Why you should learn to speak Portuguese? Well, I will tell you by first giving some general information about Portugal and its language. Portugal knows some great figures that were born here. If you are a football fan you probably know that (for some) the best football player in the world is Portuguese. If I shout “Sii!!!” you probably already know who I am talking about ;). However, it is not only in football that Portugal stands out. If we go to the world of fashion, one of the Angels of Victoria’s Secret – Sara Sampaio – is Portuguese. And we also know some Portuguese people in the political field, such as António Guterres who is the Secretary General of the United Nations.

These Portuguese, as you will understand, do speak the Portuguese language. But did you know that Portuguese is not only spoken by Portuguese people? Although English is the most used language in an international context, Portuguese is also a very important language. Portuguese is in the top 10 most spoken languages in the world, and it’s a language that is spoken on 4 different continents (Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia).

Besides these well-known figures, Portugal is also well known for its countless beaches, good food, and traditional festivities. If you want to enjoy a few days of sun, eat a lot of fish and meat, drink Port wine and walk through beautiful nature: you have to visit Portugal. But before you come, you may want to learn some Portuguese. Here are five tips that will help you to speak like a Portuguese local.

Portuguese local food - Pastel de Nata
“Can you order pastel de nata in Portuguese? 

Image by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

1. Words With a Gender

In most Portuguese words, you’ll need to adjust the pronoun to the gender of the word. This sentence probably reminds you of those very theoretical lessons on highschool. But don’t worry, we’ll simplify it using an example. Imagine you arrive in Portugal and you want to take a taxi to go to your hotel or Airbnb, so you’re going to ask someone on the street where you can get one. In English you would say something like: “Where can I get a taxi?“. In Portuguese the word taxi is masculine, so you will have to use the pronoun “um” before the word “taxi”. Let’s translate the sentence! Try saying it, loud and clear: “Onde posso apanhar UM taxi?“.

When the word is female the pronoun is different. You will use “uma”, for example, “Eu quero UMA pizza“, which means “I want a pizza!”. To be honest, the hardest part is understanding which words are feminine or masculine (not forgetting the neuter words) and which pronouns we will use. This will become easier and easier with time.

2. Be Thankful

We should be thankful for all the opportunities in life and for all the good things that people give us. So, if you want to be polite you can give gratitude to people that you meet. In Portuguese, we have different pronunciations for the word “thank you”. If you are a man, you will always say ”Obrigado”. If you are a woman, you always say “Obrigada”, regardless of the gender of the person that you are thankful for.

Letters as example to be grammatically correct in speaking Portuguese

Image by Ryan Wallace on Unsplash

3. Try To Be Grammatically Correct

Normally the adjective comes after the subject. Imagine you are visiting the best places in Portugal and you stop at an ice cream shop. Of course they have many flavors and sizes. You know you are on holiday but you don’t want to completely ruin your diet, so you choose a small ice cream. If you are an English speaker you will say “I want a small ice cream, please!”. But in Portuguese it’s different because the adjective comes after. Translated to English you will say something like: “I want an ice cream small, please”. In Portuguese this will sound like: “Eu quero um gelado pequeno, por favor“.

So, if you put these five tips into practice, your efforts to speak Portuguese will be recognized by the Portuguese. They will surely appreciate this and help you with speaking even more like a local!

4. Download The SPEAK App

Since the beginning of this year, SPEAK is free for all to enable more people to share and learn about new languages and cultures. A very helpful feature for this is the SPEAK App. After you signed up as a participant to learn a new language, such as Portuguese, you are able to do Portuguese language challenges. You can also chat in real time through the app with your buddy and with the other participants. And who knows you might end up drinking a “bica” or “jola” (Portuguese slang meaning coffee and beer) with the other from your language group!

QR-code for downloading the SPEAK App to learn to speak Portuguese

5. Be Gentle to Others

Imagine that you are in a supermarket waiting in the queue for the checkout. There is an old woman standing behind you, and you want to let her pass. You can just say “Pode passar, minha senhora!” After she said “Obrigada” you can reply by saying “De nada, Estou a aprender português!”, which means: “You’re welcome! I’m learning Portuguese”. Knowing the old women in Portugal like I know, with this sentence you probably will learn more about Portuguese words and Portuguese places (very helpful if you want to speak like a local!)

Not convinced why you should learn to speak Portuguese? Read our blog post 5 Reasons Why You Should Learn to speak Portuguese!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of SPEAK.

Author: Leonel Gomes Cá

Leonel has a Law degree from Universidade Lusíada de Lisboa and is studying Law and Financial Markets at Nova School of Law. He loves camping, being in contact with nature, and living a healthy lifestyle to improve his body and mind. If you ever bump into him at a party, you’ll see him on the dance floor pretending to be a good dancer.

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