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Maratona de Leitura

May 23, 2020

Featured Shorty: “Diário de uma Quarent(o)ena II.”
A lot has happened, to say the least, since we last recorded a podcast episode!
We start out by challenging your comprehension with casual Portuguese conversation to get you up to speed on what’s been happening with us personally as well as in the world… since we know we are definitely your primary resource for all things COVID-19!
We spend the rest of the episode tweaking the pronunciation of our brave listeners who once again contributed their recordings. (Obrigado!)
We review the pronunciation of the different R, S, E, and O sounds, perfecting the cadence and flow of Portuguese sentences… plus, you’ll discover a word that even Rui has trouble pronouncing!

A Portuguese Kitchen

February 28, 2019

Enjoying food is an important part of the culture of Portugal. Whether you’re buying groceries, ordering at a restaurant, or just talking about food, you’ll need to be comfortable with the basics of Portuguese cooking vocabulary. To start, let’s focus on some of the things you might find in a Portuguese kitchen. Food Storage There […]

Food Groups

February 27, 2019

Exploring food groups is a convenient way to help us learn European Portuguese food vocabulary in a more organized way.

Dairy Products

First let’s look at some laticínios dairy products

  • o leite milk
  • o iogurte yogurt
  • o queijo cheese
  • a manteiga butter
  • o gelado ice cream
  • a nata cream

Leite, iogurte, and queijo are a part of many Portuguese people’s breakfasts and snacks. Queijo, in particular, is very important and there are several tasty varieties. As for leite, there are 3 main types:

  • Leite magro Skimmed milk – Very low fat content
  • Leite meio-gordo Semi-skimmed milk – Medium fat content
  • Leite gordo Whole milk – High fat content

Talking About Food

February 23, 2019

Portugal is a country of food lovers, so we use a lot of different expressions to describe the food we eat and how we feel about eating it. The 2 ways to say “I’m hungry” in Portuguese are:

Estou com fomeI’m hungry

Tenho fome I’m hungry

Hunger and Satisfaction

I’m Hungry!

For starters, instead of saying I am hungry, in Portugal we start thinking about food when we have hunger or when we are with hunger. In Portuguese, this translates to:

  • ter fome feeling hungry
  • or estar com fome being hungry

If you’re really feeling quite peckish, you can say:

  • Estou esfomeado I’m famished
  • or even Estou a morrer de fome I’m dying to eat

We take our hunger very seriously…

Tenho fome. O que há para comer? I’m hungry. What’s there to eat?

Vamos depressa, eu estou a morrer de fome! Let’s go quickly, I’m dying to eat!

I’m Full!

Once we’re full, we say:

  • Estou cheio I’m full
  • or the more elegant alternative Estou satisfeito I’m satisfied
  • or the rare Estou saciado I’m satiated

The Preposition “Com”

February 23, 2019

One very common Portuguese preposition is com with

Like all prepositions, it’s an invariable word placed before a noun (or pronoun) to indicate the noun’s relationship to other words.

When to Use “Com”

Just like the English use of “with”, the preposition com is used to…

  • Indicate people or things that are together:

Vamos viajar com os nossos amigos. We will travel with our friends.

A refeição vem com uma bebida. The meal comes with a drink.

  • Say what something has or includes:

É um quadro com flores. It’s a painting with flowers.

  • Say what someone or something uses to perform an action:

Desenho com este lápis. I draw with this pencil.

  • Describe an emotion or state:

O atleta competiu com confiança. The athlete competed with confidence.

Unique Uses of “Com”

Com is also used in some contexts that are quite different from English, particularly when talking about

Polite Expressions

January 31, 2019

Just like its people, the Portuguese language is very courteous. Below are just some of the many ways to express basic, everyday courtesy in Portuguese. These are probably the most important polite phrases that you should learn first, but there are also many others that will help get you started in simple conversations or greet people properly throughout the day.


In Portuguese, please can be por favor please or se faz favor please. They’re both equally correct and used in the same situations. Example:

Poderia trazer-me água, por favor? Could you bring me some water, please?

Poderia trazer-me água, se faz favor? Could you bring me some water, please?

We Portuguese tend to shorten words whenever we can. So don’t be confused if instead of se faz favor you hear ´faz favor in fast, informal speech.

