Learning Brazilian Portuguese if you already speak Spanish

There are just a few weeks left until one of the world’s most famous parties; Brazil’s Carnival. While most visitors would check it out in Rio, which I have lived in, my experience of the Carnival in Olinda in the Northeast was incredible!

Some ‘gringos’ (note: in Brazil that word is used affectionately, not derogatively, and describes all foreigners, even Argentines! You’ll almost never hear “estrangeiro” in social situations even though that is the “correct” term) might be passing through Brazil briefly, and others may already be living there for a long time. After 8 years on the road, Brazilians remain my favourite people on the planet, so I’d understand if you are staying much longer :)

While some of you might be learning Portuguese as your first foreign language, quite a lot of you might have already learned Spanish before. So rather than dismissively (and inaccurately) say “they’re almost the same, you’ll be fine” I’d like to actually write about how to leverage and transition your Spanish towards (Brazilian) Portuguese.

Starting point – European or a Latin American Spanish?

I’m presuming here that you already have a fluent level of Spanish. The only thing is, which Spanish you are starting from will influence how easy it is. American variants such as Argentine or Colombian Spanish have several features in common with Brazilian Portuguese that European Spanish does not.

This includes the second person plural (you guys / Y’all) simply adopting the same conjugation as the third person (They). Luckily unlearning this from Peninsular Spanish (vosotros) is not hard as you would already be used to “ustedes” in formal studies. In both non-European Spanish and in Brazilian Portuguese, you will always use the ustedes / vocês conjugation (ustedes saben / vocês sabem) when addressing more than one person, even in the most informal of situations.

Even the pronunciation would be more similar away from Spain. The distinctive Spanish “c” is pronounced as “s” before e & i (rather than like “th”) all across South America, and South Americans general speak slower and opening their mouth wider to pronounce words clearer (depending of course on where you are and who you talk to) compared to Spaniards.

But what really makes a difference in South American Spanish compared to European Spanish as a starting point to Portuguese is the extra vocabulary. This is one of the many reasons I don’t like the “they’re the same” dismissal – it’s too simplified! It really depends on precisely where you are coming from. Uruguayan Spanish is way more similar to southern Brazilian Portuguese compared to Mexican Spanish, and definitely compared to Spanish from Sevilla, for example.

Learning Portuguese actually helped me with later living in Spanish speaking South American countries, thanks to the extra “Spanish” vocabulary I had acquired and never seen in Spain, such as Bacán/Bacano (Sp) –> Bacana (Pt) meaning cool/awesome.

South Americans are also much more likely to create a Spanish version of English loan words, so you get computador(a) in L.A. Spanish & computador in Portuguese (but ordenador in Spain), and “mouse” in all of South America (for computers), but “ratón” in Spain.

Very important pronunciation differences

Now, even when you are dealing with words that are exactly the same or very similar in Spanish and Portuguese, pronouncing them the Spanish way is a mistake. Crucial Portuguese pronunciation traits that really distinguish the language include:

  • Nasalising every n/m you see at the end of syllables (not between vowels). The easiest way to get used to this at first is to imagine it was written as “ng” in English. So “bem” (well) would be pronounced as [beng] and “parabéns” (congratulations, and commonly “happy birthday”) as [pa-ra-beng-s].
  • One especially difficult sound in Portuguese (and also very frequent) is -ão at the end of words. This requires practice – it’s like saying the English “ow” but entirely through your nose. Similarly, the first two letters of õe(s) are like a nasalised version of “oy”
  • ‘s’ has a ‘z’ sound except at the start of words and when doubled.
  • ‘d’ and ‘t’ turn to ‘j’ and ‘ch’ sounds before e/i (This doesn’t happen in the Northeast and some other dialects, which act more like Spanish would). So the famous Brazilian word saudades is pronounced [Sa-oo-DA-jeez].
  • Unstressed “o” at the end of a word (and sometimes in other syllables, depending on the dialect) is pronounced as “u” is [oo in English]. So como is [KO-moo]
  • Unstressed “e” at the end of a word is pronounced as “i” [ee in English], and in many dialects it isn’t pronounced at all. So “pode” could be [PO-jee] or just [POJ]
  • G before i/e & J are pronounced as in French (not aspirated like in Spanish). So “gente” is [zhENG-chee], with “zh” like the ‘s’ sound in pleasure.
  • l‘ is pronounced as a ‘oo’ at the end of syllables (when not between vowels within a word). So Brasil is [Bra-ZEE-oo], caldo is [KA-oo-doo].
  • Replace Spanish’s trilled “r” with an “h” sound. The individually rolled ‘r’ is pronounced as in Spanish (when between vowels, like in caro), but the trilled more continuous rolling ‘r’ in Spanish must be replaced with something like an English ‘h’ (sometimes more forced in some dialects). This occurs at the start of words, where two r’s are in succession and (unlike in Spanish, which doesn’t trill it) at the end of words (depending on the dialect). So “Rio” is actually [HEE-oo], “morro” is actually [MO-hoo], comprar ends in a [h] sound, which we don’t do in English. Interestingly enough, I noticed that in parts of São Paulo state, this syllable ending [r] sound actually sounded way more like the English ‘r’!
  • Rio has a special accent with extra unique features that I wrote about in great detail here. This would be slightly more similar to the European Portuguese accent thanks to a few features.
  • Distinguishing between ô and ó can be tricky and requires a lot of practice.
  • Loan words that end in a consonant (other than ‘r’, ‘s’, or ‘m’) must be pronounced phonetically as written and as if an ‘e’ was added after that consonant. This “invisible vowel” adds another syllable to the word. This can get very confusing when it’s a word you “should” know. So Internet is actually pronounced [eeng-teH-NE-chee] and “suite” (as in en-suite bathroom, where the ‘e’ is silent in French and English) is pronounced [swEE-chee], and amusingly “hip hop” is [HEE-pee HO-pee] and “rock” is pronounced exactly like the sport hockey!

