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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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Your Starting Point for Portuguese Grammar

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The word “grammar” can be a bit intimidating, especially when learning a new language. 

If you’re considering learning Portuguese but are worried about how complicated the grammar is, you are in the right place! This guide will give you an overview of the main Portuguese grammar topics and show you that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

By taking a quick look at the sentence structure, verbs, and grammatical gender and number, you’ll be prepared to handle whatever comes your way. Then, as you continue learning this amazing language, you can always use this overview as a handy reference. 

Buckle up for a fast-paced ride! It’s time to discover the ins and outs of Portuguese grammar.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. General Rules
  2. Sentence Structure
  3. Building Blocks
  4. Verbs
  5. Gender and Number Agreement
  6. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. General Rules

First things first: Learning the basic Portuguese grammar rules really isn’t that complicated. There are a few aspects that pose some challenge, and we suggest tackling those head-on. We’ll do our best to make even those complicated bits easier to understand. 

As an English speaker, you’ll be glad to learn that Portuguese and English have a lot in common! The languages share similar grammatical structures and even vocabulary, giving you an advantage. 

One similarity you’ll encounter from the beginning is the word order, which dictates how the sentence is structured. Both Portuguese and English follow the Subject + Verb + Object structure. 

Every sentence is composed of parts that make the whole, and here we find more similarities between the two languages. Many of the parts of speech we use in Portuguese will be familiar to you. These include articles, nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns, and more.

Verbs, in particular, can get a little tricky in Portuguese. We have regular verbs (and we love them!), but we also have to deal with irregular ones. Portuguese verb conjugation introduces different tenses, moods, and people to the mix. It’s a complex topic, but once you learn it, you will have conquered the bulk of Portuguese grammar!

There are a few unfamiliar concepts you’ll need to get a handle on when learning Portuguese grammar as an English speaker. One of them is the way grammatical gender changes the parts of speech. Words like articles and adjectives have to match the gender of the noun, which many new learners find a bit strange. Luckily, this aspect of grammar isn’t too complex and you’ll soon be comfortable with it.

Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these aspects.

A Green Apple and an Orange against a White Background

English and Portuguese are not all that different.

2. Sentence Structure

The sentence structure refers to the word order in a sentence. There are three main “building blocks” used to form sentences:

1. Subject: Indicates who or what performs the action in the sentence

2. Verb: Describes an action, state, or natural phenomenon

3. Object: Noun or noun phrase acted upon by the subject

Take this sentence as an example:

  • Eu acordo cedo. (“I wake up early.”)

As you can see, this basic sentence follows the same structure in both Portuguese and English. And, unlike other languages like French, you won’t be learning any complex inversions for asking questions in Portuguese. 

Unlike in English, however, subjects can be implied in Portuguese. Many sentences omit the subject, but people know who or what the subject is thanks to the way the verb is conjugated. 

  • Viu aquilo? (“Did you see that?”)

Another important difference to keep in mind is that, in Portuguese, the adjective usually follows the noun it refers to. For example:

  • Ela gosta de vinho tinto. (“She likes red wine.”) 

However, there are some situations where the adjective comes before the noun. 

The sentence structure we just saw is the most basic one. As we create more complex sentences and add information, we use modifiers such as adjectives, adverbs, numerals, and more. 

But as you begin your Portuguese learning journey, stick to the basics. As you progress, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to discover more.


Three Figure Skaters

Subject + Verb + Object

3. Building Blocks

There are several types of words that go into building sentences. After all, you can’t create a sentence with only verbs or only nouns. 

Luckily, the word types in Portuguese are familiar to English speakers. If you already know a Romance language, even better! 

The Portuguese word classes or types are:

  • Verbs indicate actions, occurrences, or states of being.
    Eu como muito. (“I eat a lot.”)
  • Nouns function as the name of objects, people, places, or ideas. Nouns have gender, as you’ll see later on.
    A cama (“The bed“)
  • Articles precede a noun. They can be definite or indefinite, and change according to gender and number. 
    Os carros (“The cars”)
  • Adjectives modify or describe a noun. Adjective placement may vary, but in most cases it comes after the noun.
    A casa pequena (“The small house”)
  • Possessive adjectives are words that indicate to whom a noun belongs.
    Meu irmão (“My brother”)
  • Adverbs modify words other than nouns and typically express manner, time, frequency, and place. You can identify Portuguese adverbs of manner by the ending -ente (similar to the English ending -ly).
    Ele caminha lentamente. (“He walks slowly.”)
  • Demonstrative pronouns are words that indicate what is being referred to. 
    Este livro (“This book”)
  • Pronouns are words that substitute for a noun to avoid repetition.
    Nós ganhamos o jogo. (“We won the game.”)
  • Conjunctions connect other words or phrases.
    Você quer café ou chá? (“Do you want coffee or tea?”)
  • Prepositions are words that express spatial, directional, and temporal relations between parts of a sentence.
    Ela jogou contra mim. (“She played against me.”)

These word classes all play a part in the language. As you advance in your lessons, you’ll enrich your vocabulary and learn words from all different classes, giving you a lot more freedom to build your own sentences.

A Pile of Colorful Legos

Every “building block” has a place in the sentence.

4. Verbs

Verbs and their conjugation are a vast world in Portuguese. You’ll encounter many rules and, as always, several exceptions while learning the topic. 

Here are some basic concepts to keep in mind.

1 – Verb Endings

Portuguese has three main verbal groups, characterized by their different endings. These verb endings are  -AR, -ER, and -IR. For example:

  • Amar (“To love”)
  • Correr (“To run”)
  • Discutir (“To discuss” / “To argue”)

Why are the verb endings important, you ask? Well, they’re helpful because regular verbs in a given group will conjugate the same way as other regular verbs in that group. The stems of the verbs remain the same in each of the different conjugations and the endings are predictable.

Of course, Portuguese also has irregular verbs which do not obey the same rules. Some of them even end in -OR, such as supor (“to suppose” / “to assume”). These derive from the second conjugation (-ER), having had their ‘e’ suppressed as the language evolved.

2 – Conjugation

Verbs change their form depending on several factors, including person, mood, tense, and voice.

Person and tense are the most basic factors you should keep in mind. When we talk about grammatical person, we are referring to the pronouns. 

1st person singularEuI
2nd person singularTu / VocêYou
3rd person singularEle / ElaHe / She
1st person pluralNósWe
2nd person pluralVós / VocêsYou (plural)
3rd person pluralEles / Elas  They (male) / They (female)

In Portuguese grammar, tenses are categorized as being simple or compound. The compound ones use another verb (called an auxiliary) alongside the main verb. As you learn Portuguese, you should focus first on the most-used tenses: the simple present, simple past, and simple future. 

