Brazilian vs Portugal Portuguese – StoryLearning (2023)

Brazilian vs Portugal Portuguese – StoryLearning (1)

Brazilian Portuguese vs Portugal Portuguese – are they really that different? As an English speaker, you already have a little insight into the possible differences because you might have experienced one of these situations:

For instance, if you're an American who has been to England you may have been baffled when someone asked if you were “in the queue to use the lift”.

Or if you're a British native speaker who has visited the U.S., you probably had no idea what people were talking about when they discussed putting on “sneakers and sweatpants to go for a jog”.

When languages travel, just like people, they change.

Brazilian Portuguese has been enriched by the languages of the native populations already living in Brazil when the Portuguese arrived. You’ll see many names of rivers, plants, fruits and trees that still carry the indigenous names.

Brazilian Portuguese was also influenced by the languages of the Africans who were brought to Brazil during the slave trade. And the Northeast of Brazil, where the slave colonies were concentrated, still has a lot of words influenced by this phase of history.

Add to that the Polish, Italian and German settlers of the South and you have yourself a very interesting mix of sounds.

European Portuguese, on the other hand, has influences of its Spanish and Galician neighbours as well as the Arabic language. In fact, the name of the Southern coastal region, Algarve, comes from Arabic.

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Now that you understand how each language was influenced by neighbouring languages, original peoples and new arrivals, let’s start with accents!

By the way, if you want to learn Portuguese fast and have fun while doing it, my top recommendation isPortuguese Uncoveredwhich teaches you through StoryLearning®.

Keep scrolling to read this article or check out the video below.

Brazilian Portuguese vs Portugal Portuguese: Accents

Brazilian vs Portugal Portuguese – StoryLearning (2)

Brazil is a vast country, and each region has its accents, from Rio de Janeiro residents’ (known as cariocas) famous “shh” sound in place of “s” verses the harsh Germanic-sounding accent spoken by residents of the southern state Rio Grande do Sul (known as gaúchos).

Portugal, on the other hand, is a small country but its history of tiny, divided towns and cities gave each area a totally unique regional accent. The accents of the residents of the Azores islands is very different from someone from the northern city of Porto, which, in turn, is different from the residents of Lisbon.

A lot of people find the sound of Brazilian Portuguese to be more musical than European Portuguese. Brazilian Portuguese has a lot of open vowels and it’s actually a language that deaf people find very easy to lip read because of that.

By comparison, the European Portuguese speak in a way where they maintain their mouths more closed and it can actually be hard for you as a new learner to catch the words as they tend to swallow them rather than pronounce them clearly.

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Also, people speak much more slowly in Brazil than in Portugal. The Northeast of Brazil and the state of Bahia are famous for their slow drawl. The European Portuguese speak very quickly by comparison and it can be hard to catch what they’re saying as the words can almost sound like they’re running together.

The clearer pronunciation and slower speech patterns of Brazilian Portuguese are huge benefits when you’re trying to learn the language. On the other hand, tackling the challenges of the closed vowels and fast talkers of the European Portuguese means that learning Brazilian Portuguese afterwards will be a piece of cake!

Formal vs Informal Pronouns

Brazilian vs Portugal Portuguese – StoryLearning (3)

European Portuguese are much more formal than Brazilian Portuguese speakers. That means that if you fail to use the right pronoun when talking to someone, you run the risk of offending them.

While most Romance languages (Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and French) have very strict rules about using the formal and informal pronouns when talking to people, Brazilian Portuguese speakers break with tradition.

They use a blanket você (you) to address everyone. Now, in Southern Brazil, in the state of Santa Catarina which was founded by immigrants from the Azores, you’ll find people who use tu instead of você.

Also, the older generation across the southern Brazilian states can still use a more formal greeting and expect someone younger or of lower social status to address them as Senhor/a (Sir or Ma’am). But the general rule of thumb is that you can just use você for everyone.

In European Portuguese, they use tu as the informal pronoun (for friends, colleagues and family members) and você as the formal pronoun (for teachers, supervisors, authority figures).