When reading a quick summary of Portuguese, you’ll see that the basic rules of how consonants and vowels are pronounced are pretty much the same as in Spanish, but I hope this list shows you how more versatile Portuguese really is. Recognising this will bring you so much further in being able to understand the language and pronounce it correctly yourself!

Different vocabulary

Glancing at Portuguese text, especially formal text will make you feel like it’s precisely the same as Spanish, just with some ã/õ thrown in for good measure. Perhaps 95 or 99% of the words are the same, and that’s great and all, but the 1-5% that’s different tends to be the most common words that end up taking up much more than 1% of conversations!

Here are some examples:

  • Cadê: This is how Brazilians are more likely to say “Where is..” than they would “Onde está”. It includes the verb, so “Cadê você” – Where are you?
  • Rua (not “calle” – reminds me more of the French rue)
  • Legal: While it also means what it looks like it does, the most common usage is “cool”
  • Ó! This one is pretty short and you’ll hear it a lot in Brazil. It’s a shortened down version of “olha” (look). As well as being used to get people’s attention to see something, it’s usually just added to simple indications like “aqui-ó”.

As well as different words there is a very long list of false friends that you should be aware of.

Even occasional basic words are nothing alike; “Rojo” (red) in Spanish is “Vermelho” in Portuguese, “negro” (black) in Spanish is “preto” in Portuguese, and apart from sábado and domingo, the days of the week in Portuguese are number ordered (Monday = segunda-feira, up to Friday = sexta-feira).

Different writing and word formation

You can usually equate some words directly between Spanish and Portuguese, but the writing changes for the style of the individual language. While Portuguese does have words ending in -ano/-am, quite a lot of the -ano/-an words in Spanish have their equivalents in Portuguese as -ão, which makes them hard to recognise at first. So you have mão (mano – hand), pão (pan – bread) etc.

The same -ão ending is used in comparing Spanish -ión. Many of the -(t)ion words in English work in both Spanish and Portuguese in this way, like nação, pressão, solução…

Por (for) is the same in both Spanish & Portuguese, especially with its use compared to para, but if “the” follows it in Spanish, you just add el or la. In Portuguese the word itself changes entirely. “Por el” –> Pelo, “Por la” –> Pela (never por a / por o, as it would be in Portuguese word-for-word).

The use of accents is also different. As in Spanish, most of the time the second-last syllable is stressed and in every other situation, apart from when the word ends in a vowel, you have to write the accent to indicate this. It’s similar in Portuguese, but how you define “syllable” changes. In Spanish it’s the group of vowels before the last consonant, but in Portuguese it’s simply the second-last vowel itself.

To show you what I mean, an example I like to use is the translation of Pharmacy (drug store). In Spanish it’s farmacia. The stress is on the underlined a and no accent is needed. In Portuguese, the word sounds similar but it must be written as farmácia. If you don’t, then i gets the accent. This means that conditional verbs don’t need accents: comeria, faria etc. while they do in Spanish (comería, haría).

Also ‘i’ and ‘u’ automatically get accented at the end of the word, so assisti in Portuguese, but you’d need to indicate it in Spanish asistí. And rather than an ending “ó”, as in Spanish, Portuguese would have an unaccented “ou”. Ele falou…

When using people’s names, it’s common to add “the” before it, which is not translated in English. So “O Benny”, “A Carol”, etc.

Conjugation: Easier and harder

Portuguese complicates conjugation somewhat by adding an entirely new tense. The future subjunctive, where Spanish just uses the standard (present) subjunctive, which Portuguese also has. So “Cuando seas” would be “Quando (você) for” (not sejas).

The good news though, is that Portuguese simplifies a few other things with regards conjugation. For example, you only really need to know three person-conjugations, and not six as in European Spanish (or five/six in other Spanish [where the sixth would be “vos”]).

So it’s not I, you, he/she/it, we, you (pl), them, it’s just I, you/he/she/it, we, you (pl)/them. This is simplified even further by the fact that “we” usually relies on a gente and not “nós”. This is similar to the French “on” in terms of replacing “nous”. Brazilians are way more likely to use it, and it’s the same conjugation as você/ele – meaning you can get by fine knowing just 3 conjugations!