By putting together the verb endings and the conjugation basics, we can get an idea of how regular verbs look in sentences.

  • Verb amar (“to love”), 1st person singular
    Eu amo este filme. (“I love this movie.”)
  • Verb correr (“to run”), 3rd person plural
    Elas correm todo sábado. (“They run every Saturday.”)
  • Verb discutir (“to discuss” / “to argue”), 1st person plural
    Nós discutimos ontem. (“We argued yesterday.”)

Here’s a more in-depth look at how regular verbs are conjugated based on their ending, in the simple present tense.

-AR verbs-ER verbs-IR verbs
EuStem + oAmoStem + oCorroStem + oDiscuto
TuStem + asAmasStem + esCorresStem + esDiscutes
Você/Ele/ElaStem + aAmaStem + eCorreStem + eDiscute
VósStem + amosAmamosStem + emosCorremosStem + imosDiscutimos
NósStem + aisAmaisStem + eisCorreisStem + isDiscutis
Vocês/ElesStem + amAmamStem + emCorremStem + emDiscutem


3 – The Verb “To Be”

Unlike English, Portuguese has two verbs that translate as “to be”: ser and estar. You can think about the difference between them in terms of permanence and impermanence. 

    → Permanent “to be”: ser

You can be tall, Canadian, or a doctor. Those are all qualities that are permanent or static in the long-term. 

For example: Eu sou loira. (“I am blonde.”)

The verb ser conjugates as follows in the simple present tense: 

Eu souNós somos
Tu ésVós sois
Ele / Ela / Você éEles / Elas / Vocês são

    → Impermanent “to be”: estar

You can be temporarily cold, in a location, or angry. Estar is used with qualities that are not lasting in the long-term.

For example: Ela está nervosa. (“She is nervous.”)

Here is how the verb estar conjugates in the simple present tense:

Eu estouNós estamos
Tu estásVós estais
Ele / Ela / Você estáEles / Elas / Vocês estão

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

  • Vocês estão estudando? (“Are you [plural] studying?”)
  • Ela foi fotografada na praia. (“She was photographed at the beach.”)

There are many more auxiliary verbs you’ll often see in Portuguese, such as the verb ir (“to go”), ter (“to have”), and poder (“can”).


A Woman Stretching as She Gets Out of Bed in the Morning

Acordar (“to wake up”) is a verb of the -AR group.

5. Gender and Number Agreement

As hinted at before, some word classes need to agree with the nouns in gender and number. The concept of nouns having gender is a bit unfamiliar to English speakers. But don’t worry; with practice, you’ll get the hang of it without too much trouble!

1 – Nouns

Nouns can be masculine, feminine, or both. Some can even change gender depending on the context! Yes, even inanimate objects. 

Feminine nounsMasculine nouns
Faca (“Knife”)Garfo (“Fork”)
Cama (“Bed”)Colchão (“Mattress”)
Televisão (“Television”)Computador (“Computer”)
Mulher (“Woman”)Homem (“Man”)
Mãe (“Mother”)Pai (“Father”)

As a rule of thumb, nouns that end in –o tend to be masculine and nouns that end in –a tend to be feminine. Please note that this isn’t always the case, as in these examples:

  • Rádio (“Radio”) can be feminine or masculine, and each one has a different meaning even though the spelling of the word doesn’t change. How do you know which rádio is being referred to? Either by the article used or by the context.
    • Masculine: o rádio. Used to talk about the radio set, the object.
    • Feminine: a rádio. Used to talk about the radio transmitting station or the communication medium.
  • Criança (“Child”) is a noun with a set grammatical gender and works for both male and female children. Even though the feminine article is always used, it can be used to talk about a boy or a girl. 
    • Masculine: Ele é uma criança inteligente. (“He is a smart child.”)
    • Feminine: Ela é uma criança feliz. (“She is a happy child.”)
  • Colega (“Colleague”) is another noun that doesn’t change its spelling, but can be used to talk about males or females. However, the article and adjectives change depending on the gender.
    • Masculine: Ele é o novo colega. (“He is the new colleague.”)
    • Feminine: A Maria é a colega que teve um bebê. (“Maria is the colleague that had a baby.”)

2 – Articles

Portuguese nouns are preceded by definite or indefinite articles which vary depending on the gender of the noun. Likewise, different articles are used when a noun is plural.

Definite articleIndefinite article
Feminine singularA A cama (“The bed”) Uma Uma cama (“A bed”)
Feminine pluralAs As facas (“The knives”)Umas Umas facas (“Some knives”)
Masculine singularO O colchão (“The mattress”)Um Um colchão (“A mattress”)
Masculine pluralOs Os garfos (“The forks”)Uns Uns garfos (“Some forks”)

3 – Adjectives

Adjectives also have to agree with the noun in gender and number. 

Some adjectives will change depending on gender, while others don’t. For example:

  • Inteligente (“Smart” / “Intelligent”)
    Ela é inteligente. (“She is smart.”)
    Ele é inteligente. (“He is smart.”)
  • Bonita (“Beautiful” / “Pretty” / “Handsome”)
    Ela é bonita. (“She is pretty.”)
    Ele é bonito. (“He is handsome.”)

Once again, most of the feminine adjectives end in -a, while the masculine adjectives end in -o.

The plural form of the adjectives is very straightforward. Simply look for an -s at the end:

  • Os gatos são medrosos. (“The cats are fearful.”) – masculine
  • As modelos são altas. (“The models are tall.”) – feminine

Discover the top 50 most common adjectives in Portuguese with PortuguesePod101.

A Kite being Flown on a Sem-cloudy Day

A pipa, o céu. (“The kite, the sky.”)

6. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

We hope our overview of the Portuguese grammar basics was helpful to you, and that you’re now feeling more confident as you embark on this amazing language learning journey!

You can also use this page as a refresher or reference point whenever you need a quick explanation of a Portuguese grammar element. Feel free to come back to it as many times as you want.

Are you now ready to start learning more Portuguese? Do you think we forgot an important aspect that you would like covered? Let us know in the comments!

To boost your skills and take them to the next level, continue exploring PortuguesePod101.com. There are lots of free Portuguese grammar resources and themed vocabulary lists to get you started on the right foot. Go ahead and choose your favorite tools to increase your learning opportunities.

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

Happy learning!

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Portuguese Quotes That Will Blow Your Mind

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

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

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

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

Feel free to compare versions and practice your skills!

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

1. Quotes About Language Learning 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Quotes About Success

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


#3 Quem não arrisca não petisca.

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

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

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

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

Two Fishermen Casting Their Nets

“If it fell into the net, it’s fish.”

#4 Caiu na rede, é peixe.

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

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

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

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

#5 Há males que vêm para o bem.

