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Introduction to European Portuguese

🌍 Countries that Speak Portuguese

Did you know that Portuguese is the 6th most spoken language in the world? 🗣
Portuguese is spoken in Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), of course, but there are also many other countries and regions that speak the language. For example:

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_language
from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_language

Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, East Timor, the Special Administrative Region of Macau (Macao), Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Goa (a state in western India)

💬 Portuguese Roots

Have you noticed that you can already recognize some Portuguese words? That’s because, just like English, Portuguese has strong Latin roots.
estação paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio station
delicioso paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio delicious
positivo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio positive
Portuguese is considered a “Romance” or “Vulgar Latin” language (just like Spanish, French, Italian, and Romanian). If you have studied any of these other languages, you will see even more similarities, not only in vocabulary, but also grammar structure. Not to mention the alphabet is mostly the same:

🔤 The European Portuguese Alphabet

Aside from Latin, Portuguese has also been influenced by other languages like Arabic, French, Italian, and indigenous South American, as well as African languages.

🤔 Portuguese Portuguese!? #GoogleProblems

The 2 main dialects of the Portuguese language are:

  • Brazilian Portuguese (Primarily spoken in Brazil)
  • European Portuguese (Spoken in Portugal. It also includes the African and Asian colonies’ dialects, because they are much more similar to the European dialect.)

However, as you may have figured out by now (in your desperate Google searches for non-Brazilian Portuguese resources!), “European Portuguese” is also referred to as:

  • Continental Portuguese
  • Lusitanian Portuguese
  • Portuguese of Portugal
  • …or sometimes even referred to informally as Portuguese Portuguese! 😉

With only 11 million European Portuguese speakers vs. 200 million Brazilian Portuguese speakers, there’s no wonder why it’s so hard to find quality resources!

🇵🇹 🇧🇷 European Portuguese vs. Brazilian

european portuguese vs. brazilian portugueseAlthough Brazilian and European Portuguese are technically the same language, the differences are so great that even Brazilian Portuguese natives can have a hard time understanding European Portuguese when spoken quickly. Here are just a few of these differences:

  • Pronunciation: The European accent is much more closed, especially in the varying degrees of open and closed vowels.
  • Informal vs. formal: In most of Brazil, the word for you is você. In Portugal, we use tu in informal situations, and different forms of você in formal situations. There are many ways to speak to someone formally, which can be confusing even for long-term residents of Portugal! For example, it’s common to address someone to their face using the third person. To ask Rui the question Do you want coffee? in a more formal way, you would say: O Rui quer café? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Do you (Rui) want coffee?, Does Rui want coffee?
  • Vocabulary: There are many common words that are completely different. For example, the word for dog in Brazil is cachorro and in Portugal it’s cão paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio dog

For a more detailed comparison of these two primary dialects, check out this guide we put together here: European Portuguese vs Brazilian Portuguese

📖 Let’s Start Learning European Portuguese!


Speakers of English and other Latin-influenced languages may notice that certain words are quite similar in Portuguese. So, just as a warm-up, the first Lesson will cover vocabulary words that we think many beginners will be able to figure out right away!
Use this Warm-up lesson to get an introduction to how the European Portuguese language sounds and how our Lessons work. After that, we’ll continue to the Greetings unit to teach you some useful phrases you can start using right away. Don’t worry about understanding all the grammar just yet. We’ll start exploring those details, little by little, in the Basic Grammar unit.
Estão prontos? Play normal audio Are you(pl.) ready?
Click Mark as Complete and then Continue to the first Lesson.

Comments

  • Hi! I recently did a motorcyce tour around Portugal with MotoXplorers out of Lisbon. WONDERFUL! Now I would like to learn the language so I can work with their team to expand tour possibilities to US and other English speaking riders. I know a little French, and yet this language seems more like German to me. I look forward to continuing my studies. And I am happy to have a true European Portuguese teacher to help me learn! Obrigada! Jean

  • A suggestion for web site navigation: Have a “continue to next lesson” button next to the “Mark as Complete” button. I am on an iPad, and it is not very easy to get to the next lesson from here. Thanks! 🙂

    • Hi Jean, this is absolutely important for us to add. There is supposed to be a dynamic back button has stopped appearing, but we will get this “Continue” button showing to make it even clearer. Thanks and keep the feedback coming! Abraço

  • Gosto muito de escutar os teus audios de you tube no meu telemóvel. Agora fiz inscripçao a Premium porque sao muito divertidos e é muito agradável e fácil de conhecer um idioma assim. Eu acredito isto assim. Peço imensas desculpas pelo meu portuñol. Espero aprender muito mas y falar melhor. Muito obrigada por compartir conmigo y tantas pessoas.
    Sou Laura desde Argentina

  • In the section on pronunciation, comparing European Portuguese and Brazilian, where it says, “The accent is much more closed…” I presume you mean the EUROPEAN accent is much more closed. As a rank beginning, I’d feel more secure about progressing if you clarified this. Obrigada.

    • It’s definitely the European accent being talked about on that sentence 🙂 I just made it clearer on the article. Thanks!

