Portuguese phrasebook

Portuguese (português) is a Romance language closely related to Spanish, and even more closely related to Galician (in fact, many people consider that Galician and Portuguese are the same language). It is spoken as the official language of Portugal and Brazil, with some differences in pronunciation, spelling, and use of pronouns. It is also the official language of Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé e Príncipe, Angola, Mozambique, and the co-official language of East Timor, and Macau. It is spoken mainly by the elderly in Goa, Daman and Diu in India. There are around 200 million Portuguese native speakers, the vast majority in Brazil.

This article is about Portuguese as spoken in Europe, Africa and Asia. For Portuguese as spoken in Brazil, see Brazilian Portuguese phrasebook

Portuguese speaking areas

The Portuguese we will include in this phrasebook is of the European usage, which differs from the Brazilian in sounds and pronunciation. Nevertheless, native speakers of either variety of Portuguese can generally communicate with speakers of the other without any major issues.

Needless to say, if you know a Romance language, it will be easier for you to learn Portuguese. However, people who know a little Spanish may hastily conclude that Portuguese is close enough that it need not be studied separately. While they may be able to figure out the meaning of some signage, items on a menu, etc., understanding of verbal communication will be very low to nothing. Words such as “gente” (people) are pronounced so differently in either variant of Portuguese, that you would hardly recognise them. Also, some personal names such as “Jorge Ramos,” for example, will be pronounced quite differently as well.

If you know Spanish, watch for a lot of new vowels, a huge number of contractions (comparable to del and al) and irregular plurals. For the non-fluent, some pronunciation differences can be easily missed, such as año (year) becoming ano. If you speak good French, you may find Portuguese pronunciation to be fairly easy, though much of the vocabulary will have changed substantially.

. . . Portuguese phrasebook . . .

The pronunciation in Portugal differs significantly from that in Brazil. The difference is basically in pronunciation and a few vocabulary differences, which make it tricky even for Brazilians to understand the European Portuguese accent. Now the European uses a lot of those oo’s which are not used in Brazilian.

a 
as the ‘a’ in “far” [ah] / as the ‘a’ in “cat”
e 
as the ‘e’ in “get” [eh] / silent or like ‘i’ in “hit” [ih] at the end of some words
i 
as the ‘ee’ in “week” [ee] /
o 
as the ‘o’ in “open” [oh]
u 
as the ‘oo’ in “look” / as the ‘oo’ in “book”
á 
as the ‘a’ in “tar” but held longer
â 
as the ‘a’ in “bat” but short
ã 
a nasal sound like ‘ang’ in “angry”
é 
long sound as the ‘e’ in “bled”
ê 
similar to the ‘ea’ in “bread”
êm, em, ém 
nasal sound like ‘en’ in “end”
ó 
like the ‘o’ in “hot”
ô 
like the ‘oa’ in “coat”
b 
as ‘b’ in “boy”
c 
as ‘c’ in “car” with a,o,u
c 
as ‘s’ in “sand” with e,i
ç 
as ‘s’ in “sun” with a,o,u
ch 
as ‘sh’ in “shoe”
d 
as ‘d’ in “desk”
f 
as ‘f’ in “fist”
g 
as ‘g’ in “go” with a,o,u
g 
as ‘su’ in “pleasure” with e,i
gu 
as ‘gee’ in “geek” with gui, as ‘ge’ in “get” with gue; in rare cases, the “u” is pronounced, such as in sanguíneo
gua 
as ‘gua’ in “agua” [gwah]
h 
is a silent letter at the beginning of a word
lh 
as ‘li’ in “million”
nh 
as ‘ny’ in “canyon”
j 
as ‘su’ in “treasure”
k 
as ‘k’ in “kiss” [foreign sounds]
l 
as ‘l’ in “lip”
m 
as ‘m’ in “monkey”
n 
as ‘n’ in “nice”
p 
as ‘p’ in “post”
q 
as ‘k’ in “kite” [especially with ‘u’]
r 
a rolled ‘r’ as in Spanish or Italian ‘r’ sound, or like a guttural French or Dutch ‘r’ sound, depending on context
s 
as ‘s’ in “sun” when at the beginning of a word or when followed by an ‘s’
s 
as ‘sh’ sound when at the end of a word or when followed by a consontant other than ‘s’ eg. Gostaria [goosh-tah-REE-ah]
s 
as ‘z’ in “zoo” if preceded and followed by vowels eg. casa [KA-za]
t 
as ‘t’ in “tent”
v 
as ‘v’ in “vine”
x 
as ‘x’ in “taxi”, as ‘sh’ in “ship”, as ‘s’ in “same”, depending on context
z 
as ‘z’ in “zest”, end of a word ‘su’ in “pleasure”
au 
as ‘ow’in “cow”
ia 
as ‘ia’ in “Lydia”
io 
as ‘io’ in “frio” also ‘ew’ sound in “new” [yoo]
ei 
as ‘ay’ in “play”
oa 
as ‘oa’ in “boa”
oe 
as ‘we’ in “wet”
oi 
as “oy” in “oyster”
ou 
as ‘oo’ in “took”
ua 
as ‘wa’ in “water”
ui 
as ‘wee’ in “week”
ue 
as ‘e’ in “get”
eia 
as ‘ay’ in “pay” plus ‘a’ in “far” [all pronounced together]
uei 
as ‘ay’ in “way”

As a general guide, stress the penultimate (last-but-one) syllable in most words unless it ends with any of the following letters: i; l; r; u; x; z; im; um; ins; is; uns; us – in which case, the stress is on the last syllable. Words that are stressed on syllables not according to these rules will have a written accent on the accented syllable.

. . . Portuguese phrasebook . . .

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. . . Portuguese phrasebook . . .