Variations in the Pronunciation of Ending Sounds

November 2, 2021

After exploring the Pronunciation Guide for European Portuguese Vowels and Pronunciation Guide for European Portuguese Consonants, you probably had a better sense of how to pronounce the various sounds of Portuguese in isolation.

However, when you listened for these sounds throughout the Units and in the Shorties, you may have heard some things you didn’t expect! It’s not always straightforward to know how sounds will be pronounced at a more natural speaking pace. Why? Two reasons:

  • the neighbouring sounds (i.e. the sounds right before or after) have an effect on each other
  • the stress / flow of the word or sentence

Luckily there are some guidelines to help you nail these less obvious Portuguese pronunciation skills!

Relative Determiners – Cujo

October 20, 2021

We’ve previously covered relative pronouns, so now let’s talk about relative determiners. Determiners come before the noun, instead of replacing the noun.

There is only one relative determiner – cujo (and its variants). This is a relatively recent change to the terminology, so you may find a lot of articles that list cujo as either a pronoun or a quantifier, but this is incorrect.

Relative determiners always agree in number and gender with the noun that follows (instead of with the subject of the main clause). This should sound familiar because it’s the same way that possessive determiners like meu, tua, nossas, etc. work!

  • cujo Play normal audio whose (masc.,sing.)
  • cujos Play normal audio whose (masc.,pl.)
  • cuja Play normal audio whose (fem.,sing.)
  • cujas Play normal audio whose (fem.,pl.)


For example, you’ll see here that cujo agrees with irmão rather than menina:

How to Pronounce R in European Portuguese

September 27, 2021

The Portuguese R is one of the more difficult sounds to master. We covered it briefly in our Pronunciation Guide to European Portuguese Consonants, but it deserves a bit more explanation!

Pronunciation varies across different Portuguese dialects, so you will likely hear variations in the the R (as well as other sounds). We’ll focus on the “standard” Lisbon pronunciation here for simplicity’s sake. Just keep in mind that you may hear it differently in other parts of Portugal, and especially in Brazil.

First we’ll describe how the English R is pronounced, so that you can differentiate it from the many pronunciations of the Portuguese R. Then we’ll talk about the primary R pronunciations in European Portuguese: flap R, guttural R, and trill R.

How to Say Large Numbers in Portuguese

September 23, 2021

In the next couple lessons, we’ll let you practice with large numbers, such as those in the ten-thousands and hundred-thousands.

A few reminders:

  • mil paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio 1000
  • mil e trezentos Play normal audio 1300
  • cento e um paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio 101 – Remember that 100 is cento when it’s part of a number (i.e. followed by e)
  • cem paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio 100 – Remember that 100 is just cem when it’s by itself (i.e. not followed by e)
  • centenas de Play normal audio hundreds of
  • dez mil Play normal audio 10 000
  • cem mil Play normal audio 100 000
  • duzentos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio 200
  • um milhão paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio one million
  • um bilião Play normal audio one billion

Here’s an example of the wording for a high number such as 123456:

How to Use the Verb Andar

August 30, 2021

The simplest translation for the Portuguese verb andar is “to walk”, but the fun doesn’t stop there! Andar can take on many different meanings, depending on the context.

As opposed to caminhar Play normal audio to walk, which is pretty straightforward, andar paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio refers more to the general act of moving, acting, or changing places. It can indicate that an action is about to become habitual or express a sense of continuity (e.g. to “go around” doing something).

You may remember this from when we learned about how to form the present continuous / present progressive tense.

The Most Common Meanings of the Verb Andar

Portuguese-English Cognates

August 20, 2021

Learning Portuguese-English cognates is a great way to build vocabulary fast and get a jump-start with the language by building off of what you already know.

Cognates are simply words that are very similar in both languages, usually due to a common root. We talked about them in our guide to European Portuguese Shortcuts, as well as our video about 5000 Words You Already Know.

Below, you can explore some of the typical spelling patterns for English → Portuguese cognates, with examples for each one. Remember that these patterns do not apply every time. They are just a convenient way to help you notice more cognates as you continue to learn European Portuguese! (If you’re feeling bold, you can use these patterns to take a guess if you forget a word mid-conversation… 😉 )

False Cognates

August 9, 2021

False cognates, also known as falsos amigos Play normal audio false friends, are words that look and/or sound similar in two different languages, but that don’t actually have the same meaning. In other words (no pun intended), they “trick” you into thinking they are true cognates.

Let’s start with what’s most important: making sure you don’t run into any doors when you’re in Portugal… 🚪🏃🏽‍♂️

puxar paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to pull

empurrar paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to push

So you pull the doors marked PUXE Play normal audio and you push the doors marked EMPURRE Play normal audio . Got it? You sure? Good luck!

And while we’re at it…

pular Play normal audio to jump

Now that that’s cleared up, we’ll continue listing more falsos amigos, followed by the word for what you thought it was:

Having a Basic Conversation in Portuguese

July 22, 2021

In the next set of lições Play normal audio lessons, we’ll introduce phrases that will help you have a basic conversation in Portuguese.

