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
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
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.