
  • O que temos para jantar? (“What do we have for dinner?”)
  • O que está acontecendo? (“What is happening?”)
  • Que fruta é essa? (“What fruit is this?”)
  • Qual é o seu nome? (“What is your name?”)
  • Quais são as regras do jogo? (“What are the rules of the game?”)

As you can see, there are some different words you can use to express “what.” Here are some tips to make it easier for you.

O queUse it before verbs or pronouns.O que é aquilo? (“What is that?”)O que você faz? (“What do you do?”)
QueUse it before nouns.Que cheiro é esse? (“What smell is this?”)
QualUse it when the answer is something other than an explanation or definition.It’s also used as “which.”Qual é seu número de telefone? (“What is your phone number?”)Qual é o seu carro? (“Which one is your car?”)
QuaisIt’s the plural form of qual.Quais eram as opções? (“What were the options?”)Quais são as suas caixas? (“Which ones are your boxes?”)

Once again, you can add com licença to the beginning of the sentence to be polite when approaching others!

  • Com licença, que horas são? (“Excuse me, what time is it?”)

9. Asking About the Time

To make sure you get to your appointments on time, you need to get comfortable with the question “When is…?” The Portuguese sentence pattern for asking about time is pretty straightforward. You only need the word quando, which can be used at the beginning or end of the sentence. Here are some practical Portuguese sentence examples:

  • Quando é seu aniversário? (“When is your birthday?”)
  • Quando começou a festa? (“When did the party begin?”)
  • Quando são as suas férias? (“When are your vacations?”)
  • Quando o avião chega? (“When does the airplane arrive?”)
  • Seus pais chegam quando? (“Your parents arrive when?”)

You can also use another sentence pattern: Que + unit of time + verb.

  • Que horas são? (“What time is it?”)
  • Que dia você viaja? (“What day will you travel?”)

10. Asking About Location

Another important set of Portuguese sentences to learn, especially when you’re in a foreign country, are questions for asking where something is. When talking about location, the words onde and aonde will be your best friends. 

  • Onde estamos? (“Where are we?”)
  • Onde fica o supermercado? (“Where is the supermarket?”)
  • Aonde vamos? (“Where are we going?”)
  • Onde você nasceu? (“Where were you born?”)
  • De onde você é? (“Where are you from?”)
  • Onde está minha chave? (“Where is my key?”)

Sometimes, even Brazilians have trouble differentiating between onde and aonde. Think of it like this: If you’re talking about “where to,” as in being in movement and going to a place, you can use aonde

  • Aonde você vai? (“Where are you going?”)
  • Onde você está? (“Where are you?”)
A Woman Checking Her Watch

Com licença, que horas são? (“Excuse me, what time is it?”)

11. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

With this guide to the most useful Portuguese sentence patterns, you’ll be ready to start conversations in Portuguese in a bunch of different contexts. Enrich your vocabulary and add details to your sentences and, in no time, you’ll be telling stories and making jokes in a foreign language!

Feeling more confident about speaking in Portuguese? Did we miss any useful patterns you want to learn? Let us know if the sentence patterns explained in this article are helpful to you! Don’t forget to come back to this article whenever you need to refresh your memory. 

Now is the time to continue 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.

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. And in the meantime, continue exploring PortuguesePod101!

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The Portuguese Conjugation Guide for Beginners

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Learning about verbs is a crucial step when studying another language. They open up so many possibilities!

With verbs, you can tell stories, understand what’s on the news today, give and follow orders, and imagine the future. Pretty much every interaction needs verbs. But just knowing the verbs by themselves doesn’t do the job. We need to modify them a bit so they can express things like time, the number of people performing an action, and mood. 

That means it’s time to explore the ins and outs of Portuguese conjugation. 

The all-important topic of conjugation is like the spice that brings out the flavors of the Portuguese language. By learning it, you’ll be able to talk about things that have happened, things that could happen, things that will definitely happen, things that are happening…you get the idea. 

group of friends chatting over drinks

Conjugation allows you to tell amazing stories!

Portuguese verb conjugation is a vast world of rules and exceptions. Take it slow and, most importantly, practice a lot. Read, listen to native speakers in conversations, and talk whenever possible. That’s how you’ll really come to understand Portuguese conjugation. 

In this article, we’ll examine how verbs are modified depending on person, number, mood, tense, and voice. It’s a long list, but there are some conjugations that are much more widely used than others, so don’t worry!

Have you noticed that we just mentioned verbs so far? Don’t let this fool you: adjectives and adverbs also have to be modified depending on the word they relate to. This is called agreement. This happens when adjectives and adverbs are changed in order to agree in number (singular or plural) and gender (feminine or masculine). We won’t dive too deep into the nitty-gritty of that, but this article will cover a few examples.

Ready to get familiar with some new rules? Let’s make this ride as enjoyable as possible, with some handy Portuguese conjugation tables for you to study. By the end of this article, you’ll better understand how our rebel irregular verbs and friendly regular verbs behave. In addition, you’ll get plenty of practice and exposure with examples and a Portuguese conjugation quiz to test yourself.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. The Three Verb Ending Groups
  2. What Affects Conjugation
  3. Conjugation Charts
  4. Putting Conjugation to the Test
  5. Continue Learning More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. The Three Verb Ending Groups

Top verbs

If you read our article on the 100 most common Portuguese verbs, you’re already familiar with the verb endings. As a refresher, there are three main Portuguese verb groups:

  • Verbs ending in -AR
  • Verbs ending in -ER
  • Verbs ending in -IR

Knowing these verb endings and how they conjugate is useful, because pretty much all regular verbs within each group behave in the same way. The stem of the verb remains the same, and the endings all do their thing—following the same pattern! 

This means you can learn by heart one verb from each group, and that will serve as a guide on how to conjugate every other regular verb in Portuguese.

2. What Affects Conjugation

More essential verbs

As we said before, verbs can change depending on several factors, like person, number, mood, tense, and voice. In order to keep everything under control, let’s break it down. Shall we?

1 – Person and Number

In Portuguese conjugation, verbs change for each person in the sentence. We can divide the persons into two groups based on the number, which is either singular or plural. 

The table below shows all of the existing persons in Portuguese.

1st person singularEu“I”
2nd person singularTu“You”
3rd person singularVocê / Ele / Ela“You” / “He” / “She”
1st person pluralNós“We”
2nd person pluralVós“You”
3rd person pluralVocês / Eles / Elas“You” (plural) / “They” (m.) / “They” (f.)

Although there are six persons to learn, in Brazilian Portuguese you only need to focus on four: 

  • Eu (“I”)
  • Você / Ele / Ela (“You” and “He/She,” which conjugate in the same way)
  • Nós (“We”)
  • Vocês / Eles / Elas (“You” in the plural, “they” masculine, “they” feminine)

You might have noticed that você and vocês are both second person pronouns, as they translate to “you” (singular and plural, respectively). However, they use the third person conjugation. For this reason, in this article, você is grouped with ele/ela. Similarly, vocês is grouped with eles/elas.

Regional Differences
Tu is also used in some parts of Brazil. In some places, it’s used with the “correct” conjugation, while in others, tu is conjugated as a third person singular pronoun (as você). For this reason, we suggest that you learn how to recognize it, but don’t worry too much about using it. Você will be understood regardless of the region of Brazil you’re in.
In Portugal, however, tu is widely used in informal situations, while você is formal but very rarely used.

2 – Mood

Another thing you need to know: Portuguese verbs are moody. What we mean is that verbs are divided into moods (also called modes). According to Portuguese verb conjugation rules, the verbs can be conjugated in each of the different modes, and hence, convey a different mood. The existing modes are:

  • The Indicative mode, which indicates a fact. 

Example: Eu comi. (“I ate.”) 

  • The Subjunctive mode, which expresses a possible action, a wish, or something that we’re not sure about. It always needs an adverb, another verb, or other particles that help make sense of it. 

Example: Talvez eu coma. (“Maybe I will eat.”)

Example: Fale com ele. (“[You] talk to him.”) 

  • The Conditional mode, which indicates what one could, would, or should do. Some grammar books classify the conditional as part of the indicative mode. 

Example: Eu falaria com ele. (“I would talk to him.”)

3 – Tenses

Tenses refer to the moment in time when the action conveyed by the verbs occur. Each of the modes we saw above has different tenses. 

In Portuguese, some tenses are simple and some are compound. Compound tenses use another verb, called an auxiliary, alongside the main verb. 

There are a lot of tenses to learn—and they often are nightmare topics for Brazilian children in school. But there is some good news! In day-to-day life, you’ll probably stick to just a handful of them. Another piece of good news is that there’s often more than one way to say what you want. That means you can use the tenses that you’re more comfortable with. 

For example, to talk about the future in the indicative mode, you can use the simple future or the compound future. The compound is much more common and, in our opinion, easier to learn. 

  • Simple future: Comeremos cedo hoje. (“We will eat early today.”)
  • Compound future: Nós vamos comer cedo hoje. (“We are going to eat early today.”)

The verb ir is the auxiliary verb in the compound future tense. It’s a verb that you will inevitably learn to conjugate, since it’s so commonly used. Then, by using the compound future form, you don’t have to learn the individual future conjugation for each action verb. Instead, pair the conjugated auxiliary verb with the infinitive form of the main verb. 

The same applies to the pluperfect tense. The compound pluperfect is formed with the auxiliary verb ter (“to have”), and you can use it instead of the simple pluperfect. The compound pluperfect is much more common than the simple form, which is extremely rare in Brazilian Portuguese.

  • Simple pluperfect: Ela vendera o carro. (“She had sold the car.”)
  • Compound pluperfect: Ela tinha vendido o carro. (“She had sold the car.”)

Here are all the basic tenses and moods:

IndicativePresente (“Simple Present”)
Pretérito Perfeito (“Simple Past”)
Pretérito Imperfeito (“Past Imperfect”)
Pretérito Mais-que-perfeito (“Past Pluperfect”)
Futuro do Presente (“Simple Future”)
Conditional
SubjunctivePresente (“Present Subjunctive”)
Pretérito Imperfeito (“Imperfect Subjunctive”)
Futuro (“Future Subjunctive”)
Imperative

In addition to the tenses above, we have some other verb forms that you should be familiar with:

  • The infinitive is the most basic form of a verb, without any conjugation. You might see it coupled with auxiliary verbs. 

Example: Eu vou dançar muito! (“I will dance a lot!”)

  • The past participle is a verb form that can be used with auxiliary verbs to form compound past tenses.

