A guide to useful phrases in Portugal
Portuguese is a Romance language, which means that it evolved from Vulgar Latin or non-standard Latin between the 6th and 9th centuries. 250 million people speak Portuguese worldwide. It’s also spoken in other countries such as Brazil, however the pronunciations of words vary significantly from Portugal. Spanish is probably the closest sounding language, with Galician, spoken in Galicia in northwest Spain, considered the most similar.
It’s worth learning a few phrases and words in advance, as it’s mainly the younger Portuguese population that understands English. Though locals comprehend bits and pieces of Spanish, it’s usually considered impolite to speak to them in Spanish if it isn’t your first language. Here are some useful phrases to help you get by during your holiday in sunny Portugal.
Common Portuguese phrases
Do you speak English? – Fala ingles? (ah-lah een-Glehsh?)
I can’t speak Portuguese well – Nao falo bem portugues (nowng fah-loh bang poor-too-Gaysh)
Good Morning – Bom dia (bong-deer)
Good Afternoon – Boa tarde (boah-tard)
Good evening or Good night – Boa noite (boah-no-ee-te)
Thank You – Men say Obrigado (oobree-gado) and women say Obrigada (oobree-gadah)
You’re welcome – De nada (de nah-dah)
Please – Por favor (poorh pha-vohr)
Could you repeat please? – Pode repetir? (pod ray-peh-teer?)
Zero – Zero (zeh-roo)
One (to describe a male noun) – Um (oong)
One (to describe a female noun) – Uma (oo-muh)
Two (to describe a male noun) – Dois (doysh)
Two (to describe a female noun) – Duas (doo-ahsh)
Three – Tres (traysh)
Four – Quatro (kwah-troo)
Five – Cinco (seen-koo)
Six – Seis (saysh)
Seven – Sete (seht)
Eight – Oito (oy-too)
Nine – Nove (naw-vee)
Ten – Dez (desh)
Eleven – Onze (ongz)
Twelve – Doze (dohz)
Thirteen – Treze (trayz)
Fourteen – Catorze (kah-tohrz)
Fifteen – Quinze (keenz)
Sixteen – Dezasseis (dzuh-saysh)
Seventeen – Dezassete (dzuh-seht)
Eighteen – Dezoito (deh-zoy-too)
Nineteen – Dezanove (dzuh-nawv)
Twenty – Vinte (veent)
Out and about
What is your name? – Como te chamas? (Koh-moh seh shah-mahsh?)
Pleased to meet you – Prazer em conhecer (prah-zehr ehn koh-nyeh-sehr)
How are you? – Como vai? (Koh-moh vigh?)
I’m lost – If you’re male say Estou perdido (ish-toh pehr-dee-doo), if you’re female say Estou perdida (ish-toh pehr-dee-dah)
Can I use your phone? – Posso usar o seu(teu) telefone? (pohs-soo oo-sahr o seh-oo(teh-oo) teh-leh-foh-neh). Seu is considered appropriate when talking to strangers and teu when talking to someone you know
Excuse me (getting attention) – Com licenca (kohn lih-sehn-sah)
I need your help – Preciso da sua (tua) ajuda. (preh-see-zoo dah soo-ah (too-ah) ah-zhoo-dah)
I need a doctor – Preciso de um medico (preh-see-zoo deh oon meh-dee-koo)
I would like – Queria (kree-ah)
Have you ordered? – Ja pediu? (djah pay-dee-oo?)
Can I have the bill please? – A conta, por favor (ah cone toh poor fah-vohr)
Food and Drink terms
Cozido a portuguesa – A traditional stew made with beef, pork, sausage and vegetables, with regional variations through the country.
Porco a alentejana – Originally from the Algarve region, this traditional dish is made with pork, clams, potatoes and coriander.
Bacalhau a bras – a commonplace dish made with shreds of salted cod, scrambled eggs, potatoes and onions.
Espetadas – Originating from Madeira, it consists of beef chunks and vegetables grilled on skewers and served hanging with a chunk of butter on top that melts down the skewer. Lulas recheadas a lisbonense – stuffed squid, which is a Lisbon speciality.
Caldo verde – this will keep you healthy, it’s a soup made with finely shredded green kale leaves.
Acorda de mariscos – A shrimp stew that’s cooked in a garlic bread bowl.
Queijadas de Sintra – This sweet cheese tart is one of the most popular pastries from Sintra but can be found throughout Portugal.
Pasteis de nata – Sold throughout the world, this is a traditional custard-filled tart.
Porto – Portugal’s most famous tipple is Port and there are many vineyards to visit and buy the product. Some of the most popular wines include Vinho Verde, Vinho do Dao and Vinho da Bairrada.
Aguardente – a sugar-cane based drink and a generic term for alchoholic beverages that contain 29 to 60 percent alcohol.
Beirao and Ginjinha – tasty liqueurs drank as digestives to finish off a good meal.
Is there a typical local speciality? – Existe alguma especialidade tipica da localidade? (esis-she algooma espesh-iali-daji tsi-pika dah local-idaji)
A glass of red (/white) wine –� Um copo de vinho tinto (/branco) (oom coppo deh veenyo tintoh / brancoh)
A beer (/two beers), please – Uma cerveja (/duas cervejas) (Ooma serveyha / doo-as serveyhas)
Water – Agua (agwa)
Nuts – Nozes (noh-zes)
Fresh fruit – Fruta fresca (froota frescah)
Cheese – Queijo (kay-joo)
A la carte – Pela ementa (pela oomenta)
At the end of your meal and drinks you can show your appreciation by saying How delicious – Que gostoso! (kee goh-stoh-zoo!)