As with the older generation in Brazil, some older European Portuguese may prefer that you address them with the Senhor/a title rather than você.

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These rules are pretty strict in Portugal, and people really might feel offended when you use the wrong pronoun to address them (especially when you use the informal when you should use the formal) so make sure you remember when to use one and when to use the other!

Greetings In Portugal vs Brazil

Brazilian vs Portugal Portuguese – StoryLearning (4)

Also, when you greet someone in Portugal, you say Bom dia/boa tarde/boa noite. Como esta? (Good morning/afternoon/evening, how are you?)

When you greet someone in Brazilian Portuguese, you can say that long sentence or you can shorten it to a very simple Oi or Olá (hi or hello). The Brazilian oi is a very popular form of greeting and in fact, there is a telecommunications company in Brazil called Oi.

While it is informal and you wouldn’t use it with your boss, for example, it can be used among friends and family members. This shortened greeting doesn’t exist at all in European Portuguese.

Interestingly, the European Portuguese speakers don’t even use the slightly longer phrase Olá, even though it comes from their Spanish neighbours’ Hola, but the Brazilian Portuguese speakers do.

Brazilian Portuguese vs Portugal Portuguese: Verbs

Brazilian vs Portugal Portuguese – StoryLearning (5)


ESL students are often amazed at how nearly any word in English can be made into a verb. It was the Americans who turned the phrase “look it up on Google” into the verb “to Google.”

Brazilian Portuguese seems to have taken a cue from the Americans in this sense. You’ll often find Brazilians turning phrases into a single verb form:

English European Portuguese Brazilian Portuguese
Organise/order/decideDar as ordensOrdenar

Which Comes First, The Pronoun Or The Verb?

Whether you put the pronoun first or the verb first depends on which side of the Atlantic you’re on. In the phrase “I love you” for example, Brazilians put the pronoun before the verb Eu te amo. But, European Portuguese speakers would put the pronoun after the verb amo te.

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It’s way more common for Brazilians to use the gerund than it is for Portuguese from Portugal to use it. In that sense, Brazilian Portuguese is more similar to English.

English European PortugueseBrazilian Portuguese
I'm walkingEstou a caminharEstou caminhando
I'm making lunchEstou a fazer almoçoEstou fazendo almoço
I'm workingEstou a trabalharEstou trabalhando

Spelling And Vocabulary Differences Between European And Brazilian Portuguese

There are lots of words that are spelled differently in European and Brazilian Portuguese:

English European Portuguese Brazilian Portuguese

And then there are words that have no relation whatsoever between the two languages, even though they mean the same thing:

English European PortugueseBrazilian Portuguese
Cell phoneTelemóvelCelular
Santa ClausPai NatalPapai Noel

Planes, Trains And Buses

When traveling by plane, train, bus or car, you’ll notice some big differences in Brazilian vs. European Portuguese.

English European PortugueseBrazilian Portuguese
Flight attendantComissário ao bordoAeromoça
Bus stopParagem de autocarroParada de ônibus

When driving on the road in Brazil, you’ll see signs for a return exit marked retornar, but in Portugal, they give it a more literal spin by calling it inversão de marcha (reversing gears).

Brazilian Portuguese vs Portugal Portuguese

Brazilian vs Portugal Portuguese – StoryLearning (6)

Portuguese is a rich language and learning it means you’ll be able to communicate in ten different countries, not just Brazil and Portugal.

But if you’re not sure which Portuguese to learn, then you might want to consider your goals.

  • For example, are you more interested in traveling to Brazil or to Portugal?
  • Are you looking for job opportunities in Europe or South America?
  • Do you have friends you’d like to visit in either country?

If you know the answers to those questions, it might help you decide which form of Portuguese to focus on. It's a bit like the process of choosing between Spanish or Portuguese.

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Be aware that even though the language has these differences, they’re easy to adapt to in a short period of time once you get the basic grammar down. It’s just a matter of fine tuning.

You’ll be able to make adjustments in pronunciation, spelling and other differences with just a little practice. And in Brazil in particular, any attempts you make to speak Portuguese will be met with a warm smile of appreciation. The important thing is that you’re making the effort to communicate. So, smile back and keep trying☺


How different is Portuguese in Brazil vs Portugal? ›

The first difference between the two “Portugueses” is the pronunciation. People say that Brazilians speak vowels wide and long, and European Portuguese speakers don't pronounce the vowels that much, because they speak with a more closed mouth. Also, some consonants are pronounced differently.

Can Portugal Portuguese understand Brazilian Portuguese? ›

Brazilian and European Portuguese are considered mutually intelligible. This means that when speaking or writing about general topics, Brazilian and Portuguese people can normally understand each other.

Is Brazilian Portuguese harder than Portuguese? ›

Brazilian Portuguese is considered by many to be the easier strand to learn, with its open vowels and strong cadence (it's also considered to be easier on the ears, for this reason).

How similar is Brazilian Portuguese to Portugal? ›

Well, though the Portuguese and the Brazilians speak the same tongue, many would say this is not something they have in common! The pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary, and grammar are all different between these two varieties.

Is duolingo Portuguese Brazilian or European? ›

There are two main varieties of Portuguese: European/Continental and Brazilian. Duolingo teaches Brazilian Portuguese, but European Portuguese speakers will also be able to understand you. The Portuguese for English course contains 69 skills, and 420 total lessons.

Is Brazilian Portuguese closer to old Portuguese? ›

No it is not. That is a myth that is around for a very long time. If you want to hear old Portuguese, just hear Galician, which is much more similar to Portuguese than to Brazilian.

Which language is closest to Brazilian Portuguese? ›

Portuguese and Spanish are closely related, as they are both Latin-based languages and share many grammatical structures and patterns. When I came to Brazil, I had already studied languages at university and spoke Spanish, and I found my knowledge of Spanish helped enormously.

Which Portuguese is the original? ›

Portuguese is a Romance language that came from Galician-Portuguese, which was used in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia. It is one of the major languages of the world and an official language of the European Union, the Organization of American States, the African Union, and Lusophone countries.

Can Europeans understand Brazilian Portuguese? ›

European and Brazilian Portuguese are mutually intelligible, and those who speak one language can understand the other. While there are many similarities, there are also striking differences in grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and pronunciation.

Can a Spanish speaker understand Brazilian Portuguese? ›

A Spanish speaker and a Portuguese speaker that have never been exposed to each other's languages will understand around 45% of what the other says. In real life, of course, this is not that common.

Is it worth learning Brazilian Portuguese? ›

Despite the challenges, it's still worth the challenge to learn to speak Portuguese fluently. Students can learn Portuguese to connect with people in the United States from Brazil, Portugal, and Africa. They can also take their Portuguese skills abroad when traveling to gorgeous Portuguese-speaking locations.

What is the hardest part of learning Portuguese? ›

Prickly pronunciation

When it comes to pronunciation, Portuguese is a lot harder than its sister language, Spanish. Unlike Spanish, where there is a very clear link between how words are written and how they're pronounced, Portuguese shares the difficulties of French or Catalan.

What is the most similar country to Brazil? ›

Colombia is the most similar country to Brazil, despite speaking Spanish instead of Portuguese. Both countries share similar demographics and level of development. In addition, both have significant portions of their territory covered by rainforest.

Is Portuguese closer to Spanish or Italian? ›

Where lexical similarity of Italian and Spanish is around 80%, Spanish and Portuguese is around 90%. In other words, these Latin languages are cousins. If you are passively listening to the three languages being spoken, they are similar enough to realize that they belong to the same language group.

Is Brazilian Portuguese more popular than Portuguese? ›

Foreigners usually go for Brazilian Portuguese because is easier to learn and the accent is easier to master, also this version of Portuguese sounds happier and funnier than the European Portuguese, and is spoken by over 200 million people while European variation has 11 million speakers .

