When learning Portuguese, one of the first things you might consider is what dialect to learn. While Portugal is the home country of the language, the largest population of Portuguese speakers is actually within Brazil, at 213 million, compared to Portugal’s 10 million. However, the difference between the two is quite dramatic considering it is the same language. It is important to understand how they differ when you encounter a speaker of the other dialect. So, here is a short breakdown of what makes them so different.
The largest difference between Portuguese from Brazil and Portugal is in pronunciation. This difference is so significant that native Portuguese speakers from Brazil can have a difficult time understanding the accent upon first listening.
To start with, European Portuguese(EP) is stressed-timed, whereas Brazilian Portuguese(BP) is syllable-timed. Stressed-timed essentially means that the length of time between stressed syllables remains fairly consistent, leading to lots of reduction, similar to Caribbean Spanish. Syllable-timed means that each syllable lasts for roughly the same time, more or less, which generally results in Brazilian Portuguese sounding more full and clear.
|L at the end of a word or syllable
|sounds like a traditional l
|sounds more like a w
|Di/de throughout a word
|sounds like d in day
|becomes more of a j sound
|Ti/te throughout a word
|sounds like t in tiger
|sounds like the ch sound
|S before voiceless consonants or a pause
|sounds like the sh in Spanish
|sounds like s in sail
Regarding grammar, there are two major differences: the use of the gerund form to express the progressive tense, as well as the usage of “tu” & “você.”
Tu & Você:
In Portugal, “tu” is largely used for those who are familiar to you, whereas “você” is used for those who are unfamiliar or are in a position of respect/power. In Brazil, “você” is used for both the familiar and unfamiliar, with the same conjugation for both.
In Brazil, the progressive is expressed very similarly to Latin American Spanish, where you use the verb “estar” (to be), plus the gerund ending. For example: “eu + estar + comer = Eu estou comendo = I am eating.” In Portugal, it is a bit different. To make the same tense, you use the verb “estar” and then add “a” + the infinitive of the verb. For example: “eu + estar + comer = Eu estou a comer = I am eating.”
In terms of vocabulary, the difference is akin to the distinction between English from England and the United States. Here is a list of some main differences:
|casa de banho
However, just like English diverges in vocabulary, Portuguese also diverges in slang. Here are some common slang words from each country:
- Legal → cool, comes from the word “legalidade” (legality)
- Valeu → thanks, informal, can also mean “OK” or “right”
- Bacana → awesome
- E aí → what’s up
- Isso → right, that’s it, yes, yeah
- Fixe → cool, nice, or good, literally means fix or fixed
- Táss cuul → “It’s all good” or “We’re cool,” literally means “we were cool”
- Giro/gira → literally means to turn but means something like cute, “Ele é giro” means he’s cute
- Pá → used at the end of sentences to emphasize what’s being said, “Eu não sei, pá!” means I don’t know man!
- Bué → a lot
Navigating the nuances between Portuguese from Portugal and Brazil can be both fascinating and challenging. Understanding these differences not only enriches your language learning journey but also opens doors to deeper cultural understanding and communication.
Whether you’re just starting or seeking to refine your skills, it’s helpful to have guidance from experienced instructors. At LanguageBird, we pride ourselves on our talented team of native-level instructors who are passionate about helping students reach their language goals. With personalized lessons tailored to your learning style and objectives, our instructors are eager to support you every step of the way!
So, if you’re unsure where to begin or need assistance navigating the complexities of Portuguese dialects, look no further. Join us at LanguageBird, where language learning becomes an immersive and rewarding experience with the guidance of our dedicated instructors. Let’s embark on this language journey together and unlock a world of possibilities!