“A gente sabe” = “We know”

The vowel changes that occur in Spanish and make conjugation that extra bit complicated, are much less frequent in Portuguese. In Spanish you have contar –> cuento, cuentas… but in Portuguese, it’s simply conto, conta… You still have some exceptions that need to be learned but the number is much less than in Spanish. Many nouns with a “ue” in Spanish have an “o” in Portuguese. Similarly for “ie” and “i”.

Meeting Brazilians will make the differences become natural

In a post like this, I can only ever give a superficial list of some important differences. For a more in-depth look at technical differences between Spanish and Portuguese, see this Wikipedia entry.

You really need to get busy speaking Portuguese if you are to learn how to communicate in the language!

There are many ways to make sure you don’t mix up your Spanish and Portuguese. Constantly practising both is the best way. Can’t travel to Brazil yet? There are so many ways that I keep writing about how that isn’t a valid excuse. In fact I learned my Portuguese before ever even going to Brazil. Portuguese has an extra boost to help non-travellers learn it:


Facebook has pretty much taken over social networking in all countries in the world with a few exceptions and Brazil is one of them. Google-run Orkut remains the most active network among Brazilians. [Edit: No longer the case, since this article was written]

Using social networking sites like Couchsurfing are great for learning any language, but with Orkut you can connect with Brazilian communities all over the world. After my first trip to Brazil, when I was dying of saudades and living in Barcelona, I simply logged into Orkut and searched for the Barcelona “comunidade”, and saw all the people there. I messaged a few directly to meet up with and even saw a discussion about getting together to watch a world cup match. Over 30 Brazilians showed up (I was the only non-Brazilian, but welcomed as the irlandês mais brasileiro do mundo).

I have continued to do this in other countries – and it’s not just limited to major cities: I even met Brazilians in my hometown in Ireland through Orkut!!

So finding and hanging out with them is easy. Brazilians are way more friendly than locals in countries they are living in and once you show genuine interest in their culture and language, you can bet they will be extremely helpful.

Portuguese is my favourite language because Brazilians are my favourite people. So hopefully this post helps some people who have a “head start” with Spanish to be able to genuinely speak Portuguese, rather than get by with portuñol.

If you have other tips, or thoughts on anything in this post, share them with us in the comments!



I'll send you the first lesson right away.
Click here to see the comments!
  • http://howlearnspanish.com/ Andrew

    Great work, fantastic overview, I really look forward to learning Portuguese and living in Brazil for a bit. I feel like I’m missing a piece of the puzzle because I don’t speak Portuguese: between Spanish and Portuguese you’ve got ALL of South and Central America covered, and that’s quite a bit.

    Also, you’ve got a repeated typo: Spanish ‘r’s are “trilled”, not “thrilled”, haha :D


    • http://www.google.com/profiles/medviten Victor Berrjod

      I laughed out loud as I imagined what a “thrilled r” would be like! XD

      • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

        Michael Jackson would have known how to do it ;)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      I’ve never seen it written before and in Ireland we pronounce both the same.

      Rather than saying that I’m filling in a piece of the puzzle, I really think Brazil stands on its own as worth visiting ;)

      • Lance Fallin

        I’ve noticed in watching several videos etc (TG4, RTE etc) on youtube and elsewhere that Irish (those born and raised in Ireland) tend to say thunder as tunder, thrilled as trilled etc etc. Quite amusing (to me). I really loved the “No Béarla” series with Manchán Magan and “In the name of the Fada” with Des Bishop. Very interesting to an American with a (mainly) Irish background. (Fallin was just mis-spelled and stripped of the O .. as in Fallin—> Fallon –> O’Fallon). Slán agus go raibh maith agat… Labhrás Ó Fallamhain. Obrigado y gracias :)

    • Ercilia Santos

      I am a Portuguese Teacher. If you speak Spanish or not does not matter, with me I am sure that you will learn Portuguese. Just send a email to me: myportugueseteacher@gmail.com

  • http://rhinospike.com Peter (rhinospike.com)

    Great article, Benny! Portuguese is a language that I’m definitely interested in learning in the future, especially once my Spanish is better than it is now. I find that as I encounter written Portuguese, I’m able to get the idea of what’s being said, but the couple times I have heard it, I had no clue. This post really clears up why that is. I will definitely refer to this post again once I decide to take on Portuguese!

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      Yes, I really hope this helps clear up some confusion with Portuguese rather than just dismissing it as different without reasons ;)

  • http://twitter.com/jmcejuela Juan Miguel Cejuela

    Fantástico post!! Usaré tus consejos cuando me ponga con el portugués brasileño (vengo de Madrid). Ahora aún estoy en Múnich perfeccionando mi alemán.

    Un saludete muy afectuoso. Eres un salao.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      Gracias Juan Miguel ;) Mucha suerte con el alemán!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Precisely ;) I don’t remember ever seeing it written before. Just spoken, and we don’t distinguish between the “th” and “t” sounds as you see! :P I’d like to remind people that I don’t promote perfectionism in languages, so I’m allowed to make mistakes even in English ;)

    I don’t know how “legit” is used in the states, I only know of it as being “real” (shortened version of legitimate).

