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Sound Like a Brazilian: The Top 10 Portuguese Filler Words

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No language would be complete without its unique quirks and imperfections—like all of those small, seemingly meaningless words and sounds you hear in conversations! Yes, we’re talking about filler words. They may be unnecessary, but they’re definitely present in everyday conversations and other forms of speech. 

Portuguese filler words vary immensely between countries, so that even native speakers from Europe have difficulty understanding the Brazilian counterparts of their everyday fillers (and vice-versa). But after reading this handy guide, you’ll be able to understand and use filler words in Portuguese yourself!

As you can probably imagine, filler words get a lot of hate. Some think they’re grammatical crutches used specially by younger generations. Others think they just sound ugly. But who has never been thankful for fillers when they needed to buy some time to find what to say next? 

Learning about Portuguese filler words is important, regardless of whether you like them or loathe them. After all, you’re going to encounter them often in your conversations with native Portuguese speakers. But before you get too excited, remember that you shouldn’t rely too much on them either. So be open to learning them, but also understand how to substitute them when needed.

In this article, you’ll learn the top 10 most commonly used filler words in Portuguese, their meaning, and when to use them. We’ll also provide you with examples and alternatives so you can learn to sound like a Brazilian—without becoming a filler word machine.

A Group of Four Friends Chatting and Having Coffee Beverages

Out with Portuguese speakers? Prepare to hear many filler words!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Why do we use filler words?
  2. The Top 10 Portuguese Filler Words
  3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words
  4. Continue Learning More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. Why do we use filler words? 

Filler words are used in spoken conversation to indicate a pause—maybe to think, maybe to look for the right words—while also letting the other party know that the speaker hasn’t finished talking yet. Keep in mind that fillers can be words or sounds. In either case, fillers don’t add meaning to the sentence. 

One thing you might notice, however, is that some people use filler words excessively. In these cases, the fillers are not used to indicate a pause but rather as a crutch or an automatic tic that interrupts the flow of speech. When that happens, it’s almost impossible not to notice them and the speaker risks annoying those who are listening. 

Putting it all together, why do we use filler words, then?

  1. To indicate hesitation. In other words, to buy ourselves time to think when speaking.
  2. To help manage the flow of discourse. They act almost like punctuation marks for speech.
  3. To emphasize ideas. They bring more attention to what has just been said or what is about to be said.
  4. To approach a certain topic more gently. In this case, they’re used at the beginning of a sentence to make it sound less harsh.

You might also notice that there are differences between the filler words used by younger generations versus older generations. Some say it’s a problem with the younger ones, that they’re “destroying” the language by employing so many filler words… But the truth is that each generation has its own fillers. 

In Portuguese, for example, older people might often use veja bem (“see”) or ou seja (“in other words,” but meaning “I mean”). Young adults and teenagers, on the other hand, prefer sabe (“you know”) or tipo (“like”).

As we go through the top 10 filler words used today in Brazilian Portuguese, we’ll give you some tips on the context in which they’re used, when to avoid them, and possible alternatives. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to understand and use them with confidence! 


2. The Top 10 Portuguese Filler Words

#1

PortugueseLiterallyEnglish Equivalent
Tipo“Type”“Like”

As the holy grail of Portuguese filler words, tipo is as common in Portuguese as “like” is in English. It can be placed at the beginning or in the middle of pretty much any sentence. It’s more commonly (though not exclusively) used by younger generations.

Tipo is used to buy time when speaking, but it can easily become a habit or tic. Language purists would argue that the word should never be used as a filler, that it indicates a lower level of education, and that it makes you sound like a Brazilian version of a “valley girl.”

However, it’s good to remember that languages evolve and that speakers are the makers of language. Using tipo will definitely make you sound more like a native. Just keep in mind the context: If you’re in a job interview or writing a formal message, don’t use it. In informal situations, just be mindful to not overuse it and you’ll be good to go!

You might also see tipo paired with the word assim (“as such”). The resulting expression (tipo assim) is used in the same way as tipo.

Hoje eu andei de bicicleta e, tipo, tô super cansada. (“Today I biked and, like, I’m super tired.”)
Não sei, tipo, eu gosto dele, mas às vezes ele me irrita. (“I don’t know, like, I like him but sometimes he annoys me.”)
Tipo assim, se você não tentar, nunca vai saber. (“Like, if you don’t try, you will never know.”)

#2

PortugueseLiterallyEnglish Equivalent
Ééé“Uh”

Maybe you remember that é is the verb “is” in Portuguese. However, as a filler word, it loses this meaning and acts more like a sound that fills a moment of pause. It’s probably the most common filler sound in Brazilian Portuguese. 

This filler is the result of a tendency to prolong the last sound of a word when trying to indicate a pause in speech or when thinking about what to say next. For example:
  • Eu queroooo… cinco pães, por favor. (“I want, uh… five loaves of bread, please.”)
  • Eu vou visitar aaaa… tia Ana hoje. (“I’ll visit, uh… Aunt Ana today.”)
You can use this strategy and/or the filler sound ééé—or even hummm—when searching for words, thinking about your answers, or stalling for a magic solution to drop from the skies (although this is more unlikely).

Éééé… difícil responder essa pergunta. (“Uh… it’s difficult to answer this question.”)
Eu quero, ééé… um café e um pão com manteiga. (“I want, uh… a coffee and one bread with butter.”)

A Woman Pausing to Look Up and Think while Taking Notes

Éééé… como era mesmo? (“Uh… how was it, again?”)

#3

PortugueseLiterallyEnglish Equivalent
Bom / Bem“Good” / “Well”“Well”

This filler in Portuguese is commonly used at the beginning of a sentence to indicate hesitation or to buy more time. It’s also used when beginning a somewhat sensitive phrase, as a way of approaching the topic more gently.

You’re more likely to hear bom being used as a filler word in Brazilian Portuguese, while bem is more often used in European Portuguese. 

Bom… Eu não sei o que eu faria na sua situação, mas tenta falar com ele. (“Well… I don’t know what I’d do in your situation, but try to talk to him.”)
Bom… O prato do dia parece uma boa opção. (“Well… The daily dish looks like a good option.”)


#4

PortugueseLiterallyEnglish Equivalent
Então“Then”“So”

Então can be used at the beginning of a sentence as an indicator that a previous topic is being approached again. But more often, it doesn’t carry any meaning and is rather used as a filler word out of habit. 

Compared to other Portuguese fillers, it’s not as frowned upon in formal settings. But as a rule of thumb, it’s good to avoid filler words in general when it comes to formal situations, as they can be seen as language crutches. 

A possible substitute for então when it’s used to resume a conversation about a previous topic is como eu disse (“as I said”) or como eu estava dizendo (“as I was saying”).

Então, tenho que te contar o que aconteceu ontem. (“So, I have to tell you what happened yesterday.”)
Então, menina, foi uma briga enorme! (“So, girl, it was a huge fight!”)

A Man Sitting on the Couch and Talking on the Phone with a Remote in His Hand

Então, deixa eu te contar sobre esse filme. (“So, let me tell you about this movie.”)

#5

PortugueseLiterallyEnglish Equivalent
Assim“As such” / “This way”“Like” / “So”

In informal conversations, people use assim in two ways:
  • To begin a sentence, stretching the i
  • To manage the flow of sentences, just as the word tipo is used.
It’s also used to smooth things over when starting to approach a delicate topic. It can be pronounced in a way that draws the vowel i out a bit, buying the speaker even more time to think.

As mentioned before, assim can also be paired with the ubiquitous filler word tipo, creating a common filler expression: tipo assim.

Assim, eu não acho que ele tem toda a culpa. (“So, I don’t think he is entirely to blame.”)
Assiiiiim… você acha mesmo que essa viagem é uma boa ideia? (“Sooo… do you really think this trip is a good idea?”)    
Ele chegou tão atrasado que, tipo assim, a festa já tinha terminado. (“He arrived so late that, like, the party was already over.”)
Eu penso que, assim, não faz sentido essa briga. (“I think that, like, this fight makes no sense.”) 

#6

PortugueseLiterallyEnglish Equivalent
E aí“Then”“What’s up”

(“then”) is a common word you’ll hear countless times when a Brazilian is telling a story:

A festa estava indo bem, mas aí ele correu para o palco, e aí tirou o microfone das mãos dela. Aí, todo mundo ficou em silêncio. (“The party was going well, but then he ran to the stage, and then he took the mic off her hands. Then everybody went silent.”)

In the sentence above, you can see that does have a meaning, but it can also be easily overused.