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

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

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

3. Quotes About Love

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A Picture of a Man

Loverboy Machado de Assis in a meditative pose

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

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

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

4. Quotes About Time

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

#8 Devagar se vai ao longe.

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

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

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

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

#9 A tradição é que faz a Humanidade.

Literal translation: “Tradition makes Humanity.”

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

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

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

A Monument

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

5. Quotes About Human Relations

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


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

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

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

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

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

#11 Águas passadas não movem moinhos.

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

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

#12 Cada macaco no seu galho.

Literal translation: “Each monkey on its branch.”

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

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

6. Quotes About Life

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

Some of them sound grim while others are more lighthearted. 

#13 Cão que ladra não morde.

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

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

#14 A mentira tem pernas curtas.

Literal translation: “The lie has short legs.”

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

#15 Na cama que farás, nela te deitarás.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#17 Em boca fechada não entra mosca.

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

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

#18 Ladrão de tostão, ladrão de milhão.

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

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

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

#19 Ninguém diga: desta água não beberei.

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

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

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

A Man Getting Water Sample

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

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

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

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

#21 Macaco velho não mete a mão em cumbuca.

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

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

7. Conclusion

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

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

Happy Portuguese learning!

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Your Guide to Portuguese Business Phrases and Vocabulary

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

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

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

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

1. Getting the Job

Job Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also take the opportunity to showcase your strengths and accomplishments!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

→ Practice more important questions in Portuguese with PortuguesePod101!

Two Men Conducting a Job Interview

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

2. Interacting with Coworkers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. In a Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

→ Learn how to talk about your job with PortuguesePod101.

4. Business Phone Calls and Emails

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

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

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

1 – Phone Calls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 – Emails

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, say goodbye!

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

Send the best emails in Portuguese with our tips.

5. Business Trips

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

Here are some important words to know:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Man Checking in at a Hotel

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

6. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

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

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

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

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

Happy learning, and good luck with your business endeavors!

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

Learn Portuguese: YouTube Channels to Improve Your Skills

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Learning a new language is all about interaction and discipline. Luckily, there are millions of video channels online in foreign languages to help immerse you in your target language—something that many language learning apps, for example, tend not to facilitate.

As you learn Portuguese, YouTube channels can be a wonderful supplement to your studies. But imagine how much work it would be to go through every channel, trying to figure out which ones are worthwhile. Beginners, in particular, would have difficulty distinguishing good content from bad content. 

This is where PortuguesePod101 steps in. 

We’ve compiled a master list of the top channels to learn Portuguese on YouTube. These channels fall into a variety of categories, from those with formal language lessons to more laidback cooking channels and vloggers. This way, you’ll definitely be able to find a channel that fits your interests and language learning needs! 

Before we begin, let’s talk about the number-one destination for studying Portuguese on YouTube: the PortuguesePod101 YouTube channel. In our videos, we apply a structured teaching approach that’s captivating for the learner. Condensed tips, full-length lessons, fun facts, exercises… We combine some of the best features of each channel on our list in a practical and effective way.

Now, let’s take it step-by-step. Meet the top ten YouTube channels for improving your Portuguese.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. EuroPortuguese LA
  2. Tim Explica
  3. Arquivo Nacional
  4. Um Gordo na Cozinha
  5. Hello, Rusty
  6. Celso Portiolii
  7. Who’s Geek
  8. Olhar Angolano
  9. Learn Portuguese with PortuguesePod101.com
  10. Conclusion

1. EuroPortuguese LA

Category: Educational

Level: Beginner – Intermediate

Looking for European Portuguese YouTube channels? EuroPortuguese LA is a bona fide independent education channel focused on teaching Portuguese from the perspective of Portugal. This means that the grammar is adjusted to the subtleties of the European country’s version of the language.

The lessons are extremely short, presenting useful tips and structured content. You’ll also find that the European Portuguese readings are both short and interesting, often featuring lines of poetry.

There are resources for beginners, as well as a few lessons for intermediate learners who want to improve their Portuguese speaking skills. This channel is particularly useful for those who want to work on their pronunciation

2. Tim Explica

Category: Expat / Vlog / Lifestyle

Level: Beginner – Intermediate

Tim is an American who lives in Brazil and hosts a lifestyle vlog in Portuguese. For many years, he has commented on various Brazilian themes and situations from a foreigner’s point of view.

For instance, it’s fun and interesting to watch him visit a typical market in Goiás or attend the Carnival of Bahia. A bonus for language learners is that his videos often feature local slang and interactions, which makes his vlog one of the most easygoing and educational YouTube channels to learn Portuguese.

Another interesting thing about his vlog is that he sometimes analyzes Brazilians speaking English and points out their train of thought and pronunciation—this might be an interesting “reverse engineering” exercise. Lately, he’s also been performing some stand-up comedy.

3. Arquivo Nacional

Category: History / Culture

Level: Beginner – Intermediate

Arquivo Nacional is Brazil’s National Archive. Its YouTube channel may be institutional, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring! In fact, this is one of the best Portuguese learning YouTube channels, showing a variety of mentalities and cultural points of view.

This channel is constantly updated with newsreels and archives of Brazilian music, arts, geography, and politics. Some examples of video topics in the archive include:

  • Presentations of Brazilian cities
  • Profiles of actors, actresses, and singers
  • Short documentaries
  • Art exhibitions
  • Military and political reports
  • Miscellaneous press and RP reports

The narration is normally clear, and the videos give privileged insight concerning some noticeable events of the twentieth century in Brazil.

4. Um Gordo na Cozinha

Category: Food

Level: Advanced

Firstly, this channel is presented by a gaucho (from Rio Grande do Sul, that is) chef in Brazil, José Luiz de Souza. This is an interesting opportunity for foreign speakers to get in touch with this dialect from the South of Brazil. In addition to the accent, these videos feature very specific gaucho words and manners from that region.

This is a wonderful place to discover Portuguese recipes on YouTube, and many southern dishes (a mix of Italian, Argentinian, and Brazilian food). José also presents viewers with useful cooking tips, and many of his videos feature heavy machinery and exclusive equipment designed to help feed a lot of people. 

Finally, the production of this channel is very nice. Some Portuguese YouTube channels have good content but are a little tough on the eyes. But this one was tailored for TV channels in Brazil and is now available on YouTube.

5. Hello, Rusty

Category: Educational

Level: Beginner

Rusty is a Brazilian language enthusiast and creates very interesting videos to help English speakers learn Portuguese.

This young teacher is a native speaker and utilizes a very resourceful teaching approach. She presents news, tricks, music, and more, in short but very effective lessons. Sometimes her YouTube Portuguese lessons are taught in English, and other times in Portuguese (she speaks slowly).

At the time of this writing, the channel has not been updated in a while. Fortunately, there are nearly eighty videos available for you to enjoy. Learn Brazilian Portuguese in baby steps with this sympathetic teacher.

