Basic Portuguese phrases.
The phrases you need to get by!

Hey Travellers, if you don't want to learn anything else, at least learn this!


Do you want to learn some basic Portuguese phrases?

If so, here I am giving them to you! This is the best way to start speaking Portuguese straight away!

Remember that, when travelling, if you know a few basic phrases, you can get by in any Portuguese speaking country.

Armed with basic Portuguese phrases you can communicate with the locals, even if you don't know how to say anything else in Portuguese.

If you need to speak Portuguese with friends or family when travelling to a Portuguese speaking country, you may want to learn more than these survival phrases. If you are looking for an easy way to quickly and drastically improve your language skills and your vocabulary you must try my method - Rafa's Vocabulary Ticker -, otherwise, please read on.

If you are travelling to a Portuguese-speaking country, I strongly recommend you to go though this page now, and learn the words and expressions you need to get by.

OK, so... let's go straight to business.

It's quite common in any Portuguese speaking country, specially in small towns and villages, to greet people in the streets, even if you don't know them. So as they pass by you, you'll be likely to hear:

    Bom dia.
[bong-DEER]* which means "Good morning".
    Boa tarde.
[boah-TARD]* for "Good afternoon".
    Boa noite.
[boah-NOH-ee-te]* for "Good evening" or "Good night".

You should greet them back the same way. It shows that you respect them and like to be respected as well.

* This is the way you pronounce these basic Portuguese phrases in standard Portuguese, but if you want to use Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation, please read the Pronunciation tips by clicking here.

You will hear Bom dia from midnight to midday, Boa tarde from 12pm until it gets dark and Boa noite since it gets dark until midnight, or when you want to wish a good night to someone.

[KOH-moo?] is another very important word. If someone comes to you and say something that you can't hear properly or can't understand, this is the way you say "Sorry?" or "I didn't get that". In other words, you can also use this word to ask someone to repeat something again.

[des-COOL-peh] is the word you use when you are sorry or when you "did something wrong and you want to apologize for it. In short, this means "I'm sorry!". You may also use this word to catch someone's attention as well, for instance at the restaurant when you want to call the waiter.

    Não faz mal!
[nah-fash-maal] is the way you reply to "desculpe" . An equivalent ways to say "Não faz mal" in English would be "no worries" or "no problem".

    Com licença!
[co-lee-SEN-sah] is also one of the most important basic Portuguese phrases. This means "excuse me" You might want to use this when you want to get out of the bus when it is very crowded and you have people in your way.

[oobree-GA-doo] or [oobree-GA-dah]. Men should always say "obrigado" and women should always say "obrigada" to say "thank you".

    De nada!
[de NAH-dah] in Portugal and [djee NAH-dah] in Brazil. This is what you say when people thank you for something you did for them. The equivalent in English would be "you're welcome!"

These last 2 basic Portuguese phrases are of extreme importance and you should use them without thinking. Practice them with a friend or with your partner. If you don't have friends or a partner next to you, try the mirror. Yes, I mean it! ;-)

    Por favor!
[poorh pha-VOHR]. You must say this to say "please" in any circumstance you can imagine. However, in Portuguese, when you give commands to people (when you ask them to do something for you) you don't necessarily need to say "por favor" all the time, like you do in English. Normally the intonation of your voice will show whether you are being suggestive or bossy!

    Está bem!
[tah-baing] to say "It's OK" when you agree with someone's suggestion, or to mean "that's enough for now" when the waiter is putting food on your plate and you want him to stop.

[fish] (in European and African Portuguese) to say the modern expression "cool!"

[lay-GAW] (in Brazilian Portuguese) to say the modern expression "cool!"

    Então? tudo bem?
[eng-TAOONG? TOO-doo baheeng?] means in colloquial European Portuguese "So, how are you?" or "So, what's up?".

    Oi! e aí?
[oy? ee ah-EE?] means in colloquial Brazilian Portuguese "Hi, how are you?" or "Hi, what's up?".

    Como se diz em português + English word?
[COH-moo seh dish en poor-too-GAYSH]. You would use this sentence to find out how you say something in Portuguese. You obviously can use this sentence only if you know that the person you are talking to knows some English, so they will tell you the meaning you are looking for in Portuguese. (e.g. Como se diz em português "please"? - how do you say in Portuguese "please"?)

    Como se pronuncia em português + Portuguese word?
[COH-mo seh proo-noon-SEE-ah en poor-too-GAYSH] this means: How do you pronounce in Portuguese?" Obviously if you are struggling with pronouncing any Portuguese word you see somewhere (in a menu, advert, or article, etc), and you want to pronounce it correctly, you will use this phrase.

    Como se escreve?
[COH-mo seh sh-KRAY-veh]. You'd use this sentence if you want to know how you'd spell something in Portuguese. This means "How do you spell?".

    O que quer dizer "xyz" em inglês?
[Oo kay kehr dee-ZEHR "xyz" en een-GLAYSH?] is the sentence you use if you have the Portuguese word but you don't know what it means. So you ask "What does it mean in English?".

    Pode repetir?
[pod ray-peh-TEER?]. This is the same as "como?" mentioned above, but in a more polite way. It means "could you repeat it, please?".

    Não percebo!
[naoong pehr-SAY-boo] - I don't/can't understand.

    Não percebi!
[naoong pehr-say-BEE] - I didn't understand / I didn't catch it.

    Não entendo!
[naoo en-TEN-doo] - I don't/cant understand (more used in Brazilian Portuguese).

    Não entendi!
[naoong en-tehn-DJEE] - I didn't understand (more used in Brazilian Portuguese).

    Não sei!
[naoong say] - "I don't know". This phrase is particularly useful, because anyone in the streets can come to you and ask for information about something. So this is what you have to say - "I don't know!".

    Não me lembro!
[naoong meh LENG-broo] - I don't remember or I can't remember.

Click here to learn Portuguese numbers as well. You know how important they are too.

I'd recommend to you to print this page out and take it with you every time you need to communicate with someone in Portuguese.

One of the reasons you may want to print this out or write these phrases down on a piece of paper may be because you may want to put 2 of these sentences together to sound more like a native-speaker, for instance, "desculpe, não sei", and you'll have them at hand to remember.

You'll see that, with these basic Portuguese phrases, you'll feel more confident when you talk to people or people talk to you.

You will also feel much more comfortable when travelling around and socialising with Portuguese native speakers.

I'd also advise to you not to stop your learning with this basic Portuguese phrases, but to surf through the other pages of this site to find out more useful information about Portuguese and Portuguese speaking countries.

Also, if you want to learn what these phrases sound like and thousands of other ones that you can choose by categories, I strongly recommend to you to check out my method for learning Portuguese here - Rafa's Vocabulary Ticker

And that's it! These are the basic Portuguese phrases you need to get by!

Armed with these basic Portuguese phrases, you can get by without embarrassment. Believe me!

Last thing to remember: If you don't know any more Portuguese, you may choose to walk away... or find out if they speak English. If you want to ask them if they speak English just say:

    Desculpe! Fala inglês?
[des-COOL-peh! FAH-la een-GLAYSH?].

You may also inform them that you only speak a little Portuguese. If this is the case, you must say.

    Não falo muito português!
[naoong FAH-loo MUING-too poor-too-GAYSH].

And yes! This is the end of this page now! So these are the basic Portuguese phrases you need to know if you are going to any Portuguese speaking country.

However, you may as well look at some more useful basic Portuguese phrases here.

In case you want to carry on with your study, later on you may like to read my free Portuguese lessons page as well and learn some tricks you may find useful to know...

Até mais! [ah-TAY MAH-EESH] - See you soon!

Rafa x

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