As a filler word, is often paired with e (“and”). When that happens, it can be used in different ways:
  • As “and then”: In the previous example, you can see e aí being used to continue telling what happened.
    • Eles entraram na sala, e aí viram o presente. (“They got into the room and then they saw the gift.”)
  • As “and then?” or “what happened?”: It can be used by itself to ask what happened next.
    • Tive uma entrevista de emprego hoje. (“I had a job interview today.”)
    • E aí? (“And how did it go?”)
  • As “what’s up!”: Used to greet people in an informal way.
    • E aí, tudo bem? (“What’s up, all good?”)
  • “So”: Used just as então, at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence.
    • Eles já acordaram, aí vamos sair em 1 hora. (“They woke up already, so we’ll leave in 1 hour.”)

E aí, prontos para o filme? (“So, ready for the movie?”)
E aí, Luciana! (“What’s up, Luciana?”)

#7

PortugueseLiterally and English Equivalent
Cara / Mano / Meu“Dude” / “Bro” / “Mate”

Imagine you have to tell a juicy piece of gossip to your best friend. A Portuguese speaker might begin the story in one of the following ways, depending on their region:
  • Cara, você não vai acreditar! (“Dude, you won’t believe this!”)
  • Mano, você não vai acreditar! (“Bro, you won’t believe this!”)
  • Meu, você não vai acreditar! (“Mate, you won’t believe this!”)
These words are all variations of “dude,” “bro,” “mate,” or similar words. If you were to talk to people from different areas of Brazil, you might discover many more, like velho/véi (“old man”), rapaz (“man”), mana (“sister”), and more. 

Their placement is not restricted to the beginning of the sentence, though. In informal Portuguese, they can be used in any part of the phrase. As filler words, they don’t add any meaning, but instead help with the flow of the sentence. 

One way you can substitute these words is by using the name of the person you’re talking to. But, again, don’t overdo it: people might be weirded out if you say their name too many times.

Cara, o dia tá lindo! (“Man, the day is beautiful!”)
Doeu muito, mano. (“It hurt a lot, dude.”)
Ela foi lá, meu, e partiu pra briga! (“She went there, mate, and started a fight!”)


One Businessman Whispering Something in the Ear of Another Businessman

Mano, ele colocou a culpa em você, meu. (“Man, he blamed you for it, bro.”)

#8

PortugueseLiterallyEnglish Equivalent
“Isn’t it?”“Right?” / “You know”

is the contraction of não é (“isn’t it”). This filler is commonly used at the end of a sentence, like “right?” would be used in English. But it can also be used almost like a comma in informal spoken Portuguese: 
  • Ele chegou atrasado, né, aí foi um pouco chato. (“He arrived late, you know, so it was a bit annoying.”)
It can also be used to emphasize a negative answer, in which case it means “of course not”: 

A: Você saiu na chuva, mesmo doente? (“You went out in the rain, even though you’re sick?”)
B: Não, né. Eu remarquei o encontro. (“Of course not. I rescheduled the date.”)

Amanhã vamos no shopping, né? (“We’ll go to the mall tomorrow, right?”)
Você assistiu o vídeo que eu te mandei, né? (“You watched the video I sent you, right?”)
Ela sempre quis conhecer a Argentina, né, então foi ótimo. (“She always wanted to go to Argentina, you know, so it was great.”)


#9

PortugueseLiterally and English Equivalent
Sabe“You know”

Used just like the English equivalent, sabe appears at the end of sentences in Portuguese. However, when it’s used as a filler word, the question implied—Você sabe? (“Do you know?”)—is rhetoric. The speaker is not really asking if you know anything specific, it just marks the end of the sentence.

Eles sempre tiveram um bom relacionamento, sabe. (“They always had a good relationship, you know.”)
A situação é complicada, sabe. (“The situation is complicated, you know.”)

#10

PortugueseLiterally and English Equivalent
Ah / Ai“Oh”

These interjections can be used as filler words when placed at the beginning of sentences. They normally indicate exasperation, excitement, or surprise.

Although ai also means “ouch,” when used as a filler, it acts like “oh” does in English. Ah is used in the same way, although it’s less common. 

Ah, aí, não sei. (“Oh, then I don’t know.”)
Ai, sério? (“Oh, really?”)
Ai, chega de grito!
(“Argh, no more screaming!”)
Ah, será que eles já chegaram? (“Oh, I wonder if they already arrived!”)

/! Bonus: You can put a bunch of filler words together and actually create a sentence with meaning!
  • Ai, aí não, né? (It works like an exasperated “C’mon!”)

A Woman Talking on Her Cell Phone with Eyes Closed and a Hand to Her Head

Ai, não acredito! (“Oh, I can’t believe it!”)

3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words

As you begin listening to native Portuguese speakers, you’ll quickly notice that filler words are everywhere. 

If you’re serious about speaking the language well, you should know if and when to use filler words. As we already hinted at before, there are pros and cons to adding those words to your speech. Let’s take a closer look at them.

1 – Pro: Filler words help you sound like a local.

No native speaker can avoid filler words all the time. So as you learn these words and start incorporating them into your speech, you’ll begin to sound more natural. 

Most of us don’t learn new languages to become a perfect writer or a master of grammar—instead, we learn them to engage in conversations, to interact, and to communicate. Striving for a perfect sentence is not as important as being able to understand when certain words are used without meaning (so you don’t get stuck trying to figure out what tipo means). 

2 – Pro: They buy you time to search for words.

Especially when learning a new language, it’s good to have tools that give you time to search for words when speaking. After all, the vocabulary might not come automatically for you, and using filler words can help you keep the conversation going. 

Plus, if learning and incorporating filler words into your speech makes you feel more comfortable, that’s very  important for boosting your fluency!

3 – Con: It’s easy to overuse filler words.

Because you’ll hear these filler words often and they impart a sense of confidence, it’s easy to get addicted to them and not even realize you’re overusing words like tipo and . But trust me, other people will notice if you exaggerate and it can become annoying. 

4 – Con: They shouldn’t be used in formal situations or contexts.

Remember to avoid filler words in formal situations, such as business meetings, job interviews, or presentations. Likewise, don’t use them when writing a formal email or message. Using filler words in these contexts convey unprofessionalism and a lack of knowledge on what you’re talking about. It can also indicate a lack of confidence, especially when you’re speaking in public. 

So what can you do to mitigate these cons? You have two options. 

The first is to substitute the filler words. If you’re in a situation where you’ve been asked a question and need some time to think, you can use a few tricks like:

  • Repeating the question back: O que eu espero aprender com essa experiência? Eu espero… (“What do I expect to learn from this experience? I expect…”)
  • Adding phrases like boa pergunta (“good question”) and vamos ver (“let’s see”).
  • Being honest and saying you need to think. This works better in an informal situation, in which you can simply say deixa eu pensar (“let me think”).

The second option is to become comfortable with silent pauses. This is an important skill to master in any language, not only in Portuguese. Short silent breaks can actually convey a sense of security and confidence in what you’re saying. It can also give your audience time to absorb what you’ve just said.

A Man Giving a Speech

Avoid filler words in presentations and formal settings.

4. Continue Learning More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Are you ready to identify and use Portuguese filler words after reading this guide? We hope we gave you a good overview of what filler words are, how to use them in Portuguese, and how to substitute them when necessary. Now, you won’t be flabbergasted by the way native speakers say seemingly meaningless words like tipo all the time!  

Do you think we missed any popular Portuguese filler words? Or did any of them surprise you at all? Let us know in the comments below!

Going forward, we suggest you try to pay attention to the way native speakers use the different filler words and why they do it. As we mentioned before, sometimes it’s to buy time while other times it helps with the flow of the sentence. Doing this will help you understand when to use filler words yourself. 

There are more free Portuguese resources and a variety of vocabulary lists available on PortuguesePod101.com to help you continue your language learning journey. 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

How to Say “I Love You,” in Portuguese

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Everyone knows that love is the universal language… But still, learning the mother tongue of your beloved or potential love interest can do no harm when it comes to flirting or enhancing your communication. 

Trust us: Saying “I love you,” in Portuguese to a native speaker is the surest way to capture that person’s heart! After all, wouldn’t you like to see an attractive foreigner sweat a little bit to get your attention in your mother tongue? 

But while there’s beauty in this simplicity, there are many steps and eventualities one must get through before reaching the “I love you” stage. 

This collection of Portuguese love phrases will serve as a reference for all the basics you need to know for every step of a relationship. You’ll pick up several expressions you can use to make small talk, confess your love in Portuguese, and even propose marriage!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Confess Your Affection: Pick-up Lines
  2. Fall in Deeper: “No, I Love You More…”
  3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More
  4. Endearment Terms
  5. Must-know Love Quotes
  6. Don’t say adeus, say até logo!

1. Confess Your Affection: Pick-up Lines

The Flames of a Fire

Better to get your words straight when the fire of love is burning!