Many beginners are afraid to initiate a conversa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio conversation because they don’t know whether they’ll understand or be understood. Well, we wouldn’t recommend discussing politics right away 😳, but with some preparation, you can at least get further than Boa tarde paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Good afternoon!

It’s important to learn how to deal with conversation breakdowns early on. That way, even if you’re struggling, you don’t have to

How to Practice Portuguese

July 6, 2021

Before you jump right in, we wanted to give you an overview of how to use our platform to learn 🇵🇹 português paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Portuguese!

You’ll use the menu to navigate to all the different resources. We’ll start by explaining everything under the LEARN section. If you’re too excited to wait, you can scroll to the bottom and click Mark as Complete to skip this… 😉

Word Order in Portuguese Questions

May 28, 2021

Word order is fairly flexible when it comes to Portuguese questions, so let’s review the possibilities. Then we’ll introduce one more option that you haven’t seen yet.

Yes/No Questions Word Order

1. Add a question mark to the end of a statement

Tu estás em Portugal Play normal audio You are in Portugal

Tu estás em Portugal? Play normal audio Are you in Portugal?

2. Add a phrase like “não é?” to the end of a statement

Ela é portuguesa Play normal audio She is Portuguese

Ela é portuguesa, não é? Play normal audio She is Portuguese, isn’t she?, She is Portuguese, right?

Open-Ended Questions Word Order

Up until this point, you’ve mostly seen open-ended questions with this word order:

Pronunciation of The Letter X in Portuguese

March 5, 2021

How Do You Pronounce the Letter X in Portuguese?

The letter X is one of the most challenging sounds in Portuguese because the pronunciation rules are quite variable.

Let’s hear what Sherlock has to say on the topic:

To review, let’s look at the 5 groups of possible pronunciations:

Diminutives in European Portuguese

February 15, 2021

Today we’re going to look at diminutives. But what exactly are they?

Diminutivos Play normal audio Diminutives are usually used to describe an object or a person as small or cute. They can also be used to express affection or pity towards someone/ something. Depending on the tone, they can also be used sarcastically.

We often use diminutives when we refer to children, but adults also use them to express love and tenderness, or simply to give a word a “smaller” connotation.

The diminutive is, in fact, one of the three degrees nouns can have. The other two are: normal (the noun itself) and the augmentative.

Although, grammatically, they are exclusive to nouns, in spoken language, diminutives can be used with adjectives as well, which often happens in informal situations.

Diminutives in English

In the English language, the most common diminutives are formed by adding the prefix mini- or by adding suffixes such as –let, -ling, -ette, and –y/-ie.

For example:

  • Doggy, mommy, daddy (terms of familiarity and warmth);
  • Darling (terms of endearment);
  • Booklet, piglet (emphasizing the smallness);
  • Miniskirt, minibus (showing that something is smaller or shorter than usual).

Diminutives in Portuguese

Augmentatives in European Portuguese

February 12, 2021

We learned a bit about diminutives earlier, so now it’s time to look at their opposites: augmentatives. Augmentatives in Portuguese are usually used to add emphasis when describing a person or object as strong, large, or ugly. Sometimes they can be quite pejorative (and funny)!

In the Diminutives’ Learning Note we mentioned that the augmentative is one of the three degrees a noun can have and that, technically, adjectives don’t have it. Despite that, they’re used anyway, in informal contexts. Adjectives in the augmentative are rarer, mostly because they don’t sound good. The superlative degree is preferred instead, which uses the suffix –íssimo (among others). You can also make use of the adverbs tão paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio so and muito paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio much, a lot, very to express a similar idea.

Augmentatives in English

First, let’s look at some augmentative forms in the English language, just to give you an initial idea of what we mean when we refer to augmentatives.

Some are created by adding the prefixes: mega-, ultra-, super-, over- and grand-.

For example:

  • mega: megastore, megahits
  • ultra: ultra-bright
  • super: superman, supersize
  • over: overdrive, overqualified, overconfident
  • grand: grandparents

Most of these are emphasizing the greatness, superiority, or larger size of the object / thing.

Augmentatives in Portuguese

Portuguese augmentatives follow more consistent rules. We’ll cover the general guidelines below, but just be aware that there are exceptions.

Relative Pronouns

February 12, 2021

This unit will cover relative pronouns in Portuguese. Relative pronouns are used to connect a dependent clause to the main clause of a sentence. A dependent clause refers to someone or something mentioned previously. The relative pronoun establishes a relationship with an antecedent and it’s that relation that allows us to understand who or what one is referencing.

Simply put, relative pronouns make sentences clearer and help us to avoid repetition. For example, let’s look at these 2 separate phrases used to describe a teacher:

  • O professor ensina francês Play normal audio The teacher teaches French
  • O professor é muito velho Play normal audio The teacher is very old

Now, if we use a relative pronoun to put them together:

O professor que ensina francês é muito velho Play normal audio The teacher who teaches French is very old

The word professor has been replaced by the relative pronoun que. Much more concise, right?