Example: ver → visto (“to see” → “seen”)

Você tem visto seu irmão? (“Have you seen your brother?”)

  • The gerund form, which is very common in Brazil, is the equivalent of the “-ing” ending in English.

Example: estudar → estudando (“to study” → “studying”)

Elas estão estudando inglês. (“They are studying English.”) [f.]

4 – Voices

Finally, conjugation in Portuguese also depends on the two voices that exist in Portuguese: active and passive. 

Use the active voice conjugation when the subject performs the action.

  • Ana serviu o jantar. (“Ana served dinner.”)

Use the passive voice conjugation when the action happens to the subject. In this case, we use the past participle.

  • O jantar foi servido pela Ana. (“Dinner was served by Ana.”)
woman giving a toast

A noiva fez um brinde. (“The bride made a toast.”)

3. Conjugation Charts

Take a deep breath, the theoretical part is behind us. Now, let’s make everything a bit more clear by looking at the actual conjugation and real-life examples. 

In this section, we’ll see the Portuguese verb conjugation for all of the simple tenses of the indicative and subjunctive, as well as for the imperative and conditional forms. By becoming familiar with the simple conjugations now, you’ll be able to conjugate the compound forms later on.

Also, remember what we said earlier: not all tenses and persons are as common in Brazilian Portuguese. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Don’t worry too much about the conjugations for tu and vós.
  • Same applies to the pluperfect tense. 
  • The future tense can also be overlooked for now, if you prefer using the compound future tense.

Be aware that they exist, but you probably won’t need them in daily interactions!

To ease our way into the examples, we’ll begin with the regular verbs. Remember the main idea behind conjugating regular verbs: the stem remains the same, and the ending will be modified. Then, use the following examples to spot the repeating patterns.

1- AR verbs

The first verbal group includes verbs such as:

  • Cantar (“To sing”)
  • Falar (“To talk,” “To say”)
  • Andar (“To walk”)
  • Deitar (“To lay”)
  • Amar (“To love”)
  • Gostar (“To like”)

Falar (“To talk”)

EuTuVocê / Ele / ElaNósVósVocês / Eles / Elas
IndicativePresentfalofalasfalafalamosfalaisfalam
Simple Pastfaleifalastefaloufalamosfalastesfalaram
Imperfectfalavafalavasfalavafalávamosaláveisfalavam
Pluperfectfalarafalarasfalarafaláramosfaláreisfalaram
Futurefalareifalarásfalaráfalaremosfalareisfalarão
Conditionalfalariafalariasfalariafalaríamosfalaríeisfalariam
SubjunctivePresentfalefalesfalefalemosfaleisfalem
Imperfectfalassefalassesfalassefalássemosfalásseisfalassem
Futurefalarfalaresfalarfalarmosfalardesfalarem
Imperativefalafalefalemosfalaifalem
Past participlefalado
Gerundfalando

Examples:

  • Nós cantamos em uma banda de MPB. 

“We sing in a Popular Brazilian Music band.”

  • Os professores falaram que não podemos mudar o dia da aula. 

“The teachers said we couldn’t change the class day.”

  • Espero que minha namorada ame este presente. 

“I hope my girlfriend loves this gift.”

  • Seus primos acordariam muito tarde sem o despertador. 

“Your cousins would wake up very late without the alarm clock.”

  • Se eu andasse até o trabalho todos os dias, estaria em forma. 

“If I walked to work every day, I’d be in shape.”

  • As novas vizinhas estão gostando muito do bairro. 

“The new neighbors are liking the neighborhood a lot.”

Notice the way the adjective novo (“new”) has been modified in the last example. In order to agree with the noun vizinhas, which is plural and feminine, the adjective has to be plural and feminine as well. 
This vocabulary list is a great resource if you want to refresh your memory and practice how to pronounce the most common Portuguese adjectives.

2- ER verbs

The second Portuguese verbal group includes verbs like:

  • Beber (“To drink”)
  • Comer (“To eat”)
  • Viver (“To live”)
  • Correr (“To run”)
  • Escrever (“To write”)
  • Aprender (“To learn”)

Comer (“To eat”)

Examples:

  • Eu comeria todo este bolo delicioso, mas tenho que dividir. 

“I would eat all of this delicious cake, but I have to share it.”

  • Se eles bebessem mais água, não teríam este problema. 

“If they drank more water, they wouldn’t have this problem.” 

[In this case, “they” is in the masculine form.]

  • Corra para não perder o ônibus! 

“Run so you don’t miss the bus!”

  • Nós vamos escrever um livro juntos. / Nós escreveremos um livro juntos. 

“We are going to write a book together.”

  • Você aprendia inglês na escola? 

“Did you use to learn English in school?”

  • Quando ela viver sozinha, vai ver como é difícil! 

“When she lives by herself, she will see how hard it is!”

3- IR verbs

A few verbs in the third and final Portuguese verbal group are:

  • Partir (“To leave,” “To break”)
  • Abrir (“To open”)
  • Dormir (“To sleep”)
  • Assistir (“To watch”)
  • Decidir (“To decide”)
  • Confundir (“To confuse”)

Abrir (“To open”)

The past participle for this verb is irregular. If we take a couple of other examples from the third group, we can see how it differs:
Dormir → dormido (“Sleep” → “slept”)Partir → partido (“Break” → “broken”)Decidir → decidido (“Decide” → “decided”)

Here are some examples of sentences using the third group verbs:

  • Abram os presente pequenos primeiro! 

“Open the small gifts first!”

  • O bebê dormia muito pouco. 

“The baby slept too little.”

  • Vamos assistir esta série hoje. / Assistiremos esta série hoje. 

“We are going to watch this TV show today.”

  • Quando eles decidirem, vão nos ligar. 

“When they decide, they will call us.”

[masculine]

  • Se eu confundisse os nomes, perdia pontos no jogo. 

“If I confused the names, I lost points in the game.”

two old ladies celebrating a birthday together

Minhas avós comemoraram juntas. (“My grandmothers celebrated together.”)

4 – The Most Important Irregular Verbs

As much as we love the regular verbs, we have to devote some time to learning the irregular ones. They are everywhere in Portuguese—and they’re also very useful! 

Here are Portuguese conjugation charts for the four most important irregular verbs, which also act as auxiliary verbs: ser, estar, ir, and ter.

Ser (“To be,” permanent)

Ser is an auxiliary verb when a sentence is in the passive voice, as you can see in the last example.

Examples:

  • Eu serei a pessoa mais velha na festa. / Eu vou ser a pessoa mais velha na festa. 

“I will be the oldest person at the party.”

  • Vocês são engraçados! 

“You are funny!”

  • Sua mãe sempre foi a melhor professora. 

“Your mom was always the best teacher.”

  • Já sabe, se for no Brasil, me avisa. 

“You know already, if you go to Brazil, tell me.”

  • Mesmo que eles fossem mais rápidos, não chegariam a tempo. 

“Even if they were faster, they wouldn’t arrive in time.”

[“they” is masculine]

  • O ator foi reconhecido no supermercado. 

“The actor was recognized in the supermarket.”

Estar (“To be,” impermanent)

Estar is an auxiliary verb in all of the continuous tenses. In other words, when you want to say you “were doing” or “are doing” something, use estar as the auxiliary verb alongside the main verb.

Examples:

  • O policial estava dirigindo muito devagar

“The police officer was driving too slow.”

  • Meus pais estiveram aqui ontem. 

“My parents were here yesterday.”

  • Eu estaria na praia, se pudesse. 

“I would be at the beach, if I could.”

  • Espero que elas estejam em casa. 

“I hope they are home.”

[feminine]

  • Quando o médico estiver pronto, vai chamar vocês. 

“When the doctor is ready, he will call you all.”

Ir (“To go”)

As we mentioned before, ir is an auxiliary verb in the future tense, in the widely used compound future tense.

Examples:

  • Os convidados vão chegar mais cedo. 

“The guests will arrive earlier.”

  • Eu já vou! 

“I’m going!”

  • Talvez ele vá na viagem. 

“Maybe he will go on the trip.”

  • Elas foram para o Rio de Janeiro de férias? 

“They went to Rio de Janeiro for their vacation?”

[“they” is feminine]

  • Vamos logo, antes que chova! 

“Let’s go, before it rains!”

  • É verdade que ele ia pedir demissão? 

“Is it true that he was going to resign?”

Ter (“To have”)

Ter is used to form the perfect tenses. Take a look at the following sentences, as the last ones show some examples of ter as an auxiliary verb.

Examples:

  • Nós tivemos uma boa chance de ganhar. 

“We had a good chance of winning.”

  • Quando ela tiver uma bicicleta, vai se exercitar. 

“When she has a bike, she will exercise.”

  • Tenha paciência, criança! 

“Have patience, child!”

  • Se tivesse sobremesa, eles teriam comido mais. 

“If there was dessert, they would have eaten more.”

[“they” is masculine]

  • Eu tenho tido sorte nas minhas viagens. 

“I have had luck in my travels.”

  • Você tem dormido cedo? 

“Have you been sleeping early?”

a kitten mewling loudly

Nós temos um gatinho fofo. (“We have a cute kitten.”)

Good job! Now you’re familiar with the conjugation for regular verbs, as well as the most important irregular Portuguese verbs. You can put yourself to the test and try to conjugate the verbs in this vocabulary list. As a bonus, you’ll be able to practice their pronunciation!

4. Putting Conjugation to the Test

To keep you on your toes, it’s time to practice with this quick Portuguese verb conjugation quiz. 

Complete the sentence by filling in the gap with the correct conjugation of the verb (shown between parentheses). Afterwards, scroll down for the correct answers and an explanation. Try to fill it in before checking the answers!

  1. Minha filha (adorar) _____________ conhecer vocês.

(“My daughter would love to meet you.”) 

  1. Todos os dias, nós (beber) ______________ um copo de suco de laranja.

(“Everyday, we drink a glass of orange juice.”)

  1. Eles (sair) ______________ de casa quando o telefone tocou.

(“They were leaving the house when the telephone rang.”

[where “they” is masculine]

  1. A casa deve estar limpa quando sua avó (chegar) _____________.

(“The house must be clean when your grandmother arrives.”)

  1. Ele (ser) _____________ a estrela do show.

(“He was the star of the show.”)

Did you write your answers down? Let’s see what the correct conjugations are and why.