The first step regarding how to express love in Portuguese is to begin a conversation with that special someone who has caught your eye. This means saying hello, introducing yourself, and getting your flirt on

Perhaps it’s a good idea to practice these romantic Portuguese phrases in front of the mirror before going out “hunting.” Take a deep breath, don’t stutter, and prepare to get in touch with a new face wherever you are: in a club, at the movies, at the beach, in the park…

A- Meeting and flirting

One initial insight you should keep in mind about Portuguese love phrases—and communication in general—is that the pronoun vós (formal “you”) is hardly ever used for talking to strangers. Instead, people use tu or você.

  • Quer dançar? / Dança comigo! – “Do you want to dance?” / “Dance with me!”

    When using você (“you”), the imperative form of dançar (“to dance”) is dance. But in informal contexts, it’s very common to use dança as an imperative.
  • Você é solteiro/solteira? – “Are you single?”

    Solteiro is the masculine form of “single,” whereas solteira is the feminine form.
  • Seu sorriso é lindo. “Your smile is beautiful.”
  • Quer ir para outro lugar? – “Shall we go somewhere else?”
  • A gente pode se encontrar de novo? – “Can we meet again?”
  • Eu te levo para casa. – “I will drive you home.”
  • Gosto de você. – “I like you.”

B- Going out

The Moon Shining Brightly in a Star-filled Sky Over the Mountains

Quiet nights of quiet stars, quiet chords from my guitar floating on the silence that surrounds us… Frank Sinatra, anyone?

So, you’ve met someone interesting and would definitely like to see them again! 

There are some key phrases you’ll need to know in order to ask him or her out on a date—and to have a great time as you talk and get to know each other better. It’s time to gather your courage, plan your interesting night out, and let them know you’re interested in another meeting. 

  • Você gostaria de sair para jantar comigo? – “Would you like to go out for dinner with me?”
  • Você gostaria de sair comigo? – “Would you like to hang out with me?”
  • A que horas a gente se encontra amanhã? – “What time shall we meet tomorrow?”

If you’re inviting the person, you might prefer to establish the time of the meeting as part of the suggestion. In this case, you could give a more subtle suggestion by saying: 

  • Você está livre às ___ horas? – “Are you free at ___ o’clock?”

And of course, you’ll want to offer your date a genuine compliment and let them know you enjoyed your time together: 

  • Você está bonito/bonita. – “You look handsome/beautiful.”
  • Adorei te conhecer! – “I loved meeting you!”

2. Fall in Deeper: “No, I Love You More…”

Colored Dyes Dissolving in Water

The start of a romantic relationship feels like blending two people into one.

Now’s the time to dim the lights, make some chamomile tea, burn some incense, and sit beside your loved one to pamper him or her. The flowers of romance have bloomed and now it’s time to smell their perfume.

As you walk along the magical yellow brick road of love, you’re going to experience some of the best moments of your life. With each step, you’ll get to know your partner in greater depth and continuously look for new ways to make them happy. 

To give you a headstart, here are some sweet words of love in Portuguese that are sure to melt their heart. Your friends might not be able to keep a straight face as you exchange these expressions with your lover, but we think it’s worth it. 

Ready? 

  • Eu te amo. – “I love you.”
  • Não, eu te amo mais. “No, I love you more.”
  • Eu te amo tanto… – “I love you so much…”
  • Acho que estou apaixonado (a) por você. – “I think I am in love with you.”
  • Sonhei com você esta noite. – “I dreamed of you last night.”
  • Quero estar com você para sempre. – “I want to be with you forever.”
  • Você me faz querer ser uma pessoa melhor. – “You make me want to be a better person.”
  • Você é tudo para mim. “You are everything to me.”

3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More

An Old Couple Walking Together in a Park

Old friends, sat on their park bench like bookends…

Wow, you really made it! It has been quite a ride from your first “I love you” in Portuguese to where you are now. Marriage is the turning of a new page in life, and with this fresh chapter comes the forming of comprehensive and ambitious plans for the future. 

Soon enough, memorizing Portuguese love phrases will be your smallest concern—hopefully!

  • Você quer casar comigo? – “Will you marry me?”
  • Você me daria a honra de ser minha esposa/meu marido? – “Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife/husband?”
  • Quero que você conheça os meus pais. “I want you to meet my parents.”
  • Eu nunca morei junto com ninguém. – “I have never moved in with somebody.”
  • Estou grávida. – “I am pregnant.”
  • Ele vai ter o nome do pai. – “He is going to have his father’s name.”
  • Ela vai ter o nome da mãe. – “She is going to have her mother’s name.”

4. Endearment Terms

A Couple Lying Together in the Grass During Autumn

If you call someone chuchu, there is no coming back: you are already madly in love.

Another way to express your love in the Portuguese language? Calling your dearest one by a cute pet name! The following endearment terms are even more poignant when spoken in a childlike voice. Ah! It is good to be in love… 

  • Meu amor – “My love”
  • Amorzinho – Literally: “My little love”

    This is an example of a diminutive form, which typically denotes affection and/or cuteness. But keep in mind that context is important; if used in an ironic manner, it shows disdain.
  • Docinho – “Sweetie” [ Literally: “Little candy” ]
  • (Minha) vida – Literally: “(My) life”

    This one is a social media favorite, especially among couples who insist on sharing the same profile and publishing photos subtitled with inspiring love confessions.
  • Meu bem / Querida(o) – “(My) dear”

    You can try some alternative versions for querido (male) or querida (female), such as queridinha (“little darling”) or queridíssima (“dearest”).
  • Meu chuchu – Approximately: “honey boo”

    This one is awkward. A chuchu is a chayote, which is an edible green plant. It has a soft texture, is very watery, and has an unremarkable taste, yet it’s very popular and generally cheap. The French call their darlings their chouchous. This unintentionally comical adaptation of the idiom to Portuguese resulted in meu chuchu, which is one of the corniest ways to say “I love you,” in Portuguese to someone. To make it extra corny, use the diminutive form meu chuchuzinho.
  • Bebê – “Baby”
  • Coração – “Sweetheart”

5. Must-know Love Quotes

Hilda Hilst and her crew are here to tell you some things about love.

Love is one of those ubiquitous themes that inspire both the most tinny and the most brilliant statements and artistic expressions. As such, there are quotes about love in Portuguese that fall on both ends of the spectrum—but for your reading pleasure, we’ve included only the most poetic remarks on the universal feeling we call “love.”

No phony stuff in here, just some good material about love in Portuguese from modern authors. Vinicius de Moraes (1913 – 1980), Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902 – 1987), Hilda Hilst (1930 – 2004), and Ferreira Gullar (1930 – 2016) are among the most expressive and respected Brazilian poets of the 20th century.

Eu possa lhe dizer do amor:
Que não seja imortal, posto que é chama
Mas que seja infinito enquanto dure
Shall I tell you of love: 
Let it not be immortal, since it is flame
But let it be infinite while it lasts
Quote from Soneto de fidelidade (“Fidelity Sonnet”) by Vinicius de Moraes

Há vários motivos para odiar uma pessoa, e um só para amá-la; este prevalece.“There are many reasons to hate a person, and just one to love them; this one prevails.”
Aphorism from O Avesso das Coisas by Carlos Drummond de Andrade

Amar
É coisa de morrer e de matar
Mas tem som de sorriso
To loveI
Is about dying and killing
But it sounds like a smile
Quote from a nameless, tragic chronicle/poem by Hilda Hilst

Mais dia menos dia toda a lembrança se apaga e te surpreendes gargalhando, a vida vibrando outra vez, nova, na garganta, sem culpa nem desculpa. E chegas a pensar: quantas manhãs como esta perdi burramente! O amor é uma doença como outra qualquer.“Day after day, every memory fades away and you get surprised laughing, life vibrating once again, new, in the throat, without guilt or excuses. And you even wonder: how many mornings like these have I stupidly lost! Love is a disease like any other.”
Quote from the chronicle Sobre o amor (“On Love”) by Ferreira Gullar

We’re curious: Which of these love quotes in Portuguese did you find most moving? 

6. Don’t say adeus, say até logo!

It has been a pleasure to present you with this quick guide to expressing love in Portuguese. You’ve learned a good variety of Portuguese love phrases as well as some important details regarding idioms and cultural information.

If you feel we’ve missed some good Portuguese love phrases, please share with us your contribution!

Also, don’t miss out on the opportunity to continue developing your knowledge of all things Portuguese. The best way to do so is by exploring PortuguesePod101.com, the number-one place online to study this romantic language. 

PortuguesePod101 provides a variety of free learning resources and engaging lessons, combining the best of solo study materials and more conventional classroom teaching methods. You can expand your vocabulary using our themed vocab lists, go through one of our learning pathways, or even upgrade to a Premium PLUS membership to take advantage of our MyTeacher service. 

