How to speak Portuguese
Olá! Tudo bem? Ready to start learning how to speak Portuguese?!
Portuguese is one of the five most widely spoken Romance languages that originate from Vulgar Latin, a colloquial version of Latin. Spanish, French, Italian and Romanian also share the same origin. Over 210 million natives speak Portuguese, with the majority of these living in Brazil and Portugal. However, around 25 million of those speakers are in Mozambique and Angola. The bottom line is, by learning how to speak Portuguese, you are learning how to interact and chat with a lot of people on earth!
Portuguese alphabet, pronunciation and grammar
Say your final words and get ready to wish the letters K, W and Y a fond farewell. Because, among the 23 letters in the Portuguese alphabet, those are not included! There are also 11 accented letters and punctuation is not that different from English.
Conjugations of verbs are very similar to English. However, the sentence structure is more flexible with Portuguese - the order in which the parts of a sentence are organized can differ. Interrogatives (“question words” like “what” and “why”) are usually expressed by way of tone changes and are not necessarily in the form of a question.
Most nouns in Portuguese are gender-specific; either masculine or feminine. However, some nouns can be used for either gender - like “estudante” *(“student”) - and the gender is then shown by using the masculine or feminine article. Curiously, there are also nouns which change meaning just by switching the gender. For example, from *“a cabeça” (“head” when feminine) to “o cabeça” (“leader” when masculine). Of course, all this gender-specific stuff can be tricky for those with English as their mother tongue, as it doesn’t exist in English!
Portuguese has fewer sounds than English, with about 9 vowels, 19 consonants and 6 diphthongs. In fact, the sound system of Brazilian Portuguese is based on the syllable and European Portuguese is based on the stress. It’s one of several differences between the Brazilian and European versions.
For English speakers, learning Portuguese vocabulary is made a little easier by the fact that a number of English and Portuguese words look, sound and even spelt the same. Excelente!
Other aspects of the language at beginner level are also quite easy to grasp and follow. Like any language, if you’re learning Portuguese, you should try to listen to and practise the spoken language as much as possible.
How to learn Portuguese?
There is definitely not a lack of options available which will get you on your way to chatting away. Online courses, apps, language school classes, books, private tutors - so many options are out there for you.
And there is always one of the best ways to help pick up any new language: travel! Jump on a plane to a Portuguese speaking land and dive headfirst into the language. It will leave you with almost no choice but to speak the language! Even if you only learn a few phrases and don’t pronounce them perfectly the first time, it’s a great starting point. Plus, the locals will really appreciate your efforts and be proud that you want to learn their language - wouldn’t you?
Don’t forget all the other online resources available at your fingertips. These include podcasts, blogs, audiobooks, Portuguese films/series (with or without subtitles) and social media accounts. Even YouTube videos to guess some Brazilian gestures or articles to brush up on some essential phrases before travelling to Brazil.
How to speak Portuguese with Babbel
When you learn how to speak Portuguese with Babbel, you learn practical, real-life conversation. That’s useful and relevant stuff from ordering at a restaurant to asking for directions. In short: it will quickly get you talking with confidence.
And what to learn? Up to you! From festivals to sports, you choose the topics that matter to you, the things that you find interesting. Whatever your choice, all lesson content is crafted and tailored for English speakers by our in-house team of expert linguists. They are our secret weapon of language heroes!
Time is a precious. Luckily, lessons are only 15 minutes long on average. That’s short enough for your lunch breaks or daily commute. Even one lesson a day makes a difference!
Give Babbel a go and start your Portuguese aventura today. Your first lesson is free!