    • Ana T

      Well, ‘legal’ it’s a slang that means ‘cool’, but also is an adjetive to something that is accordind to lawful.
      I hope it helps!
      By the way, Benny, I always say that Irish peopple are Brazilians from Europe because they are so cool and friendly and you know how we Brazilians love this kind of personality!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Give it a try! :)

  • http://twitter.com/Domi333 Dominic

    Benny, it’s spelt filme not film so that’s how it’s pronounced! Could you give any more tips on not mixing Spanish and Portuguese?

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      Whoops – removed it. Forgot about that ‘e’ ;)

      Please read the link I gave about not mixing up languages for the best tips.

  • Cindy

    I’m from south Minas Gerais, very close to São Paulo, and my ”r” at the end of words sounds like the American English ”r”, as in ”car”. The accent from south Minas is the same one from São Paulo. We don’t pronounce Internet like cariocas do. Instead of in-TEH-ne-chee, we pronounce in-TER-ne-chee, with an emphasis on the R the way americans do.
    The same goes for poRta, toRto, moRto, poR, falaR, comeR, etc.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      Yes, that confirms my experience :)
      BTW Mineiros are among the coolest Brazilians I’ve met and you can bet it will be high priority to hang out there whenever I get back to Brazil!

      • Cindy

        Whoa, cool *-* You’re gonna love Minas, pão-de-queijo (or cheese bread in English, I think) is originally from here. Our cuisine is very unique too. There’s beautiful waterfalls and mountains everywhere. Also, Minas is one of the top 5 most historical states in Brazil. When you come here, make sure you visit Ouro Preto, São João del Rei, Tiradentes, Diamantina, etc,etc. They are all historical cities and there’s many more :D And in case you need a place to stay , é só falar! You’re most welcome here ;) I sound like a very annoying proud mineira.. :P

    • http://www.facebook.com/vinicius.morello Vinicius Morello

      countryside SP, the [r] is (mostly) close to the English r, but there are a few rules…
      final R in verbs are never pronounced (‘amar’ = ‘amá’), but in nouns it is, except
      when the next word starts with a vowel (i.e – ‘o amor é’ sounds like ‘o amoré’,
      with the rolled r. ‘Amor’ by itself would carry the American r sound).

      often pronounce ‘rr’ exactly as Spanish, but that’s fading away in some
      regions… I pronounce ‘carro’ as ‘cahu’.

      The ‘r’ is
      also retroflex when the letter preceding it is a vowel and the next one is a
      consonant (paRte, oRganização).

      Of course I’m being quite generic, there are a
      few more different accents inside SP state, not to mention SP city. In
      Piracicaba, for example, it’s a bit common to pronounce almost all Rs with the American

      It’s the most ignored accent ):

  • Lorenzo

    Hi Benny. Thanks for publishing such a great post! By the way, the “future subjunctive” technically does exist in Spanish as well, even though in the latter it is only ever used in solemn texts (mainly administrative and legal ones: I first came across it while flicking thru the Spanish Penal Code). The one Portuguese verb tense that is altogether non-existent in Spanish is the personal infinitive (“infinitivo pessoal”), which you very likely already know and may even have used from time to time when speaking Portuguese. By the way, to my knowledge the verbs in which the vowel changes mentioned by you occur are referred to as “”verbos semi-irregulares”” in Portuguese (ex. pedir, sentir, mentir, subir, consumir, prevenir, progredir, conseguir in Portuguese and contar, correr, etc. in Spanish) . All the best!!

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      To me “it is only ever used in solemn texts” is as good as not existing.
      Oh yes, forgot about the infinito pessoal!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    best of luck, you’re going to love it :)

  • http://www.creativityandlanguages.com/ Peter

    These are all valid points. However, knowing Spanish as a foreign language the major challenge that I faced when learning Portuguese was not the differences between the two languages but the fact that I started to mix them up and to mess up my Spanish.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      Please read the link I gave about mixing up languages.

      • http://www.creativityandlanguages.com/ Peter

        Thanks Benny! Indeed the mixing up languages applies really well to what I was thinking

  • http://twitter.com/pellegrino Vitor Pellegrino

    Hi Benny, first of all i would like to congratulate you for such a great work “uncovering” our portuguese dialect spoken here in Brazil; you did a very awesome work! :)

    I just would like to notice that (at least here in Rio de Janeiro – yes, i am a carioca hehe) we don’t use that “Ô”, but “ó” as a shortened version of “olha”. That is pretty subtle for non native speakers, but a brazilian would notice it and maybe be confused depending on the context. That sound like “o” in “rock” spoken in american accent.

    Anyway, keep the good work! I’ll use your tips at learning my next language – Arabic :)

    Grande abraço pra você, “mermão” :)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      Thanks for the correction. You’re right of course. This is why I mentioned that ô and ó are so hard – I still have trouble ;)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Haha nice connection, morro:maith thú. Never even thought of that :) (Starts with a different vowel though).
    The way you’ve phrased the rule seems to make sense but it’s the opposite way that it’s usually explained. I was trying to say more or less the same thing.

  • http://twitter.com/dnoway Djavan Fagundes

    Olá Benny!
    Muito bom saber que o Português é o seu idioma predileto e que os Brasileiro também são!
    Você é muito bem vindo ao Brasil!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Adorei o carnaval em Olinda!! Se vc estiver na rua 13 de maio, tem que falar muito “eu não gosto da fruta”!!! ;)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Yes, it is priceless :D I never get bored of it :P

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    I think it matters quite a lot – not sure where you got your info from! Neither of these languages were derived from the other. They are both from Latin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raz-Saccharine/100000478547664 Raz Saccharine

    very helpful…

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    As an object: “pra nós”, not so much as the subject.

    • Lala

      I mean, we conjugate it, “a gente” is used more often but verbs conjugated with nós are not rare(sometimes we say it without the s in the end though) “Vamo(s) pro parque?; Vocês comeram o bolo? Comemo(s). And is still widely used in the written language.
      What I wanted to say is that it is necessary to be able to conjugate verbs with nós to dominate the language.

      PS: people make jokes about the misconjugation of a gente: “Agente vamos” sometimes is written/said.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    Thanks! I fixed it ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Xavier-Murphy/1015197957 Jonathan Xavier Murphy

    Awesome post. I’m currently learning Spanish (have been for a year), I’m 21, and also Irish – so I guess you should see me as a potential successor! Haha, but I love your posts and videos, keep up the good work.

  • juji fina

    one thing you said bacan/bacano is spanish and bacana is portuguese but be aware that bacana is also spanish its just femine for example you can tell a girl tu si eres bacana ………. u sure are cool etc etc or ella es bacana etc etc

  • Rafael

    Man I think you know more of Brazilian Portuguese than me, a native Brazilian Portuguese Speaker. I intend to be a linguist some day and I’m appreciating your work here. Any suggestion about northern Brazilian Portuguese be comfortable to communicate. I’m from Ceará, but nowadays I’m lving in Belém do Pará. I’m graduating in Spanish, but never been abroad. So this is it. Any doubt or idea about something i’ll be glad to help.

  • Jael

    I am impressed by the techniques explained in this post. So simple and yet, it seems like they are not usually mentioned in a classroom. My first language is Spanish, but I am currently living in the US, so I have to speak English all of the time. When you are using another language, even if it is one that you feel comfortable speaking, do you doubt yourself sometimes when speaking it? What is the mindset needed to think as a native?
    Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Demarianw Demarian Williams

    Can anyone recommend any really good sites, books, etc, to help me begin
    my studies on Brazilian Portuguese? I would really like to learn. I am
    specifically looking for things that get me a good start with
    pronunciation and vocabulary. Those are my biggest things right now. I
    have almost three years of Spanish under my belt and I think that I have
    a pretty good control over it. Not fluent yet, but I’m pretty close.
    Give me about another year and I’ll hopefully be as good as a South
    American native. But any way, please, if you have any suggestions email
    me: demarianw@rocketmail.com (Also, I need to find a lot of stuff for me to read once I get started. I already have a lot of Brazilian radio/talk show stations to listen to, but I need things to read. Any recomendations of children’s books or really easy Brazilian Portuguese readers/where to get them would be really helpful as well. Thanks everyone!)

    Alguém pode recomendar quaisquer sites muito bons, livros, etc, para me ajudar a iniciar meus estudos em Português do Brasil? Eu realmente gostaria de aprender. Estou procurando especificamente coisas que me um bom começo com a pronúncia e vocabulário. Essas são as minhas maiores coisas agora. Eu tenho quase três anos de espanhol, sob o meu cinto e eu acho que eu tenho um controle muito bom sobre ele. Não fluente, mas estou bastante perto. Dê-me sobre outro ano e eu espero que seja tão bom quanto um nativo sul-americano. Mas qualquer maneira, por favor, se você tiver qualquer e-mail sugestões me: demarianw@rocketmail.com (Além disso, eu preciso encontrar um monte de coisas para eu ler uma vez que eu começar. Já tenho um monte de brasileiros estações de rádio / talk show para ouvir, mas eu preciso de coisas para ler. Qualquer recomendations de livros infantis ou realmente Português do Brasil fácil leitores / onde obtê-los seria muito útil também. Obrigado a todos!) (A propósito, eu usei o Google Translate para este parágrafo em Português Eu não acho que ele é brasileiro, então me perdoe eu sei online.. tranlsators não são muito bons.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/charlesjeanhalliwellbridges Carlos Halliwell

    Preto has a cognate in Spanish: “prieto”, which means the same, although it is mostly used when speaking of a dark skinned person.

  • Alexandre

    Just and observation that might help (or confuse more, I apologize if it does, I remember this vaguely from school):
    The fact that the Portuguese versions of Spanish’s “por el” and “por la” being “pelo” and “pela”, rather than “por o” and “por a”, is due to those being an evolution of the – assumably, I don’t know much – Old Portuguese expressions “per lo” and “per la”. Portuguese seems to have used to have “per”, an expression I believe still remains in Italian, as well as “lo” and “la”, which remain in Spanish. You pronounce “per lo” and “per la” quickly and there you are, it becomes “pelo” and “pela”.
    By the way, there are some old, obsolete expressions like “mui”, meaning the same as Spanish’s “muy”, that you can find in old Portuguese texts like Os Lusíadas (if you will, take reading this one as a tough, personal challenge, as it’s not that easy a reading even for us, native Portuguese speakers).
    “Você” is another expression that apparently evolved from an older one: “vosmecê”, which you can hear in some historical Brazilian soap operas, and which in turn came from “vossa mercê”, a much older and very, very polite pronoun, meaning literally “your mercy” (“your” taken as a ‘polite pluralization’ of “thy”, as much as “vossa” is a polite pluralization of “tua”).

    Well, anyway, I guess you might be more interested in current Brazilian culture and language, but I thought this was something interesting to share. And it’s fun to practice writing in English, haha. ^^

    Cheers from Porto Alegre! x)

  • Christian

    Very thorough and well-written, although you might want to include a small bit about “ñ” being almost identical in pronunciation to “nh” when comparing Spanish and Portuguese.

  • patty


    Actually we study the Spanish while we are in college..It’s good to learn more language so that if we travel to the other place we know their language. Its good to learn how to speak Spanish. were glad that we have subject in college..

    I’m happy that i have that subject..

  • jddroth@gmail.com

    fantastic article – thank you.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      Glad you liked it JD! :)

  • qg

    Nice post, but there’s a little mistake (I’m brazilian): we do have an accented ending “o” in verbs in the past tense, so “falou” commonly sounds like “falô”.

  • mary

    you do not need to go to Brazil as you have a lot of brazilian people living in Dublin..

  • David Smith

    Great information. I learnt Portuguese in Brazil and knowing Spanish certainly helps a lot once you get to grips with the pronunciation differences.

    • http://www.facebook.com/MagEakaWebutante Margaret Nahmias

      Yes a lot of the vocabulary is similar. Makes it easier to read.

  • Matheus

    im brazilian so, something that would help u all to speak a good brazilian portuguese is talking to a native, or i dont know but i guess u should watch some brazilians soap operas, it would really help

  • hayley.0842

    Hi Benny. :)
    I was just wondering, have you ever traveled to Portugal? Im not sure if i have seen any posts on it. Thanks

    • andreskizzo .

      European portuguese is harder and more complete imo

  • dan

    Can’t help pointing out; the future subjunctive is sometimes used in Spanish, as is the imperfect subjunctive, and you have said that it is a tense, but it is in fact a mood.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tamy.ceglio Tamy Ceglio

    Oi Benny,
    Td bem? Sou sua fa, acho vc muito legal principalmente quando a maioria dos gringos sao muito arrogantes e ate um pouco idiotas (meu marido inclusive). Goataria muito que voce postasse um video com as suas dicas para falar portugues para eu mostrar ao meus alunos (eu ensino portugues nos EUA).
    E ai, tem jeito??
    Tamy Ceglio

  • http://www.facebook.com/isabelladmccaffrey Isabella McCaffrey

    Hi Benny,

    I had to write and share how much your site has really inspired me. Before I attended college, I lived on a kibbutz and met many travelers and multi-lingual folks and most important learned I could teach myself Hebrew much more effectively than my teachers had taught me German or French. (I’m French and American, but learned French grammar at school in America.) When I was in college, I almost went on to do a Masters in linguistics, but I discovered (as I saw in another post that you have, too), linguistics is more about the study of language acquisition rather than language acquisition itself and lost interest. Since I’ve had my baby, I’ve had to quit working, and I felt cut off from the world a little. I was internet-surfing, found your site and was inspired by your enthusiasm. I started taking these free Brazilian Portuguese classes they offer at my local library (I have a very well-behaved baby, but they’re also incredibly welcoming of her, not to mention of my pathetic Portuguese), and I’ve begun to look into Chinese as well after reading another blog post on here. (The library also offers Chinese, but I always thought it would be too hard. Pinyin (sp?) makes it feel like it’s not too bad at all. I wouldn’t have even looked if I hadn’t found your blog.) Anyway the classes are wonderful, filled with such a wide variety of people it’s almost like traveling all by itself. I also used to speak Italian simply because I had a chance to go there for four days and wanted to be able to talk to people…and I did! Poorly, but I did :). I want to brush up on all those old, lost skills that I put aside when I was actively pursuing a hectic career in the theater. I feel a little overwhelmed, but I know how wonderful it is to be able to speak to people in their own native language and to read in other languages as well– it’s almost like you get to live more than one life, which was something I loved about acting. Now I see this time with my baby as a huge opportunity for me and for her. (I’d like her to speak French and perhaps Spanish as well, since there’s so many Spanish-speakers in NYC). Thanks so much for the inspiration, the tips and the encouragement in your posts. I love your site!

  • dav dan

    Just something to add, Spanish does have a future subjunctive tense, but it has fallen from use in everyday language. It is still used, however, in more formal and often legal setting such as court proceedings. I think that in Portuguese, the infinitivo pessoal is a more challenging concept than the future subjunctive. Also, if I am not mistaken, there are only three verbs that are irregular (ser, ir, por -maybe?-) in either case. This is pretty good info that you have for beginners of the language, but I would think this is information that most Spanish speakers probably already know.

    • andreskizzo .

      There are loads of irregular verbs

  • http://twitter.com/tdnee Teddy Nee

    Hi Benny, thanks for this informative article.. I was searching for the difference between Spanish and Portuguese because I want to learn Portuguese and I have adequate Spanish for daily conversation. So, I was thinking that Spanish may help me in learning Portuguese. Anyway, thanks again for this good information.

  • Paulo Henrique de Medeiros

    Do you want to practice Portuguese? I’m looking for a language interchange partner around my age, be it men or women, doesn’t matter. Any native English speakers interested?

    I’m Paulo, 25yo, from Minas Gerais, Brazil. I’m studying Portuguese and English at University and I’ll graduate a languages teacher. I’m currently doing an internship as basic and intermediate English teacher. I could use some practicing of spoken English and, in turn, if you are willing to learn Portuguese, I can help you better speak my mother-tongue.

    Is there someone here interested on such a thing? Add me to Skype: medeirosdez

    I expect people past the very basic level in Portuguese, please. I’m talking about practicing conversation! I’m at the advanced level on English, so “cool off”, I won’t be bothering you requiring explanation of every single word.

    • Carena T.

      I think the word you were perhaps trying to say “chill out”? ;-)

      • Paulo Henrique de Medeiros

        Uhm! Indeed Carena, chill out was what I meant. I’ve just noticed I had ever used that expression wrong and that’s embarrassing… even more embarrassing is the fact nobody ever corrected me.

  • Carena T.

    I got a headache 1/3 way down the page. Learning Braz Portuguese will definitely require more of me that most people have lead me to believe- SPANISH AND BRAZ. PORTUGUESE ARE SO NOT THE SAME! Your website proves such. Thx!

  • Agnieszka

    Great article. I am learning both Portuguese and Spanish, although on different levels. I agree with what you wrote about differences. However, I still believe (I started with learning European Portuguese) that knowing one of them will help you greatly in learning the other. A lot of voc is similar and some grammar structures are governed by the same mechanisms.

  • Ercilia Santos

    Great Article!!! Congratulations!!!
    I am a Portuguese Teacher. If you speak Spanish or not does not matter, with me I am sure that you will learn Portuguese. Just send a email to me: myportugueseteacher@gmail.com

  • Vicente d’Avila Melo Sarmento

    Man… that’s was cool to read!

    Sou do Rio e me diverti muito lendo o artigo. Achei hoje seu site (20/09/2013) e em poucos minutos ficou muito entusiasmado com a comunidade, com sua proposta e com o aprendizado em si, claro.

    Sobre nosso sotaque, falamos no Rio um português muito chiado (sh~ em inglês, eu acho). Tenho alguma dificuldade para aperfeiçoar meu italiano por conta dele, já que muitas sílabas são pronunciadas de forma precisa.

    Certamente voltarei mais vezes aqui.

    Congrats! I hope to see you soon back in Rio!

  • Diego Pastor

    Another funny trick: some words in Portuguese find a Spanish “cousin” but the difference between both is that the size of the designated object is smaller in Portuguese than in Spanish. Some examples: fork = garfo (pt); hook =garfio (es) / knife faca (pt); small sword or big knife = faca (sp) / bottle = garrafa (pt); carafe, big bottle = garrafa (sp) and some others. This helps learning vocabulary both ways taking into account that the Spanish version should be bigger and the Portuguese just regular

  • Sarah Warren

    ‘l‘ is pronounced as a ‘oo’ at the end of syllables (when not between vowels within a word). So Brasil is [Bra-ZEE-oo], caldo is [KA-oo-doo].

    I’m really intrigued by that – sounds almost like ł in Polish!

    • Ana

      Yes, Sarah! Unless you’re talking to someone from the South of Brazil, you’re more likely to listen to people pronouncing the ‘l’ as a ‘oo’ or as ‘u’ in Portuguese. I don’t know if there’s a rule about it, but that’s how we really speak here in Brazil…

      • Sarah Warren

        It’s really interesting to learn that. As I say, that sound associated with L just reminds me of the Polish Ł – not two languages I expected to have anything in common.

        This is one of the many reasons I just love languages :D

        • andreskizzo .

          Actually in European Portuguese, there is the “dark l” exactly like in Polish ;)

          • Sarah Warren

            Hah – learn something new every day! :D

  • maxime raymond

    é muito impressionante!!! você é cheio de boas dicas!!! Parabéns!!!

  • Leandro Santos

    Hiii Benny, How nice to know that you liked my Brazil, Welcome in Brasil.

  • Danilo

    Awesome! You met the true best world’s Carnival in Olinda. I lived there in Pernambuco and know well those slopes. See you.

  • Fripon

    I’m French, and I can tell that learning Portuguese will help you in French.
    If you think my language gives too many headaches and get into progressively.

    For instance :

    -If you succeed in saying the “rr” portuguese (or “r” in the beginning, or “r” before a consonant), you’ll succeed in French, it’s exactly the same !

    -you’ll also know this : “ç” which works exactly the same way as in French

    -you’ll learn to do nasal sounds which are also very important in French
    “ã” portuguese and “an” french are very similar sounds

    Things who would be complicated :
    – accents : “é” is “è” for French people (but also for Italian BTW),
    “ê” is “é” in French (and the same for Italian again),

    (I could say a lot more about that)
    But, definitely, it would help to learn French

  • Niko Thomas

    I’m going to be an exchange student to Brazil in ~July of 2014 until July of 2015, and this has already helped me immensely. Many thanks.

  • Marcelo Costa

    nice post! but it’s not pronounciate as “bra-Zee-oo” , the “bra” is wrong, the “r” after a consonant has a tremblin sound, different from all the r’s in USA

  • Christian Kampmann

    Hi people, I’m Christian and I’m Brazilian. I’m looking to start teach Portuguese using Skype. If somebody would like to learn, I’m available.
    My skype is christian.ned

  • Diogo Brega

    haha, que legal……logo mais eu tô falando uma pá de língua que nem você….tô morando Berlim, e a ideia é desenrolar o alemão em 4 meses!

    Falou, mano!

  • Steve Wheeler

    Benny, do you have any suggestion for finding Brazilian meetups or language exchanges in Valencia in light of Orkut not being used so much? I can’t find much on meetup.com and I know you lived in Valencia very recently so I was wondering. This question goes to anyone else who can help also :).

  • Chiara Costa

    I am Brazilian and I enjoyed reading your post. It’s the first time I’ve seen a gringo (yes, we say that affectionately, not as a mocking label. As you explained it so clearly, it just means “foreigner”) diligently notice the differences between Spanish and Portuguese. (By the way, on the subject of labels, speaking for myself and I am pretty sure most educated Brazilians, the term “latino/a”, for those who are not aware, is very irritating and can be insulting as well in Brazil. At least it is so for those Brazilians who know the connotation the term holds.) Everybody else seems to assume it’s all the same. If Spanish and Portuguese were all the same, all South and Central Americans would understand each other perfectly, which could not be farther from the truth. I am also a translator, interpreter and language tutor and your post will be very helpful to my students.

  • Valerie

    Hi Benny,

    I have just bought your book and am sure it will help me. I speak Spanish and I am currently learning Portuguese with the help of so,e young Brazilians, doing a language exchange.

    By the way, check out your piece on word formation. You say that accents at the end of words get accented. They do in Spanish, but not sure about Portuguese with your example of “assisti”.

    There are some very good free resources for learning Portuguese when you speak English and already know Spanish. Look at Ta Falado on the Internet.

    Do you speak any Thai? I speak several languages but Latin based ones, and had a real problem with learning Mandarin Chinese as my ear is not good. I did read your good article on learning Chinese but context didn’t help when i could not get the right tones, and I lost confidence. I plan to tackle Lao which has six tones! I think it is similar to Thai so I wondered how you had got on with that?

    All good wishes for your great project,


  • Lance Fallin

    Well, I learned Spanish from (mainly) Puerto Ricans and Mexicans … so Bacano etc is a new word for me. “cool” (something or someone or a cool situation) would, for me, be: Chido or Chévere.

  • Lance Fallin

    Benny Lewis: Ahora estudio un poco de Irlandés, pero uuf, está … difícil, pero bueno … en fín… venceré

  • Agnes

    I once heard that Brasilean Portuguese and Yiddish are the two languages with the MOST adjectives of any language on earth. This is why so much of both languages have a comical feel about them. Brasileiros are funny. So are Yiddish/Jewish people. Coming from a culture of both, I see the correspondence.

  • Eric Young

    So is Orkut useless now, or just not used as much by Brazilians now? Has something replaced it in terms of its benefits you describe in this article?


    • http://fluentin3months.com/ Brandon Rivington

      It’s not “useless” per se. But it’s been taken over by Facebook in terms of number of users. You can still use it and find people but because Facebook has more users, that may be a better place to start. –Brandon, the Fi3M Language Encourager

  • Carolina

    Thank you so much for the post! Such good information, you’ve done a really good job :)

  • Christina Harvey

    Hi, I am interested in learning Portuguese and more Spanish. Thanks for the great tips.

    • http://fluentin3months.com/ Brandon Rivington

      Then get learning! Conversation Exchange and iTalki are awesome sites for finding people to practice with! Happy learning! – Brandon, the Fi3M Language Encourager

  • Pingback: Portuguese Week 1 Update | Speaking of speaking()

  • Christina Martinez

    My husband is Brazilian and I sooo want to be able to communicate better with his family! They live in Brazil and we live in the US. I speak Spanish, so that helps, but I have gotten verrryyy tired of people saying, “they’re practically the same so that should be easy!” Well, it’s obviously not as difficult as starting from scratch but it is quite the challenge to learn which vocabulary words are interchangeable between Spanish and Portuguese and which are not! For example “temprano” did not work for early. :) Thanks for the article, very helpful.

  • Derek

    Deseo hablar portugûes

  • Patrick Daly

    Hi Benny – I am Irishman like yourself. I am fluent in Spanish and learning Portuguese using Spanish as the bridge. Thanks for the notes. Very useful!

  • http://www.behance.net/leosoares Leo Carreira

    I’m from Brazil and I need to improve my english. If you want to pratice portuguese via Skype (or another way), contact me. My only goal is to improve my english. It’ll a kind of “exchange”. You got It? =)

  • Pedro Simões

    I’ve never heard cool in Brazil. thought it was English. we all say ‘legal’. remember ‘legal’ is something good, but not so good.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Glad to be of help!