6. Celso Portiolii

Category: Vlog / Lifestyle

Level: Beginner – Intermediate

This is the channel of a popular Brazilian TV show host and major celebrity. Portiolli has been a man of the media since he was young, working on various radio stations and becoming an elected member of the city council of Ponta Porã.

Then, he migrated to TV in the early 1990s and stayed there until 2017. Since 2016, he’s been developing a personal YouTube channel.

This channel is a mix of interesting and humorous, if odd, content. After all, watching a 6’1″ 52-year-old man bake a giant Toblerone in his kitchen brings up mixed feelings. 

Still, the channel is packed with irreverent content (recipes, music parodies, personal vlogs), its host is charismatic, and the visual language is very swift and modern. It’s definitely a fun way to practice listening comprehension skills, especially for kids.

7. Who’s Geek

Category: Geek Culture / Literature

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Pop culture is a very compelling niche for many users of the virtual world. And inside this niche, there’s the ever-expanding geek culture. This is one of our top Portuguese YouTube channel picks for people interested in geek culture, reading, and similar topics.

The hosts discuss books and authors in varying degrees of depth, making this channel best suited for intermediate and advanced learners. Since there’s a big focus on classic authors (especially sci-fi writers), there’s a lot of common ground to start threading into your Portuguese studies.

Also, the discussions and reviews on this channel cover both national and international books. This can offer you unique insight into the differences of theme and approach in works from different cultures.

8. Olhar Angolano

Category: History / News

Level: Intermediate

This Portuguese news YouTube channel, hosted by Franscisco Venâncio, is constantly updated with videos covering the latest news concerning Angola and international politics, as well as national history. It’s a good opportunity to become acquainted with Angola’s version of Portuguese and its history.

Some of the most interesting historic videos from this channel are those that describe the founding of Angola’s capital Luanda, and the demographic formation of the country. Another fascinating video is one that describes the relationship of the African Kingdoms of Congo and Ndongo, and the development of slave trafficking to the Americas.

Olhar Angolano also presents Angolan news and opinion polls on matters of daily life. This content is interesting in that it creates a notion of the local customs and the prevalent questions that make headlines in the country.

9. Learn Portuguese with PortuguesePod101.com

Category: Language Learning

Level: All levels

The PortuguesePod101 YouTube channel is the perfect complement to our website. We offer the best Portuguese lessons on YouTube, with tons of useful features: listening and reading exercises, vocabulary learning lessons, videos on cultural topics, and much more! 

In addition to our actual language and culture videos, we provide content describing how to make the most of your study time with practical tips. Our channel currently features hundreds of videos, and we’re constantly updating our channel and adding more. In fact, you can check our channel at literally any time and face a constant stream of lessons and tips.

Our approach of thorough exposition, in conjunction with our informal and methodical insights, is very effective for learners at every level. Tune in to learn the Portuguese language on YouTube in the most fun and effective way possible!

10. Conclusion

We hope that these top YouTube channels for learning Portuguese will fill any cultural or linguistic gaps in your studies and stimulate your appetite for knowledge.

Being able to listen to and watch the differences between European and Brazilian culture is a great way to understand other lifestyles and become more familiar with the language. Still, interaction is paramount when it comes to new languages. PortuguesePod101 provides the most interesting tools and interactive lessons for learners at various levels, from beginner to expert. Don’t let this golden opportunity slip through your hands!

Before you go, we’d love to hear what your favorite Portuguese YouTube channels are! We look forward to hearing from you in the comments.

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

Is Portuguese Hard to Learn?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. The Real Deal: The Hardest Things About Portuguese

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

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

1 – Listening challenges: What are they saying? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 – A fork, a knife: Word gender.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 – All those sounds: Pronunciation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 – Not quite sure: The subjunctive mode.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 – The fundamentals are easy.

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

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

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

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

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

2 – A big happy family: Romance languages.

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

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

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

3 – No need to invert, Baby.

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

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

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

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

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

Super-simple!

4 – The Brazilian charm.

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

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

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

Português é Fácil! (Portuguese Is Easy!)

3. Getting Started with Portuguese

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

1 – Build your vocabulary.

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

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

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

2 – Conquer the pronunciation.

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

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

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

3 – Listen to native speakers.

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

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

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

4 – Speak often.

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

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

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

Engage in Portuguese Conversations at Every Opportunity.

4. Advice for the Road

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

1 – Feedback is your friend.

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

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

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

2 – Make it fun.

Tell us if you’ve ever had this experience:

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

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

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

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

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

3 – Persistence and consistency are key.

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

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

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

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

Do You Dream of Visiting a Portuguese-speaking Country?

5. Why is PortuguesePod101 Great for Learning Portuguese?

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

1 – Freebies

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

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

2 – Tailor-made lessons

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

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

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

3 – Mobile app 

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

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

4 – MyTeacher service

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

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

Ready to Speak Portuguese and Have a Great Time?

6. Get Down to Business with PortuguesePod101

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

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

Be sure to check the free Portuguese resources available on PortuguesePod101.com. There are plenty of vocabulary lists to train your ears! Go ahead and choose your favorite tools to expand your learning opportunities.

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

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The Top 10 Common Mistakes in Portuguese to Avoid

Thumbnail

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

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

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

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

Stressed Woman Holding Her Head with Her Hand

Worried about Portuguese mistakes? Don’t sweat it!

1. Pronunciation Mistakes

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

1 – Nasal Sounds

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

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

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

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

2 – Open and Closed Vowels

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

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

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

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

3 – Intonation

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

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

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

A Group of Friends Chatting with Drinks

Master Portuguese pronunciation and feel confident!

2. Vocabulary Word Mistakes

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

1 – False Friends

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

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

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

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

2 – Similar Portuguese Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Word Order Mistakes

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

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

1 – Adjectives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 – Position of Reflexive Pronouns

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

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

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

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

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

A Chef about to Cut a Yellow Cake

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

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

4. Grammar Mistakes

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

1 – Gender Agreement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 – To Be or Not to Be: Ser vs. Estar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 – Irregular Comparatives and Superlatives

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

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

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

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

Now you know you should never say mais bom!

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

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

The exceptions are the same adjectives mentioned before:

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

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

A Girl Trying on Shoes at a Shoe Store

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

5. In the Real World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. The King of All Mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young People Having a Celebration Party

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

7. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

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

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

To take your skills to the next level, continue exploring PortuguesePod101.com! There are lots of free Portuguese resources and vocabulary lists to prepare you for any situation. Go ahead and choose your favorite tools to expand your learning opportunities.

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

Happy learning!

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Asking and Answering the Top 10 Questions in Portuguese

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

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

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

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

Man Giving a Speech

Get ready to ask and answer questions like a pro!

1. The Building Blocks

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

1 – Portuguese Question Words

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

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

2 – Portuguese Question Patterns

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

Question word + subject + verb + complement

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

Examples:

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

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

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

Subject + verb + complement

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

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

Examples:

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

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

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

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

Group of Students Studying on Lawn

Vamos estudar? (“Let’s study?”)

2. The Top 10 Portuguese Questions and Answers to Learn

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

1 – What’s your name?

First Encounter

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

Question

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

Answer

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

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

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

Putting it all together

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

2 – Where are you from?

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

Question

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

Answer

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

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

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

You can also answer the question by stating your nationality:

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

Putting it all together

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

3 – Do you speak Portuguese?

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

Question

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

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

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

Answer

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

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

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

And, just like before, you can add more details to your answer using adverbs and adjectives.

  • Eu falo um pouco de Português. (“I speak a bit of Portuguese.”)
  • Eu falo Espanhol muito bem. (“I speak Spanish very well.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você fala Italiano? (“Do you speak Italian?”)
  • A: Sim, eu falo Italiano. (“Yes, I speak Italian.”)
  • Q: Ela fala português? (“Does she speak Portuguese?”)
  • A: Não, ela não fala português. (“No, she doesn’t speak Portuguese.”)
Different Language-learning Books

Você fala todas essas línguas? (“Do you speak all of those languages?”)

4 – How long have you been studying Portuguese?

After successfully explaining what languages you speak, it’s time to show off your skills. After all, it takes a while to master a new language, and you deserve to brag a little!

Question

  • Você estuda [idioma] há quanto tempo?
Vocêestuda[idioma]quanto tempo?
YoustudyPortuguesehave beenhow long?

The translation you see above might confuse you a bit, so let’s unpack it. When we use the verb haver (“to have”) with another verb in the present tense (like estuda), it describes an action that started in the past and continues in the present.

The verb haver can be substituted by the verb fazer (“to make”), which in this case, will have the same meaning as haver:

  • Você estuda [idioma] faz quanto tempo?

It’s also common to see this question pattern inverted:

  • Há quanto tempo que você estuda [idioma]?
  • Faz quanto tempo que você estuda [idioma]?

Answer

You can answer this Portuguese question in a more complete way by repeating part of the question, or in a more direct way, just using the verb and the amount of time.

  • Eu estudo [idioma] faz / há [tempo].
Euestudo[idioma]faz / há[tempo].
IstudyPortuguesefor[time].
  • Faz / há [tempo].
Faz / há[tempo].
For[time].

Note that, regardless of the number of years or months you answer with, the verb is always in the singular form. That happens because, when referring to actions that started in the past and continue in the present, the verb doesn’t vary in number.

  • Faz um ano. (“For one year.”)
  • Eu estudo inglês faz dez anos. (“I have been studying English for ten years.”)
  • Eu estudo japonês há um ano. (“I have been studying Japanese for one year.”)
  • Há dez anos. (“For ten years.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você estuda coreano faz quanto tempo? (“How long have you been studying Korean?”)
  • A: Faz três anos. (“For three years.”)
  • Q: Você estuda português faz quanto tempo? (“How long have you been studying Portuguese?”)
  • A: Eu estudo português há dois meses. (“I have been studying Portuguese for two months.”)
Introducing Yourself

5 – Have you been to [place]?

Traveling is always an interesting topic for conversation, and some of the most common Portuguese questions for foreigners are related to this topic.

Question

  • Você já foi para [lugar]?
Vocêfoipara[lugar]?
Youalreadyhave beento[place]?

After the preposition para (“to”), it might be necessary to add articles that agree with the gender and number of the place.

  • Você já foi para São Paulo? (“Have you been to São Paulo?”)
  • Você já foi para o Rio de Janeiro? (“Have you been to Rio de Janeiro?”)
  • Você já foi para a China? (“Have you been to China?”)
  • Você já foi para os Países Baixos? (“Have you been to the Netherlands?”)

Answer

This question can be answered with a simple sim (“yes”) or não (“no”). However, to really make it count, you can add information about how many times you’ve been or when you went there. You can add this information at the end of the sentence.

Sim / Não,eu(não) fui[complemento].
Yes / No,Ihave (not) been[complement].
  • Sim, eu fui uma vez. (“Yes, I’ve been once.”)
  • Não, eu nunca fui. (“No, I’ve never been.”)
  • Sim, eu fui lá ano passado. (“Yes, I went there last year.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você já foi para Roma? (“Have you already been to Rome?”) 
  • A: Sim, eu fui para Roma várias vezes. (“Yes, I’ve been to Rome several times.”)
  • Q: Ele já foi para o nordeste? (“Has he already been to the northeast [of Brazil]?”) 
  • A: Não, ele não foi. (“No, he has not.”)

→ Explore more travel-related vocabulary and essential phrases with PortuguesePod101!

Woman Taking Photo of Something in Paris

Você já foi para Paris? Sim, já fui! (“Have you been to Paris? Yes, I’ve been!”)

6 – Do you like [country’s] food?

You can’t talk about traveling without bringing up all of the delicious local cuisine! And you can bet that Brazilians will ask you about your thoughts on Brazilian food

Question

  • Você gosta da comida de [país]?
Vocêgosta dacomidade[país]?
Do youlikefoodofBrazil?

Once again, the preposition de (“of”) has to agree with the country or place. 

  • Você gosta da comida do Brasil? (“Do you like Brazil’s food?”)
  • Você gosta da comida da França? (“Do you like France’s food?”)

Instead of using “de + country,” you can also use the adjective that refers to that country. For example:

  • Você gosta da comida brasileira? (“Do you like Brazilian food?”)
  • Você gosta da comida francesa? (“Do you like French food?”)

If you want to make the question more specific, you can add adjectives after the word comida (“food”):

  • Ela gosta da comida tradicional japonesa? (“Do you like traditional Japanese food?”)
  • Você gosta da comida vegetariana da Índia? (“Do you like vegetarian Indian food?”)

Answer

The answer pattern here is very similar to the one we saw for the previous question. You can start with sim (“yes”) or não (“no”), and then add more information to make your answer complete.

Sim / Não,eu(não) gosto[complemento].
Yes / No,I(don’t) like[complement].
  • Sim, eu gosto. (“Yes, I like it.”)
  • Sim, eu gosto da comida peruana. (“Yes, I like Peruvian food.”)
  • Não, eu não gosto muito. (“No, I don’t like it very much.”)
  • Não, eu não gosto da comida daqui. (“No, I don’t like the food from here.”) 

To emphasize how much you like (or don’t like) the local food, you can use stronger verbs than gostar (“to like”).