Is Babbel Portuguese Brazilian or Portugal? ›

But after starting to learn Portuguese with Babbel many people find themselves asking a question they didn't know was important: does Babbel teach Brazilian or European Portuguese? The answer is: Babbel teaches Brazilian Portuguese, much like another popular app, Duolingo.

Should I learn Brazilian or European Portuguese? ›

There are many pros to learning both variations of Portuguese as the language continues to grow in both the business and pop culture worlds. However, we recommend you start with Brazilian Portuguese first since many language-learners say its easier to learn than European Portuguese.

Can Italians understand Portuguese? ›

If they've studied it, yes. Otherwise, Brazilian might be easier than European Portuguese, but many words aren't shared, and the grammar is different. So yes, to some extent, if spoken sufficiently slowly.

What race is Portuguese Brazilian? ›

Like all native Europeans, the Portuguese are part of what has been called the Caucasian (or white) race. The Portuguese language is a Romance language.

When did Brazil stop being Portuguese? ›

Colonial Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil Colonial) comprises the period from 1500, with the arrival of the Portuguese, until 1815, when Brazil was elevated to a kingdom in union with Portugal as the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves.
Colonial Brazil.
Colonial Brazil Brasil Colonial
Today part ofBrazil Uruguay
29 more rows

Do Spanish people understand Portuguese? ›

While there are some differences between the two languages, most native Spanish and Portuguese speakers can understand each other if each party speaks clearly.

Is Brazilian Portuguese harder than Spanish? ›

For most native English speakers, Spanish is slightly easier to learn than Portuguese. This is primarily a matter of access. Since Spanish is spoken by over 400 million people worldwide (compared to just over 200 million for Portuguese), it's easier to find Spanish resources and media for learning or practising.

Is Brazil more Portuguese or Spanish? ›

Though Spanish is the primary language in most South American countries, Portuguese is actually what's spoken most in South America, and that's all thanks to Brazil.

Can a Portuguese person be black? ›

Afro-Portuguese, African-Portuguese, or Black Portuguese are Portuguese citizens or residents of Portugal with total or partial ancestry from any of the Sub-Saharan ethnic groups of Africa. Most of those perceived as Afro-Portuguese trace their ancestry to former Portuguese overseas colonies in Africa.

Are Portuguese Vikings? ›

European Portuguese are mostly a mix of Ancient Celtic and Mediterranean civilizations. News flash, every European ethnicity is a mix. English are a mix of ancient Celtic, Germanic, Viking, and Roman/Mediterranean. Each of those names are modern name branches of Caucasian peoples, like Neolithic and Mesolithic.

Who came first British or Portuguese? ›

In this section, you can read about the Portuguese rule in India that lasted for over 450 years. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in India and the last to leave. In c. 1498 CE, Vasco da Gama of Portugal discovered a new sea route from Europe to India.

Why is Brazilian Portuguese so different? ›

Brazilian Portuguese is thought to be more phonetically pleasing to the ear thanks to its open vowels, while European Portuguese can sound somewhat garbled. Brazilian accents have a strong cadence and lift to them, making it easier to learn and understand.

Why is Brazil Portuguese and not Spanish? ›

The reason Brazilians speak Portuguese is because Brazil was colonized by Portugal, but the history is a bit more complex. In the 15th century, Spain and Portugal were the “big guns.” Columbus had discovered America for Spain, while Portugal was advancing along the African coast.

Is African Portuguese closer to European or Brazilian? ›

Certainly African and European Portuguese are very much closer to each other than Brazilian Portuguese. Some people find it a little easier to learn African Portuguese as, in general, it is spoken a little more slowly and with a clearer pronunciation.

Can Argentinians understand Portuguese? ›

Most of it yes, but with a caveat: if the person speaking Spanish speaks slowly and makes an effort to make themselves understood. Spanish is very similar to Portuguese, and that's why we can understand most of what Spanish people are saying, provided we can make up the words they're saying.

What language is English closest to? ›

The closest language to English is one called Frisian, which is a Germanic language spoken by a small population of about 480,000 people. There are three separate dialects of the language, and it's only spoken at the southern fringes of the North Sea in the Netherlands and Germany.

Can French understand Portuguese? ›

French and Portuguese have some similar words it is not close enough to understand each other language without learning it.

How fast can you learn Brazilian Portuguese? ›

So, to sum up, how long does it take to learn Portuguese? It depends. If you are a very dedicated student, you may start communicating in 3 months and maybe achieve fluency in about 2 years. But the most important thing is not to worry about it, as the learning journey should be fun and enjoyable.

Why is learning Portuguese so hard? ›

There are really a lot of verb tenses to learn and a lot of conjugations to remember, this is the main reason that students consider difficult in the Portuguese language.

Is Duolingo good for learning Brazilian Portuguese? ›

The world's most popular way to learn Portuguese online

Whether you're a beginner starting with the basics or looking to practice your reading, writing, and speaking, Duolingo is scientifically proven to work.

Can I learn Portuguese in 3 months? ›

According to Tim Ferriss, it's possible to learn a language in 3 months and about mid way through the course, I realised that although I wouldn't be completely fluent in Portuguese, without significant reading practice, I would still achieve a slightly higher level of fluency than A1.

How long does it take to learn Portuguese fluently? ›

The category 1 rating means that it is possible for the average learner to pick up Portuguese to the point of becoming fluent over the course of 575-600 hours of lessons/study spread across a period of six months.

How do you say bread in Portuguese? ›

pão (bread) is pronounced like: powhn with a nasal sound on the vowel and a very subtle “n” sound to close the word. (Note: if you pronounce this word without the accent, it will come out with the sound of “pow” which is the Portuguese word “pau” which means wood or stick).

Is European Portuguese harder than Brazilian? ›

The Accents

Brazilian accents have a lilting and strong cadence to foreign ears, making Brazilian Portuguese initially easier to learn and understand. Because of these differences in pronunciation, it might take a little more time to get used to the accent on the other side of the Atlantic.

Is learning Brazilian Portuguese easy? ›

Learning Portuguese vocabulary isn't as hard as you might think. It takes time and practice, but you'll find there are a lot of Portuguese words and phrases that are connected with expressions you already know.

Why do people prefer Brazilian Portuguese? ›

Brazilian Portuguese is thought to be more phonetically pleasing to the ear thanks to its open vowels, while European Portuguese can sound somewhat garbled. Brazilian accents have a strong cadence and lift to them, making it easier to learn and understand.

What race is Portuguese? ›

The Portuguese are a Southwestern European population, with origins predominantly from Southern and Western Europe. The earliest modern humans inhabiting Portugal are believed to have been Paleolithic peoples that may have arrived in the Iberian Peninsula as early as 35,000 to 40,000 years ago.

Which is harder Portuguese or Italian? ›

They're both quite easy considering the language you speak as a native speaker. For this reason I'd say it all depends on your preferences. If you like the way Italian sounds, as well as Italan culture (people, food, landmarks etc), you should study Italian.

Who is more friendly Spanish or Portuguese? ›

Portuguese people are - by far - more polite than Spanish people. You can see it by simply going to a supermarket: in Portugal, the cashier will look at your eyes, smile and salute you; in Spain, sometimes they just point to the screen so that you know the price and don't even say a word.

What is easier Portuguese or French? ›

French. Because Portuguese is a combination of french and spanish, therefore it would be easier to learn it after learning french but if you don't know a word of french it would be harder to learn. So french is easier.

What country has the most Portuguese? ›

Brazil has the largest population of Portuguese speakers in the world: 211.2 million. No other country in the Americas even comes close to that number, but there are a few places with significant Portuguese-speaking contingents. The United States is home to 693,000 Portuguese speakers and Canada has 222,000.

Do most Brazilians have Portuguese ancestry? ›

Most Brazilians have some degree of Portuguese ancestry: some descend from colonial settlers, while others have recent immigrant Portuguese origin, dating back to anywhere between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries.

What percent of Portugal is Brazilian? ›

Brazilians represent approximately 25% of the foreign population in Portugal.


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