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Portuguese language

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Native to Portugal
Native speakers 215 million  (2010)[2]
Language family
Early forms:
Medieval Galician
  • Portuguese
Writing system Latin (Portuguese alphabet)
Portuguese Braille
Official status
Official language in
Many international organisations
Regulated by International Portuguese Language Institute
Academia Brasileira de Letras (Brazil)
Academia das Ciências de Lisboa, Classe de Letras (Portugal)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 pt
ISO 639-2 por
ISO 639-3 por
Linguasphere 51-AAA-a
Map of the portuguese language in the world.png
     Native language

     Official and administrative language      Cultural or secondary language      Portuguese speaking minorities

     Portuguese-based creole languages

The Portuguese language is one of the of Romance languages (languages which came from the Latin language). The Portuguese word for Portuguese is "português".

Who speaks Portuguese

The Portuguese language is the third most spoken western language (just after English and Spanish) with about 240 million native speakers, and a few more millions all over the world because of the people of Portugal, Brazil (in Portuguese, Brasil), Cape Verde (Cabo Verde), Angola, Mozambique (Moçambique), etc., who traveled to many different parts of the world.

As Portuguese and Spanish are both Romance languages, they have a lot of things in common, but they are not the same. For example: "I opened the window very fast so as to have dinner" translates as "Abri a janela muito rápido para jantar" in Portuguese and "Abrí la ventana muy pronto para cenar" in Spanish. Usually a Portuguese speaker can understand a Spanish speaker; on the other hand, it is rarer that a Spanish speaker understands a Portuguese speaker. Although the Portuguese written language seems similar to Spanish, most spoken Portuguese does not. At times, it may even sound more like French, due to both languages using vowels where air passes through the nose in the nasal cavities. For example, the first three letters of bom día (good morning) sound very much like the first three letters of the same idea in French: bonjour. The vowel o here is called a "nasal vowel"; its symbol in the IPA is õ. Overall, Portuguese is not any more similar to English than Spanish.

The places where people speak Portuguese as the first language are Angola, Brazil (Brazil has 81% of the speakers)Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea Bissau, Macau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe and in the cities of Goa, Daman and Diu (India).

Words in Portuguese that are similar to English ones

Portuguese and English have words that mean the same thing and look similar as well. This is because these words came from the same languages (for example Latin, Greek or French).


  • Visão Vision
  • Informação Information
  • Confuso Confused
  • Baptismo Baptism
  • Artigo Article
  • Capital Capital
  • Total Total
  • Mapa Map
  • Problema Problem
  • História History
  • Fruta Fruit
  • Banana Banana
  • Tomate Tomato
  • Chocolate Chocolate
  • Linguagem Language

The list is long.

Some English words come from Portuguese, for example tank (tanque), cacao (cacau) and marmalade (marmelada from ”marmelo” = quince).

The portuguese word "parentes" is similar to the english word "parents", but it means "relatives", while the portuguese word to mean "parents" is "pais".

Examples of usual phrases

  • Olá! Hello!
  • Oi! Hi!
  • Como estás? How are you?
  • Estou bem, obrigado. I'm fine, thanks.
  • Como vai? How are you doing?
  • Você fala português? Do you speak Portuguese?
  • Eu falo português. I speak Portuguese.
  • Eu não falo português. I do not speak Portuguese.
  • Tenho de ir, adeus! I must go, goodbye!
  • Até logo! See you later!
  • Tchau! Bye!
  • O que está fazendo? What are you doing?
  • Eu tenho 18 anos. I'm 18 years old

Different versions

Portuguese is the official language of all countries of the CPLP (Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa, "Community of Portuguese Language Countries"). The Portuguese-speaking countries have more than 240 million people across the world. The CPLP was formed in 1996 with seven countries: Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe. East Timor joined in 2002.

The CPLP nations speak Portuguese with different accents. In some regions of Brazil the pronoun 'tu' (meaning 'you', but only used when speaking to family and friends) is not used as much as in Portugal. Also regional slang can be found in different areas. The Portuguese Orthographic Agreement of 1990 (Acordo Ortográfico de 1990) tries to smooth over those differences.


  1. Regional pronunciation in Brazil:
    [po̞χtuˈɡeɕ ~ puxtuˈgeɕ] (BP-florianopolitano), (BP-fluminense),
    [poɾtuˈɡes] (BP-paulistano), (BP-curitibano), (BP-catarinense),
    [poɹtuˈɡejs] (BP-caipira), (BP-sulista, colloquial), (BP-sertanejo),
    [po̞χtuˈɡes ~ po̞htuˈɡes] (BP-capixaba), (BP-mineiro), (BP-brasiliense),
    [pɔχtuˈɡejs] (BP-nordestino), (BP-baiano), (BP-nortista), [po̞ɾtuˈɡes] (BP-gaúcho), (riverense portuñol).
    In this discussion of a female politician from Alagoas state it is possible to notice that the "r" in this position is an [h] sound
  2. Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2010" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2010