  • Hey there! I am fluent in Spanish and now want to learn Portuguese and will be traveling to Portugal in October. Are there similarities between the conjugation of Spanish and Portuguese?

    • Hey! Yes, at least on a basic level, there are lots of similarities between Portuguese and Spanish, but watch out for all the false friends (words that look similar, but have completely different meanings) 🙂 Still, Spanish is a good stepping stone for Portuguese, and vice-versa.

  • Not a bad start, I learned Portuguese for a while until my English wife Cathy Dobson said we are moving to France. Then she changed her mind and now it is Portugal going there from Germany at the end of October 2019.

  • I’m planning to retire in Portugal next year. I don’t want to do that without being able to speak the language. I have been to Porto, Lisbon, the Algarve coast, and several other places and I’m amazed at how wonderful the people are. I look forward to learning “real” Portuguese, not the Brazilian Portuguese that so many other sources offer.

  • I have been using the Duolingo and didn’t realise until recently that it was Brazilian . Oh man 🙁 Looking forward to this learning material. We have just bought a house in Portugal and would love to communicate better with the locals. Wish me luck!!

    • Haha, good luck to you! And by the way, welcome to Portugal. Don’t worry, I’m sure that most of what you learned from Duolingo will still be useful to you. The two Portuguese variants, on a base level, are very similar.

  • Looking so forward to diving into the program; living in Pt near Lisbon. English is widely spoken by the younger & tourist population, but I want to be able to converse with folks in the countryside. So much vocabulary and conjugation to learn and memorize, hoping this process will be of great help.

  • I have bought a house in the Guarda district and have made many friends over there. I hope to be able to communicate with them more easily.

  • Okay, I admit I have been lazy to learn to speak Portuguese. I have tried other online courses and I do converse in what I like to call Tarzan Talk with some of my neighbors, Uber Drivers and store employees. Mostly, I know the words for food and can read a menu pretty well! I want to be able to chat now.
    Norie in Porto

  • I’m getting an early start with Portuguese, I plan to travel there for my retirement in a couple of years. It’s quite an exciting start learning something new. This will be my fourth language

  • My mother and her partner have lived in Portugal for 15 years and every year hen we visit I’ve said I really want to learn to speak the language. This decade I’m doing it! I’ve seen your resource grow from a time when it was super basic (still useful) to the brilliant tool it is today. I’m so pleased that it has been so successful for you! It truly deserves to be!

  • So looking forward to learning on this site. I try to converse in Portuguese in shops and restaurants. I can make myself understood but am lost when they reply. Muito rapido!
    Hopefully all the shorties and videos will be of great help
    Obrigada

    • Hang in there, Helen! It will get easier, little by little over time. It’s great that you’re putting yourself out there and practicing even when it’s difficult. That, combined with doing the Shorties, Videos, Lessons, etc, will really help you improve!

  • Wish i had found this site earlier. I have been learning with Duolingo and knew there were one or two differences between Brazilian and Portuguese but now realise there is so many more. I hope i can now correct my grammar and vocabulary . I want to converse with my son in laws family when i visit Portugal.

  • Hi there, this is great information but it seems you forgot to mention the Azores ( Açores) and Madeira. Why is that?

    • Hi Catia, Although the Azores and Madeira are separate from mainland Portugal, they are still considered part of the country of Portugal. I’ll add a note to make it clear that those regions are also included when we say “Portugal”.

  • Obrigado

    The first time I went to Portugal (I’ve since bought a home in Arcos de Valdevez and cannot wait to finalise this process) I thought I was clever when a dog walked past and I said O cachorro. The man I was talking to smiled and said that this was a sausage on a bread roll. I also have been trying to learn a song to sing for me new friends in Portugal (I sing a bit) but the strong G pronunciation for D in some instances is quite off putting. So whilst I have Michel Thomas (European Portuguese) I am glad to have found this.

    Steve

  • I am from Macau and have been looking for European Portuguese courses online for so long, I feel very lucky to have finally found you!

  • Hi! I’m Cape Verdean American and understand Cape Verde’s portuguese creole, and somewhat understand Portuguese Portuguese but really would like to master this. 🙂

  • I’m excited for this course! I just bought an apartment in Lisbon and look forward to moving to Portugal from Los Angeles.

  • Hi we have bought a retirement house in Herdade da aroeira and would like to learn the language before we move there.

  • I am locked down in London and missing the beautiful Algarve at Easter time. I have decided that the best way to use this enforced rest is to learn Portuguese and I am so glad to have found you.
    I look forward to the opportunity to practice in your beautiful country as soon as we get back to some sort of normality. My best wishes to everyone in these troubled times. God bless and stay safe.

    • Thank you, Bernard. Glad to hear you’re keeping a good attitude through all of this. Portugal will be waiting for you when things start to improve. 🙂 Best wishes to you too, stay well!

