Tips to Navigate Portunhol, Spanglish, and Portinglês.

Brazil does not fit into most of the “Latin American” stereotypes. From the culture, to the cuisine, to the language, being in Brazil will be a very new experience for any Latin America lover who has traveled through the Andes, Central America and the other Southern Cone countries. To help out those first time travelers to Brazil, I’ve compiled a list of some things you should know before visiting:

  1. Que falou?? Confusion about phrases that do not translate in English or Spanish. For those of us who speak Spanish, you may think that learning Portuguese will be a walk in the park. However, there are certain words and phrases that are bound to throw you for a loop. Here are a few phrases that really confused me when I first got here:
    1. “Imagina!”
      1. You may ask, “Imagine what?” In fact, this phrase has absolutely nothing to do with the imagination. It is a phrase, specifically used in the Sao Paulo region, that means thank you. So, if someone says “imagina,” don’t worry, you’re imagination is not needed! They are simply saying you’re welcome.
      2. Summary: Imagina X “Imagine,” Imagina =De Nada/Thank you
    2. “Café da Manhã”
      1. When someone first asked me if I want a “Café da Manhã” I was like yes, I need coffee ASAP. I was very confused when they brought me some yogurt and a piece of toast. The truth is, “Café da Manhã” does not actually have anything to do with coffee! “Café da Manhã” is what Brazilians call breakfast, with or without coffee.
      2. Summary: “Café da Manhã” X My morning coffee, “Café da Manhã” = Breakfast, (desayuno)
    3. “Jogar Fora”
      1. Voce pode jogar fora? Does not mean “go play outside.” It actually is the phrase used for throwing out the trash. So, Spanish speakers, we do not “tirar la basura,” we “jogar fora o lixo!”
      2. Summary: Jogar Fora X Play outside, Jogar Fora = Throw away
    4. X-Tudo
      1. This is a classic Brazilian word that reminds of the ingenuity of the Portuguese language. To help you understand this phrase, you need to understand that X in Portuguese is pronounced, “sheez.” Yes, Brazilian Portuguese uses the X to signify Cheese. Therefore, an X-Burger=Cheeseburger, and an X-Tudo= Cheeseburger (with everything else on it, including mustard, mayo, a fried egg, lettuce and ham).
      2. Summary: X in X tudo stands for cheese, not the letter X. Therefore X-tudo=Cheeseburger with all the toppings!
        1. Fone
          1. Another creative adaptation from English. Fone (pronounced “phony” in English) Is just the shortened English word for headphones.
        2. Puxar vs. Pular
          1. I already make the mistake enough in English of reading “push” and trying to pull open the door. Just to make us extra confused, these words are reversed!
          2. Puxar=Pull, Pular=Push
        3. Other false cognates from Spanish to Portuguese:
          1. Roxo (pronounced Rosho) Is not Rojo (red), but purple!
          2. Largo is NOT long, its WIDE! (long=longo)
          3. If someone asks you for your Apelido, they are not asking for your last name, (Apellido in Spanish). They are asking for your NICKNAME! Oh and sobrenome (nickname in Spanish) is your last name.
          4. Acordar. “Eu acordei!” does not mean “me acordé” (I remember.) It actually means I woke up!
          5. Cadeira X Cadera (hips). Cadeira in Portuguese is a chair!
  1. Final random tip:
    1. Don’t answer questions with “Yes” and “No”
      1. In Portuguese, people basically never answer a question with Yes or No as the answer. Instead, you use the verb that was used in the question. Let me give you a few examples:
        1. “Você falou com ele ontem”
          1. Falei
        2. “Você fez os devereres em casa?”
          1. Fiz
        3. Você gosta dos brigadeiros?”
          1. Gosto!

**Also, Brigadeiros are these delicious chocolate sweets made with sweetened condensed milk and chocolate and rolled in sprinkles, a must-try when you’re here in Brazil!


In summary, Portuguese is a fascinating language that is a ton of fun to learn. Every day is a new journey, and Portunhol is understood here. So don’t worry! People are open, kind, and will encourage you every step of the way while trying to learn Portuguese! Aproveita!


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