  • Sim, eu adoro. (“Yes, I adore it.”)
  • Sim, eu amo a comida da Colômbia. (“Yes, I love Colombian food.”)
  • Não, eu odeio a comida alemã. (“No, I hate German food.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você gosta da comida da Tailândia? (“Do you like Thailand’s food?”) 
  • A: Sim, eu gosto da comida tailandesa. (“Yes, I like Thai food.”)
  • Q: Você gosta da comida do Chile? (“Do you like Chile’s food?”)
  • A: Não, eu odeio. (“No, I hate it.”)

7 – How is ___?

This is a versatile question pattern for you to learn. Let’s say you just made a delicious batch of cookies and offered some to your brand-new acquaintances. Now, you want to know what they think about them. What do you say?

Another scenario: You’re going to visit a friend in another city, but before packing, you want to know what the weather is like there. How can you ask? 

In both cases, the question is about how something is at the moment. For this reason, you should use the temporary form of the verb “to be” in Portuguese: estar.

  • Como está o / a [complemento]? 
Comoestáo / a[complemento]?
Howisthe[complement]?

Use this question pattern to ask how a singular thing or event is. The articles will change depending on the gender of the thing or event. Take a look at the examples:

  • Como está o bolo? (“How is the cake?”)
  • Como está a comida? (“How is the food?”)
  • Como está o clima aí? (“How is the weather there?”)
  • Como está a festa? (“How is the party?”)
  • Como estão os / as [complemento]?
Comoestãoos / as[complemento]?
Howarethe[complement]?

Use this second pattern to talk about plural things or events. Once again, make sure the article agrees with the thing or event.

  • Como estão os biscoitos? (“How are the cookies?”)
  • Como estão as férias? (“How is the vacation?”)

But what about asking a question about the essence or a permanent characteristic of something? In this case, you should use the permanent “to be” verb, which is ser

  • Como é o/a [complemento]?
Comoéo / a[complemento]?
Howisthe[complement]?
  • Como é a casa nova? (“How is the new house?”)
  • Como é a sua vizinha/ o seu vizinho? (“How is your neighbor?”)
  • Como é o gato? (“How is the cat?”)
  • Como são os/as [complemento]?
Comosãoos / as[complemento]?
Howarethe[complement]?
  • Como são as pessoas da cidade? (“How are the people of the city?”)
  • Como são os móveis novos? (“How is the new furniture?”)

If you need to refresh your memory, check the conjugation for the verbs ser and estar.

Answer

It’s fairly simple to answer these types of questions. Use the same verb that was used in the question (paying attention to the conjugation), and add the adjectives and/or adverbs you want. To make it more complete, you could also add the subject before the verb.

Sujeitoverbocomplemento.
Subjectverbcomplement.
  • Está boa. (“It’s good.”)
  • A comida está boa. (“The food is good.”)
  • Estão gostosos. (“They’re tasty.”)
  • Os biscoitos estão gostosos. (“The cookies are tasty.”)
  • É fofo. (“It’s cute.”)
  • O gato é fofo. (“The cat is cute.”)
  • São simpáticas. (“They’re friendly.”) 
  • As pessoas são simpáticas. (“The people are friendly.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Como está o namoro? (“How is the relationship?”)
  • A: Está muito bem, obrigado! (“It is very well, thank you!”)
  • Q: Como são os novos colegas? (“How are the new colleagues?”)
  • A: São muito simpáticos. (“They’re very friendly.”)
  • Q: Como está a sopa? (“How is the soup?”)
  • A: A sopa está muito salgada. (“The soup is very salty.”)
Child Eating Ice Cream

Como está o sorvete? (“How is the ice cream?”)

8 – What are you doing?

Here’s another versatile Portuguese question that, with just a few tweaks, can be used in a variety of situations.

Question

  • O que você está fazendo?
O quevocêestáfazendo?
Whatyouaredoing?

By adding more information at the end of the sentence, you can ask more-specific questions. 

  • O que você está fazendo agora? (“What are you doing now?”)
  • O que você está fazendo hoje? (“What are you doing today?”)
  • O que você está fazendo sozinho aqui? (“What are you doing alone here?”)
  • O que você está fazendo na sala? (“What are you doing in the living room?”)

In Portuguese, you can use this exact pattern to ask what someone is making in the kitchen:

  • O que você está fazendo para o almoço? (“What are you making for lunch?”)
  • O que você está fazendo no forno? (“What are you making in the oven?”)

You don’t need to be stuck with the verb fazer (“to do” / “to make”). By using other verbs in the gerund form, you open up many more possibilities:

  • O que você está assistindo? (“What are you watching?”)
  • O que você está cortando? (“What are you cutting?”)
  • O que você está ouvindo? (“What are you listening to?”)
  • O que você está assando? (“What are you baking?”)

Answer

To answer, you’ll need to describe the action you’re doing in the gerund form.

Euestou[verbo no gerúndio][complemento].
Iam[verb in gerund form][complement].
  • Eu estou lendo um livro. (“I am reading a book.”)
  • Eu estou limpando o quarto. (“I am cleaning the room.”)
  • Eu estou assando um bolo. (“I am baking a cake.”)
  • Eu estou tomando banho. (“I am taking a shower.”)
  • Eu estou correndo. (“I am running.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: O que você está fazendo? (“What are you doing?”) 
  • A: Estou arrumando a garagem. (“I am organizing the garage.”)
  • Q: O que você está fazendo no quarto? (“What are you doing in the bedroom?”) 
  • A: Estou estudando. (“I am studying.”)
  • Q: O que vocês estão fazendo? (“What are you doing?”) – plural
  • A: Estamos assistindo um filme. (“We are watching a movie.”)
Group of Guys Watching a Soccer Game on TV

Estamos assistindo futebol. (“We are watching soccer.”)

9 – Are you all right?

This is certainly an essential question in our daily interactions with friends, colleagues, loved ones, and relatives!

  • Você está bem?
Vocêestábem?
Youarealright?

If you want to ask this question about somebody else, it’s easy: simply use the name or the pronoun instead of você (“you”).

  • Ela está bem? (“Is she alright?”)
  • Luís está bem? (“Is Luís alright?”)

You may also hear a simple: Tudo bem? (“Alright?”). It means the same thing!

Alternatively, there’s another question you can ask to discover how a person is. The pattern might look familiar to you.

  • Como você está?
Comovocêestá?
Howyouare?

Once again, you can ask the same question using other subjects:

  • Como ele está? (“How is he?”)

Answer

Euestou[complemento].
Iam[complement].

It’s common to see these sentences without the subject, as well.

  • Estou bem. (“I’m alright.”)
  • Eu estou muito bem. (“I am very well.”)
  • Ela está bem. (“She is alright.”)
  • Eu estou triste. (“I am sad.”)
  • Eu estou meio doente. (“I’m a bit sick.”)