Thank You

The Portuguese expression is:

Obrigado Thank you, Obliged male speaker

Obrigada Thank you, Obliged female speaker

It’s said to be a leftover from a polite expression that went more or less like, “I am obliged (obrigado) to return your favour”. In fact, the English expression “much obliged” has the exact same meaning and would also be an accurate translation of Muito obrigado Thank you very much

Because you are the one who feels obliged to return the favour, your thank you must

Forming Negative Phrases

January 31, 2019

There are a few different ways to say no, to make a sentence negative, or to refer to a quantity that is zero. Here are some of the important words to know:

não no, not

nada nothing

ninguém nobody

nenhum nonemasculine

nenhuma nonefeminine


Não No, not

The simplest way to make a sentence negative in Portuguese is just to place the word não no, not before the verb. This is the Portuguese equivalent of adding “no” or “not” to a sentence in English. Examples:

Esta mota é rápida. This motorbike is fast.

Esta mota não é rápida. This motorbike is not fast.

Double Negatives

nada nothingninguém nobody nenhum nonemasculinenenhuma nonefeminine

As you’ll see below, nada, ninguém, nenhum, and nenhuma are sometimes used with the word não to form a double negative, which is a perfectly acceptable construction in Portuguese. The negatives don’t cancel each other out, but instead reinforce each other. In English, we use the word “any” instead, so that “I do not want none” becomes “I do not want any“.

Let’s go over each word to better understand how to use these negatives forms in context.


Nada Nothing is the equivalent of  “nothing”. It is only used for things or abstract concepts, not for people. Examples:

Plurals in Portuguese

October 27, 2018

A challenging part of learning Portuguese is realizing that many words need to be adjusted to agree with the gender and number of the people or objects we are talking about.

Let’s see a quick overview of which types of words change, and which ones stay the same to help us understand how to make words plural in Portuguese.

Invariable Words

The invariable classes of words (that don’t change to match gender and number) are:

  • advérbios adverbs  Adverbs generally modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs, clarifying or intensifying their meaning.
  • preposições prepositions – Prepositions connect different words in a sentence.
  • conjunções conjunctions – Conjunctions connect different clauses of a sentence.
  • interjeições interjections – Interjections are filler words or words that express a strong, abrupt feeling

Variable Words

The variable classes of words (that do change to match gender and number) are:

Dining Out In Portugal

October 27, 2018

Whether you’re just visiting or planning to live in Portugal, learning some food vocabulary is going to be pretty important! 😆

Let’s start with comer fora going out to eat

Breakfast & Coffee

There are cafés cafés, coffee shops and pastelarias bakeries, which are often part of the same establishment, for snacks and light meals. This is where you’ll go for um pequeno-almoço a breakfast or um lanche a snack

Perhaps you’ll ask for um café a coffee and the world-famous pastel de nata custard tart. A pastel is usually a small tart or cake, which can be sweet, like the pastel de nata, or savoury, like the pastel de bacalhau codfish cake

Unfortunately for those who like protein-rich breakfasts, it’s less common to find ovos eggs on the traditional Portuguese breakfast menu, though they do appear in a number of dishes served later in the day.

There are many different typical coffee beverages in Portugal. If you just order um café a coffee you will receive an espresso, unless you specify otherwise. Some of the other most common options are:

Essential Portuguese Conjunctions

October 27, 2018

There are 3 essential conjunctions that you’ll need to start connecting your thoughts and forming more complex sentences in Portuguese:

e and

mas but

ou or

These 3 are called conjunções coordenativas coordinating conjunctions, because they combine multiple independent phrases into one.

You’ll learn more on this topic later, but for now, we’ll focus on these 3 essentials.

1) “E” = “And”

The conjunction e and is an additive, or copulative, coordinating conjunction. It is used simply to add two ideas together.

A menina e o menino andam The girl and the boy walk

You could also say “A menina anda. O menino anda.”, but adding e helps the sentence flow better.

Just like in English, when combining more than two ideas together, or when listing items, it’s usually better to separate the words with commas and only

Good/Bad vs. Well/Badly

July 26, 2018

What’s the difference between mau and mal? What about bom and bem? These pairs of words are very similar in meaning, but they’re not interchangeable. It comes down to understanding the difference between adjectives and adverbs and how they are used in Portuguese.


Good and bad are adjectives, which modify nouns (people / places / things). In Portuguese, adjectives must agree with the noun in gender and number:

bom good masc. sing. bons good masc. plur.

boa good fem. sing. boas good fem. plur.

mau bad masc. sing. maus bad masc. plur.

bad fem. sing. más bad fem. plur.


Well and badly are adverbs, which modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Adverbs are invariable, so the same words are used regardless of the gender and number of the noun.

bem well

mal badly, poorly

Which One Do I Use?

Bom / Boa vs. Bem

Let’s look at these examples to illustrate the difference between bom/boa (adjectives) and bem (adverb).


BONUS: Palavras Japonesas Inspiradas na Língua Portuguesa

July 10, 2018

After listening to our last podcast on foreign words derived from Portuguese, a Japanese member, Ryoko, came to our rescue with recordings of every Japanese word we mentioned, plus a bunch of new ones for good measure. Join us as we explore surprising similarities between Japanese and Portuguese in this bonus episode!

(“Arigato” once again to Ryoko Kawaoka for her generous time in preparing the list and recordings for this episode!)

Present Continuous in Portuguese

June 1, 2018

When we talk about actions that are happening right at the time of speaking, we use the present continuous. Let’s start by taking a look at how this works in English.

Present continuous in the first person:

I am + verb ending in -ing

Example: I am driving

“I am” comes from the verb “to be” and is followed by the gerund form of the main verb (ending with -ing).

The Brazilian form is actually the most similar to English, so hopefully you’ll forgive us for mentioning it first! (We know you’re trying to focus on European and not Brazilian Portuguese, but it can be helpful and interesting to explore these differences sometimes. Plus, this gives you an easy way to spot if


Diálogo 28 – As Sardinhas Que Fumavam

May 7, 2018

Hoping for a calm, vegetarian dining experience at a local Portuguese restaurant, Sr. John gets thrown off guard by unprofessional service and a problem with his order! Find out how he deals with these challenges, and learn lots of vocabulary and expressions to use the next time you’re dining out.

Talking about Quantity

May 1, 2018

These are three simple, common words used to talk about quantities in Portuguese:

muito many, much, a lot

pouco few, a little

algum some, a few

When talking about countable quantities (which usually end in “-s” in English as well as Portuguese), muito, pouco and algum all change according to gender and number:

Eu tenho muitos amigos. I have many friends.

Poucas pessoas sabem o segredo. Few people know the secret.

Eles compraram algumas prendas. They bought some gifts.

With uncountable nouns (such as virtues, qualities, or time, which usually don’t end is “-s” in either language), muito, pouco and algum stay in their singular form, while maintaining gender agreement:

Introduction to Portuguese Adjectives

May 1, 2018

Adjetivos Adjectives are words that describe a noun, assigning it a quality, state, appearance, or other property. Adverbs are also used to describe, but instead of nouns, they modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. In Portuguese, using adjectives requires that you consider the gender and number of the word being modified, as well as the word order of the sentence.

Many different types of words can fall into the category of adjectives, including colours, shapes, materials, and nationalities. They are the words that let us distinguish between concepts like:

When to Use Dele/Dela vs. Seu/Sua

March 30, 2018

How do we decide when to use dele, dela, deles, delas  vs.  seu, sua, seus, suas?

Possessives formed with de are less ambiguous: they agree strictly with the subject, not with the object. In contrast, seu and its derivatives agree with the object, so we are not able to differentiate between the several possible 3rd person subjects without extra context.

Dele, dela, deles, delas

  • dele his – When the subject is ele (him).
  • dela her – When the subject is ela (her).
  • deles their – When the subject is eles (them, a group with at least one male).
  • delas their – When the subject is elas (them, an all-female group).

Seu, sua, seus, suas

These are also used for the same 3rd person subjects, but the specific form used must match the gender and number of the object/noun being

3rd Person Possessives: De + Pronoun

March 30, 2018

The Ambiguity of Seu, Sua, Seus, and Suas

To review, the possessive pronouns/determiners for the third-person forms are the following:

Subject Possessive Pronoun/Determiner English Equivalent
Ele, Ela, Você Seu Sua Seus Suas His, Her/Hers, Your/Yours(formal)
Eles, Elas Seu Sua Seus Suas Their, Theirs

As you can see, ele he, him, ela she, her, você youformal, eles they, themmasc., and elas they, themfem. all share the same exact possessive determiners! Since the determiners agree with both the number and the gender of the noun that is being possessed (rather than the subject), knowing precisely who we’re talking about is a bit tricky. Let’s see some examples:

Introduction to Possessives

March 30, 2018

Possessive Determiners vs. Possessive Pronouns

In this unit, we’re going to learn about possessive determiners and possessive pronouns in Portuguese, which both serve the function of expressing possession or ownership of something.

In English, we use my, your, his, her, their, and our as possessive determiners and mine, yours, his, hers, theirs, and ours as possessive pronouns.

Possessive determiners precede the noun they are modifying. They tell you to whom a specific item belongs. For example, in the sentence “It is my cat”, you can tell that the word “my” is a determiner because it needs to be followed by a noun (“cat”). “It is my” would not be a complete sentence.

Possessive pronouns replace the noun they are modifying. They convey ownership without telling what exactly is being owned. For example, in the sentence “It is mine”, you can tell that the word “mine” is a possessive pronoun because it can stand on its own in place of a noun.

Possessives in Portuguese

In Portuguese, possessive pronouns and possessive determiners make use of the same words: meu, teu, seu, nosso, vosso, as well as their feminine and plural forms. As you will see below, this means that there are multiple possible translations of a single English word. For both possessive determiners and possessive pronouns, you start by choosing the form that goes with the person possessing something, and then modify that word to match the gender and number of the noun being possessed.

1st and 2nd Person Possessives

March 10, 2018

Mine, Yours, and Ours

Let’s take a closer look at this first group of possessives: meu, teu, nosso and vosso, plus their feminine and plural forms.

Subject Possessive Pronoun/Determiner

(for masculine nouns)

Possessive Pronoun/Determiner

(for feminine nouns)

Eu meu my, mine

meus my, mine

minha my, mine

minhas my, mine

Tu teu your, yours

teus your, yours

tua your, yours

tuas your, yours

Nós nosso our, ours

nossos our, ours

nossa our, ours

nossas our, ours

Vós, Vocês vosso your, yours

vossos your, yours

vossa your, yours

vossas your, yours

Gender and Number Agreement

Remember that the pronoun/determiner has to agree in gender and number with the noun it refers to, rather than the person/subject.

For example, if we’re talking about single objects, such as um jornal a newspaper (a masculine noun) or uma revista magazine (a feminine noun), we’d get:

Ser vs. Estar: Two Ways of Being

March 10, 2018

At this point, you’re probably starting to get familiar with the verbs ser to be permanent state and estar to be temporary state. Yet, even with a lot of practice, they are still easy to mix up! Don’t worry: in this unit you’ll learn more about when to use one versus the other.

A Basic Distinction: Ser vs Estar

  • Ser is used to describe permanent states or conditions. It refers to an immutable or long-lasting attribute of the person or object being described. Here’s the verb conjugated in the present tense:

3rd Person Possessives: Seu and Sua

June 18, 2017

His, Hers, Yours, and Theirs

There are just a few more possessives to learn:

Subject Possessive Pronoun/Determiner English Equivalent
Ele, Ela, Você Seu Sua Seus Suas His, Her/Hers, Your/Yours (formal)
Eles, Elas Seu Sua Seus Suas Their, Theirs

See what happens there? The pronouns/determiners for the third-person singular (+ você) and the third-person plural are all the same!

Gender and Number Agreement

Once again, the pronouns or determiners must agree with the respective noun, not with the subject!

If we’re talking about single objects such as um carro a car (masc. noun) and uma mota a motorcycle (fem. noun), here’s what we get:

How to Address People Formally vs. Informally

May 31, 2017

Grammatically, it doesn’t take too long to learn the basics of addressing someone formally versus informally. But the most challenging aspects for estrangeiros foreigners tend to be the decisions that have to be made on a social level – not only understanding when it’s best to speak to someone formally, but choosing between the subtle variations of how formal language is used.

Even the natives (like Rui! 🇵🇹) have a hard time dissecting some of these unspoken social rules, so our aim is to make this the definitive resource of how to speak formally vs. informally in European Portuguese, and all the grey areas in between.

The Easy Stuff

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we’ll start with the easy pronouns first: those which don’t have formal or informal variations.

First person

There is no distinction between formal and informal for the first person pronouns.

When talking about yourself, you’ll use Eu I. Piece of cake!

When talking about yourself along with others, you’ll use: