Brazilian Portuguese: Basic Portuguese Phrases, Vocabulary and Grammar

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written by & mp3s recorded by Olavo Germano de Sousa Neto. If you are interested in authentic uses of language, go to Portuguese realia for photos from Portugal. If you are interested in learning Portuguese through your knowledge of Spanish, check out From Spanish to Portuguese.

This tutorial is for Brazilian Portuguese, so if you can speak Portuguese from Portugal, you may notice many differences, but don't worry! We can all understand each other. The only difference is the accent and some words that will be listed soon. It's like the difference between English spoken in England and English spoken in the USA.

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1. Basic Portuguese Phrases


If you'd like to study these phrases (and their pronunciations) individually, please go to Basic Portuguese Phrases.

Bom dia! 
Hello! / Good morning!
Boa tarde! 
Good afternoon!
Boa noite! 
Good evening! / Good night!
Oi/Olá! Tchau!
Hi! / Bye!
Good bye.
Por favor. 
Até mais.
See you / See you later.
Até logo. 
See you later.
Até amanhã.
See you tomorrow.
(Muito) Obrigado. 
Thank you (very much).
Não há de quê.
You're welcome. / Don't mention it.
I'm sorry
Com licença / Perdão.
Excuse me / Pardon
Let's go!
Como o senhor está?
How are you? (formal)
feminine: a senhora
Como vai? 
How are you? (informal)
E aí? 
How's it going? (Only in Brazil)
Bem / Muito bem
Well / Very well
Mal / Muito mal / Mais ou menos 
Bad / Very bad / More or less
Sim / Não
Yes / No
Como o senhor se chama? 
What is your name? (formal)
Qual é seu nome? 
What is your name? (informal)
Me chamo... 
My name is...
Prazer em conhecê-lo
Nice to meet you.
Same here.
Senhor / Senhora / Senhorita 
Mister / Mrs. / Miss
De onde o senhor é?  
Where are you from? (formal)
De onde você é? 
Where are you from? (informal)
Eu sou de... 
I'm from...
Quantos anos o senhor tem? 
How old are you? (formal)
Quantos anos você tem? 
How old are you? (informal)
Eu tenho _____ anos. 
I am _____ years old.
O senhor fala português?
Do you speak Portuguese? (formal)
Você fala inglês?
Do you speak English? (informal)
(Não) Falo...
I (don't) speak...
Compreende? / Entende?
Do you understand? (formal / informal)
(Não) Compreendo. / (Não) Entendo.
I (don't) understand.
Eu (não) sei.
I (don't) know.
Pode me ajudar?
Can you help me?
Claro que sim
Of course
What? Pardon me?
Onde está / Onde estão... ?
Where is ... / Where are ... ?
Há / Havia...
There is / are... / There was / were...
Como se diz ____ em português?
How do you say ___ in Portuguese?
O que é isto?
What is that?
Qual é o problema?
What's the matter (with you)?
Não importa.
It doesn't matter.
O que aconteceu?
What's happening?
Não tenho idéia.
I have no idea.
Estou cansado / doente.
I'm tired / sick.
Estou com fome / sêde.
I'm hungry / thirsty.
Estou com calor / frio.
I'm hot / cold.
Estou chateado.
I'm bored.
Não me importa.
I don't care.
Não se preocupe.
Don't worry
Tudo bem / 'Tá bom.
That's alright.
Me esqueci.
I forgot.
Tenho que ir agora.
I must go now.
Bless you!
Boa sorte!
Good luck!
É a sua vez.
It's your turn. (informal)
Cale-se! / Cala a boca!
Shut up!
Eu te amo. 
I love you. (informal and singular)

Notice that Portuguese has informal and formal ways of saying things. This is because there is more than one meaning to "you" in Portuguese (as well as in many other languages.) The informal you is used when talking to close friends, relatives, animals or children. The formal you is used when talking to someone who is older than you or someone for whom you would like to show respect (a professor, for example.) There are also two ways to say you in the plural, used when speaking to more than one person.

All adjectives in Portuguese have masculine and feminine forms. In general, the masculine form ends in -o and the feminine form ends in -a.

2. Pronunciation

Portuguese Letter English Sound
a like a in after
e like e in empty or if it's at the end of a word, like ee in cheese
i always like ee
o like the sound of all but without the l sound
u always like oo in fool
lh like lli in million but shorter
h silent
nh like ny in canyon
r in beginning of word like h in hot. Between two letters like the Italian r in Maria
rr always like h in hot
d like in English
j like in English but without the d sound. Something like zh or a hard sh
g before e and i like j. Otherwise like g in go
gue, gui the g in go followed by e or i
qua, quo are always pronounced separately, like kwa, kwo
s between vowels, like z in zoo; otherwise like z. (In Portugal, like sh when at the end of a word.)
x sometimes like sh in shift or like z in zoo
ç like ss
z like z in English (In Portugal, like zh when at the end of a word.)
ã like oe in does
â like ã but shorter
á like a in Artic
ê like e but shorter
é like a in apple
í like i but longer
ô like o but shorter
ó like o in more
ú like u but longer
ch like sh in shift
õe like "oen"

3. Alphabet


a a k u u
b l éle v
c m ême w dábliu
d n êne x xis
e ê o o y ípsolon
f éfe p z
g q quê    
h agá r érre    
i i s ésse    
j jota t    

The letter ç (cê cedilha) is not considered a separate letter in the alphabet.

Spelling changes as of January 2009:

The letters K, W and Y are now officially part of the alphabet, though they had always been used anyway;
The deletion of diaeresis (trema: ¨) in words with gue, gui, que and qui, as: aguentar, arguir, cinquenta, tranquilo, etc;  
The deletion of differential accent in the words "pára/para", "péla/pela", "pêlo/pelo", "pólo/polo" and "pêra/pera" is gone also, but it stands unchanged in the verbs "pôr", "poder" and others that use the accent as way to differentiate from singular and plural (i.e.: tem/têm);
The deletion of acute accent in open diphthongs ói and éi from paroxytones (i.e.: alcaloide, apoia, boia, colmeia);
The deletion of acute accent on stressed i and u after diphthongs in paroxytone words (i.e.: feiura);
The deletion of circumflex accent on words with êem and ôo(s) endings (i.e.: leem, voo, enjoo);
The deletion of hyphen in compound words whose second element begins with S or R, which shall be doubled (i.e.: antirracismo, antissocial), and in cases where there are vowels in both the first element's ending and the second element's beginning (i.e.: antiaéreo, autoestrada).


4.  Definite / Indefinite Articles & Demonstratives

Masc. Singular Fem. Singular Masc. Plural Fem. Plural
the o a the os as
a, an um uma some uns umas
this este esta these estes estas
that esse essa those esses essas
that aquele aquela those aqueles aquelas

Two ways to say that/those:

  1. you use esse when you see something that is not with you but it's near
  2. you use aquele when you see something that is far from you or that is not near you at that moment.

5. Subject Pronouns

eu I nós we
tu you (not used in popular speech) vós plural of tu (also not used in popular speech)
ele he / she / you (informal) eles / elas / vocês they / they / you (plural informal)

As tu and vós are not used nowadays, I will not use them to explain the declensions of the verbs. We use the word você for the same meaning if you're talking to someone from your family or friends. If you're talking to someone you don't know, you must use "o senhor" or "a senhora" (Mr or Mrs.). The word tu is only used in the region of southern Brazil, where they normally don't use você.

In Portugal, o senhor and a senhora are very formal ways to say you. Você is considered semiformal and tu is considered informal.


6. To Be & to Have

ser - to be estar - to be
eu sou nós somos eu estou nós estamos
ele/ela/você é eles/elas/vocês são ele/ela/você está eles/elas/vocês estão


ter - to have
eu tenho nós temos
ele/ela/você tem eles/elas/vocês têm

In Portugal, the tu form of ser is és, the tu form of estar is estás, and the tu form of tener is tens. Ser is used to say when you are something, and Estar is used to say when you are in somewhere:

Eu sou o novo aluno.     I am the new student.
Eu estou no meu novo carro.     I am in my new car.

Common Expressions with "to be"
to be afraid - ter medo
to be against - estar contra
to be at fault - ter culpa
to be careful - ter cuidado
to be cold - estar com frio
to be curious - ser curioso/a
to be happy - estar contente
to be hot - estar com calor
to be hungry - estar com fome
to be in a hurry - ter pressa, estar com pressa
to be jealous - ter ciúmes
to be lucky - ter sorte
to be patient - ser paciente
to be successful - ter sucesso
to be thirsty - estar com sêde
to be tired - estar cansado/a

7. Question Words

what o que* which qual (quais)
who quem how much quanto (-a) (-s)
how como how many quanto (-a) (-s)
when quando whom a quem
where onde whose de quem
why por que*

The word que always receives the circumflex when it is placed at the end of a sentence.

Você está procurando o quê? You’re looking for what?
Ele acha isso por quê?
(Why) does he think so?

8. Numbers

0 zero
1 um first primeiro
2 dois second segundo
3 três third terceiro
4 quatro fourth quarto
5 cinco fifth quinto
6 seis sixth sexto
7 sete seventh sétimo
8 oito eighth oitavo
9 nove ninth nono
10 dez tenth décimo
11 onze eleventh décimo primeiro/undécimo
12 doze twelfth décimo segundo/duodécimo
13 treze thirteenth décimo terceiro
14 catorze/quatorze fourteenth décimo quarto
15 quinze fifteenth décimo quinto
16 dezesseis sixteenth décimo sexto
17 dezessete seventeenth décimo sétimo
18 dezoito eighteenth décimo oitavo
19 dezenove nineteenth décimo nono
20 vinte twentieth vigésimo
21 vinte e um twenty-first vigésimo primeiro
22 vinte e dois twenty-second vigésimo segundo
30 trinta thirtieth trigésimo
40 quarenta fortieth quadragésimo
50 cinqüenta / cincoenta fiftieth qüinquagésimo
60 sessenta sixtieth sexagésimo
70 setenta seventieth septuagésimo
80 oitenta eightieth octogésimo
90 noventa ninetieth nonagésimo
100 cem/cento hundredth centésimo
1000 mil thousandth milésimo

If you are just saying 100, you use just cem. If it's over 100, you use cento. So 101 is cento e um. And 156 would be cento e cinqüenta e seis. The words for 16, 17, 18 and 19 are pronounced like dzesseis, dzessete, dzoito and dzenove respectively. The only numbers that have a feminine form are 1 (um/uma) and 2 (dois/duas). All other numbers are masculine.

9. Days of the Week

Monday segunda-feira
Tuesday terça-feira
Wednesday quarta-feira
Thursday quinta-feira
Friday sexta-feira
Saturday sábado
Sunday domingo
tday o dia
week a semana
weekend o fim de semana
today hoje
tomorrow amanhã

The days from Monday to Friday have this name because they were called according to the fair (feira) that used to take place in that day a long time ago. A "Feira" is a set of tents pitched in the street where you can buy vegetables, fruits, and other foods.

10. Months of the Year

January janeiro 
February fevereiro 
March março
April abril
May maio
June junho
July julho
August agosto
September setembro
October outubro
November novembro
December dezembro
month o mês
the first of [a month] primeiro de [month]
year o ano

To say a specific day of a month, use cardinal and not ordinal numbers. Also noticed that the date is written with the day first, and then the month: 16/04/2005 - Dezesseis de abril de dois mil e cinco.

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11. Seasons

spring primavera autumn outono
summer verão winter inverno

To say in the summer, spring, etc. use na or no and the season.  No verão means in the summer.

12. Directions

north norte east leste
south sul west oeste
northeast nordeste northwest noroeste
southeast sudeste southwest sudoeste

13. Colors

red vermelho violet violeta
pink rosa brown marrom
orange laranja dark brown marrom escuro
yellow amarelo black preto
green verde gray cinza
blue azul white branco
light blue azul claro gold dourado
purple roxo [rosho] silver prateado

14. Time

Que horas são? What time is it?
É uma hora. It's one.
São duas, três, quatro... horas It's two/three/four...
É meio dia. It's noon.
É meio dia e meia* It's half past noon.
É meia noite. It's midnight.
São cinco e cinco. It's 5:05
São oito e quinze. It's 8:15
São quinze para as dez. It's 9:45
São dez para as nove. It's 8:50
São vinte e cinco para as seis It's 5:35
São três e meia. It's 3:30

You say meio dia e meia because it’s midday and a half hour (that is feminine). Don’t say meio dia e meio, though many people used to say this.

15. Weather

Como está o tempo hoje? How's the weather today?
Está bonito. The weather's beautiful (nice).
Está feio. The weather's ugly (bad).
Está frio. It's cold.
Está quente. It's hot.
Está ensolarado. It's sunny.
Está ventando. It's windy.
Está chovendo. It's raining.
Está nevando. It's snowing.
Está nublado. It's cloudy.

16. Prepositions

a at ao lado de beside
com with ao redor de around
contra against perto de near
de of, from longe de far from
em in, on em frente a in front of
entre between, among em baixo de below, under
cerca de towards, about em frente de opposite
para for, in order, by atrás de behind
por for, through, along, via em cima de above
sobre on, over até till, until
sem without desde from, since

The word after the preposition em and de sometimes needs to have the article, so you combine the two words.

em + o = no  -  em + a = na  -  em + um = num  -  em + uma = numa

de + o = do  -  de + a = da  -  de + um = dum  -  de + uma = duma

a + o = ao  -  a + a = à

Estou no escritório.     I'm in the office.

Ficamos numa fazenda.   We stayed at a farm.

17. Family & Animals

family família grandfather avô dog cachorro/cão
parents pais grandmother avó cat gato
husband marido/esposo grandson neto bird pássaro
wife esposa/mulher granddaughter neta fish peixe
father pai uncle tio horse cavalo
mother mãe aunt tia goat cabra
son filho nephew sobrinho pig porco
daughter filha niece sobrinha cow vaca
children filhos cousin (m) primo rabbit coelho
sister irmã cousin (f) prima turtle tartaruga
brother irmão relatives parentes mouse rato

18. To Know People & Facts

conhecer - to know people, places saber - to know facts
eu conheço nós conhecemos eu sei nós sabemos
ele/ela/você conhece eles/elas/vocês conhecem ele/ela/você sabe eles/elas/vocês sabem

Conhecer means to be acquainted/familiar with someone or something, and it cannot be used with abstract things or ideas. Saber is to know facts, even if those facts involve people or things.

Eu sei quem é esta pessoa. I know who is this person.
Eu sei qual é esta cidade. I know which city is this one.
Eu conheço esta pessoa. I know this person.
Eu conheço esta cidade. I know this city.

19. Formation of Plural Nouns

1. Words that end in -l : drop the l and put -is if the word does not have an i before the l. If it has an e you change it to é to make the same sound.

pastel (pastry) - pastéis

2. Words that end in -ão : it has no rule. Sometimes you change it to -ões or -ães, or just add -s, depending on the word. It's better to memorize the plural when you learn the word.

coração (heart) - corações

mão (hand) - mãos

cão (dog) - cães

3. Words that end in -s or -z : have no plural form, so the singular and plural are the same.

ônibus (bus)

óculos (glasses)

arroz (rice)

4. All other words : just add an -s.

pêra (pear) - pêras

maçã (apple) - maçãs

guaraná (soda) - guaranás

20. Possessive Adjectives

Singular Plural
Masc Fem Masc Fem
my meu minha meus minhas
your teu tua teus tuas
your/his/her/its seu sua seus suas
our nosso nossa nossos nossas
your seu sua seus suas
your/their dele dela deles delas

The possessive adjectives agree in gender and number with the noun that they describe.

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