Video, audio, text, and real human contact blend in a most interesting learning experience on PortuguesePod101.com. Take your first step toward fluency today—your Portuguese-speaking partner will thank you for it. 

Happy learning!

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Saying No: An Overview of Portuguese Negation

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Are you the type of person who has trouble saying no? Or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, is saying no your way of life? Regardless of your answer, learning how to deny something, answer negatively, or simply say no in Portuguese is a super-important step in your language-learning journey.

After all, without the power of “no,” mix-ups and miscommunication could happen. Thankfully, you won’t find negation in Portuguese particularly difficult, as it has many similarities to negation in English. After learning just a few negative words and sentences, you’ll be prepared to deny anything. 

Don’t worry about sounding too negative after this article, though. We’ll look into ways to make a negative sentence sound polite, teach you the power of double negation in Portuguese for getting our point across, and even show you how to ask negative questions. To make sure everything is clear and understandable, we’ll give plenty of examples throughout.

A Little Girl Sitting on Outdoor Furniture with an Unhappy Look on Her Face

Não gostei. (“I didn’t like it.”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Negating a Statement
  2. Negation and Questions
  3. Other Negating Words
  4. Double and Triple Negatives
  5. Continue Learning More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. Negating a Statement

The first thing we’ll talk about is how to make a positive sentence negative in Portuguese. 

1 – The holy grail of negation: Não (“No”)

The first and most important part of negation in Portuguese is this little word: não (“no”). 

It’s a nasal word, which may sound a bit different to your ears. To make sure you get it, we suggest practicing its pronunciation with one of our vocabulary lists

Não is used in Portuguese exactly as “no” is used in English. It can be used to answer a question by itself, to construct negative sentences, or to ask negative questions. Throughout this article, you’ll see não pop up again and again, so keep an eye out for it.

2 – Making a positive sentence negative

This is one of the greatest things about negation in Portuguese: Just like in English, you can simply add the word não to a positive sentence. 

  • Nós temos uma televisão. (“We have a TV.”)
  • Nós não temos televisão. (“We don’t have a TV.”)
  • Ela é brasileira. (“She is Brazilian.”)
  • Ela não é brasileira. (“She is not Brazilian.”)

As you can see, não goes after the subject of the sentence but before the verb. Some sentences have implicit subjects, in which case we just put não before the verb.

  • Vou limpar a casa. (“I’ll clean the house.”)
  • Não vou limpar a casa. (“I will not clean the house.”)

A Woman in a Long-sleeved Yellow Shirt Crossing Her Arms and Thinking

Não sei, tenho que pensar. (“I don’t know, I have to think.”)


2. Negation and Questions

Now let’s examine how Portuguese negatives apply to asking and answering questions! 

1 – Giving a negative response to a question 

You can always answer with a simple não or, instead, make it more elaborate. Take a look at the different ways we can negatively answer the question, Você gosta de sopa? (“Do you like soup?”)

  • Não. (“No.”)
  • Eu não gosto de sopa. (“I don’t like soup.”)
  • Não, eu não gosto de sopa. (“No, I don’t like soup.”)

Sometimes, especially when being offered something, simply saying “no” might sound a bit rude, like in the example below.

  • Você quer um pedaço de bolo? (“Do you want a piece of cake?”)
  • Não. (“No.”)

To make it sound more polite, it’s a good idea to add “thank you” to your reply.

  • Você quer um pedaço de bolo? (“Do you want a piece of cake?”)
  • Não, obrigado. (“No, thank you.”) [masculine]

Another common way to soften the harshness of the word não is to downplay it a bit by saying instead não muito (“not much”).

  • Você gosta dessa banda? (“Do you like this band?”)
  • Não muito. (“Not much.”) 

This 3-minute video by PortuguesePod101 has many more examples of negative answers and sentences.

2 – Asking Negative Questions

You can also use negative words to ask the question itself. It’s very easy to transform a positive question into a negative question—or even to transform a positive statement into a negative question. 

Let’s take a look:

Positive statementPositive questionNegative question
Você gosta de pão. (“You like bread.”)Você gosta de pão? (“Do you like bread?”)Você não gosta de pão? (“Don’t you like bread?”)
Ela mora no Brasil. (“She lives in Brazil.”)Ela mora no Brasil? (“Does she live in Brazil?”)Ela não mora no Brasil? (“Doesn’t she live in Brazil?”)
Nós gastávamos muito dinheiro. (“We used to spend a lot of money.”)Nós gastávamos muito dinheiro? (“Did we used to spend a lot of money?”)Nós não gastávamos muito dinheiro? (“Didn’t we used to spend a lot of money?”)

You can also use other negating words to ask negative questions. We’ll look at those words soon, but let’s go ahead and take a look at some examples.  

  • Você nunca visitou a Inglaterra? (“You’ve never been to England?”) 
  • Você nem se despediu? (“You didn’t even say goodbye?”)

Notice that the words are placed in the same spot não would be in.

A Little Girl Making a Disgusting Face While Eating Peas

Você não gosta de ervilha? (“You don’t like peas?”)

3. Other Negating Words

Time to spice up your negation skills. There are many words you can use besides não, which also add more context to your sentences. 

1 – Nem (“Neither” / “Nor”)

Nem is a very popular negating word. 

  • Não como peixe nem carne. (“I don’t eat fish nor meat.”)
  • Ele ainda não sabe ler nem escrever. (“He still doesn’t know how to read nor write.”)
  • Nem meu pai e nem minha mãe falam inglês. (“Neither my father nor my mother speaks English.”)

Colloquially, nem is also used as “not,” replacing não. It is not uncommon to hear Brazilians saying:

  • Nem começa. (“Don’t even start.”)
  • Nem adianta. (“It’s no use.”) 

2 – Nunca and Jamais (“Never”)

Want to talk in absolutes? These are your go-to words! Note that nunca is much more commonly used than jamais, which has a stronger connotation.  

  • Ela nunca come depois das 20 horas. (“She never eats after 8 p.m.”)
  • Eu jamais viajarei de avião. (“I will never travel by plane.”)

Both words can also be used by themselves, when answering a question.

  • Você já voou de asa delta? (“Have you ever flown by hang gliding?”)
  • Nunca. (“Never.”)

You can even use jamais to make it clear you have never done something, and will also never do it in the future.

  • Você já voou de asa delta? (“Have you ever flown by hang gliding?”)
  • Jamais. (“Never.”) [meaning that you never have, never will]

Another common expression is nunca mais (“never again”).

  • Eu nunca mais quero te ver. (“I don’t want to see you ever again.”)
  • Viajei sozinha uma vez e foi horrível. Nunca mais! (“I traveled by myself once and it was horrible. Never again!”)
  • Ele nunca mais vai poder jogar futebol. (“He will never be able to play soccer again.”)

3 – Não mais (“Not anymore”)

Want to talk about something you don’t do anymore? Then use não mais, which can also include a verb in between both words. Take a look: 

  • Eu não nado mais. (“I don’t swim anymore.”)
  • Ela não come mais carne. (“She doesn’t eat meat anymore.”)
  • Não encontro mais minha caneta. (“I can’t find my pen anymore.”)
  • Você gosta de viajar de ônibus? (“Do you like traveling by bus?”)
  • Não mais. Antes, eu adorava, mas hoje acho desconfortável. (“Not anymore. I used to love it, but today I find it uncomfortable.”)

4 – More Negating Words

There are some more negative words you can use. Here are some examples of how to use them.

Ninguém (“Nobody”)Ninguém chegou ainda. (“Nobody arrived yet.”)
Nenhum (“None,” masculine)
Nenhuma (“None,” feminine)
Nenhum motorista está disponível. (“None of the drivers are available.”)
Nenhuma casa nesse bairro tem jardim. (“None of the houses in this neighborhood have a garden.”)
Nada (“Nothing”)Nada funciona nessa casa. (“Nothing works in this house.”)

The expression below is always paired with the word não. But don’t worry, we’ll go over double negatives soon. 

Lugar nenhum (“Anywhere” / “Nowhere”)
Nenhum lugar (“Anywhere” / “Nowhere”)
Não encontro a chave em lugar nenhum. (“I can’t find the key anywhere.”)
Não encontro a chave em nenhum lugar. (“I can’t find the key anywhere.”)

All of the negative words above can be used by themselves when it comes to answering questions, although it can sound a bit blunt. 

A: Alguém já chegou? (“Has anyone arrived?”)
B: Ninguém. (“Nobody.”)

A: Tem alguma camisa para me emprestar? (“Do you have a shirt to lend me?”)
B: Nenhuma. (“None.”)

A: Temos algo para comer? (“Do we have something to eat?”)
B: Nada. (“Nothing.”)

