Essential Portuguese phrases you need for the World Cup 2014

Written by christine kukka
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Essential Portuguese phrases you need for the World Cup 2014
Portuguese is spoken by an estimated total of 270 million people (Getty Thinkstock)

Portuguese is a beautiful language filled with wonderful sounds. Being a Romance language, Portuguese is moderately difficult for the average English speaker, but not much more than Spanish or Italian. Portuguese is spoken in Portugal, Brazil and some African countries. Some minorities in Asia and other South American countries also communicate in this language. An estimated total of 270 million people around the world speak it. Hence, it is the seventh most used language in the world.

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Basic pronounciation

As with all other Romance languages, Portuguese pronunciation differs greatly from the anglophone one. The "ç" ("cedilha") represents an intermediate sound that would land somewhere between our regular "s" and "th" sounds. The combination of letters "nh" sounds similar to the the "n" in "new". Two "r"s together, as in "rr", sound like a "g", and a "g" followed by "e" or "i" should be pronounces like the "sh" in "she", and it's just the same with "j" followed by any vowel. The "ch" sound is also similar to the way "sh" is pronounced.


To greet between dawn and noon, the most used phrase is "Bom dia", equivalent to "Good morning" or "Good day". For the evening and the night you can use, respectively, "Boa tarde" and "Boa noite". If you prefer a more casual style, you can use the "Oi", wich is roughly equivalent to "Hi". Just as in English, it is usually followed with a question, "Oi, tudo bem?" (Hi, how are you?). Greetings like "Como vai?" (How's it going?) are also commonly used in informal contexts. The usual farewell, for both formal and informal situations, is pronounced "Tchau".


To express gratitude, a good translation of "thanks" is "obrigado", if you are a man, or "obrigada" if you're a woman, usually preceded by "muito", like this: "Muito obrigado/a". Thus, "muito obrigado" mean "much obliged" or, more literally, "very thankful". To request permission, either to enter a place, to leave a place, or to ask someone to move aside, you should use the phrase "com licença", which translates to "excuse me". It is also customary to simply say "licença". To say "please", the preferred phrase is "por favor", just as in Spanish. The apologise, either to excuse yourself, to interrupt someone or to ask a question, "desculpe" is the word you should go with.

Street use

If you want to ask someone for help, the usual formula is "Você pode me ajudar?" (Can you help me?). If you need someone to give you directions to get somewhere, you can use the phrase "Como faço para chegar lá?" meaning "How do I get there?" If you do not understand their response, you can say "Não estou entendendo" which means," I do not understand." If applicable, you can supplement it by saying "Não falo muito Portuguese" ("I do not speak much Portuguese").


To ask for someone's name, you should ask "Como se chama?", which is like asking "What's your name?" You can also go with "Qual é seu nome?" meaning "What is your name?" At the same time, to introduce yourself, you should say "Me chamo [Your name]." If you want to indicate your place of birth, simply say "Sou of Inglaterra" ("I'm from England."), or wherever you are actually from. You can express your age, by saying "Tenho X anhos."

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