Language in Brazil

Language in Brazil

Speaking Portuguese in Brazil

¿Fala ingles? Language in Brazil

Brazil's official language is Portuguese and outside tourist areas there is very little English spoken so it's worth picking up at least a few key phrases. The Portuguese spoken in Brazil is grammatically almost identical to 'European' Portuguese and most vocabulary is the same, but the pronunciation is quite different so it will sound rather different to the Algarve! However, the good news is that most people find Brazilian Portuguese rather easier to understand, as Brazilian speakers of Portuguese tend to pronounce all the consonants rather than 'swallowing' them like the Portuguese.

Brazilian Portuguese (pronunciation) English
Batida (ba-chee-da) Fruit juice
Brigadão! (bree-ga-dow)) Thanks very much!
Cafezinho (ca-feh-zeen-you) Sweet espresso
Caipirinha (ca-peer-een-ya) Sugar, lime and cane liquor cocktail
Churrascaria (choo-ras-career) Barbecue/Grill restaurant
Estação (ess-tash-ow) Station
Eu sou Ingles (eeyo soy Eenglays) I am English
Fala ingles? (falla eenglays?) Do you speak English?
Feijoada (feh-joo-ada) Bean and meat stew
Foi uma curtição! (foy oo-ma cur-tish-ow) It was great!
Futebol (foo-che-bo) Football
Gringo (green-goo) Foreigner
Guarana (gwa-ra-na) Jungle fruit
Janta (jan-ta) Dinner
Não (now) No
Ola! (oh-la) Hi!
Onde esta (on-jay iss-ta?) Hi!
Pastel / Pasteis (pass-tell / pass-teh-ees) Small pasty/ies
Quibe (kee-beh) Deep fried minced-beef croquette
Sim (seem) Yes
Tchau! (chow) Bye!
Tudo bem? (too-doo bem) Is everything ok?

Of course, all our guides and representatives on your holiday in Brazil will speak excellent English, and you'll find English-speakers in most hotels and restaurants as well, but we do give all our customers a special Brazil language guide, and we'd also recommend taking a dictionary or downloading a dictionary app to your phone: it can be really useful if there's something you particularly want to buy but a shop assistant doesn't speak any English, or if you want to make absolutely sure that you're ordering the chicken...


One of the major differences between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese is that the pronunciation is much more lilting and they do sound the end of words rather than biting them off. This may be due to the large numbers of Italian immigrants: Argentinian Spanish has a similar intonation. You will also notice that ‘t’ and ‘d’ sounds both tend to soften into a ‘ch’, ‘j’ or even ‘sh’ sound in the middle or at the end of a word. So, for example, in Portugal, good afternoon might sound like ‘bow tard’, whereas in Brazil it would be more like ‘bow-a tarj’.

The other major tips in terms of pronunciation are to do with the letters 'h' and 'o'. An 'h' is pronounced as a breathed 'r' (think French 'rue') while in the middle of a word an 'o' is pronounced as an 'oh' but at the end of a word it becomes an 'oo'.

Brazilian Vocabulary

As you might expect, there are quite a lot of vocabulary differences between European Portuguese and what you'll hear in Brazil, so here are a few of the words that we think you'll find particularly useful on your holidays in Brazil.

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