The Basics of Portuguese Vocabulary

Spoken throughout Portugal, Brazil, and Sao Tome and Principe, Portuguese is now considered the sixth-most-popular language in the world. In fact, nine countries count Portuguese as an official language and it is quickly becoming the preferred native language of Angola. For those who want to learn this beautiful tongue, nothing is more important than developing a strong, fundamental understanding of Portuguese vocabulary and grammar.

As a Western Romance language, Portuguese shares many qualities in common with Italian, Spanish, French and English. Students who already speak some Spanish, Italian and French generally have a head start when studying Portuguese because of similarities in structure and vocabulary. For instance, the saying good morning in English is translated to bom dia in Portuguese, which is very close to the Spanish buenas dias. Most students will find it easiest to see these similarities visually when they are first studying as differences in pronunciation between Portuguese and other Romance languages are substantial.


Borrowed English, Portuguese Words

As commerce encouraged the spread of languages across Europe and into North America, English speakers began borrowing words from Portuguese. Many of these words are still widely used in English today. The list below details some of the Portuguese words that are already familiar to English speakers. Pay close attention to their pronunciation for an idea of how Portuguese letters and words sound:

  • Albino, which comes from the Latin word albus

  • Banana, which scholars believe is of either Portuguese or Spanish origin

  • Cashew, which comes from the Portuguese word caju

  • Molasses, which comes from the Portuguese word melaço

  • Zebra, which is the same word in Portuguese

Expanding Portuguese Vocabulary with Babbel

Mastering Portuguese vocabulary and learning great conversation skills requires time, dedication and a way of learning that encourages retention. At Babbel, we're proud to provide a world-class language-learning experience designed to help students of all skill levels gain new vocabulary and conversation skills at a low cost. Our online- and smartphone-based lessons are designed to provide practical instruction in an engaging, easy-to-use format.

Of course, flexibility is also key to language-learning success. When using Babbel, students have the freedom to choose the activities best suited to their learning needs. Reading, writing, listening and speaking skills are stressed across the program, but students can choose the types of lessons in which they are most interested. Babbel works on Mac and PC computers and on smartphones running Win8, Android and iOS. The interface is also ad free so that students aren't distracted while they're learning essential Portuguese skills.

Building confidence in any language is about putting skills to use in diverse-but-practical situations. Babbel is designed to help students put their skills to use by providing a wide variety of interactive, engaging language exercises. Adaptable to individual pacing and learning needs, Babbel is a unique, effective way to learn Portuguese.

Test first lesson of every course for free

Recommended by learners like you