40 Common Portuguese Words to Know

, Staff Writer
Updated March 2, 2021
Portuguese words to know
    Portuguese words to know
    MicroStockHub / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license

Whether you're in the process of learning to speak Portuguese or you'd just like to master a few common terms in the language, these words are great ones to start with. Discover 40 common and useful Portuguese words, including what each one means in English.

Basic Portuguese Words A-Z

Want to learn some of the most common Portuguese words? These basic Portuguese terms are key everyday words to master. Whether you're planning to travel to Portugal or Brazil and want to know some basic words or are trying to build a strong foundation on which to develop fluency in the Portuguese language, these are great words to learn when you are just getting started.

  • adeus (a.ˈdews) - goodbye
  • amanhã (a.mɐ.ˈɲɐ̃) - tomorrow
  • amor (aˈmoɾ) - love
  • bom (bõ) - good
  • cão (kɐ̃w̃) - dog
  • fazer (fɐ.ˈzeɾ) - make
  • gato (ɡa.tu) - cat
  • hoje (o.ʒɨ) - today
  • hora (ɔ.ɾɐ) - hour
  • loga (lɔ.ɣu) - a shop or store
  • longe (lõ.ʒɨ) - far
  • mau (maw) - bad
  • minuto (mi.ˈnu.tu) - minute
  • não (nɐ̃w̃) - no
  • obrigado (o.bɾi.ˈɡa.du) - thank you
  • olá (o.ˈla) - hello
  • ontem (õ.tẽj̃) - yesterday
  • perto (pɛʁ.tu) - near
  • segundo (se.ˈɡũ.dɐ) - second
  • semana (sɨ.ˈmɐ.nɐ) - week
  • sim (sĩj̃) - yes
  • sorrir (suˈʁiɾ) - smile
  • talvez (taɫ.ˈveʃ) - maybe, perhaps
  • usar (uˈzaɾ) - to use
  • zunido (zũ.ˈbi.du) - to buzz or ring

Beautiful Portuguese Words to Explore

Portuguese is a beautiful language with many words that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye and ear, while also conveying lovely meanings. Go beyond the most common Portuguese terms to discover a selection of beautiful, yet commonly used words.

  • abençoado (abẽsoˈadɐ) - blessed, having received a blessing; made holy
  • brasileiro (bɾa.zi.ˈle[j].ɾu) - Brazilian, from/of Brazil
  • conhecimento (ku.ɲɨ.si.ˈmẽ.tu) - knowledge, awareness
  • corcovado (korkoˈbado) - humped, name of Rio de Janeiro mountain home of Christ the Redeemer statue
  • cozinheiro (ku.ɲɨ.si.ˈmẽ.tu) - chef, one who cooks food
  • delicioso (dɨ.li.ˈsjo.zu) - delicious, tasty, flavorful
  • estrela (is.ˈtɾe.lɐ) - star, celestial body
  • felicidade (fɨ.li.si.ˈða.ðɨ) - happiness, contentment, joyfulness
  • funcionário (fũsjuˈnaɾju) - employee, worker, team member
  • liberdade (li.bɨɾ.ˈda.dɨ) - freedom, liberty
  • maravilhosa (ma.ɾa.vi.ˈʎo.zu) - wonderful, incredible, marvelous
  • montanha (mõ.ˈtɐ.ɲɐ) - mountain
  • paixão (pajˈʃɐ̃w̃) - passion, intense love
  • pequeno (pɨ.ˈke.nu) - small, tiny, little
  • saudade (sɐwˈðaðɨ) - longing for an absent person or object

Brazilian vs. European Portuguese

Just like there are differences between British English and American English, there are also some differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese. As is the case with all geographic language differences, there are some pronunciation differences as well as language usage differences.

  • In Brazil, vowels are pronounced with a more open (longer and wider) sound than in Portugal (which is in Europe), where less emphasis is placed on vowels.
  • For words that end in "s," the /s/ sound is pronounced in Brazil. In Portugal, though, words that end in "s" generally conclude with the /sh/ sound.
  • In European Portuguese, language formality is emphasized more than in Brazil. Avoid using overly familiar terms in Portugal.
  • In Brazil, there is a tendency to sometimes use nouns and verbs and vice versa.

Start Building a Portuguese Language Vocabulary

From mastering some of the most common Portuguese words to learning some words that are particularly beautiful, once you learn the terminology discussed here you'll be on your way to being able to incorporate some words from this lovely language into your vocabulary. Don't stop with Portuguese. Continue building your knowledge of different languages by discovering 40 powerfully beautiful Japanese words. From there, discover 60+ essential Hindi words.