A: Aonde você vai? (“Where are you going?”)
B: Lugar nenhum. (“Nowhere.”)

A Confused Guy Scratching His Head

Não encontro minha carteira em lugar nenhum. (“I can’t find my wallet anywhere.”)

4. Double and Triple Negatives

Double negatives are very common in Portuguese. Luckily, they’re also very easy to use and understand! Simply put, double negatives are used to emphasize a negative statement. In other words, the negatives don’t cancel each other out.

You’ll see double negatives containing many of the negation words we covered previously. 

  • Eu não quero nada. (“I don’t want anything.”)
  • Ela não conhece ninguém. (“She doesn’t know anyone.”)
  • Você não trouxe nenhum livro? (“You didn’t bring any book?”)
  • Vocês nunca disseram nada. (“You never said anything.”) [plural]

There’s also such a thing as triple negatives. I know, I know, it’s getting a bit excessive. But it doesn’t really change things. Triple negatives continue to have a negative meaning, and they’re very common in spoken Portuguese.

If anything, triple negatives can convey a stronger negation.

  • Eu não quero nada, não. (“I don’t want anything.”)
  • Ela não conhece ninguém, não. (“She doesn’t know anyone.”)
  • Você não trouxe nenhum livro, não? (“You didn’t bring any book?”)
  • Você nunca disseram nada, não. (“You never said anything.”) [plural]

And to finish up, a curious little Portuguese phenomenon you might encounter are the expressions pois sim and pois não. In these cases, the word pois (“since” / “because”) works as a negation of the following word. Take a look:

  • Oi, você pode me ajudar rapidinho? (“Hi, can you help me really quick?”)
  • Pois não. (“Yes.” / “Certainly.”)

If you’re calling an office or going shopping in Brazil, you might hear pois não from the store or office employee. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean no! In this case, it’s exactly the opposite: they are politely telling you yes. 

The same thing might happen in some regions of Brazil when dealing with pois sim. It carries an ironic connotation, as if you were saying “Oh, sure,” while meaning exactly the opposite.

  • Pode me emprestar mais dinheiro hoje? (“Can you lend me more money today?”)
  • Pois sim! Até hoje você não me pagou o que me deve! (“No! You still haven’t paid me what you owe me!”)

Check out this lesson with double negative examples by PortuguesePod101!

A Girl Confused in Class

Eu não entendo nada não. (“I don’t understand anything.”)

5. Continue Learning More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

This article explained how to build negative sentences and questions in Portuguese, introduced you to the most useful negative words, and showed you how to make it sound polite. Remember to come back to this guide anytime you need to refresh your negation knowledge. 

Did you like this article? Did we miss any important or interesting negation words you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments below!

Now, don’t stop learning! There are more free Portuguese resources and a variety of vocabulary lists available on PortuguesePod101.com. Go ahead and choose your favorite tools to expand your learning opportunities.

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

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Past, Present, Future: Learn About Portuguese Verb Tenses

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

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

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

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

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

1. The Basics of Portuguese Conjugation

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

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

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

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

1 – Moods

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

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

2 – Tenses 

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

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

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

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

  • The Infinitive

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

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

  • The Past Participle

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

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

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

  • The Gerund

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

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

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

3 – Auxiliary verbs

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

Elas estão dormindo. / “They are sleeping.”

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

Some of the most common auxiliary verbs in Portuguese are:

  • Ter / “To have”

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

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

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

  • Ir / “To go”

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

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

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

  • Estar / “To be” (temporary)

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

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

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

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

Two Girls Talking about Something

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

2. Here and Now: Present Tenses

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

1 – Presente do indicativo / “Present indicative”

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

Let’s see some examples:

Eu durmo cedo.“I sleep early.”

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

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

2 – Presente contínuo / “Present continuous”

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

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

Ela está dormindo.“She is sleeping.”

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

3 – Presente do subjuntivo / “Present subjunctive”

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

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

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

4 – Imperativo / “Imperative”

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

Durma agora.“Sleep now.”

Bebam água.“Drink water.”

A Mother Sleeping with Her Toddler

Elas dormem cedo. / “They sleep early.”

3. What Once Was: Past Tenses

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

1 – Pretérito do indicativo / “Preterite indicative”

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

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

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

2 – Imperfeito do indicativo / “Imperfect indicative”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 – Imperfeito subjuntivo / “Imperfect subjunctive”

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

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

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

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

4. Planning for Tomorrow: Future Tenses

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

1 – Futuro do indicativo / “Future indicative”

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

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

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

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

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

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


2 – Futuro do subjuntivo / “Future subjunctive”

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

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

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

3 – Futuro do Pretérito or Condicional / “Conditional”

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

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

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

A Grandmother Snuggling Her Granddaughter

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

5. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

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

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

Now, don’t stop learning! There are more free Portuguese resources and a variety of vocabulary lists available on PortuguesePod101.com. Go ahead and choose your favorite tools to expand your learning opportunities.

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

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Portuguese?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just One Thing Before We Start

A Woman Raising Her Hand in Class

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

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

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

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

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

Beginner Level

An Answer Sheet Filled Out

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

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

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

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

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

Study Tips 

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

  • Reading & Writing. 

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

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

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

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

  • Speaking & Listening. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intermediate Level

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Meet your new assistant for remote cultural research.

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

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

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

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

Study Tips

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


  • Speaking & Listening.

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

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

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

    Here are some PortuguesePod101 resources for you:

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

Advanced Level

Suitcases Stacked Up and An Airplane Flying in the Background

Studying abroad can be very helpful for the advanced learner.

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

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

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

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

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

Study Tips

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

  • Reading & Writing. 

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

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

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

  • Speaking & Listening. 

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

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

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

    Here are some resources for you:

    Listening Comprehension for Advanced Learners
    Video Culture Class: Brazil Holidays

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Brazilian Wisdom of Portuguese Proverbs

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

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

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

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

A Woman Stretching as She Gets Up in the Morning

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

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

1. Proverbs About Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Picture of a Monkey on a Tree Branch

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

2. Proverbs About Work and Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Lots of Jewelry and a Golden Watch

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

3. Proverbs About Life and Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Man Singing while Listening to Music on His Headphones

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

4. Proverbs About Overcoming Adversities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

A Kitten and a Puppy against a White Background

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

5. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

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

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

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

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

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Discover Porglish: Common English Words Used in Portuguese

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

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

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

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

Ready to discover the curious world of Porglish?

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

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

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

1. Some Traps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Man Wearing an Elegant Tuxedo

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

2. Friendly Loanwords

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

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

Business

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

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

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

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

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

Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sports and Entertainment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Other Loanwords

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Identical Twin Girls Raising Their Arms in the Air

You can think of loanwords as linguistic twins!

3. Pronouncing Brand Names and Titles in Portuguese

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

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

1 – Rule of Thumb

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

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

2 – Acronyms

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

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

3 – Entertainment

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

Here are some famous titles and their Brazilian Portuguese version:

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

A Woman Holding Popcorn and a Drink for the Movies

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

4. Portuguese Words in English

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CaramelFrom the Portuguese word caramelo

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

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

MarmaladeFrom the Portuguese marmelada, meaning “quince jam”

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

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

Several Samba Dancers Dressed in Blue

The Brazilian samba is famous around the world!

Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

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

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

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

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

Happy learning!

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Brazilian Culture: A Giant Leap in Your Portuguese Learning

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In your Portuguese studies, learning new vocabulary and grammar points is a fundamental aspect of improving your skills. But formal study alone cannot help you develop the linguistic abilities required to put your knowledge into action. Talking to local citizens of Portuguese-speaking countries is the most efficient way to truly acquire the language—and to do that well, you must have a basic understanding of their culture! 

Learning about Brazilian culture and traditions will make your time in this beautiful country much more fulfilling and significantly accelerate your language studies!

If we compare language to a beach during a hot summer, then local culture is the ocean that bathes its sand. Sure, you can visit the beach without stepping into the water—but the experience will be far superior when you put the ocean into the equation. If you’ve never been to a beach, for instance, chances are that you would need some time to process and understand the ocean: its sound, its smell, its magnitude…

Similarly, a person is never the same once they get in touch with other cultures, ideas, and values. It’s a personal transformation tool as well as a necessary step in effective language acquisition. 

In this lesson, you’ll learn the most relevant Brazilian culture facts and get a clearer picture of what life in Brazil looks like. Let’s get started.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Values and Beliefs
  2. Religions
  3. Family and Work
  4. Art
  5. Food
  6. Traditional Holidays
  7. Conclusion

1. Values and Beliefs

In many ways, the Portuguese have influenced the development of Brazilian culture and society. 

This influence is most clearly seen in the religious makeup of Brazil today. For instance, the Portuguese have a strong Catholic background which has affected our own views of family, time, and labor. In addition, the Anglo-Saxon cultures have introduced Brazil to Calvinist and Lutheran ideas, though these are not as popular here as Catholicism. This mix of outside religious influences has led to a unique mindset among Brazilians regarding spiritual and sensual topics. 

Despite these strong influences, the culture and customs of Brazil do differ from those of Portugal. Brazil officially lost its ‘colony’ status at the beginning of the nineteenth century. With this change in status, Portugal’s direct influence on Brazil diminished and the country has since developed a separate national identity. Today, there are several marked differences between Portuguese and Brazilian culture, most notably in how the two cultures view relationships and day-to-day interactions. 

Overall, Brazilians are welcoming and tolerant. In the same vein, informality is one of the central cultural aspects of Brazil. While this doesn’t imply a lack of etiquette in everyday relations, Brazilians do have a more loose and open approach to interacting with others. They also consider it important to show sympathy and humor. 

The most problematic Brazilian values and beliefs are linked to social inequality and education. 

Our nation’s education system is not doing well: recent data shows that the knowledge of Brazilian students is below the basic level in 68.1% of cases for mathematics and 50.1% of cases for reading. This leads to poor overall communication skills and may even lead to violent practices

Formal education in Brazil was not available until recently. While universities in Spanish America go as far back as 1538 (Universidad de Santo Domingo), Brazil’s first faculty only appeared in 1808 (Escola de Cirurgia da Bahia) and its first university in 1934 (Universidade de São Paulo). 

The press is another thing that didn’t start in Brazil until recently. Latin America’s press started in 1722, but Brazil’s first newspaper dates back to 1808. That year, the arrival of the King of Portugal and his court in Brazil instigated the creation of the press and the first real effort to create cultural institutions within the colony.

Brazil was also the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, and it failed to properly count this population as citizens. The ramifications of this can still be seen and felt today. Social distinctions and racism are very strong in Brazil, but are different or more veiled than in countries like the USA, for example.

Finally, Brazilians place much importance on one’s looks and personal hygiene. In fact, centuries ago, the indigenous people had a habit of bathing daily. On one hand, these traits promote health and tidiness; on the other, they lead to superficiality.        

2. Religions

A Bible with Rosary Beads on Top of It

Most Brazilians are Roman Catholic, but many other religions play an important role in the country.

A key component in understanding Brazilian culture is becoming familiar with its religious makeup and influences. 

Christianity (Roman Catholicism in particular) is the common denominator of the Lusophone religious background. Protestant denominations—including Assemblies of God, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Adventism—have been on the rise for the last 20-something years in many of these countries.

There are noticeable religious differences throughout the Lusophone countries. Portugal is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Angola also has a strong Roman Catholic population, but it also features other religions and syncretic cults such as kimbangoism and tocoism. Mozambique’s population is 19% Muslim. And according to data from 2010, Guinea-Bissau’s population was 45% Muslim.

While Brazil is home to a mix of religions, the country is predominantly Christian. The most recent population census (2010) showed:

  • 65% Roman Catholic
  • 13.4% Neo-charismatic movement
  • 9% Evangelical from missions or undetermined
  • 8% No religion
  • 2% Spiritist
  • 2.6% Other

Spiritism and variations of the Afro-Brazilian religion candomblé are examples of expressive cults in the country that aren’t as present in other countries. Candomblé is an African-rooted religion with devotees in Brazil and other South American countries. There is also the Umbanda syncretism: This Brazilian religion was created at the beginning of the twentieth century and blends elements from Christian, Indigenous, and African traditions.

Though not depicted in the census, religions of African origins are very present in some regions of the land. These religions are often practiced by individuals without a strong African background, which is a great example of Brazil’s cultural diversity.

3. Family and Work

A Child Resting His Head on His Father’s Shoulder

Strong family bonds are a trademark of Brazilian people.

A- Family

Within Brazilian families, there is a strong sense of hierarchy. Children are expected to obey and respect their parents, for example. Men and women have more defined roles here than in most Western countries, yet this has been changing since the acute industrialization process of the 1970s. 

Here are some more facts about the Brazilian family structure:

  • Brazil ruled same-sex marriage legal in 2011.
  • Single-mother families compose just under 20% of Brazilian families. 
  • Nowadays, families are not very big. (Two generations ago, couples were expected to have many children.)

Another aspect of Brazilian culture that might seem odd to foreigners is that adults often live with their parents. This is common for two reasons: 

1) A large part of the population has low income.

2) There is a strong link between relatives.

Sometimes, relatives outside of one’s nuclear family—or even people who are not blood-related, but close to the family—live together. This custom began a long time ago, and was already depicted in the writings of nineteenth century author Machado de Assis, for instance.

B- Work

If you plan on working in Brazil, there are a few things to know about Brazilian culture in business and work settings.

There is a strong sense of hierarchy between boss and employee. Open criticism and confrontation in the workplace is usually not welcome: people tend to be indirect and “friendly” when commenting on others’ actions and ideas. Also, while Brazilians are often hard-working, the importance of work and entrepreneurship is tied more to survival than to one’s moral existence.

Informal communication is common in the workplace. Doing business in Brazil often involves spending time and eating meals with the other party and engaging in trivial conversations before closing the deal. Workplace clothing is typically formal, though there are exceptions.


4. Art

A Sketch of Antônio Carlos

Antônio Carlos “Tom” Jobim: the father of bossa nova is a Brazilian artistic icon.

Brazilian culture values modernist, contemporary, and urban arts, as well as literature. Jorge Amado, Paulo Coelho, Monteiro Lobato, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, and Clarice Lispector are some of the most famous authors. Popular names in the plastic arts include Romero Britto, Tarsila do Amaral, Alfredo Volpi, Vik Muniz, and Cândido Portinari.

Many Brazilians also appreciate Baroque art, which is inherently linked to both the religious use of art in the country and our traditional architecture. Antônio Francisco Lisboa, a.k.a. Aleijadinho (“Little Crip”), is one of the major Baroque icons. Indigenous art also resonates with a lot of people: patterns, war bonnets, bows, rattles, and wind instruments are some of its most accessible expressions.

There’s also an immense taste for handicraft, sculptures, art naïf, and cordel poetry. Cordel, for instance, are poetic accounts sold in the form of leaflets. These poetry books can be over sixty pages long, and they blend mythical and daily themes with humor and drama in a lyrical manner. Traditional artists from the Northeast have a lot to offer in this area. 

On the same note, Brazil is also a land of many musical rhythms. Samba became the most popular of them in the twentieth century, even though it began as a marginalized form of music associated with poor people. It can assume different expressions, such as syncopated, calm, frenetic, instrumental, or vocalized.

Axé is another famous example of Brazilian rhythm. It was conceived in the 1980s by merging elements of samba-reggae, pop rock, and other local genres to create a vibrant type of music. This musical style is especially popular during Carnival. The country is home to many other interesting rhythms as well, such as moda de viola, forró, and frevo. 

Brazil has local variations of rock, pop, rap, and electronica. Some of the most respected Brazilian musicians in these genres include Carlos Gomes, Heitor Villa-Lobos, João Gilberto, and Antônio Carlos Jobim. Modern musical options in Brazil’s entertainment culture range from Sepultura to Olodum—two radically different styles, yet distinctly authentic with external influences.

Our cinema production is relatively strong. While Brazilian cinematic releases are regularly being awarded internationally, they’re not usually very popular in-country. Brazilians are more interested in TV productions and, recently, digital films. Unfortunately, theatrical productions are pretty hard to come by. If you want to see a good play or opera, there are traditional state-funded theatres in some of the country’s biggest cities.

5. Food

A mango slice alongside a whole mango

The miraculous mango is just one sample of the many fruits available in Brazil.

Getting a taste of Brazilian food culture is an excellent introduction to the culture as a whole. The continental proportions of the country, its tropical characteristics, and its good weather conditions make Brazil one of the biggest places of food production in the world. It is known for its abundance of meat (poultry, beef, and pork), a huge variety of fish, grains, fruits, and fresh vegetables.

We have a rich gastronomy: Our traditional cuisine blends Portuguese, native (indigenous), and African elements. A few of our most popular food items include: 

  • Feijoada
  • Angu
  • Moqueca
  • Acarajé
  • Cuscuz
  • Charque
  • Manioc flour
  • Chicken
  • Okra
  • Tapioca

Now it’s time for dessert! We recommend you try:

  • Rapadura
  • Guava jam
  • Mungunzá
  • Milk pudding
  • Quindim

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, many other cultures have influenced our national food options. To give you an idea, a foreigner could find food from Italian, Spanish, German, Japanese, Arab, and Hebrew origins.


