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Exploring Portuguese


Brazil: Now




Exploring Portuguese
We almost always think of Spanish as the language of Latin America. In fact, almost half of the population of Latin America lives in Brazil and speaks Portuguese. This exercise will familiarize students with a few basic Portuguese sentences and will help them see how Portuguese, Spanish and English often interrelate.


Students will be able to say some basic phrases in Portuguese and will learn several ways in which English, Spanish and Portuguese relate.

Level of Difficulty:

Intermediate: Some advanced skills required and a certain sophistication.




Reproduce and distribute the following hand-out. Discuss in class.

Answers to the blanks are:

Pronunciation Guide:
Portuguese has some of the same sounds as Spanish, but there are also some big differences. The guide below might help you with the phrases on the handout:

Alô (a-LO)
Bom dia (bon JI-a) j = "judge"
Como vai? (CO-mu vai) ai = "tie"
Obrigado (o-bri-GA-du) g = "go"
Até logo (a-TE LAW-gu) aw = "law"
Eu te amo (eu chi A-mu) ch = "cheese"

Vowels in column 2 are pronounced approximately as follows:

a = ah
e = day
i = see
o = low
u = sue

Exploring Portuguese

Important Portuguese phrases:


Bom dia

Como vai?


Até logo

Eu te amo



Good morning.

How are you?

Thank you.

See you later.

I love you.


Do you know anyone who speaks Portuguese? If you do, have them help you pronounce the words.

Are they difficult? Why?

Do you know what an accent is? Do you have one when you say these words?

Comparing Portuguese, Spanish and English

Some words are very different in these three languages. For example:

English   Portuguese   Spanish
pineapple   abacaxi   piña
bowl   tigela   recipiente

Since Portuguese, Spanish and English all have at least some words that came originally from Latin, many words are similar:

English   Portuguese   Spanish
fruit   fruta   fruta
dictionary   dicionario   diccionario

Some words are similar because they originated in the native languages of Latin America and spread around the world:

English   Portuguese   Spanish
potato   batata   patata
jaguar   jaguar   jaguar
chocolate   chocolate   chocolate

When the English word is very different from both the Spanish and Portuguese words for the same thing, it is usually because the English word comes from the old Germanic language that was the beginning of English while Spanish and Portuguese come from the Latin word. This usually happens with words for everyday objects or feelings and not "fancy" words:

English   Portuguese   Spanish
bread   pão   pan
head   cabeça   cabeza
cold   frio   frío

Look at this list of similar words. Remember that they all started with the same word in Latin. As time passed each language slowly changed the words. Can you see any pattern, or rules for these changes?

English   Portuguese   Spanish
nation   nação   nación
attention   atencão   atención
station   estacão   estación
spirit   espírito   espíritu
skeleton   esquileto   esqueleto
bandit   Bandido   bandido
credit   crédito   crédito
geography   Geografia   geografía
biology   biologia   biología
cabin   cabana   cabaña
mountain   montanha   montaña
charity   caridade   caridad
piety   piedade   piedad

Can you write these English words in Portuguese?

  information   Do you know in what other countries Portuguese is spoken as an official language?  

Do you know what these Portuguese words mean?


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