27 Essential Portuguese Words & Phrases You Are Bound to Need
It’s no secret that Portugal is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. Its mild winters, ancient architecture, and wonderful landscapes make it a must-see destination for people who love travelling.
However, if we could teleport you to Lisbon right now (believe us, we would if we could), would you be able to get by? Do you have enough vocabulary under your belt to cope with your interactions on a daily basis? Or do you fear that you would get lost in translation? If that’s the case, don’t worry. We may not be able to take you to Portugal (or Brazil), but we can help you nail some basic Portuguese vocabulary.
Tips & Tricks to Learn Portuguese Words
Before we delve into our list of essential Portuguese words, let us give you a few pieces of advice on how to build up your vocabulary. Learning a language, as you know, is a big commitment. Studying grammar rules, improving your pronunciation, and acquiring enough vocabulary to express your ideas takes time. For that reason, if you’re studying a language make sure you make the best of your time.
When learning vocabulary, it’s important to do it in context. For example, by dividing words into different categories depending on what you can do with them in real life. Also, it’s very important to speak out loud, i.e., to hear yourself saying new words and repeat them until you get their pronunciation right. So right that you could say the new words in your sleep (which will probably happen).
And now, without further ado, let’s get into it. Here’s a list of Portuguese words you need to know if you’re planning to travel to Portugal or Brazil.
No matter what language you’re learning, basic greetings are the first thing you should get covered. Saying your hellos and goodbyes with ease and determination will help you make a good impression and will have friendlier, more successful interactions.
- Bom dia— Good morning
- Boa tarde— Good afternoon
- Boa noite— Good night
- Olá— Hello
- Alô(Brazil) or Está lá (Portugal) — Hello (For phone conversations)
- Tchau— Bye
- Até amanhã— See you tomorrow
- Adeus— Goodbye
You can also use greetings in a more interactive way, by asking your interlocutor basic questions that will let them know you’re interested in engaging in conversation.
- Como está?— How are you?
- Como vai?— How’s it going?
- Estou bem— I’m fine
Though neither Portuguese nor Brazilian people are particularly formal, good manners are always appreciated. If you ever travel to any of these two countries, the following Portuguese words will be your best allies.
- Por favor— Please/Excuse me
You might use this word the way we use “please”, to ask somebody a favour, or you might use it the way we use “excuse me” when we need to get someone to notice us.
- Com licença— Excuse me
Use this one to ask for permission to do something, for example, to pass somebody who’s walking too slowly in front of you.
- Obrigado/Obrigada— Thank you
Portuguese speakers express their gratitude by using an adjective. Obrigado is a masculine word so it’s said by men; whereas obrigada is feminine and is used by women.
- De nada— You’re welcome
- Desculpa/Desculpe— I’m sorry
If you’ve accidentally stepped on someone’s foot on the bus, this is the word you should use. Both variations mean the same thing, though the latter is a bit more formal.
- Prazer— Nice to meet you
Have you just been introduced to someone new? Then make sure you say prazer before the conversation ends. This shows that you have enjoyed the interaction.
- O senhor/a senhora— Sir/Madam
Use these Portuguese words to grab someone’s attention in the street in a respectful way. For example: A senhora poderia dizer–me as horas? (Could you tell me the time?)
Are you an old school traveller who prefers to ask locals for directions instead of googling things? Then write down these questions because they will help you get out and about.
- Onde fica o hospital / banco / restaurante / shopping mais próximo? —Where is the nearest hospital / bank / restaurant / mall?
- Quanto custa? — How much does this cost?
- Que horas vocês fecham? — What time does this place close?
- Este trem / ônibus vai para…? (Brazil) / Este comboio/autocarro vai para…? (Portugal) — Does this train / bus go to…?
- Como faço para chegar até…? — How do I get to…?
Essentials for socialising
If you want to engage in a real conversation with someone, you won’t get very far by asking them about trains or buses. You might want to try some of the phrases below instead.
- O que você faz?— What do you do?
- Você é solteiro/a?— Are you single?
- O que você gosta de fazer?— What do you like doing?
- Você gostaria de ir tomar um café? — Would you like to go grab a coffee?
Did you find the Portuguese words and phrases in this list helpful? Let us know in the comment box.
If you want to go beyond word level, though, you will need to take a one-to-one course. At Language Trainers, we offer tailor-made courses taught by native Portuguese and Brazilian teachers which are designed to suit every student’s needs. Explore our courses now and, if in doubt, send us a quick inquiry and we’ll make sure you get a prompt answer.