If the question was Você está bem? (“Are you alright?”), you can also add sim (“yes”) or não (“no”) before the rest of the sentence.

  • Sim, estou bem. (“Yes, I am well.”)
  • Não, eu estou mal. (“No, I’m not well.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você está bem? (“Are you alright?”) 
  • A: Sim, eu estou muito bem! (“Yes, I am very well!”)
  • Q: Tudo bem? (“Alright?”)
  • A: Não, não estou muito bem. (“No, I’m not very well.”)
  • Q: Como você está? (“How are you?”)
  • A: Estou preocupada. (“I’m worried.”)

10 – How much is it?

When shopping, eating out, or hiring a service, this is a must-ask question.

Question

  • Quanto custa?
Quantocusta?
How muchdoes it cost?
  • Quanto é?
Quantoé?
How muchis it?

These are very simple Portuguese questions for asking how much something costs. If you’re holding an item and showing it as you ask, it’s clear enough what you’re referring to. But if you need to make it more specific, add the name of the product or service at the end of the sentence.

  • Quanto custa esse livro? (“How much does this book cost?”)
  • Quanto é a massagem? (“How much is the massage?”)
  • Quanto custa a fatia de bolo? (“How much does the slice of cake cost?”)
  • Quanto é esse anel? (“How much is this ring?”)

Answer

To answer, you can simply state the value, or start the sentence with one of the verbs used in the question:

Custa / é[valor].
It costs / it is[value].

Remember that, in Brazil, the currency is the Real (R$). So when you’re talking about monetary values, you have to use the word reais and centavos (“cents”).

  • Custa cinco reais e cinquenta centavos. (“It costs R$5,50.”)
  • É vinte reais. (“It’s R$20,00.”)
  • Custa um real. (“It costs R$1,00.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Quanto custa o quadro? (“How much does the painting cost?”) 
  • A: Custa 150 reais. (“It costs R$150,00.”)
  • Q: Quanto é a mensalidade da academia? (“How much is the gym monthly fee?”) 
  • A: É 80 reais. (“It’s R$80,00.”)
Couple Grocery Shopping Together

Quanto custa esse iogurte? (“How much is this yogurt?”)

→ Want to practice your pronunciation? Listen to the Top 25 Portuguese Questions on PortuguesePod101!

3. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

This was a long lesson, but hopefully it gave you everything you need to know about asking Portuguese questions. Before you know it, you’ll be spouting them left and right! So take your chances and satisfy your curiosity by putting these questions into practice. Remember, they can be of great help when you’re feeling stuck in a conversation.

Did you like the way the questions and answers were presented? Did we leave out any questions you were hoping to see? Tell us what you think in the comments below! And feel free to come back to this article whenever you feel like it.

Now is the time to continue on your language-learning journey! There are more free Portuguese resources and a variety of vocabulary lists available on PortuguesePod101.com. Go ahead and choose your favorite tools to expand your learning opportunities.

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

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Ace the Celpe-Bras Brazilian Portuguese Proficiency Test!

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Have you ever heard about Celpe-Bras? The name isn’t very clear, I know. But if you’re serious about your Portuguese learning, it’s good to be familiar with it! After all, Celpe-Bras is the official Brazilian Portuguese proficiency test, and the one exam you need to take if you have plans to study or work in Brazil.

Don’t be scared by words like “test” and “exam,” though! We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about this Portuguese test for foreigners, answering the most important questions. In this article, we’ll take a look at how the test is organized, how it measures one’s proficiency in Portuguese, how to register, and how to best prepare for it.

Even if you’ve never heard about Celpe-Bras before today, you’ll know everything about it by the end of this article. If you’ve already decided you’re going to take the exam, this article will be helpful for your preparation so you can achieve the results you want. Sound good? Let’s dive right in!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. What You Need to Know About Celpe-Bras
  2. What’s in the Celpe-Bras Exam?
  3. After the Test
  4. Tips on Preparing for Celpe-Bras
  5. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. What You Need to Know About Celpe-Bras

Celpe-Bras stands for Certificado de Proficiência em Língua Portuguesa para Estrangeiros (“Certificate of Portuguese Language Proficiency for Foreigners”). It’s the official certificate of proficiency in Brazilian Portuguese as a second language, and the only one recognized and issued by the Brazilian Ministry of Education. It’s also recognized internationally!

Officially, the Celpe-Bras certification is valid for life, although different institutions might specify how long ago the test should have been taken. 

The four levels of proficiency indicated by the test are:

  • Intermediate
  • Upper-intermediate
  • Advanced
  • Highly advanced

There isn’t a different test for each level, which means that every candidate takes the same test and their Celpe-Bras results indicate their proficiency level. 

Celpe-Bras is divided into two parts: a written section and an oral section. In total, the test takes 3 hours and 20 minutes to complete. During the exam, your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills will be evaluated. We’ll take an in-depth look at how exactly each section is organized later on.

A- Why Take the Test?

You might be wondering why taking the Portuguese proficiency test is important. Well, if you’re considering any of the following scenarios, the test might be for you:

  • Planning to enroll in a Brazilian university
  • Looking for a job in Brazil
  • Need to register in professional bodies, like the Medical Board
  • Need to otherwise prove your ability to communicate in Portuguese 

Taking the test is an investment of time and money, so make sure it’s the right option for you, depending on your situation. If you’re only looking to find out your proficiency level, but don’t need to prove it to any institution, consider taking the Assessment Test by signing up for PortuguesePod101.com’s Premium PLUS program.

A Pile of Books

Want to study in Brazil? Then you need to take the Celpe-Bras test!

B- Celpe-Bras Registration

Celpe-Bras takes place two times every year: once in the first semester and another time in the second semester. There are currently more than 120 places in Brazil and abroad with permission to administer the test. When you’re ready to register, you can search for Celpe-Bras test centers on this page (in Portuguese). 

Registration is done online, through the official website. Candidates need to create an account by giving their telephone number and email address. After that, they need to fill in all of the necessary information, as well as details about when and where the test will be taken. 

They also ask some personal questions, which will be used in the oral section of the test. Finally, candidates have to upload a document to register successfully. After receiving a confirmation, all that’s left is to pay the registration fee.

Each place can charge its own fee, but there is a maximum value defined by the Brazilian Ministry of Education. The maximum fee for exams taken in Brazil is R$200 and for exams taken abroad it’s US$100. 

After they get the payment confirmation, candidates receive a proof of registration, which should be kept in a safe place. Candidates need to present this document on the day of the exam and, later on, will need it to retrieve the test results. On the day of the test, candidates should also take a valid ID document with a picture.

C- Assessment and Score

Basically, what Celpe-Bras wants to evaluate is your capacity for understanding and adapting context, your vocabulary, and your logic in constructing sentences. 

