top of page

How to Speak Portuguese–Getting Started

So, you’ve decided you want to learn how to speak Portuguese. Where to begin? Firstly, despite all the various resources and apps available online, there’s no substitute for learning directly from a tutor who speaks the language themselves. At, you can learn from an expert.

There are many things to consider when you learn how to speak Portuguese. Below, we cover two important subjects: the different types of Portuguese, and some elementary facts about Portuguese grammar.

Types of Portuguese

The 220 million native Portuguese speakers (or “Lusophones”) around the world are widely distributed, but by far the most common variants of Portuguese–and the ones covered here at–are Brazilian and European Portuguese, spoken in Brazil and Portugal respectively. Combined, they represent over 97% of all global native speakers.

Brazilian Portuguese is by far the most commonly spoken, with 200 million native speakers. However, most of those are concentrated in Brazil itself, whereas European Portuguese is the root for all the various dialects and the most formally “correct” version of the language. Which you choose when learning how to speak Portuguese will depend on your individual needs. Find out more about the different types of Portuguese.

Portuguese Grammar

The next thing to be aware of is grammar. Portuguese is a Romance language, descended from Latin, like Spanish, French, and Italian. English, on the other hand, is a primarily Germanic language, with a different set of grammatical rules. There are several key differences that are important to bear in mind.

Masculine and Feminine Nouns: In English, a noun doesn’t affect the other words in a sentence. In Portuguese, a noun is either masculine and feminine, and the other words in the sentence change depending on which it is.

Verbs: In English, verbs don’t have many conjugations–maybe up to nine, and often fewer. In Portuguese, there are many more–six different pronoun forms and twelve different tenses, creating a huge variety of different verb conjugations. This is probably the single hardest subject for an English speaker learning how to speak Portuguese.

Word Order: In English, adjectives come before nouns–i.e., “the big castle,” never “the castle big.” In Portuguese it’s usually the opposite, with the adjective coming after the noun.

Diminutives/Augmentatives: Portuguese speakers, instead of saying something’s big or little, often add a diminutive (such as inho/a) or augmentative (such as ão) suffix to a noun. A famous example is the soccer player Ronaldinho, which means “the little Ronaldo.”

Keeping these things in mind will help orient you on your journey learning how to speak Portuguese. Looking out for examples in the Portuguese words and phrases you encounter will help you to organize the language in your mind, creating a “mental map” that helps your learning process. Learn Portuguese the easiest way: with an expert tutor.

Get Portuguese tips and tutoring deals!

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page