6. Traditional Holidays

In Brazilian culture, holidays are an essential aspect of life and reflect the people’s open, sociable nature as well as their religious views. Here’s an overview of the most important Brazilian holidays.

A- New Year

Huge parties welcome the new year in Brazil, also known as Réveillon. The beaches are filled with tourists, while middle-sized and big cities organize musical and cultural spectacles.

B- Carnival

Carnival used to be a very traditional national street and ballroom celebration, but the holiday was deeply changed by samba. Samba was a marginalized rhythm sung mostly by black populations at the dawn of the twentieth century. By the 1940s, it had become so popular that it was elevated to national symbol status during Getúlio Vargas’s dictatorship. 

Nowadays, Carnival is celebrated with sambadromes and street parades, accompanied by a variety of musical rhythms. Meanwhile, the country virtually stops for four days. The most famous celebrations take place in the cities of Recife, Salvador, and Rio de Janeiro.

C- Our Lady of Aparecida

This is the one of the biggest religious holidays in the country. Pilgrimage sites are filled and people devote their prayers to Our Lady of Aparecida, an image of the Holy Virgin that was found in the form of a statue in the Paraíba River in the eighteenth century. Even today, this black Madonna is associated with many miracles across the country.

Civic holidays:


7. Conclusion

Becoming familiar with the basics of Brazilian society and culture is an important part of your language studies. And studying with PortuguesePod101 is the most effective way to learn about Brazilian culture alongside the Portuguese language! 

We offer a range of learning materials, including grammar lessons, word lists, and video lessons for learners at every level. It doesn’t take much to get started with our fun and engaging lessons. Just sign up on PortuguesePod101.com today, and you’ll start noticing progress in no time.

Before you go, let us know in the comments how Brazil’s culture compares to that in your country. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Happy learning!

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Portuguese Food: The Lusophone Heritage Gourmand’s Paradise

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Eating is a universal experience. It’s an essential need and also a delight. The ingredients and cooking methods of the foods we eat can reveal our preferences, our dislikes, our cultural background, and our environment.

Now, consider the mouth. It’s the path of the word and also the gateway to discovering numerous flavors. The same tool that articulates intellectual ideas about the world also takes sensual information from it—what a poetic exchange.

Indeed, truths aren’t contained solely within ideas and debate. New flavors and foods can talk and reveal so much about different countries and people.

Traditional Portuguese food may not be as internationally popular as the French or Italian cuisines, but it’s incredibly rich and diverse. People from Europe, America, Asia, and Africa are bonded by this colorful gastronomic heritage.

In this article, you’ll discover some of the most significant Portuguese foods as well as a few Portuguese food recipes to try at home. Let’s dive into it—a bite at a time.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. A Glimpse of the Lusophone Heritage
  2. Must-Try Dishes in Portuguese Restaurants
  3. “Portuguese” Food Elsewhere
  4. Unique Portuguese Foods
  5. Portuguese Food-Related Vocabulary
  6. Two Simple Authentic Portuguese Food Recipes
  7. Conclusion

1. A Glimpse of the Lusophone Heritage

Portuguese Food

Buckle up: codfish and cream and more of the most amazing Portuguese foods wait for you!

Well before the globalization phenomenon, Portugal delved into a journey of international discovery and commercial experience in the late fifteenth century.

The Portuguese were the first to go through some dangerous, landmark maritime routes and access such territories as: Brazil, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, India, Macau (China), Japan, Angola, Cape Verde, Qatar, Oman…

It was an imperialistic enterprise with both positive and catastrophic consequences. This exchange resulted in the permanence of certain cultural elements in some of these countries, which are still reflected in their gastronomy and language. This can certainly be seen in their adoption of ingredients and food traditions.

Contemporary Portuguese chef Luis Simões states that traditional Portuguese dishes share more similarities with dishes in other Lusophone countries than with those of neighboring European countries, for instance. 

2. Must-Try Dishes in Portuguese Restaurants

Due to this early globalized exchange, some of the best Portuguese food available doesn’t come from Portugal! The following delicacies take part in a parade of delights that are a tour-de-force for every gourmand interested in authentic Portuguese cuisine.

A- Bacalhau com natas (“Cod fish with cream”)

Codfish can be defined as the backbone of Portugal’s cuisine. More than a typical Portuguese food, it’s a symbol of the nation’s past maritime triumphs and of its present life as a coastal country. Cream, though it can be prepared in many fashions, is another essential Portuguese ingredient and is often present in desserts. 

Bacalhau com natas is a very popular Portuguese food, available at nearly every restaurant in Portugal.

Ingredients: codfish, potatoes, cream, béchamel sauce, onions, laurel, nutmeg, garlic, olive oil

It’s delicious because: The combination of fish and cream is undeniably odd. That’s the beauty of this dish: the codfish serves as more of a regular meat than a fish, so mixing it with cream works so well!

 Feijoada

Feijoada is the perfect dish to enjoy with a happy squad! 

B- Feijoada

Feijoada is one of the most famous Portuguese food recipes from Brazil.

Black beans are a product of South American land. This dish was conceived when Europeans (most notably the Portuguese) adopted this ingredient in pork meat stews in Brazil. 

Sometimes,  its creation is credited to the slaves, though there’s no full-proof historic support for this assumption. Brazilian folklorist Câmara Cascudo said it was impossibe because it involved pork consumption when many of the enslaved African were of a Muslim background. However, the slaves were of varying religious backgrounds, and the question remains a topic of debate. 

Ingredients: black beans, pork meat (various pieces), pork chop, collard, farofa, pork rind, oranges, laurels, chives, pepper, breaded banana

It’s delicious because: Both the texture and the taste of this dish are hard to parallel. Besides, the consumption of this dish often involves gathering with friends, drinking juice and caipirinha, and having fun—who would want to eat so much by themselves?

C- Chamuça (“Samosa”)

Chamuça dates back many centuries, and today it’s a prime example of Portuguese street food. The Portuguese discovered this incredible snack during their adventure in Goa, part of India. But its origins go even farther back in time, all the way to Ancient Persia. Chamuça is very popular nowadays in Mozambique, Portugal, and India.

This well-loved Portuguese snack is often filled with a mixture of meat, herbs, potatoes, and other vegetables.

Ingredients: flour (wheat), margarine, salt, vinegar, other ingredients for filling

It’s delicious because: It’s a type of fried pastel (“pastry”) that’s made with very fine dough. It’s delicious but not expensive—both necessary features of an ideal Portuguese street food.

D- Alheira

As this is one of the most authentic Portuguese foods, to speak of only one alheira recipe should be a crime. There are many variations of this sausage throughout Portugal, with the Mirandela, Vinhais, and Barroso-Montalegre types being the most popular.

Ingredients: meat (chicken and beef), garlic, bread, ham, pepper, salt, wine, and more

It’s delicious because: Alheiras recipes often include delicious Portuguese wine, and the varieties of sausage across Portugal each have their own unique taste. Since the country’s territory isn’t large, a culinary adventure to explore alheiras is an excellent expedition to promote!

Sweet, Sweet Bebinca

Sweet, sweet bebinca… (Photo by Warren Noronha under CC BY 2.0)

E- Bebinca

Bebinca is one of the amazing Portuguese desserts of Timorese and Indian roots. It’s a moist, delicate, heavily spiced cake. 

Ingredients: egg yolk, sugar, cardamom, coconut milk, flour (manioc or rice), butter

It’s delicious because: Try some slices of it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’ll understand. It’ll make you forget about the wonders of fondant au chocolat (“chocolate fondant”) in under a minute.

3. “Portuguese” Food Elsewhere

Over time, traditional Portuguese food has found its way into many other countries. These overseas versions are far from being authentic. For example, native Portuguese may never have even heard of supposedly famous ‘Portguese’ dishes from another country. Also, the ingredients and cooking methods of a Portuguese dish may vary widely from one country to another. 

The following are examples of “false” Portuguese food.

A- Feijoada

“False” version: Black beans are not very easy to find in some countries, nor are the spices used in the original dish. Not to mention how expensive pork meat can be… So why not improvise with other ingredients?

Why it sucks: If feijoada lacks pork meat, you end up with a thin broth. By using another type of bean, it’ll taste completely different. And if the spices are missing too, why bother preparing this dish? As an alternative, there’s canned feijoada for sale in some places—according to some myths, there’s a circle in Hell reserved for its producers.

Caipirinha

Caipirinha: accept no imitations

B- Caipirinha

“False” version: There are many international twists on the original recipe of cachaça, lemon, and sugar. The most common involves replacing cachaça for vodka or sake. Others involve blending multiple exotic fruits.

Why it sucks: The most famous Brazilian cocktail is the target of many well-intentioned mixologists worldwide (including in Brazil). While its simplicity is the source of its beauty, people insist on delivering “gourmet,” “innovative” renditions of the classic. The world needs an organic apricot-and-sake caipirinhajust like it needs a 3D reshoot of a Chaplin picture featuring Vin Diesel.

