Basic Portuguese

basicportuguesePortuguese is one of several Romance languages, meaning it is descended from the ancient language of Vulgar Latin. Roughly two hundred and twenty million people around the globe speak Portuguese as their native language, making it the seventh most widely spoken language in the world. Portuguese is an official language of nine countries: Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Priíncipe. Speakers in each of these countries apply a certain dialect to Portuguese, but the two standard variations of the language are Modern Standard Euopean Portuguese, which is based on the way the language is spoken in Portugal, particularly in Lisbon and the surrounding areas, and Standard Brazilian Portuguese, which is based on the way it is spoken in Brazil, particularly in Rio de Janeiro.

Learning Portuguese will enable you to communicate with people all over the world, and to travel with confidence to a multitude of countries. This guide will introduce you to basic Portuguese, including helpful phrases and words to aid you in your study of this popular language.

Common Sounds in Portuguese

In every language, there are distinct diphthongs, or pairs of vowels that make up a single syllable when appearing side by side in a word. The sounds made by diphthongs differ from language to language. These are some common Portuguese diphthongs that will clarify the pronunciations of certain words:

The letters ‘au’ are to be pronounced like ow.

The letters ‘ia’ are to be pronounced like yuh.

The letters ‘ei’ are to be pronounced like ay.

The letters ‘oe’ are to be pronounced like weh.

The letters ‘ua’ are to be pronounced like wah.

The letters ‘oi’ are to be pronounced like wee.

Introductions and Greetings

These beginning words and phrases are used to introduce yourself, talk about yourself, and ask for similar information about others. Perfecting these words and sayings will provide a solid foundation for your study of the Portuguese language. The phrases are separated by English, Portuguese translation, and Portuguese pronunciation, for the first several phrases. The capitalized syllable represents the part of the word that should be stressed when it is pronounced.

Hello – Olá – oh-LAH

Yes – Sim – seen

No – Não – now

Goodbye – Adeus – ah-DEH-oosh

Excuse me – Com licença – kohn lih-SEHN-sah

Please – Por favor – poor fah-VOHR

Thank you (male speaking) – Obrigado – oh-bree-GAH-doo

Thank you (female speaking) – Obrigado – oh-bree-GAH-dah

How are you? – Come està? – KOH-moh ish-TAH

What is your name? – Como se chama? – KOH-moo seh SHAH-mah

My name is – Chamo-me – SHAH=moo-meh

Fine / good – Bem – behn

You’re welcome – De nada – deh NAH-dah

Do you speak English? – Fala inglês? – FAH-lah een-GLEHSH

Good morning / Good day – Bom dia – bohn DEE-ah

Good afternoon – Boa tarde – BOH-ah TAHR-deh

Good evening / Good night – Boa noite – BOH-ah NOY-teh

Getting Around and Asking for Assistance

These phrases are useful for when you need to travel or find your way in a Portuguese-speaking country. These are important phrases to commit to memory, as they are most necessary and most helpful in the event of some kind of emergency or urgent situation.

Help – Socorro – soo-KOH-roo

Help me – Ajude-me – ah-ZHOO-deh-meh

Is there someone here who speaks English? – Alguem aqui fala inglês? – AHL-guehn ah-KEE FAH-lah een-GLEHSH

I cannot speak Portuguese well – Não falo bem português – now FAH-loo behn poor-too-GEHSH

I don’t understand – Não compreendo – now kohn-pree-EHN-doo

Police – Polícia – poo-LEE-syah

I need your help – Preciso da sua ajuda – preh-SEE-zoo dah swah ah-ZHOO-dah

It’s an emergency – ´E uma emergência – eh OO-mah ee-mehr-ZHEHN-syah

I am lost (male speaking) – Estou perdido – ish-TOH pehr-DEE-doo

I am lost (female speaking) – Estou perdida – ish-TOH pehr-DEE-dah

I am sick – Eu estou doente – EH-oo ish-TOH doo-EHN-teh

I need a doctor – Preciso de um médico – preh-SEE-zoo deh oon meh-DEE-koo

May I use your phone? – Posso usar o seu telefone? POHS-soo OO-sahr o SEH-o teh-leh-FOH-neh

How do I get to – Como chego ao – KOH-meh CHEH-goh AH-oh


A basic skill in any language is the ability to count in that language, at the very least from one to ten. Here are those numbers in Portuguese:

Zero – zero – ZEH-roo

One – um – oon

One (feminine) – uma – ooma

Two – dois – doysh

Three – três – trehyesh

Four – quarto – KWAH-troo

Five – cinco – SEEN-koo

Six – seis – saysh

Seven – sete – SEH-chee

Eight – oito – OY-too

Nine – nove – NOH-vee

Ten – dez – daysh


Below are the words in Portuguese for basic colors, including the colors of the rainbow.

Black – preto

White – branco

Brown – castanho

Red – vermelho

Orange – laranja

Yellow – amarelo

Green – verde

Blue – azul

Pink – rosa

Purple – roxo

Gray – cinzento

Months, Days, and Time

Another useful language skill is the ability to discuss the day, time of day, and month. These are the Portuguese words for the days of the week, months of the year, and other common time-related words.

January – janeiro

February – fevereiro

March – março

April – abril

May – maio

June – junho

July – julho

August – agosto

September – setembro

October – outubro

November – novembro

December – dezembro

Sunday – domingo

Monday – segunda-feira

Tuesday – terça-feira

Wednesday – quarta-feira

Thursday – quinta-feira

Friday – sexta-feira

Saturday – sábado

Now- agora

Later- depois

Before – antes

Morning – manhã

Afternoon – tarde

Evening – noite

Noon – meio-dia

Midnight – meia-noite

(Number) o’clock AM – (number) da manhã

(Number) o’clock PM – (number) da tarde

Minute – minuto

Hour – hora

Day – dia

Week – semana

Month- mês

Year – ano

Today – hoje

Yesterday – ontem

Tomorrow – amanhã


Particularly when traveling, knowing how to speak about food in a foreign language is a valuable asset. It’s always wise to know what you are eating, what you would like to eat, and how to ask for it. These are some common food terms and their corresponding Portuguese translations:

Beef – de boi

Pork – de porco

Fish – piexe

Kitchen – cozinha

Menu – ementa

Table – mesa

Breakfast – desjejum

Lunch – almoço

Dinner – janta

Supper – ceia

I would like / I want – Desejo

Tea – chá

Coffee – café

Milk – leite

Juice – suco

Sugar – açúcar

Water – água

Wine – vinho

Ham – presunto

Cheese – queijo

Eggs – ovos

Salad – salada

Tomato – tomate

Potato – batata

Onion – cebola

Vegetables – vegetais

Fruit – fruta

Fresh – fresco / fresca

Orange – laranja

Lemon – limão

Apple – maçá

Banana – banana

Strawberry – morango

Coconut – coco

Bread – pão

Chocolate – chocolate

Rice – arroz

Beans – feijão

Beer – cerveja

Salt – sal

Pepper – pimenta preta

Butter – manteiga

Whiskey – wiski

Rum – rum

Vodka – vodka

Ice cubes – gelo em blocos

Cheers – saúde

Locations, Directions, and Transportation

Finding your way and directing others is an important part of traveling in a country where a foreign language is spoken. These terms will help you to do so, as well as to name specific locations you may need to talk about.

A car – um carro

A motorcycle – uma motocicleta

A bicycle – uma bicicleta

Taxi – taxi

Gas – gasolina

Speed limit – limite de velocidade

North – norte

South – sul

East – este

West – oeste

Uphill – subida

Downhill – descida

Left – esquerda

Right – direita

Street – rua

Train station – estação de comboio

Bus station – rodoviára

Airport – aeroporto

Hotel – hotel

Restaurant – restaurante

Bar – bar

Map – mapa

Downtown – centro

One ticket to – Um bilhete para

How much is a ticket to? – Quanto custa o bilhete para?

Take me there, please – Leve-me para là, por favor

Do you have any rooms available? – Hà quartos disponíveis

I want to check out – Quero fazer o check-out

Do you accept American dollars? – Aceita dólares americanos?

What is the exchange rate? – Qual é taxa de câmbio?

Perfecting and Using Your Portuguese

These words and phrases should put you well on your way to a more complete study, and eventual mastery, of the Portuguese language. Whether you are pursuing Portuguese academically, professionally, or preparing for a vacation to any of the nine Portuguese-speaking nations of the world, learning and perfecting this basic Portuguese will help you move closer to your language learning goals.