If you are planning to visit Brazil or Portugal, it is a good idea to learn a few essential phrases before your trip. You’ll find that outside of those who work directly in tourism, often English is not very widely spoken. And this is particularly true in Brazil. As a Latin Romance language, it may feel similar to those of you who speak or know some Spanish. This post will cover the essential Portuguese phrases for travel, so I recommend you save this post for your trip!
Background Information on Portuguese
Believe it or not, Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world, coming in right after Hindu and Bengali. There are 274 million speakers of Portuguese around the globe, and it is the official language of 9 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. As a Romance language, it is derived from Latin. And while Latin is the core of the language, it was influenced by the Hispano-Celtic languages that were there before the Romans, as well as the languages of the Germanic tribes that conquered the area after the Romans and the Arabs who followed them.
An interesting fact about Portuguese is that while it is a syllable-timed language in Brazil (like most Romance languages), it is a stress-timed language in Portugal (like English). All of this essentially means that while every sound and syllable is pronounced in Brazilian Portuguese, in European Portuguese, the vowel sounds are often clipped, making it a bit harder to understand for the non-native speaker. But, while words may sound a bit different, overall the core vocabulary of the language is the same across the world.
Pronunciation Tips for Brazilian Portuguese
There are some unique things about Brazilian Portuguese that will make things much easier as you start to learn a bit of the language. Here are the tips that have helped me the most:
- Pronouncing “di” and “de” – “Di” in words like “Dia” is pronounced as though it were spelled with a “gi”. The same goes for “de” in words like devegar and dereito
- Pronouncing “ti” and “te” – Both “ti” and “te” may sound like the “ch” sound (most often at least). You can see examples of this in words like bastante (bastan-che) or tinha (cheen-ya)
- Final “m” sound – The final “m” in a word is mainly silent, and is an indicator to make the penultimate syllable more nasal
- Pronouncing “r” – When a word begins with “r” it will be pronounced more like a hard “h” sound in English. The same goes for the double “rr” in the middle of a word. A single “r” in the middle of the word is similar to the Spanish one with a slight roll, and the final “r” may be pronounced similarly, like an “h”, or in some regions, exactly like the American English final “r” sound. So you have a few options there!
- Pronouncing “nh” – This should more or less equate to the ñ in Spanish or the “gn” we sometimes see in borrowed English words like “gnocchi” or lasagna.
- Final syllable ã – This is another indicator that the word is ending with a nasal sound. Seen in words like amanhã or irmã.
- Pronouncing “lh” – This is slightly similar to the “ll” in Spanish or “y” in English, but keeps more of the “l” sound. Seen in words like brilhante.
Here is a video that talks about Portuguese pronunciation:
For more information, here is a webpage that explains this subject in more depth.
The Essential Portuguese Phrases for Travel
Essential Portuguese Phrases for Travel
Below are basic Portuguese greetings you’d use to greet or say goodbye to locals:
- Hello – Olá
- Hi – Oi
- Good morning – Bom dia
- Good afternoon – Boa tarde
- Good night / evening – Boa noite
- Goodbye – Tshau / adeus
- What is your name? – Qual é o seu nome?
- My name is… – Meu nome é…
- Nice to meet you – Muito prazer
- Have a great day! – Tenha um ótimo dia
- See you later – Até logo
- How are you? – Tudo bem?
- Very well – Muito bem
Basic phrases are those you’d use most frequently, outside of greetings.
- Yes – Sim
- No – Não
- Thank you – Obrigada (o)
- Thanks a lot – Muito obrigada (o)
- You’re welcome – De nada
- Excuse me – Desculpe / Com licença
- I’m sorry – Eu sinto muito
- Do you speak English? – Você fala inglês?
- I don’t speak Portuguese – Eu não falo portugues.
- I don’t understand – Não entendo.
- Please – Por favor
- Slowly – Devagar
- Repeat – Repita
- Where is the bathroom? – Onde fica o banheiro?
- How much does it cost? – Quanto custa?
Days, Months, and Time
The days of the week and all other phrases related to telling time. Something to note is that Monday – Friday are known as ordinal market days (feira).
- Day – Dia
- Week – Semana
- Sunday – Domingo
- Monday – Segunda-feira
- Tuesday – Terça-feira
- Wednesday – Quarta-feira
- Thursday – Quinta-feira
- Friday – Sexta-feira
- Saturday – Sábado
- Month – Mes
- Year – Ano
- January – janeiro
- February – fevereiro
- March – março
- April – abril
- May – maio
- June – junho
- July – julho
- August – agosto
- September – setembro
- October – outubro
- November – novembro
- December – dezembro
- Minute – Minuto
- Hour – Hora
- Time – hora / Tempo
- What time is it? – Que horas são?
- It is 1:00 – É uma hora.
- It is 2:00 / 3:00 – São duas horas/ três horas.
- What day is today? – O que dia é hoje?
- What date? – O que data?
- Tomorrow – Amanhã
- Yesterday – Ontem
- Day before yesterday – Anteontem
- Morning – Manhã
- Midday – Meio-dia
- Midnight – Meia-noite
- Night – Noite
- (Three days) ago – Faz (três dias)
- Last week – A semana passada
- Today – Hoje
- Now – Agora
Counting in Portuguese.
|One – Um / Uma||Sixteen – Dezesseis|
|Two – Dois/ Duas||Seventeen – Dezessete|
|Three – Três||Eighteen – Dezoito|
|Four – Quatro||Nineteen – Dezenove|
|Five – Cinco||Twenty – Vinte|
|Six – Seis||Twenty-one – Vinte e um|
|Seven – Sete||Thirty – Trenta|
|Eight – Oito||Forty – Quarenta|
|Nine – Nove||Fifty – Cinquenta|
|Ten – Dez||Sixty – Sesenta|
|Eleven – Onze||Seventy – Setenta|
|Twelve – Doze||Eighty – Oitenta|
|Thirteen – Treze||Ninety – Noventa|
|Fourteen – Quatorze||One hundred – Cem|
|Fifteen – Quinze||One hundred and one – cento e um|
Phrases and words for getting around town.
- Where is…? – Onde fica….?
- The bank – O banco
- The museum – O museu
- The park – O parque
- The hospital – O hospital
- The airport – O aeroporto
- The church – A igreja
- How do you get to…? – Como se vai a…?
- Left – esquerda
- Right – Dereita
- Straight – Dereito
- Turn to the... – Vire a…
- How far away is…? – A que distância fica o hospital?
- It is two blocks away – Fica a dois quateirões
- It is five minutes away – Fica a cinco minutos
- What is the address? – Qual é o endereço?
Phrases and words for traveling to further destinations.
- By bus – De ônibus
- By train – De trem
- By car – De carro
- By plane – De avião
- By subway/metro – De metrô
- Where is the train station? – Onde fica a estação de trem?
Phrases and words to use when looking for or eating good food.
- Restaurant – O restaurante
- Breakfast – Café da manhã
- Lunch – O almorço
- Dinner – O Jantar
- Appetizer – Aperitivo
- Main Course – Prato principal
- Desert – Sobremesa
- What do you recommend? – O que você recomenda?
- I would like (to order) – Eu gostaria…
- The bill please – A conta por favor
Portuguese Phrases for Travel | Final Thoughts….
That completes my list of the basic Portuguese phrases for travel. I hope that this list serves as a useful guide when you venture out to any of the 9 countries where Portuguese is the official language! To get the most out of this list, you should practice often before taking your trip.
If you would like additional practice, here are a few resources that I recommend that you check out:
- If you want to practice speaking with a real person for a very affordable price, check out my favorite language resource, iTalki. You can use this site to practice with a tutor, formal teacher, or others just seeking to do a language exchange (for free!). The paid lessons have very cheap options, with some as low as $5 an hour. Check it out!
- Another fun way to learn is through watching video. Lingopie offers ways to learn new languages by watching videos at all levels of understanding to improve you listening comprehension. Check it out here!