To get the certification, a candidate has to score at the intermediate level (or higher). The oral section and the written section are graded separately. If each section has a different mark, your final grade will be equal to the lowest score.

Your score will determine your proficiency level as follows:

LevelGradeDescription
No certification0,00 to 1,99
Intermediate2,00 to 2,75Capable of comprehending, as well as producing, spoken and written text about limited themes, in known contexts and everyday situations.
Mistakes are not severe enough to compromise communication.
Upper-intermediate2,76 to 3,50Same as the previous level, but mistakes in pronunciation and written text are less frequent. 
Advanced3,51 to 4,25Capable of comprehending, as well as producing, spoken and written text in a fluent manner, about various themes in both known and unknown contexts. 
Some mistakes might be made when talking about unknown contexts, but not enough to compromise communication.
Highly advanced4,26 to 5,00Same as the previous level, but mistakes in pronunciation and written text are less frequent. 

You can find more information about Celpe-Bras on the official website, in Portuguese. 

2. What’s in the Celpe-Bras Exam?

Now that you know all the details about registering and grading, it’s time to learn what you’ll face when taking the Portuguese proficiency exam!

A- Written Section

This section has 4 tasks, and you might take up to 3 hours to complete it. 

TaskContentAbilities testedTime
1VideoOral comprehension and writing abilities30 minutes
2AudioOral comprehension and writing abilities
3Written textReading and writing abilities2 hours and 30 minutes
4Written textReading and writing abilities

Celpe-Bras is not a multiple-choice test, which means that you’ll have to answer the questions in essay form. The questions might ask you to give your personal opinion about the topics discussed, or to back up your answer with information taken directly from the content presented to you. 

Remember that their objective in this section is to test two things: how well you can make sense of the information given to you, and how well you can explain your point of view in writing

A few tips to keep in mind:

  • Before this section begins, you’ll be given some time to ask questions. Be sure to ask about anything that’s unclear to you at that point. 
  • The audio and video components will be repeated, so don’t panic if it’s not crystal-clear at first. Take a deep breath and pay attention the second time it comes around! 
  • Read the written text first. Then, after reading the prompt questions, go back to the text and underline whatever information you think is relevant. Taking notes at this point is also a good idea.
  • Take a few minutes to structure your answer. Think about what your main points will be before starting to write.
  • After you’re done, don’t be in a hurry to hand it in! Re-read all of your answers and make any necessary corrections.
A Woman Writing

Start practicing now: write your next journal entry in Portuguese.

B- Oral Section

The oral section takes 20 minutes, and during this time, the candidate will have a conversation with the evaluator. Another evaluator is also present, taking notes, and will not participate in the conversation. The objective of this section is to test your oral comprehension and speaking abilities.

The first 5 minutes of this section will focus on the candidate’s personal information. Remember when we said you would have to complete some personal information when registering? They’ll use that to begin the conversation. That’s why it’s a good idea to give as much detail as possible when filling out the registration form.

After that, the following 15 minutes will focus on three topics to be discussed between you and the evaluator. He or she will use different visual props, like magazine covers, photos, and other images or messages. The evaluator will ask questions about how they make you feel, your opinion, or what the images are trying to communicate. They might also ask about a specific word used in it and its meaning. 

Some tips to help you ace the oral section of Celpe-Bras:

  • Take a screenshot of the information you fill in when registering and print it out. This way, you can read it while preparing for the exam. This will give you an idea of the first questions they’ll ask you.
  • Remember that the evaluators are not there to make you fail! Most of the time, they’ll try to make you feel at ease, so the evaluation can flow more like a conversation.
  • Take your time to really listen to what’s being asked. Avoid being in your head all the time, thinking on how to answer even before they’re done asking. 
  • Avoid using excess slang or colloquial language.
A Woman and Man Having a Conversation

The oral section is like a conversation.

3. After the Test

Congratulations! After all the preparation and taking the test itself, all that’s left is the waiting part. It takes around two months for the results to become available. Results will be published online, and after that, you can ask for the certificate. Remember that you’ll need the proof of registration to do that, so keep it in a safe place! 

It’s not possible to ask for a revision of the score. But you should know that the grading process takes the input of two separate evaluators, in both the written and oral sections. In case the grades are very different, a third evaluator is called in to assess it. 

4. Tips on Preparing for Celpe-Bras

Now that you know how to successfully register for and take this Brazilian Portuguese proficiency test, it’s time to get down to business—in this case, to your studies. After all, preparation is the word of order when it comes to proficiency tests. 

Here are our top tips for your Celpe-Bras preparation and to help you achieve the results you want!

A- Reading

  • Keep up with Brazilian Portuguese news. There are several channels and websites available. From a sports-only website to the most popular national newspaper, you can read about anything that interests you. 
  • Read opinion articles and movie reviews from quality sources.
  • Reading blogs, magazines, and books will introduce you to different writing styles and expand your vocabulary.
  • Beware of using social media to prepare: normally, the language used in everyday comments and posts is not 100% correct. 

B- Listening

  • Try to listen to Portuguese every day. Even if you don’t have much time, don’t go one day without Portuguese listening practice. PortuguesePod101 has a huge lesson library with many listening exercises you can use!
  • Watch TV shows or news to get used to normal conversation speed.

C- Speaking

  • Try to express your feelings and opinions out loud. Talk to Portuguese-speakers, asking and answering questions about different topics. 
  • Record yourself and listen to your recording afterwards to catch where you can improve. This will also help you feel more comfortable with speaking Portuguese overall.

D- Writing

  • Start writing in Portuguese every day. You can write a journal entry, your to-do list, a message to a Portuguese-speaking friend…whatever it takes to get comfortable with it!
  • Ask native speakers to read your writing and give you feedback. If you don’t know anyone you could ask in person, reach out online.

In addition, you should definitely reserve some time to take the past editions of Celpe-Bras at home. Take them as if they were the real deal, in a quiet place and timing yourself

You can also benefit from one-on-one tutoring through MyTeacher, an exclusive service by PortuguesePod101. You can get detailed reviews on your written answers, and improve your pronunciation and listening skills.

Language Skills

5. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Whether you were familiar with Celpe-Bras or had never heard about it before, we hope this guide gave you the information you need! When it comes time for you to get your Portuguese proficiency certification, you’ll be prepared to do amazingly well.

Do you think we forgot to cover something about Celpe-Bras? Or maybe you took the exam before and want to share your experience? Let us know in the comments!

Don’t forget to look for the past Celpe-Bras tests and practice with the real thing. Now is the perfect time to take your Portuguese studies up a notch. To help you along the way, there are lots of 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. Having a membership with us is especially useful if you’re planning to take a Portuguese proficiency test, as you can get quality feedback and training.

Good luck, and happy Portuguese learning!