C- Churrasco (“Barbecue”)

“False” version: The worst alternative versions of it involve vegetarian meat, meat of poor quality, and lots of sauce. Some ‘Brazilian steakhouses’ out there even sell crocodile meatcrocodiles aren’t even native Brazilian animals! Also, the proportion of the meat served is important: bovine meat is paramount, pork and poultry are auxiliary. Fish can also be a good surprise in some culinary circles.

Why it sucks: Brazilian churrasco involves pieces of meat, coarse salt, coal, fire, and sometimes side dishes. There’s no need for moreor at least call it something other than churrasco. To be fair, there are also many styles of barbecue worldwide. Argentina, Uruguay, the United States, and other countries have their own takes on the dish.

D- Codfish Dishes

“False” version: Codfish is a Portuguese classic which can be prepared in many different ways. But it’s an expensive ingredient in some places, so the cook’s solution is often to hide small pieces of codfish among lots of potato, eggs, and olive.

Why it sucks: Well, if you order a codfish dish, it’s preferable to have codfish in it!

4. Unique Portuguese Foods

Some of the best Portuguese food products can only be found in one or two Lusophone countries, yet they’re so popular that language learners should know about them. Check out these unique Portuguese food and drink options you need to try!  

A- Fruits

Guaraná

Guaraná: the fruit’s appearance kind of resembles how you look before consuming it… (Photo by AnitaFortis under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Açaí (Brazil) – This is a little, energetic, dark berry from the Amazon that’s growingly popular among foreigners. They can be consumed in salty dishes with fish and shrimp, by itself as a fruit, or in an icy dessert.

Guaraná (Brazil) – Another highly energetic fruit from the Amazon, this is typically used as an ingredient for guarana soda pops. Because the guaraná seed contains around twice as much caffeine as a coffee bean, the guaraná powder is also used as a stimulant supplement and as an ingredient in energy drinks. 

Caju (Brazil, Angola) – Otherwise known as cashew nuts, this nut is a famous fruit which should not be eaten raw. It contains a toxin that burns the skin, which is why it’s usually sold after being processed. What many people don’t know is that the orange part that hangs from the nut is also edible. It can be consumed fresh, in desserts, or as a juice. Tasty!

Banana da Madeira (Portugal, Cape Verde) – This banana from Madeira Island is very sweet and relatively small. It’s a good ingredient to add something different to dessert recipes!

B- Drinks

Ginja (Portugal) – Also known as ginjinha, this is a liquor made of sour cherries. A very sweet and popular drink for shots, ginja is from Óbidos and Alcobaça.

Bibidi (Angola, cashew cachaça) – If you were surprised about the existence of the cashew fruit, you might be interested in tasting this liquor. It’s hard to find a bottle outside of Angola, though.


5. Portuguese Food-Related Vocabulary

Before you can have a taste of traditional Portuguese food, you have to learn how to order it. Check out the most important expressions for talking about food in Portuguese:

A- Describing Food and Hunger

  • Este é o meu prato preferido! (“This is my favorite dish!”)
  • Estou faminto/faminta. (“I am starving.”)
  • Perdi o apetite. (“I’ve lost my appetite.”)
  • Essa sopa está muito gostosa! (“This soup tastes delicious!”)
  • A feijoada ainda está quente demais. (“The feijoada is still too hot.”)

B- Ordering Food

  • Vocês servem comida sem glúten? (“Do you serve gluten-free food?”)
  • Você prefere a carne mal passada, ao ponto ou bem passada? (“Do you prefer your meat rare, medium, or well done?”)
  • Me desculpe, eu não como cebola. (“I’m sorry, but I don’t eat onion.”)
  • Eu tenho alergia a frutos do mar. (“I’m allergic to seafood.”)
  • Eu tenho intolerância a lactose. (“I’m lactose-intolerant.”)
  • Eu sou vegetariano(a)/vegano(a). (“I am a vegetarian/vegan.”)

You can learn more phrases for talking about what you don’t eat in our lesson titled Being Vegetarian in Portugal

C- Cooking Food

  • Primeiro, você soca o alho. (“First, you crush the garlic.”)
  • Depois, você refoga alho e cebola no azeite. (“Then, you sauté garlic and onion in olive oil.”)
  • Por fim, cozinhe a carne em fogo médio. (“Finally, boil the meat on medium heat.”)
  • Deixe os ingredientes aquecendo em banho-maria. (“Let the ingredients heat in water bath.”)
  • Bata as claras em neve. (“Beat the egg whites until stiff.”)
  • Desenforme o bolo e deixe-o descansar. (“Unmold the cake and let it cool.”)

 For more useful vocabulary, see our list of Essential Vocabulary About Cooking!

6. Two Simple Authentic Portuguese Food Recipes

Anxious to finally sink your teeth into some good Portuguese food? Then wait no longer! In this section, we’ll teach you how to cook Portuguese food at home! These two recipes are so simple that anyone can make them.

1)Caldo verde (“Green broth”)

Caldo Verde

Caldo verde: Portuguese comfort food at its best (Photo by Therese C under CC BY 2.0)

Ingredients:

  • 3 potatoes, cut into cubes
  • 1 liter vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, cut into cubes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 packet thin-sliced collard
  • 1 Portuguese sausage (paio type)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt
  • black pepper  

How to prepare (4 servings):

1.  Pour some olive oil into a pot and sauté the onion until it softens. Add in the sausage and half of the collard and let it sauté for 2 minutes.

2.  Pour the potatoes, the broth, and the sliced garlic clove into the pot. Stir and wait until the potatoes soften.

3.  Remove the slices of sausage and let them sit.

4.  Pour the solid ingredients into a blender until the mixture turns into a puree, and then mix the result with the rest of the soup.

5.  Put the mix back in the pot, and add some salt, pepper, and the collard and sausage. Mix it up and let it heat.

6.  Serve the broth. You can add some olive oil and eat it with bread.

2)Arroz doce (“Sweet rice”)

Arroz Doce

Time for dessert! (Photo by unknown artist under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of rice
  • 10 cups of water
  • 1 liter of milk
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 4-6 tablespoons of sugar
  • some cinnamon

How to prepare (10 servings):

1.  Cook the rice in the water until it softens.

2.  Add the milk and mix it up.

3.  Let it boil for 5 minutes.

4.  Add in the condensed milk and the sugar, and keep mixing.

5.  Let the mix reduce and thicken.

6.  Serve with powdered cinnamon on top.

Psst…you can learn more about Brazilian Sweets and Desserts in our Culture Class lesson. 😉

7. Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned the basics of Portuguese food, why stop there? Portuguese vocabulary and the cultural aspects of Lusophone countries are a rich stream of ever-expanding learning opportunities—and you can get a taste of this at PortuguesePod101.com!

All of our lessons and exercises are thoroughly organized to ensure a fun and effective learning experience. Have one bit of it and you’ll want to stay for dessert!

Let us know in the comments which Portuguese food you’re most excited to try, and why! We look forward to hearing from you.

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Portuguese Quotes That Will Blow Your Mind

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

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

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

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

Feel free to compare versions and practice your skills!

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

1. Quotes About Language Learning 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Quotes About Success

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


#3 Quem não arrisca não petisca.

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

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

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

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

Two Fishermen Casting Their Nets

“If it fell into the net, it’s fish.”

#4 Caiu na rede, é peixe.

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

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

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

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

#5 Há males que vêm para o bem.

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

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

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

3. Quotes About Love

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A Picture of a Man

Loverboy Machado de Assis in a meditative pose

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

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

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

4. Quotes About Time

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

#8 Devagar se vai ao longe.

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

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

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

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

#9 A tradição é que faz a Humanidade.

Literal translation: “Tradition makes Humanity.”

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

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

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

A Monument

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

5. Quotes About Human Relations

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


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

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

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

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

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

#11 Águas passadas não movem moinhos.

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

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

#12 Cada macaco no seu galho.

Literal translation: “Each monkey on its branch.”

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

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

6. Quotes About Life

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

Some of them sound grim while others are more lighthearted. 

#13 Cão que ladra não morde.

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

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

#14 A mentira tem pernas curtas.

Literal translation: “The lie has short legs.”

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

#15 Na cama que farás, nela te deitarás.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#17 Em boca fechada não entra mosca.

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

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

#18 Ladrão de tostão, ladrão de milhão.

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

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

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

#19 Ninguém diga: desta água não beberei.

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

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

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

A Man Getting Water Sample

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

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

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

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

#21 Macaco velho não mete a mão em cumbuca.

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

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

7. Conclusion

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

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

Happy Portuguese learning!

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