1. Minha filha adoraria conhecer vocês. (“My daughter would love to meet you.”) 

Since we’re talking about something that the daughter would love, it’s a possibility. Therefore, we use the conditional
Adorar is a regular verb of the -AR group, so we have to conjugate it in the same way as the verb falar (“to talk”). Another thing to note is that “my daughter” is a third person singular subject. You can see the entire conjugation for the verb adorar, but since it’s a regular verb, you can just substitute the stem of the verb:

Falariaadoraria

2. Todos os dias, nós bebemos um copo de suco de laranja. (“Everyday, we drink a glass of orange juice.”)

In this case, the action happens everyday. Hence, the verb should be in the present tense of the indicative. 

Beber is a regular verb of the second conjugation, and the person in the sentence is nós, the first person of the plural. Once again, you can use the same pattern from the conjugation of the verb comer (“to eat”), and just change the stem.

Comemos bebemos

3. Eles saíam de casa quando o telefone tocou. / Eles estavam saindo de casa quando o telefone tocou. (“They were leaving the house when the telephone rang.”) [masculine]

This is an interesting sentence because there are two ways you could say it. The fact is, the action of leaving the house was happening in the past when it was interrupted. 

In the first answer, we used the past imperfect tense, and the verb is conjugated in the third person plural. Sair is an irregular verb, but its conjugation is fairly similar to that of the -IR group. For effects of comparison, see how the regular verb abrir (“to open”) is conjugated for the same tense and person: 

Abriam saíam 

The second answer uses the past continuous tense, with the auxiliary verb estar (“to be”) and the gerund form of the main verb (sair). It conveys the idea that something was happening when another action occurred. Again, you can compare the gerund form below.

Abrindosaindo

You can listen to this lesson on PortuguesePod101.com for more examples on how to use the past imperfect tense.

4. A casa deve estar limpa quando sua avó chegar. (“The house must be clean when your grandmother arrives.”)

The verb chegar has to be conjugated in the future of the subjunctive, since it implies an action that will happen, but we’re not quite sure when. The presence of the adverb quando (“when”) serves as an indication that the subjunctive mood is used. 

Then, conjugate the verb in the third person singular, exactly as we did with the verb falar.

Falarchegar

5. Ele foi a estrela do show. / Ele era a estrela do show. (“He was the star of the show.”)

This is a tricky one! Depending on the context, the answer changes a bit.

If the show was a one-time event that is already over, we use the simple past tense. In this case, the verb refers to an action that already happened and is done with. 

  • Ele foi a estrela do show.  

“He was the star of the show.”

Now, if the action happened over an indefinite period of time (e.g. during this person’s whole adulthood), we use the imperfect past tense. Let’s say, for example, that the show was running for years, and the subject of the sentence was continuously the star of the show. In this case: 

  • Ele era a estrela do show. 

“He was the star of the show.”

If you want to dive a little bit deeper into the differences between foi and era, there’s a very interesting discussion here.

someone writing in a journal

Vamos continuar a praticar! (“Let’s continue to practice!”)

5. Continue Learning More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Hopefully this guide provided the information you need to understand Portuguese conjugation and progress even further in your language-learning journey. Don’t forget to come back to this article, or the article about the 100 most common Portuguese verbs, whenever you need to practice. 

Ready to go out into the world and put all you learned into practice? Did the examples help you grasp the different ways to use the verbs? If we missed any aspect of Portuguese verb conjugation, tell us 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. And in the meantime, continue exploring PortuguesePod101!

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Your Starter Guide to Portuguese Verbs

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Oh, verbs. Crucially important for communication in any language, they can sometimes be a bit of a pain. There are so many of them, regular and irregular, that it’s easy to get lost. But worry not: we’re here to help you every step of the way! In no time, you’ll be best friends with Portuguese verbs. 

It’s definitely important to learn the most-used verbs early on in your journey to mastering a second language. The reason for this is simple: verbs provide key information in a sentence, indicating an action. Of course, you’ll also need to know the most popular adjectives and adverbs in Portuguese! This way, you’ll have all the tools you need to understand sentences and make your own.

The cool thing about learning the most common verbs in Portuguese is that you’ll start recognizing them when listening or reading. This is one of the best ways to understand the context of what’s being said, even if you don’t understand all the words in a sentence. And with just a few Portuguese verbs, you’ll be able to communicate much more.

Better yet, since in Portuguese it’s common to reply with a single verb instead of a whole sentence, you’ll really get the most bang for your buck!
If you’re ready to get familiarized with Portuguese irregular and regular verbs, great! We’ll make this as easy as possible for you! First, let’s have a quick look at the main characteristics of Portuguese verb conjugation. Then, we’ll explore 100 must-know Portuguese verbs that will really help you step up your language game.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. The Basics You Need to Know
  2. The Finest Exemplars of Portuguese Verbs
  3. Continue Learning More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. The Basics You Need to Know

Top verbs

1 – Verb Endings: Why They Matter

As in some other languages, Portuguese has three main verb groups, characterized by their different endings. In this case, the verb endings are  -AR, -ER, and -IR. Take the three verbs below as examples:

-AR-ER-IR
Andar (“To walk”)Comer (“To eat”)Abrir (“To open”)

There are also verbs that end in -OR, but since those are always irregular verbs, we don’t group them. 

It can be helpful to keep those endings in mind, because regular verbs in each group are conjugated in the same way. The stem of the verbs remain the same throughout the different conjugations, and the endings are predictable. 

In other words, by learning the Portuguese verb conjugation for just a few verbs in each group, you’ll already have a blueprint of how to deal with any other regular verb you come across! 
To see how regular verbs in the present tense behave, look at this Portuguese conjugation chart:

-AR verbs-ER verbs-IR verbs
EuStem + oAndoStem + oComoStem + oAbro
“I walk”“I eat”“I open”
TuStem + asAndasStem + esComesStem + esAbres
“You walk”“You eat”“You open”
Você/Ele/ElaStem + aAndaStem + eComeStem + eAbre
“You walk,” using você.
“He/She walks”
“You eat,” using você.
“He/She eats”
“You open,” using você.
“He/She opens”
NósStem + amosAndamosStem + emosComemosStem + imosAbrimos
“We walk”“We eat”“We open”
VósStem + aisAndaisStem + eisComeisStem + isAbris
“You walk”“You eat”“You open”
Vocês/Eles/ElasStem + amAndamStem + emComemStem + emAbrem
“They walk”“They eat”“They open”

It is indeed a happy moment when we encounter regular verbs. 

Group of people running on track field

2 – Making the Most of the Verbs 

An interesting thing about verbs is that they go beyond expressing an action. The verb conjugation in Portuguese tells you much more than what happened; it also tells you who is performing the action and/or the moment in time when that action happens. In some cases, it’s not even necessary to use the subject in the sentence, since the verb itself already implies the subject. 

Let’s look at an example to see if it makes sense.

  • Acordei agora. 

“I woke up now.”

In the example, we only have the verb acordei and the adverb agora (“now”). There’s no need to use the subject eu (“I”), because the verb in itself contains the information about who did the action (who woke up). In this example, the verb alone doesn’t tell us when the action took place, which is why we see the adverb agora

Let’s look at another example, this time an interaction between two people:

  • Acordou agora? 

“Did you wake up now?”

Acordei. 

“I did.”

This is a perfect example of how you can use a single verb to answer a question. So rejoice! Once you learn the rules for Portuguese verb conjugation and how verbs change depending on the person and time, your communication potential will increase exponentially!

3 – When Verbs Go Together

Now another word about Portuguese verb tenses.

In some cases, you’ll see more than one verb being used in a sentence. This happens in compound tenses. In Portuguese, we have simple tenses and compound tenses, similar to what happens in English. When only one verb expresses the action, we’re dealing with a simple tense, while compound tenses use two verbs to express the action.

For example, you can say:

  • Eu fiz a prova de matemática. 

“I took the math test.”

In the simple tense, only one verb expresses the action. Now, if you say:

  • Eu estava fazendo a prova de matemática quando… 

“I was taking the math test when…”

We have a compound tense, where the main verb needs an auxiliary verb to indicate the action. Like in the example above, it’s very common to use compound tenses when talking about getting to places

In this article, we won’t go into the details of Portuguese verb conjugation, but you will be able to recognize some of those auxiliary verbs after checking out our Portuguese verbs list.

Sometimes the verbs like to partner up.

4 – Where Does the Verb Go?

Lastly, something that’s very helpful is becoming familiarized with the basic sentence structure in Portuguese. This is very straightforward, since it’s similar to the English sentence structure.

SentenceEu andei com ele.“I walked with him.”
SubjectEu“I”
Verbandei“walked”
Objectcom ele“with him”

However, keep in mind that Portuguese is a language full of exceptions, so don’t rule out other possibilities.

I know, I know, that was a lot. Verbs can be intimidating because they’re in pretty much every sentence we read, write, or speak. But this is also a blessing in disguise since you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice. 

Remember that learning a foreign language is not a sprint, so let’s first work on becoming familiar with the most common Portuguese verbs. To know how to pronounce the verbs we’ll see, check out this handy video with the Top 25 Portuguese Verbs.

And a final tip: As you set out to learn Portuguese verbs, use your time wisely. When commuting or with free time on your hands, take a look at this article again. Review and reinforce what you learn with some more information about Portuguese verbs. Then, by combining them with adverbs and adjectives you’ve already learned, you can begin creating more sentences. You’ll be ready to go beyond the basic greetings and really start conversing in Portuguese!

2. The Finest Exemplars of Portuguese Verbs

More essential verbs

1 – The Verb “To Be” in Portuguese

The illustrious verb “to be” has to come first in this list of essential Portuguese verbs. After all, it’s one of the first verbs you’ll use when getting to know people. There’s a catch, however. Unlike in English, in Portuguese we have two verbs that translate to “to be.” These are the Portuguese verbs ser and estar.

Think of it in terms of permanence and impermanence:

  • You can be something permanently (or at least for a long time):
    •  You can be a certain nationality or profession.
  • You can be something for a small period of time (temporarily)
    • You can be cold, you can be sunblind, or you can be in school.

1.

Ser
“To be” – permanent
Ele é um homem muito alto.
“He is a very tall man.”

2.

Estar
“To be” – impermanent
Eles estão ansiosos.
“They are anxious.”

Both verbs also act as auxiliary verbs in specific compound tenses. 

Estar is an auxiliary verb in all of the continuous tenses. That means that when you want to say you “were doing” or “are doing” something, estar is the auxiliary verb you will use.

  • Present continuous: Eu estou correndo agora. (“I am running now.”)
  • Past continuous: Você estava lendo uma revista. (“You were reading a magazine.”)