  • It was pretty hard to find resources for EU Portoghese but i finally did It. I’m learning through differenti websites. I’m absolute beginner. I’m italian and i speak fluently spanish and basic french so at the moment it’s not really hard. I chose eu Portugues because I absolutely love the pronunciarono, already back during my Erasmus when i eas so fascinated hearing Portuguese speaking to each other. Thanks for the resources you give us. Muito obrigado

  • Delicioso was my Mother’s favorite description of any meal prepared by someone else! My family came from the island of Faial. My son found this site for me and it’s just what I was seeking. What my other called “puro Portuguese”.

  • It was interesting to get to know some of the differences we have between Brazilian and Continetal Portuguese. I wonder if we lern to pronounce “o cão” later 🙂 – it is a god start of a language course to provide some information of the spread of the language in the world.

    • Glad you liked it! I just added an audio clip at the end so you can hear how to pronounce “cão” . Also, we’re working on a learning note with a more extensive comparison of European/Continental Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese — keep an eye out for that soon!

  • I like how you have it where are you have it Real time and then you slow the sound down that helped me to hear the little. Different sounds

    • Thanks, Rami! Let’s hope you get to make good progress here 🙂 Feel free to reach out anytime you need some extra help.

  • I have returned to Portugal after lockdown. It is as wonderful as ever. Determined to learn the language this time.

  • Thank heavens I found your site first. I didn’t realise the differences were so great
    If I had embarked on learning Brazilian Portuguese I would have had a lot of unlearning and confusion to contend with!

  • Exciting as I liked your videos and your presentation style (and avo) – just a small question – I heard from a Portugese friend that cachorro is also used in P for a small young dog …?

    • “Cachorro” is also known and used in Portugal to some extent, yes. But overall, it’s more present in Brazilian Portuguese 🙂

  • A bit of a misnomer to call a Germanic language like English “Latin-based” or to say it has Latin roots. The fact there are so many cognates with a Romance language like Portuguese stems from the Norman invasion of Britain in the 11th century, after which Old French became the language of the ruling classes — for centuries to come.

    • When we say it has Latin roots we mean that a large amount of English vocabulary comes from Latin root words. Germanic tribes had a lot of contact with the Roman Empire and the Catholic church also had a good deal of influence on the development of Old English. Later on Latin was the root of many words used to talk about scientific discoveries. Perhaps “Latin-influenced” would be a better way to word it, instead of Latin-based. I’ll make some edits, thanks!

  • Very excited to get started- stumbled onto “Practice Portuguese” while searching for a European Portuguese option, and loved the YouTube videos- I just took out an annual subscription. Visiting in May 2022 with my husband to celebrate my retirement from military service, our anniversary, and the end of the pandemic! I have a little over a year to practice- starting from absolute scratch. Thanks to your whole team for this fun, intuitive option!
    Xxx Ooo,
    Kelly (thanks for adding “K” to the alphabet- very kind of you!)

    • Congrats Kelly – there’s a lot to celebrate in 2022! Thanks so much for the support. We’re happy to have you on board and hope we can help get you where you want to be by next year. 🙂

  • Looking forward to getting started! Signed up for the one-year plan to start with. Love the Youtube videos…very engaging! Moving to Lisbon with my 2 dogs from Calgary Canada in October. Can’t wait to enjoy the warm sunny weather and to practice and improve my newly acquired Portuguese!

  • Definitely a good start – been looking for a structured learning tool to complement my reading and listening.

    Thank you so much for this.

    Steven

  • Very exited to try this out! Not a very beginner but would like to start from the beginning. I followed Portuguese lessons a year ago once a week in school (because of the corona crises wasn’t possible anymore) and learned everyday on other free sites, but I would like to have something close to school, to have more structure, so I have a feeling this should be the right place 🙂 I’m from Russia, but have been living and working in Belgium for the past 23 years. I speak fluently Russian, English and French and also Dutch quite well. I always LOVED Portuguese language! And now I love Portugal!! My favorite country so far! I visited it twice and it was a love from the first sight. I would love to move there one day! 🙂 I watched quite few of your podcasts sometime ago on youtube and I loved it! So I decided finally to try your site. So hopefully you ‘ll teach me Portuguese so the day I decide to live in Portugal I’ll be fluent in it! 😀

    Thank you in advance for your lessons! 🙂

  • Just moved to Portugal and found you gents on the TAP flight channel. I immediately knew that I had to join this team to teach this “old dog” a new language in a practical and effective process. Estou Pronto!

  • I am Czech, I’m trying to learn Portuguese so I can communicate with my boyfriend’s family and get to know them better 🙂 I found your podcast, and it’s exactly what I neede to stay in touch with Portuguese language while not living there 🙂 Muito obrigada para o vosso trabalho! 🙂

  • I’ve been live in Portugal now about five years. I hoped that the language catches me like for small kids. It doesn’t. I’ve had many courses and also personal teachers without any progress. I’m a bit frustrated. I hope this finally the way to achieve something!

    • Hang in there, you’re not alone! Glad to hear you’re sticking with it even though it’s been a frustrating process. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions as you get started learning with us. You also might get some inspiration from some of the blog posts here, where there are a number of articles that talk about learning strategies.

  • Very interesting. Can’t wait to start learning.
    I am planning to go Uni in Portugal so I have around a year to learn Portuguese on B1/B2.

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