Classifying Relative Pronouns in Portuguese

In the past, some other words were also considered relative pronouns in Portuguese, but are now officially classified as something else. For example:

Introducing Yourself in Portuguese

December 30, 2020

You learned how to say hello and goodbye in the Greetings unit, along with a few polite phrases, but what about after that initial greeting? You probably want to have a little more conversation when you meet someone new! In this Learning Note, we’ll cover the basics of how to introduce yourself in Portuguese.

75 Most Common Portuguese Verbs

December 17, 2020

With so much to learn about the European Portuguese language, it helps to consider what you’ll actually use most frequently. Let’s start off with the top 10 most common Portuguese verbs!

ser paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to be (permanent)

estar paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to be (temporary)

ter paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to have

Colours in Portuguese

December 12, 2020

Let’s explore some useful vocabulary: colours in Portuguese! Even if you’re not an artist, it helps to know as cores Play normal audio the colours. How else will you talk about all the beautiful tiles and buildings around you in Portugal? Plus, next time you’re shopping, you’ll have an easier time asking for what you need. You can even use colours to help you describe something when you forget a word.

How to Use the Verb Ficar

December 4, 2020

The verb ficar paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio is a very common, and important, Portuguese verb. Ficar is sort of like a Swiss army knife, as it can take on many meanings… but you also have to careful with it!

In most cases, this verb means to be, to stay, to become, or to keep. It implies that something happened or will happen, or that something changed (and that change can be either permanent or temporary). It can also be used to indicate the placement of objects, cities, buildings and so on (especially unmovable objects), or talk about the location where a certain object is usually stored.

You can explore the different verb conjugations here.

We’ll also discuss the difference between ficar vs. ser vs. estar vs. tornar-se, as these are often difficult for non-native speakers to differentiate.

Most Common Meanings of Ficar

How to Talk About Likes and Dislikes in Portuguese

November 9, 2020

I like…

The most important verb to learn when talking about likes and dislikes in Portuguese is gostar paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to like. Let’s start with a simple example:

Eu gosto de café paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I like coffee

It’s important to remember that the preposition de paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio of, from, by goes along with the verb gostar. Adding de may seem strange at first to English speakers because we don’t use a preposition in this context. If it helps you remember to add de, you could also think of it as “I’m fond of“.

So to form this sentence, I just conjugated the verb gostar…

Guide to Portuguese Fish

October 15, 2020

With almost 1000 km of coast (not even counting the islands) and at 200 km wide, it’s only natural that Portuguese cuisine contains an abundance of fish dishes. We are, after all, the country that eats the most fish per capita in Europe! The most emblematic Portuguese fish is bacalhau paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio cod, which has been part of our history since the 16th century, during the first voyages of Portuguese sailors that took them to Newfoundland.

Falar, Dizer, and Contar

October 13, 2020

This guide will focus on the differences between the Portuguese verbs falar, dizer, and contar.

The meanings of these words are actually very similar because they all relate to speaking or communicating information. In fact, they’re often considered synonyms and can be used interchangeably in certain contexts. However, it’s important to understand the differences as you work toward making your Portuguese sound more correct and more natural.

If you frequently get confused by these verbs, you’re not alone. They are some of the most commonly confused Portuguese words! This guide will hopefully clarify their differences for you. 

Portuguese Contractions

October 5, 2020

Contrações paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Contractions are simply the result of merging two words into one. In English, this includes words like I’m (I + am), you’re (you + are), we’ll (we + will), etc. With Portuguese contractions, however, it typically happens when certain prepositions are combined with certain other types of words.

Which Words Form Contractions in Portuguese?

When these words…

… are preceded by the prepositions below, sometimes a contraction is formed. Here are the general rules for contracting with each preposition:

Verb Phrases & Clitic Pronouns

August 25, 2020

In Portuguese, verb phrases are known as locuções verbais. The definition of verb phrases varies in English, but in the Portuguese language, it refers to the use of an auxiliary verb + a main verb. More specifically, the formula “auxiliary verb + the main verb in the infinitive, past participle or gerund”. In such situations, the placement of the clitic pronoun is a bit more lax compared to the rules we’ve discussed in the past.

Let’s take a look at how to place clitic object pronouns when the main verb in is the infinitive or gerund form compared to how to place them when the main verb is in its past participle form.

When the main verb is in the infinitive or gerund

In the first example below, the pronoun comes after the main verb (mostrar) and this would be the most common way to place it. This is because there’s not a so-called “attractive” word that requires you to place it before the verb (such as an adverb or negative word). This usually happens in affirmative sentences.

Pronunciation Guide for European Portuguese Consonants

August 17, 2020

Portuguese and English share a common alphabet, for the most part, and many of the sounds associated with each consonant are quite similar. If you’re a native English speaker, the pronunciations to pay special attention to are those associated with the vowels, which we will cover in a separate learning note, as well as the following consonants / consonant digraphs: c, ç, ch, h, lh, m, n, nh, r, s, x, and z. This guide will serve as an overview of European Portuguese pronunciation for consonants, but you should also explore these links for more detailed explanations of some of the trickier sounds: