70 Portuguese Words You Should Know & Learn Today

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Written By Francesca Stephens

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

There’s no doubt – Portuguese is one of the most beautiful languages in the world. It’s smooth, at times unusual, and fairly easy to learn.

If you’re thinking about taking a Portuguese course or visiting a Portuguese-speaking country, why not learn a few popular Portuguese words first?

Building vocabulary in any new language takes time, but learning easy and common words can be a good start.

To make things easier for you, we’ve gathered the most common Portuguese words. They are useful and quite easy to memorize!

The Most Common Portuguese Words

Regardless of your reasons for learning Portuguese, these basic Portuguese terms can help you get on the right track.

Let’s start with the essential Portuguese words you’ll use in most conversations:

Essential Portuguese Words

Olá – Hello

Sim Yes

Não – No

Obrigado/Obrigada – Thank you

*the word changes depending on who is saying it – men say obrigado, women say obrigada

Adeus – Goodbye

Bom – Good

Talvez – Maybe

If you want to build a strong foundation and you want to expand your Portuguese vocabulary, let’s take a look at some commonly-used verbs and words related to certain topics:

Basic Portuguese Verbs

Ser/Estar To be

* It depends on the context. Ser is used to describe permanent states and estar is used for something temporary or circumstantial (like mood or weather)

Ter – To have

Poder – Can

Saber – To know

Chegar – To arrive

Comer To eat

Beber – To drink

Gostar – To like

Dizer – To say/to tell

Dar – To give

Ver – To see

Falar – To speak

Portuguese words expressing time

Amanhã – Tomorrow

Hoje – Today

Ontem – Yesterday

Hora – Hour

Minuto –  Minute

Segundo – Second

Semana – Week

Portuguese words related to food & drinks

Cerveja – Beer

Vinho – Wine

Leite – Milk

Suco – Juice

Chá – Tea

Agua – Water

Bolo – Cake

Pão – Bread

Fruta Fruit

Portuguese words related to places

Aeoroporto – Airport

Ponte Bridge

Praia – Beach

Estacionamento – Parking

Trem – Train

Chemin de fer – Railway

Rua – Street

Cafeteria – Cafe

Restaurante Restaurant

English/Portuguese Cognates

The trick to expanding your vocabulary really quickly is to learn popular Portuguese/English cognates. Cognates are words in two languages with the same meaning and similar spelling and pronunciation.

The Portuguese language has influenced English a lot, so there are hundreds of cognates you can explore.

For example, some of the Portuguese words that you’re already familiar with are:

Animal Animal

Ator Actor

Hospital – Hospital

Turista Tourist

Real Real

Importante Important

Famoso Famous

Cidade City

Generoso Generous

Delicioso Delicious

Excelente Excellent

Paciente Patient

A lot of English adverbs ending in –ly can easily be converted into Portuguese:

Realmente Really

Naturalmente Naturally

Practicamente Practically

Sinceramente Sincerelly

Rapidamente Rapidly

Vividamente Vividly

As you can see, you already know a lot of Portuguese words!

Getting familiar with cognates is a fast way to learn Portuguese vocabulary. You just need to notice the pattern and pay attention to pronunciation.

Building Portuguese Vocabulary

Memorizing the most common Portuguese terms and cognates is a great way to build a solid foundation. However, this is just a start.

Portuguese is a beautiful language, and building Portuguese vocabulary takes time. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t stop at cognates and easy words.

By the way, did you know that the longest Portuguese word has 29 letters? It’s anticonstitucionalíssimamente meaning “in a very unconstitutional way/manner”. But you don’t have to learn long and complex words right away.

If you want to build a strong foundation, you need to start with easy and commonly-used words. And once you start expanding your vocabulary, you make things easier by implementing effective learning methods.

You should also take advantage of online learning tools like digital flashcards, quizzes, or online word games. Try to make your learning process fun and engaging. After all, repeating long lists of words just won’t be enough. Our brains work in different ways.

You should also try to learn in context. If you’re learning adjectives and nouns, try to pair them. That way, you’ll be able to memorize it more easily, especially if you’re a visual learner.

Learning in chunks is also quite effective. Write down or underline whole sentences and circle the word you want to remember.

You can also try mnemonics. It’s a popular and effective memory technique that includes making associations that will help you ingrain new words into your memory.

Also, don’t forget to say words out loud. Pronunciation is an important part of learning Portuguese, but saying things out loud will also help you memorize everything better.

These tips for learning new words can make learning Portuguese a whole lot easier. But you also shouldn’t rush – learning a new language shouldn’t be a contest. Be patient and persistent and you’ll learn a ton of Portuguese words faster than you think – and they will stick.

European and Brazilian Portuguese

If you’re worried about the difference between European and Brazilian Portuguese words, let us explain the key differences between the two dialects.

Of course, European and Brazilian Portuguese are the same language, and Brazilians and Portuguese can easily understand each other. However, there are some differences to be aware of.

First of all, they have different accents; Brazilian has more open vowels so it sounds smoother and more melodic. Portuguese, on the other hand, pays attention to formal and informal speech.

And when it comes to vocabulary, Brazilian Portuguese is prone to assimilating English words, whereas European Portuguese sticks to Latin roots. Generally speaking, vocabulary seems to be the most obvious difference between Brazilian and European Portuguese. But you shouldn’t let that scare you.

If you want to take Portuguese classes, you’ll have to decide whether you want to learn Brazilian or European Portuguese. That way, you’ll simply follow the rules of either dialect. And if you visit another Portuguese-speaking country and if you know the basics, you’ll be able to resolve any potential misunderstanding.

To get an idea of how different European and Brazilian Portuguese can be, take a look at these words:

English                   Brazilian Portuguese                European Portuguese

Train                             Trem                                                   Comboio

Bus                              Ônibus                                                Autocarro

Ice Cream                   Sorvete                                                Gelado

Brown                          Marrom                                               Castanho

Unique Portuguese Words

One of the fascinating things about Portuguese is that Portuguese has certain words that are unique to the language.

For example, you’ve perhaps heard of the word saudade –  it’s used for the feeling of melancholy, desire, and nostalgia.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can start expanding your vocabulary and get to know unique Portuguese words and phrases. Some of them are truly poetic.

These are just some of the words that make Portuguese a beautiful, unique, and romantic language:

Saudade Melancholy, nostalgia, longing

Apaixonar Falling in love

Lindeza Prettiness

Beijinho Little kiss

Desenrascanço To disentangle yourself from an undesirable situation

Final Thoughts

With the Portuguese words you learned today, you can start developing more intricate language skills.

Learning easy and popular words is a great way to get to know the language and feel more confident if you’re planning to visit a Portuguese-speaking country.

Hopefully, we also inspired you to keep learning. And if you’re looking for reliable online Portuguese programs, check out our list of the best apps to learn Portuguese and online Portuguese classes.