Ser is an auxiliary verb only when a sentence is in the passive voice. In other words, when the action happens to someone, we use the verb ser alongside the main verb.

  • Passive voice: Nós fomos reconhecidos. (“We were recognized.”)

2 – Some Other Auxiliary Verbs

Besides the “to be” verbs, there are some other important Portuguese auxiliary verbs to learn. When they’re acting as helping verbs, they’re used before the action verb. As a result, they add information about possibility or time. 

In the examples below, the first sentence shows the verb acting as the main verb, in the simple tense. The second example shows how it’s used in the compound tense.

3.

Ir 
“To go”
“Will”
Eles estão indo para a praia.
“They are going to the beach.”
Eu vou dormir agora.
“I will sleep now.”

The verb ir is an auxiliary verb in the future tense, indicating the action that will happen. 

In Brazilian Portuguese, it’s very common to see the verb ir being used in the compound future tense instead of the simple future tense. For example, it’s more likely that you’ll hear:

  • Eu vou fazer um bolo. 

than

  • Eu farei um bolo.

Both sentences mean the same thing, but the compound form is more common in colloquial Portuguese. 

You’ll also encounter the verb ir paired with an action verb in the gerund form. This combination expresses a continuous action in the near future.

  • Eu vou dirigindo na frente. 

“I will be driving ahead.”

You can probably tell by the examples above that ir is a highly irregular verb.

4.

Ter 
“To have”
Nós temos dinheiro.
“We have money.”
Eu tenho comido bem.
“I have been eating well.”

Ter is used to form the perfect tenses:

  • Você tem acordado cedo. 

“You have been waking up early.”

  • Você teria acordado cedo se o despertador tivesse funcionado direito. 

“You would have woken up early if the alarm clock had worked properly.”

5.

Haver 
“Can” 
“May”
Há mais de 40 sapatos.
“There are more than 40 shoes.”
Eu haveria perdido.
“I would have lost.”

Haver is a special little verb. It’s used in a variety of ways. But the truth is that, at least in Brazilian Portuguese, it’s becoming less common to use it. 

Haver can mean “there is” or “there are”:

  • Há muita gente aqui. 

“There are a lot of people here.”

Note that the same sentence could have been written with the verb ter:

  • Tem muita gente aqui. 

“There are a lot of people here.”

These two words can be used interchangeably in the context of “there is” and “there are.” They’re also interchangeable in the compound perfect tenses. 

  • Ele havia conseguido. 

“He had succeeded.”

  • Ele tinha conseguido. 

“He had succeeded.”

Although grammatically correct, it’s rarer to see the verb haver used in those cases.

/! But attention! When ter conveys possession, then the verbs can’t be used interchangeably.

6.

Poder 
“Can” 
“May”
“To be able”
 “Might”
Podemos lutar.
“We can fight.”

Eu posso precisar de ajuda hoje a noite.
“I might need help tonight.”

7.

Dever
“Must”
“To have to”
“To owe”
Tu deves continuar.
“You must continue.”

Você me deve uma cerveja.
“You owe me a beer.”
Dever is also a noun in Portuguese. It can mean “duty” or “homework” in the expression dever de casa.
  • Já terminei meu dever de casa. (“I’m done with my homework.”)

There are many other verbs that, in some occasions, act as auxiliary verbs. As long as you know the ones we’ve just looked at, you’ll do very well!

Auxiliary verbs are like the friendly neighbors you can count on.

3 – The Most-Used Action Verbs in Portuguese

Negative verbs

Now that you already know the main auxiliary verbs, let’s continue seeing how to express actions with this Portuguese verbs chart. Remember to also get familiar with how they sound with this vocabulary list of the 50 Most Common Verbs. There are more listening exercises available on PortuguesePod101.

8.

Fazer
“To do”
“To make”
“To have” (when talking about events)
Você já fez seus exercícios hoje?
“Did you already do your exercises today?”

Eu faço o melhor bolo de chocolate.
“I make the best chocolate cake.”

Vamos fazer uma festa esse fim de semana?
“Let’s have a party this weekend?”
In Portuguese, we often use the verb fazer to talk about weather:
  • Fez muito sol. (“It was very sunny.”)

We can also use the verb estar in the same way:
  • Estava muito sol. (“It was very sunny.”)

Lastly, you’re also likely to see both verbs being used, in a compound tense:
  • Estava fazendo muito frio. (“It was very cold.”)

9.

Dizer
“To say”
“To tell”
Nós sempre dizemos isso.
“We always say that.”

10.

Falar
“To speak”
“To talk”
“To tell”
Minha mãe fala inglês.
“My mother speaks English.”

11.

Dar
“To give”
Eles nos deram muito apoio.
“They gave us a lot of support.”

12.

Gostar
“To like”
Ela gostava do mar.
“She liked the sea.”

13.

Amar
“To love”
Eu amo bolo de chocolate!
“I love chocolate cake!”

14.

Ver
“To see”
Vocês veem aquele pássaro?
“Do you see that bird?”

15.

Olhar
“To look”
Quando ele olhou pra mim, eu chorei.
“When he looked at me, I cried.”

16.

Ouvir
“To hear”
Você ouviu o trovão?
“Did you hear the thunder?”

17.

Escutar
“To listen to”
Ele escutou o discurso até o final.
“He listened to the speech until the end.”
Ouvir and escutar are used interchangeably very often, even though there’s a slight difference in meaning. Ouvir doesn’t necessarily imply paying attention. Escutar refers to making sense of what was heard or, in other words, hearing and paying attention to it. 

However, in most cases, you can use both. For example:
  • Eu ouvi um barulho estranho. 
  • Eu escutei um barulho estranho. 
Both sentences translate to “I heard a weird noise.”

18.

Tocar
“To touch”
“To make a sound”
Não toca na panela.
“Don’t touch the pan.”

O celular está tocando.
“The phone is ringing.”

A música parou de tocar.
“The music stopped playing.”
Tocar is a very versatile word that’s used in a couple of slang expressions. 

The first one is equivalent to saying “High five!”
  • Toca aqui! 
Another common use is the expression se toca! It’s used as a wakeup call:
  • Se toca! Tá achando que é quem? (“Wake up! Who do you think you are?”)
  • Cara, se toca, esse namoro já acabou. (“Dude, wake up, this relationship is over.”)

19.

Cheirar
“To smell”
Está cheirando mal aqui.
“It smells bad here.”
In Portuguese, there are several ways that you can talk about how something smells, besides using the verb cheirar. 

You can also use the verb sentir (“to feel,” see below) + the noun cheiro (“smell”): 
  • Eu sinto cheiro de café! (“I smell coffee!”)
Or you can use the verb estar (impermanent “to be”)
  • Está um cheiro bom aqui. (“It smells nice here.”)
Finally, you can opt for the verb ter (“to have”): 
  • Esta casa tem um cheiro ruim. (“This house has a bad smell.”)
In fact, if you do see the verb cheirar being used, it will probably be in a compound tense, with the verb estar.
  • Ele estava cheirando bem. (“He was smelling good.”)

20.

Sentir
“To feel”
Vocês estão se sentindo bem?
“Do you feel well?”

21.

Pensar
“To think”
Penso, logo existo.
“I think, therefore I am.”

22.

Achar
“To find”
“To think”
Achei a chave!
“I found the key!”

Eu não achei que importava.
“I didn’t think it mattered.”

23.

Saber
“To know”
Você saberá no momento certo.
“You will know at the right moment.”

24.

Querer
“To want”
Eles queriam tanto isto.
“They wanted it so bad.”

25.

Ficar
“To stay”
“To get”
“To be” (impermanent), when talking about location
Você vai ficar em casa hoje?
“Will you stay home today?”

Aqui fica frio rápido.
“It gets cold quickly here.”

O banheiro fica à esquerda.
“The bathroom is to the left.”
Ficar translates to “to get” when it’s followed by an adjective. For example:
  • Está ficando velhinha! (“You are getting a bit old!”)

26.

Precisar
“To need”
Eu preciso tanto de um banho.
“I need a shower so bad.”
Precisar acts as an auxiliary verb as well:
  • Ele precisa entender que não é fácil assim. (“He needs to understand it’s not that easy.”)

27.

Praticar
“To practice”
Eu estou praticando meu português com meu vizinho.
“I am practicing my Portuguese with my neighbor.”

28.

Pôr
“To put”
“To place”
Você sempre põe os outros em primeiro lugar.
“You always put others first.”

29.

Colocar
“To put”
“To place”
O paisagista colocou as flores exóticas no meio do jardim.
“The landscaper placed the exotic flowers in the middle of the garden.”
In Portuguese, some verbs can be transformed into another one by adding the prefix re- in front. By doing so, the new verb gains the meaning of doing the action again. 

For example, we have the verb colocar and the verb recolocar. Recolocar means “to replace.”
  • Você pode recolocar os livros na estante, por favor? (“Can you replace the books on the shelf, please?”)

30.

Passar
“To pass”
“To iron (clothes)”
Pode me passar o sal?
“Can you pass me the salt?”

Tenho que passar esta blusa primeiro.
“I have to iron this shirt first.”

31.

Chegar
“To arrive”
Meu pai chega tarde em casa.
“My dad arrives home late.”

32.

Entrar
“To enter”
Só podemos entrar até à meia-noite.
“We can only enter at midnight.”

33.

Chamar
“To call”
“To summon”
Ele me chamou super cedo hoje.
“He called me super-early today.”

Os alunos foram chamados ao escritório.
“The students were summoned to the office.”
Chamar can also mean “to draw” in the expression “to draw attention”:
  • O objetivo do protesto é chamar a atenção dos governantes. (“The protest’s goal is drawing the government’s attention.”)

34.

Mudar
“To change”
“To move”
Minha avó vai mudar as cortinas.
“My grandmother will change the curtains.”

35.

Vir
“To come (over)”
Vocês vieram jantar aqui no meu aniversário, lembram?
“You came over for dinner on my birthday, remember?”

36.

Voltar
“To come back”
“To return”
Mocinho, volte aqui!
“Young man, come back here!”

37.

Sair
“To leave”
“To go out”
Adoro sair com minhas amigas.
“I love to go out with my friends.”

38.

Partir
“To leave”
“To depart”
“To break”
“To cut (into pieces)”
Desde que você partiu, estou tão só.
“Since you left, I feel so alone.”

Quem vai partir o bolo?
“Who will cut the cake?”

39.

Deixar
“To leave (something)”
“To let”
Ela deixou a carteira aqui.
“She left the wallet here.”

Não vou deixar isso me magoar.
“I won’t let that hurt me.”

40.

Encontrar
“To meet”
“To find”
E vocês dois vão se encontrar?
“And you two are going to meet?”

Não encontro as minhas chaves.
“I can’t find my keys.”
Once again, by adding the prefix re- in front of the verb encontrar, we have another verb: reencontrar, meaning “to meet again.”
  • Meus tios finalmente se reencontraram. (“My uncles finally met again.”)

41.

Levar
“To take”
Vocês sempre esquecem de levar os presentes.
“You always forget to take the gifts with you.”

42.

Começar
“To start”
“To begin”
Meus pais começaram as aulas de dança.
“My parents started their dance lessons.”

43.

Terminar
“To finish”
“To end”
O jogo terminou empatado.
“The match ended in a tie.”

44.

Apresentar
“To present”
“To introduce”
“To perform”
O clube de teatro apresenta a nova peça.
“The theater club presents the new play.”

Gostaria de te apresentar ao meu namorado.
“I’d like to introduce you to my boyfriend.”

Minha filha se apresentou sozinha.
“My daughter performed by herself.”

45.

Conhecer
“To know”
“To meet”
“To discover”
O motorista não conhecia aquela estrada.
“The driver didn’t know that highway.”

Eu quero conhecer seu irmão.
“I want to meet your brother.”

Ela ama conhecer novas culturas.
“She loves to discover new cultures.”
Note that conhecer only means “to know” when referring to something familiar. 

For example, you can use conhecer if you know a certain street or a certain person: 
  • Você conhece a prima Luisa? (“Do you know cousin Luisa?”)
But you can’t use conhecer if referring to something you know how to do. In this case, use saber.
  • Eu sei cozinhar. (“I know how to cook.”)

46.

Conseguir
“To get” 
“To achieve (something)”
Eu não sei se ele vai conseguir o trabalho.
“I don’t know if he will get the job.”

47.

Existir
“To exist”
O futuro ainda não existe.
“The future still does not exist.”
Existir can be translated as “there is” or “there are”:
  • Nunca existiu alguém como você na minha vida. (“There was never someone like you in my life.”)

48.

Considerar
“To consider”
É uma boa ideia considerar a oferta.
“It’s a good idea to consider the offer.”

49.

Continuar
“To continue”
Os peregrinos continuaram andando por mais dois dias.
“The pilgrims continued walking for two more days.”

50.

Viver
“To live”
Queria ter vivido na Renascença.
“I wish I had lived during the Renaissance.”
In Portuguese, we use the verb viver to convey the idea of always doing something. For example:
Eu vivo dizendo isso pra ele. (“I’m always telling him that.”)
Ele vivia cantando esta música. (“He was always singing this song.”)

51.

Morrer
“To die”
Todos vamos morrer um dia.
“We will all die one day.”

52.

Tomar
“To take”
“To have (a drink)”
Você tomou seu remédio?
“Did you take your medicine?”

Vamos tomar uma cerveja!
“Let’s go have a beer!”
Tomar can be used interchangeably with beber (“to drink”).

Levar and tomar both mean “to take.” The difference is that levar implies taking something/someone somewhere:
  • Leva este vestido na viagem. (“Take this dress on your trip.”)
Tomar does not imply this concept of location:
  • Vou tomar um banho. (“I’ll take a shower.”)

53.

Acabar
“To end”
“To finish”
Acabei meu projeto ontem.
“I finished my project yesterday.”
Acabar is also used in some different situations. It can mean “is over” or “run out of”: 
  • A comida já acabou. (“We’ve run out of food.”)
It’s also very commonly used to express that something just happened: 
  • Ele acabou de começar a pintura. (“He just started the painting.”)

54.

Pegar
“To catch”
“To grasp”
Tenta pegar a bola antes que ela caia no chão.
“Try to catch the ball before it hits the floor.”

55.

Receber
“To receive”
“To get”
Meu irmão recebeu uma promoção no trabalho.
“My brother received a promotion at work.”

56.

Andar
“To walk”
Para de andar tão rápido.
“Stop walking so fast.”
It’s common to see this verb being used to express something that one has been doing or feeling: 
  • Eu ando lendo muito. (“I have been reading a lot.”)

57.

Trabalhar
“To work”
Nosso vizinho trabalha até tarde.
“Our neighbor works until late.”

58.

Criar
“To create”
“To make”
“To raise”
O designer criou um pôster lindo.
“The designer made a beautiful poster.”

Minha mãe me criou sozinha.
“My mom raised me by herself.”

59.

Pedir
“To ask”
Minha amiga pediu um favor.
“My friend asked for a favor.”

60.

Seguir
“To follow”
“To go”
O cachorro me seguiu o caminho todo.
“The dog followed me all the way.”

Pra chegar no mercado, é só seguir em frente.
“To get to the market, just go straight ahead.”
Used in the expression seguir em frente (“to move on”):
  • Quando eles terminaram, ela seguiu em frente. (“When they broke up, she moved on.”)

61.

Contar
“To count”
“To tell”
A professora contou os alunos.
“The teacher counted the students.”

A jornalista me contou que ninguém estava lá.
“The journalist told me that nobody was there.”

62.

Acontecer
“To happen”
Aconteceu exatamente assim.
“It happened exactly like that.”

63.

Afirmar
“To claim”
“To affirm”
“To state”
O diretor afirmou que tudo está funcionando bem.
“The director stated that everything is working well.”

64.

Tratar
“To treat”
O médico tratou o paciente.
“The doctor treated the patient.”

65.

Esperar
“To wait”
Eu esperei por muito tempo.
“I waited for a long time.”

66.

Usar
“To use”
Nós não usamos couro.
“We don’t use leather.”

67.

Manter
“To keep”
“To maintain”
Vou manter a esperança acesa.
“I’ll keep hope alive.”

68.

Realizar
“To accomplish”
Finalmente ele realizou seu sonho.
“He finally accomplished his dream.”

69.

Abrir
“To open”
Só pode abrir a encomenda quando eu chegar!
“Only open the package once I arrive!”

70.

Fechar
“To close”
Quase que fecham a porta na nossa cara!
“They almost closed the door right in our face!”
As in English, we also have the expression “to close a deal” using this verb:
  • Fico feliz de fechar este negócio com você. (“I am happy to close this deal with you.”)

71.

Escrever
“To write”
Eu irei escrever uma página todos os dias.
“I will write a page everyday.”

72.

Permitir
“To allow”
Seu pai jamais permitiria isso.
“Your father would never allow that.”

73.

Acreditar
“To believe”
Eu só acredito vendo.
“I only believe it when I see it.”

74.

Mostrar
“To show”
Será que pode me mostrar o carro?
“Any chance you can show me the car?”

75.

Lembrar
“To remember”
“To remind”
Ele me lembrou de comprar.
“He reminded me to buy it.”

Eu lembrarei da nossa música.
“I will remember our song.”
As in the other examples we already saw, we also have the verb relembrar, which means “to remember again.” It’s also used when talking about nostalgia and thinking about old times, as in the example:
  • Este filme me faz relembrar minha infância. (“This movie makes me remember my childhood.”)

76.

Trazer
“To bring”
Você trouxe o meu pote?
“Did you bring my tupperware?”

77.

Procurar
“To look for”
Era isso que eu procurava!
“That’s what I was looking for!”

78.

Tentar
“To try”
Não importa o quanto a gente falhe, vamos tentar de novo.
“Doesn’t matter how much we fail, we will try again.”

79.

Formar
“To form”
Formem uma fila, por favor.
“Form a line, please.”

80.

Aparecer
“To appear”
“To show up”
Ele sempre aparece descalço.
“He always shows up barefooted.”

81.

Comprar
“To buy”
Comprou o liquidificador?
“Did you buy the blender?”

82.

Cair
“To fall”
Vocês quase caíram, eu vi.
“You almost fell, I saw it.”

83.

Correr
“To run”
Eu corri pra nada.
“I ran for nothing.”

84.

Ganhar
“To win”
“To receive”
“To get”
Nós sempre ganhamos a competição da escola.
“We always win the school competition.”

Vocês ganharam um presente!
“You got a present!”

85.

Perder
“To lose”
“To miss”
Elas não vão perder.
“They won’t lose.”

Eu perdi meu vôo.
“I missed my flight.”

86.

Vencer
“To win”
Eles venceram aquele jogo.
“They won that game.”

87.

Chover
“To rain”
Ontem choveu o dia todo.
“It rained all day yesterday.”

88.

Pagar
“To pay”
Eles saíram sem pagar.
“They left without paying.”

89.

Entender
“To understand”
Eu não entendi nada.
“I didn’t understand any of it.”

90.

Parecer
“Seem”
“Look (like)”
Ele não parecia muito feliz.
“He didn’t seem very happy.”

91.

Ler
“To read”
Você leu todos esses livros?
“Did you read all these books?”

92.

Tirar
“To take away”
“To remove”
“To get” (only with grades)
Vamos tirar isto daqui.
“We will remove this from here.”

Ele tirou 10 no teste.
“He got an A on the test.”

93.

Responder
“To answer”
“To reply”
Eles nunca mais me responderam.
“They never answered me again.”

94.

Explicar
“To explain”
Vamos lá, me explica o que aconteceu.
“C’mon, explain to me what happened.”

95.

Ensinar
“To teach”
Nós ensinávamos muito bem. 
“We used to teach very well.”

96.

Descobrir
“To discover”
“To find out”
Você não sabe o que eu descobri!
“You don’t know what I found out!”

97.

Levantar
“To lift”
“To raise”
“To get up”
Levantem as mãos.
“Raise your hands.”

98.

Deitar
“To lay down”
Só vou deitar um pouco.
“I’ll just lay down a little.”

99.

Comer
“To eat”
Ela comeu uma pizza de chocolate.
“She ate a chocolate pizza.”

100.

Beber
“To drink”
Eles bebem muito café.
“They drink a lot of coffee.”
Man practicing his pronunciation of verbs

3. Continue Learning More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

This article had a lot of information about Portuguese language verbs, and we hope that the examples and explanations were helpful to you. This list will be here for you to review and refresh your memory whenever necessary. 

Did you like learning about common Portuguese verbs and conjugations? Are there any important ones we missed? Let us know in the comments. 

And now, it’s time to put it into practice. To start, you can compare the most common verbs in any language with their Portuguese translation. Or go ahead and choose your own vocabulary list or another free resource on PortuguesePod101.

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 Portuguese learning!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Portuguese

Master Portuguese Word Order & Sentence Structure for Good

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Whether you loved playing with building blocks as a kid or not, constructing sentences in Portuguese will be just like child’s play! With this handy guide, you’ll be ready to form your sentences seamlessly, and impress any locals with how natural you sound. 

If you already know the most popular verbs in Portuguese, have learned the best adjectives to use, and are ready to make your own sentences, there’s just one thing you need to do…put all the parts together! This is where you need to make a decision: In which order do you put the words? Luckily, the Portuguese sentence structure is pretty straightforward. 

Even though we’re dealing with a language filled with exceptions and complicated rules, when it comes to Portuguese word order, things are much simpler! French and English have lots of inversions and scary things like that, but Portuguese doesn’t have those problems. In this article, we take a step-by-step approach that will make learning proper word order in Brazilian Portuguese as easy as possible. 

So get your verbs ready, brush up on the adverbs and adjectives, and come along for the ride. You’ll master the Brazilian Portuguese word order in no time!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. The Building Blocks
  2. Making the Basics Crystal-Clear
  3. Make it Juicy: Adding Information
  4. No Way: Negative Sentences
  5. Ask and You Shall Get: Asking Questions
  6. The Final Brick: Prepositional Phrases
  7. Exercise It
  8. Next Stop: Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. The Building Blocks

Improve Pronunciation

1 – The Foundation

Let’s start with more good news, shall we? As in many other languages, including English, word order in Portuguese follows the SVO structure

What does that mean? Simply put, the basic Portuguese sentence structure is:

1. Subject

2. Verb

3. Object

Take the following examples:

  • Elas comem batatas. (“They eat potatoes.”)
  • Eu saí do parque. (“I left the park.”)
A Group of People Eating French Fries from a Basket

Try not to get hungry with all the potato examples!

2 – Getting Ahead of the Competition

Step aside, complicated languages (at least this once)! Portuguese word order has some advantages over English. After all, in Portuguese, you won’t need to make complex inversions or add particles to ask questions.

Another difference is that, in Portuguese, subjects can be implicit. Many sentences might not include the subject, but people know who the subject is. If you need to brush up on this, hop up to the Portuguese Verbs article. 

Lastly, while in English the adjective comes before the noun, the opposite happens in Portuguese. But don’t worry, we’ll talk more about adjectives and other modifiers later on.

2. Making the Basics Crystal-Clear

We already saw that the basic Portuguese word order is SVO. But if that didn’t make things very clear for you, it’s recap time! The three basic elements in a sentence are:

  • Subject: indicates who or what performs the action in the sentence
  • Verb: describes an action, state, or natural phenomena
  • Object: noun or noun phrase acted upon by the subject

Let’s go back to the basic sentences we used before:

  • Elas comem batatas. (“They eat potatoes.”)
  • Eu saí do parque. (“I left the park.”)

To phrase a question, the same order applies. Isn’t that great? Basically, you’ll say the same thing, only changing the intonation to indicate that it’s a question:

  • Elas comem batatas? (“Do they eat potatoes?”)
  • Eu saí do parque? (“Did I leave the park?”)

What about sentences with compound tenses, or in other words, more than one verb? You’ll still use the exact same order!

  • Eu estou saindo do parque. (“I am leaving the park.”)

Lastly, remember that the subject can be implicit sometimes. Since the verb indicates the person already, you can drop the subject in most cases.
Saí do parque. (“I left the park.”)

Sometimes, we don’t use the implicit subject because it wouldn’t be clear who the verb is referring to. For example, if you said: 
  • Comem batatas? (“Eat potatoes?”)
It wouldn’t be clear if you were talking about eles (“they,” masculine), elas (“they,” feminine), or vocês (plural “you”).

3. Make it Juicy: Adding Information

Time to add a little more detail to those sentences. Modifiers are elements like adjectives, adverbs, and numerals. They’re essential “building blocks” in the Portuguese sentence structure, adding context and important information. Let’s get to it!

A Group of Girls Talking and Laughing

The best stories need details.

1 – Adjectives

Adjectives are attributes of nouns. In Portuguese, the adjective usually follows the noun it refers to:

  • Vinho tinto (“Red wine”)
  • Bola pesada (“Heavy ball”)
  • Parque grande (“Big park”)
  • Computador velho (“Old computer”)

Going back to our example:

  • Elas comem batatas cozidas. (“They eat boiled potatoes.”)

In some cases, the adjective can also come before the noun. There isn’t a very defined rule for this, but the placement of the adjective might subtly impact the connotation of what’s being said. You can think of it this way:

  • When the adjective is adding an objective, direct attribute to the noun, place it afterwards:

Escrevi um texto grande. (“I wrote a big [long] text.”) 

  • When the adjective is adding a more subjective, connotative, or even poetic attribute to the noun, place it beforehand:

Escrevi um grande texto. (“I wrote a great text.”)

Here’s another set of examples where the position of the adjective impacts the meaning:

  • Meus vizinhos velhos. (“My old neighbors.”) — my neighbors who are of old age
  • Meus velhos vizinhos. (“My old neighbors.”) — people who have been my neighbors for a long time

Of course, sometimes you can place an adjective before or after the noun and retain the same meaning. With practice and lots of listening, this will become more natural to you!

  • Eu ganhei lindas flores. (“I got beautiful flowers.”)
  • Eu ganhei flores lindas. (“I got beautiful flowers.”)

2 – Adverbs

Adverbs are words or phrases that modify or add information to other elements in the sentence. They can go at the beginning or end of a sentence.

  • Hoje, elas comem batatas. (“Today, they eat potatoes.”)
  • Elas comem batatas hoje. (“They eat potatoes today.”)
  • Elas comem batatas cuidadosamente. (“They eat potatoes carefully.”)
  • Cuidadosamente, elas comem batatas. (“Carefully, they eat potatoes.”)
  • Lentamente, eu saí do parque. (“Slowly, I left the park.”)
  • Eu saí do parque lentamente. (“I left the park slowly.”)

3 – Numerals, articles, quantifiers, and pronouns

In Brazilian Portuguese word order, all of these elements go before the noun they refer to, but after the verb. 

  • Elas comem duas batatas. (“They eat two potatoes.”)
  • Elas comem as batatas. (“They eat the potatoes.”)
  • Elas comem muitas batatas. (“They eat lots of potatoes.”)
  • Elas comem aquelas batatas. (“They eat those potatoes.”)
  • Elas comem as minhas batatas. (“They eat my potatoes.”)

Notice that, if you want to specify how many people are performing the action, the numeral will appear after the subject but before the verb. For example:
Elas três comem seis batatas. (“The three of them eat six potatoes.”)

A Man Deciding between an Apple or Cake for Dessert

Ele quer as duas sobremesas. (“He wants both desserts.”)

4 – Multiple modifiers

Want to spice things up and add a lot of information to your Portuguese sentences? When using more than one modifier, just follow the same rules we discussed above. 

  • Hoje, elas comem aquelas duas batatas grandes. (“Today, they eat those two big potatoes.”)

Why does aquelas go before duas? Well, the other way around wouldn’t make sense in Portuguese, just like it wouldn’t make sense to say “They eat two those big potatoes.” As a rule of thumb, keep the numeral closer to the noun.

Let’s take a look at another example:

  • Eu saí daquele parque cedo. (“I left that park early.”)

→ Practice your listening skills with this Portuguese lesson available on PortuguesePod101.com. It has great examples of sentences with multiple modifiers! 

4. No Way: Negative Sentences

Improve Listening

When it comes to constructing a negative sentence in Portuguese, the easiest way to do it is by adding the word não (“no”). You can also use words like nunca (“never”) or nem (“nor”). 

The sentence structure won’t change much. Add those negative words before the verb:

  • Elas não comem batatas. (“They don’t eat potatoes.”)
  • Eu nunca vou ao parque. (“I never go to the park.”)

You can also double down to add emphasis, and add another não at the end of the sentence:

  • Elas não comem batatas, não. (“They don’t eat potatoes.”)

Eu nunca vou ao parque, não. (“I never go to the park.”)

/!


When using the verb ir to express “going somewhere,” the grammatically correct preposition to use is a. For example: 
  • Você foi à escola? (“Did you go to school?”)
    • In this case, the preposition a is followed by the definite article a, resulting in à
  • .
  • Eu nunca vou ao parque. (“I never go to the park.”)
    • In this case, the preposition a is followed by the definite article o, resulting in ao.
However, chances are you’ll hear it differently in colloquial conversations. 
  • Você foi na escola? (“Did you go to school?”)
    • In this case, the preposition em is followed by the definite article a, resulting in na.
  • Eu nunca vou no parque. (“I never go to the park.”)
    • In this case, the preposition em is followed by the definite article o, resulting in no.
Grammatically speaking, using the preposition em in these cases is incorrect, but is widely done in Brazil.
A Girl Sticking Her Tongue Out in Disgust while Eating Peas

Eu nunca vou gostar de ervilha! (“I’ll never like peas!”)

5. Ask and You Shall Get: Asking Questions

We already saw that the Portuguese word order stays the same when asking questions. Using the same word order, all you have to do is change the intonation. 

But what if you want to be more specific when asking questions? No problem! The Portuguese sentence structure continues to be very straightforward even if you need to add words like “when,” “where,” “how,” and “why.” Simply place those words at the beginning of the sentence. 

  • Como elas comem batatas? (“How do they eat potatoes?”)
  • Quando elas comem batatas? (“When do they eat potatoes?”)
  • Por que elas comem batatas? (“Why do they eat potatoes?”)
  • Onde elas comem batatas? (“Where do they eat potatoes?”)

Colloquially, it’s also common to use—and even more so, to hear—those words being put at the end of the sentence:

  • Elas comem batatas onde? (“Where do they eat potatoes?”)

Elas comem batatas, por quê? (“Why do they eat potatoes?”)

/!


Notice that, when placed at the end of the sentence, por quê (“why”) has to be accentuated. This is true only when por que is used to ask a question. 

When it comes to porque, written as a single word, the rule is a bit different. When porque means “because,” it’s not accentuated. Porquê is only accentuated when it becomes a noun, in which case it means “the reason why.”

To recap, these are the four forms you might encounter:
  • Por que
    • Por que ele não veio? (“Why didn’t he come?”)
  • Por quê
    • Mas por quê? (“But why?”)
  • Porque
    • Porque ele não gosta de festas. (“Because he doesn’t like parties.”)
  • Porquê 
    • O porquê eu não sei. (“The reason why, I don’t know.”)

6. The Final Brick: Prepositional Phrases

Let’s say you don’t want to wait for questions using “where,” “when,” and “how.” Rather, you want to create a sentence that already includes the answer to those questions, with all the details you want. Well, in these cases, we need prepositional phrases. 

Prepositional phrases are phrases that modify a verb or a noun, adding context and information. Most importantly, they show how the words in a sentence relate to each other. 

  • Elas comem batatas no restaurante. (“They eat potatoes at the restaurant.”)
  • Elas comem batatas antes da academia. (“They eat potatoes before the gym.”) 
  • Elas comem batatas com casca. (“They eat potatoes with skin.”)

Most of the time, prepositional phrases go after the main SVO part of the sentence, as in the examples above. In some cases, it also makes sense and is considered correct to invert the order.

  • Antes da academia, elas comem batatas. (“Before the gym, they eat potatoes.”)

Again, there isn’t a hard rule about when you can place the prepositional phrase before the main sentence, as it has a lot to do with the meaning (or lack of) in each case. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to say:

  • Com casca, elas comem batatas. (“With skin, they eat potatoes.”)

Working with more than one prepositional phrase? The same logic applies: you can always place the prepositional phrase at the end. Some prepositional phrases, especially the ones relating to time, can go at the beginning of the sentence. For example:

  • Antes de treinar, elas comem batatas no carro. (“Before training, they eat potatoes in the car.”)
  • Na sexta, vou ao parque longe de casa com minha irmã. (“On Friday, I go to the park that’s far from my home with my sister.”)
  • Você comprou o prato na loja cara com seu pai. (“You bought the plate in the expensive store with your father.”)

7. Exercise It

After learning where all the individual parts go, it’s time for you to put the complete picture together! Put your knowledge of the Portuguese word order to the test. Let’s take it slow and build a complex sentence together, adding each part separately.

Write each of the sentences below in Portuguese. Once you’re done, scroll down to see the answers. No peeking before finishing! If you need to double-check something, feel free to go back to the explanations given before. Ready?

  • Maria cooked. ______________________________________________________________________
  • Maria cooked dinner. _________________________________________________________________
  • Maria cooked a big dinner. ____________________________________________________________
  • Maria cooked a big dinner quickly. ______________________________________________________
  • Maria cooked a big dinner quickly with her dad. ____________________________________________
  • Maria cooked a big dinner quickly with her dad today. _______________________________________
  • __________________________________________________________________________________
  • Maria cooked a big dinner quickly with her dad today, at his house. ____________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________
  • Maria didn’t cook with her dad today. ____________________________________________________
  • Who cooked dinner today? ____________________________________________________________
Someone Whisking Eggs in a Bowl

Maria fez uma omelete deliciosa! (“Maria made a delicious omelette!”)

Got it? Take a look at the answers below.

  • Maria cozinhou. (“Maria cooked.”)
  • Maria cozinhou o jantar. (“Maria cooked dinner.”)
  • Maria cozinhou um grande jantar. (“Maria cooked a big dinner.”)
  • Maria cozinhou um grande jantar rapidamente. (“Maria cooked a big dinner quickly.”) 
  • Maria cozinhou um grande jantar rapidamente com seu pai. (“Maria cooked a big dinner quickly with her dad.”)
  • Maria cozinhou um grande jantar com seu pai hoje. OR Hoje, Maria cozinhou um grande jantar com seu pai. (“Maria cooked a big dinner quickly with her dad today.”)
  • Hoje, Maria cozinhou rapidamente um grande jantar com seu pai na casa dele. (“Maria cooked a big dinner quickly with her dad today, at his house.”)
  • Maria não cozinhou com seu pai hoje. (“Maria didn’t cook with her dad today.”)
  • Quem cozinhou o jantar hoje? (“Who cooked dinner today?”)

Next Stop: Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Feeling comfortable with the Portuguese sentence structure, and ready to put each word where it belongs? We hope this guide was the resource you needed to continue on your language-learning journey! Come back to this article whenever you need to refresh your memory.

Are you ready to build your own sentences with our explanation of Portuguese word order? Do you think we forgot an important aspect? Tell us in the comments!

The best way to really grasp the concepts we saw today is to practice them in real-life situations. Write a note to yourself or a friend, all in Portuguese. Or try more translation exercises.

To take your skills to the next level, continue exploring PortuguesePod101! We have lots of free Portuguese resources and vocabulary lists for all situations. 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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Telling Time in Portuguese – Everything You Need to Know

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What’s your relationship with the clock like? Does it run your day from a morning alarm to a cut-off chime for bed, or are you more of a go-with-the-flow type, letting your mood and emotions decide how much you fall in line with time?

Understanding time in Portuguese is an important part of your studies. As humans, our lives are filled with habits and schedules. From waking up and going to work or gym, to missing rush hour traffic on our way home, we’re always aware of time. We have routines around coffee breaks, meetings, soccer games and vacations. In fact, time can seem rather capricious – going slowly, going fast, sometimes against us, other times on our side – like a force that has a life of its own.

In science, time is often referred to as a fourth dimension and many physicists and philosophers think that if we understood the physics of the universe, we would see that time is an illusion. We sense an ‘arrow’ or direction of time because we have memories, but really time is just a construct that humans have created to help make sense of the world. 

On the other hand, poets through the ages have written impassioned thoughts about time, depicting it as both a relentless thief and an immensely precious resource, not to be wasted at any cost.

Well, poets and scientists may have their views, but in our everyday lives there’s the question of practicality, isn’t there? I mean, if you have plans and want things to happen your way, there’s a certain amount of conforming to the human rules of time that you can’t avoid. 

In ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the prince has a rose that he falls in love with, and he tenderly protects it with a windscreen and places it under a glass dome on his tiny planet.  I love this quote from the book:  “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”  If we truly love something, we spend time with it and not a second of that time could ever be seen as wasted. I feel that way about horses, my children, travel and learning languages

With that in mind, I’d like to take you on a journey into ‘time’ from a Portuguese perspective. It’s fun, it’s informative and it’s a basic necessity if you’re learning the language – especially if you plan to travel. PortuguesePod101 has all the vocab you need to fall in love with telling time in Portuguese, and not a minute will be wasted.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Talking about Time in Portuguese
  2. How to Tell the Time in Portuguese
  3. Conclusion

1. Talking about Time in Portuguese

As a traveler, your primary need for knowing how to read the hour in Portuguese will be for transportation schedules: the bus, train, airplane, ferry, taxi… whatever you plan to use to get from A to B, it won’t wait for you! Fortunately, it’s really not complicated. You already have a firm grasp of time in English and you know you’ll need to reset your watch and phone to the local time. Great – that means you’ll have the correct time on your person. 

We’re so used to just looking at our phones for the time, that it’s easy to take this convenience for granted and forget some travel basics: in a foreign country, times won’t always be written digitally. If you see the time written in words, it’ll be the same challenge to you as hearing it spoken: you’ll need to be familiar with the language. 

You may be surprised at how often ‘time’ comes into conversation. Learning the Portuguese terms for time will help you when you have to call a taxi, ask about opening and closing times of events and tourist attractions, restaurants and bars and even late-night food cafes.

My biggest annoyance when traveling is not being able to get coffee and amazingly, even at nice hotels this has happened more times than I care to think about. I’ll be up late planning something, writing my blog or chatting and when I go looking for coffee downstairs, I’m told the kitchen is closed or the ‘coffee lady’ has gone to sleep. Frustrating!

If you’re doing a homestay or at a youth hostel or backpackers, there will probably also be a limited timeframe for when you can grab dinner. Do you know how to ask when it’s time to eat in Portuguese? I’ve learned that it’s vital to know how to make my queries clearly understood to accommodation staff and for me to clearly understand their answers. Perfect your ‘time in Portuguese’ translations early on – you’ll thank me. 

At PortuguesePod101, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of Portuguese time words and phrases to get you going. 

Pedestrians in a city

1- Morning – manhã

Morning is the time when we wake up from our dreamworld, hopefully fully rested and restored; we brew the first delicious cup of coffee for the day and watch the sunrise as we prepare for another glorious twelve hours of life. No matter what happened the day before, a new morning is a chance to make everything right. 

I like these quiet hours for language practice, as my mind is clear and receptive to learning new things. I start by writing the Portuguese time, date and word of the day on my whiteboard, then get back under the covers for an engrossing lesson.

Time in the morning is written as AM or A.M., which stands for ante meridiem – meaning ‘before midday’ in Latin.

Person typing with coffee next to them

2- Evening – noite

Evening is the part of night when we’re still awake and doing things, winding down from the day. Whether you enjoy a tasty international dinner with friends, go out to see a show, or curl up on the couch with a Brazilian snack and your favorite TV series, evening is a good time to forget your worries and do something that relaxes you. If you’re checking in with your Facebook friends, say hi to us, too!  

Evening is also an ideal time to catch up on your Portuguese studies. The neighbourhood outside is likely to be quieter and time is yours, so grab a glass of wine or a delicious local tea, and see what’s new on your Mac App or Kindle

3- Daytime – dia

Daytime is defined as the period from early morning to early evening when the sun is visible outside. In other words: from sunrise to sunset.  Where you are in the world, as well as the season, will determine how many daylight hours you get. 

Interestingly, in locations north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle, in summertime the sun does not sink below the horizon within a 24-hour period, bringing the natural phenomenon of the midnight sun.  You could only experience this in the north, though, because there aren’t any permanent human settlements south of the Antarctic Circle.

4- Nighttime – noite

Nighttime is all the hours from sunset to sunrise and depending on where in the country you are, people may be partying all night, or asleep from full-dark. 

In the same northernmost and southernmost regions where you can experience a midnight sun, winter brings the opposite phenomenon: the polar night. Can you imagine a night that lasts for more than 24 hours? 

Girl sleeping; moon and starry sky

5- Hour – hora

An hour is a unit of time made up of 60 minutes and is a variable measure of one-24th of a day – also defined by geeks as 3 600 atomic seconds. Of all the ‘time’ words we use on a daily basis, the hour is the most important, as time of day is typically expressed in terms of hours. 

One of the interesting methods of keeping time that people have come up with is the hourglass. Although the origins are unclear, there’s evidence pointing to the hourglass being invented around 1000 – 1100 AD and one of the ways we know this, is from hourglasses being depicted in very old murals. These days, with clocks and watches in every direction we look, they’re really only used symbolically to represent the passage of time. Still – a powerful reminder of our mortality and to seize the day. In his private journal, the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, wrote: “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”

An hourglass with falling sand

6- Minute – minuto

Use this word when you want to say a more precise time and express minutes in Portuguese. A minute is a unit of time equal to one sixtieth of an hour, or 60 seconds. A lot can happen in the next 60 seconds. For example, your blood will circulate three times through your entire vascular system and your heart will pump about 2.273 litres of blood. 

7- O’clock – hora

We use “o’clock” when there are no minutes and we’re saying the exact hour, as in “It’s two o’clock.” In Portuguese, this is essentially the same as saying “hour.”

The term “o’clock” is a contraction of the term “of the clock”. It comes from 15th-century references to medieval mechanical clocks. At the time, sundials were also common timekeepers. Therefore, to make clear one was referencing a clock’s time, they would say something like, “It is six of the clock” – now shortened to “six o’clock”.

We only use this term when talking about the 12 hour clock, though, not the 24 hour clock (more on that later!) The 12-hour clock can be traced back as far as Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. Both an Egyptian sundial for daytime use and an Egyptian water clock for nighttime use were found in the tomb of Pharaoh Amenhotep I. Dating to c.1500 BC, these clocks divided their respective times of use into 12 hours each. The Romans also used a 12-hour clock. Daylight was divided into 12 equal hours and the night was divided into four watches. 

These days, the internet has made it very easy to know what the time is in any part of the world.  Speaking of which, why not add the Portuguese time zone clock to your laptop?

Many different clocks

8- Half past – e meia

When the time is thirty minutes past the hour, in English we say “half past”. Just like the hour, the half-hour is universally used as an orientation point; some languages speak of 30 minutes before the hour (subtraction), whereas others speak of 30 minutes after the hour (addition). 

9- AM – da manhã

As mentioned earlier, AM is the abbreviation of the Latin ante meridiem and means before midday. Using ‘AM’ as a tag on your time simply tells people you’re speaking about a time in the morning. In some countries, morning is abbreviated to “AM” and you’ll see this on shop signs everywhere, announcing the opening hour. A typical shop sign might read something like this:

“Business hours are from 7AM to 6PM.” 

Woman in a shop, adjusting the shop sign

10- PM – da noite

PM is the abbreviation of the Latin post meridiem and means after midday. Along with ‘AM’, you’ll usually find ‘PM’ on store signs and businesses, indicating the closing hours. It’s advisable to learn the difference between the two, since some establishments might only have one or the other on the sign. For example, a night club sign might say: 

“Open from 10 PM until late.” 

11- What time is it now? – Que horas são agora?

Here’s a very handy question you should memorize, as you can use it in any situation where you don’t have your watch or phone on you. This could be on the beach, in a club, or if you’re stuck anywhere with a flat phone battery. It happens at home, so it can happen when you’re traveling! 

Woman on the phone, looking at her watch

12- One o’clock – uma hora

One o’clock, or 1 PM, is the average lunch time for many people around the world – at least, we try to get a meal in at some point between midday and 2 PM.  In terms of duration, the nations vary: Brazililans reportedly take the longest lunch breaks, averaging 48 minutes, whereas Greece reports an average break of only 19 minutes. Historically, Greeks were known for their very leisurely lunch breaks, so it just goes to show how fast the world is changing. If you’re curious about what to expect in Brazil, try asking our online community about lunch time in Portuguese.

13- Two o’clock – duas horas

In his last days, Napoleon Bonaparte famously spoke of “Two o’clock in the morning courage” – meaning unprepared, spontaneous  courage. He was talking about soldiers who are brave enough to tumble out of bed in an instant, straight into action, without time to think or strategize. Do you think you have what it takes? I’m pretty sure all mothers know this feeling!

14- Three o’clock – três horas

3 AM can be perceived as the coldest time of day and is not an hour we want to wake up, but meteorologists will tell you that the coldest time is actually half an hour after sunrise. Even though the sun is peeking over the horizon, the solar radiation is still weaker than the earth’s infrared cooling to space.

Clock pointing to 3 o'clock

15- Four o’clock – quatro horas

Do you know anyone who purposely gets up at 4 o’clock in the morning? As crazy as it sounds, there is something to be said for rising at 4 AM while the rest of the world sleeps. If you live on a farm, it might even be normal for you. I know that whenever I’m staying in the countryside, rising early is a lot easier, because there’s a satisfying reason to do so: watching a sunrise from a rooftop, with uninterrupted views, can’t be beat! It’s also likely that you’ll be woken by a cock crowing, or other animals waking to graze in the fresh pre-dawn air. 

In the world of business, you’ll find a small group of ambitious individuals – many entrepreneurs – who swear by the 4 o’clock in the morning rise. I’m not sure I like that idea, but I’d wake up at 4 AM if it was summer and I had my car packed for a vacation!

16- Five o’clock – cinco horas

What better way to signal the transition between work and play than the clock hands striking 5 o’clock? It’s the hour most working people look forward to each day – at least, those who get to stop working at 5 PM.  Meanwhile, millions of retired folks are taking out the wine glasses, as 5 PM is widely accepted as an appropriate time to pour the first glass. I don’t know how traditional your families are, but for as long as I’ve been alive, my grandparents have counted down the milliseconds to five o’clock, and the hour is announced with glee.

A sunset

17- Six o’clock – seis horas

This is the time many working people and school kids wake up in the morning. In many parts of the world, 6 o’clock is also a good time to watch the sunrise, go for a run or hit the hiking trails. 

18- Seven o’clock – sete horas

Health gurus will tell you that 7 o’clock in the morning is the best time to eat your first meal of the day, and 7 o’clock in the evening is the time you should eat your last meal. I’ve tried that and I agree, but it’s not always easy!

19- Eight o’clock – oito horas

8 o’clock in the morning is the time that most businesses open around the world, and the time most kids are in their first lesson at school – still full of energy and willing to participate. Interestingly, it’s also the time most babies are born in the world!  In the evening, 8 o’clock is many young children’s bedtime and the time for parents to watch the evening news. 

Smiling boy in school with his hand up

20- Nine o’clock – nove horas

It’s good to occasionally sleep late on a weekend and for me, this means waking up at 9 AM. If you’re traveling in Brazil and staying at a hotel, planning to sleep late means politely requesting to not be woken up by room service.

21- Ten o’clock – dez horas

10 o’clock in the morning is a popular time to conduct business meetings, and for first break time at schools. We’re usually wide awake and well into our day by then.  But what about the same hour at night? Modern people are often still awake and watching TV at 10 PM, but this isn’t exactly good for us. Experts say that the deepest and most regenerative sleep occurs between 10 PM and 2 AM, so we should already be sound asleep by ten o’clock. 

In advertising, have you ever noticed that the hands of the clock usually point to 10:10? Have a look next time you see a watch on a billboard or magazine. The reason? Aesthetics. Somehow, the human brain finds the symmetry pleasing. When the clock hands are at ten and two, they create a ‘smiley’ face and don’t cover any key details, like a logo, on the clock face. 

22- Eleven o’clock – onze horas

When I see this time written in words, it makes me think of the hilarious Academy Award-winning very short film, “The Eleven O’Clock”, in which the delusional patient of a psychiatrist believes that he is actually the doctor. 

Then there’s the tradition of ‘elevenses’ – tea time at eleven o’clock in the morning. Strongly ingrained in British culture, elevenses is typically a serving of hot tea or coffee with scones or pastries on the side. It’s a great way to stave off hunger pangs before lunch time arrives. In fact, if you were a hobbit, ‘Elevenses’ would be your third meal of the day!

23- Twelve o’clock – doze horas

Twelve o’clock in the daytime is considered midday, when the sun is at its zenith and the temperature reaches its highest for that day; it’s written as 12 noon or 12 PM. In most parts of the world, though, this doesn’t happen at precisely 12 PM. ‘Solar noon’ is the time when the sun is actually at its highest point in the sky. The local or clock time of solar noon depends on the longitude and date. If it’s summertime, it’s advisable to stay in the shade during this hour – or at least wear good quality sunblock.

Midnight is the other ‘twelve o’clock’, of course. Midnight is written as 12 AM and is technically the first minute of the morning. On the 24-hour clock, midnight is written as 00:00. 

Sun at noon in a blue cloudy sky

2. How to Tell the Time in Portuguese

Telling the time

Using a clock to read the time in Brazil is going to be the same as in your own country, since you’re dealing with numbers and not words. You’ll know the time in your head and be able to say it in English, but will you be able to say it out loud in Portuguese? 

The first step to saying the time in Portuguese is knowing your numbers. How are you doing with that? If you can count to twelve in Portuguese, you’re halfway there! We’ve already covered the phrases you’ll need to say the exact hour, as in “five o’clock”, as well as how to say “half past”. What remains is the more specific phrases to describe what the minute hand is doing.

In everyday speech, it’s common to say the minutes past or before the hour. Often we round the minutes off to the nearest five. 

Then, there’s the 24-hour clock. Also known as ‘military time’, the 24-hour clock is used in most countries and, as such, is useful to understand. You’ll find that even in places where the 12-hour clock is standard, certain people will speak in military time or use a combination of the two.  No doubt you’ve also noticed that in written time, the 24-hour clock is commonly used.  One of the most prominent places you’ll have seen this is on airport flight schedules.

Airport flight schedule

Knowing how to tell military time in Portuguese is really not complicated if you know your numbers up to twenty-four. One advantage of using the 24-hour clock in Portuguese, is there’s no chance of confusing AM and PM.

Once you know how to say the time, it will be pretty easy to also write the time in Portuguese. You’re already learning what the different hours and minutes look and sound like, so give yourself some writing practice of the same. 

3. Conclusion

Now that you understand the vocabulary for telling time in Portuguese, the best thing you can do to really lock it down is to just practice saying Portuguese time daily. Start by replacing English with Portuguese whenever you need to say the time; in fact, do this whenever you look at your watch. Say the time to yourself in Portuguese and it will become a habit. When learning a new language, the phrases you use habitually are the ones your brain will acquire. It feels amazing when that turning point comes!

To help yourself gain confidence, why don’t you make use of our various apps, downloadable for iPhone and iPad, as well as Android? Choose what works best for you. In addition, we have so many free resources available to supplement your learning, that you simply can’t go wrong. Some of these are:

If you prefer watching your lessons on video, check out our YouTube channel – there are hundreds of videos to browse. For those of you with Roku, we also have a TV channel you can watch.

Well, it’s time for me to say goodbye and for you to practice saying the time in Portuguese. Look at the nearest clock and try to say the exact time, down to the seconds. See you again soon at PortuguesePod101!

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