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15 basic Portuguese language phrases & words to know before you travel to Portugal

Planning a trip to Portugal? Don’t forget to learn a few basic Portuguese phrases and words before you go! It’s so important to learn some simple phrases in the local language for any trip, as it’s a great way to show respect to the locals and enrich your travel experience. Portuguese is a beautiful Romance language but it can take time to get the hang of it, so start with some easy but essential words like greetings and please and thank you. To help you on your way, here are 15 basic Portuguese phrases to learn before your trip to Portugal. 

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1. Hello – Olá

Get off to a good start by greeting people with “olá” (hi or hello). 

It’s one of the most important yet basic Portuguese phrases to learn and you won’t get far without it!

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2. How are you? – Como vai?

Once you’ve said olá or bom dia, follow it up by saying “como vai?” (how are you?). If someone asks you this question, you can respond with a simple “bem” (well) or say “eu estou bem” (I am good). If you want to ask how they are too, say “E tú?” (and you?). 

You can also use “tudo bem?” or “tudo bom?” They both mean “how are you?” and “everything is good” and they can be both a question and a response.

So, if someone says “tudo bem?” you respond with “tudo bom!” And if someone asks you “tudo bom?”, reply with “tudo bem!”

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3. Greetings for every time of day

If you want to greet people correctly throughout the day in Portugal, there are three basic Portuguese phrases to learn:

Bom dia – Good morning.
This can be only be used in the morning before midday.

Boa tarde – Good afternoon.
This phrase is used between midday and 6pm.

Good night – Boa noite.
From 6pm onwards, use this one. You can also use it as a generic way of saying goodbye. 

Tip: When saying “bom dia”, don’t pronounce “bom” like the English word “bomb”. The -om ending is actually a nasal vowel, so instead of closing your mouth to say the “m” sound, you let the air out of your nose and mouth to only say the “o”. It can be tricky so if you’re having trouble, pronounce “bom” like the English word “bong”. It’s closer to the correct pronunciation than “bomb”.

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4.  Nice to meet you – Prazer

If you’ve met a new acquaintance on your trip to Portugal, be sure to offer them a polite “prazer” (nice to meet you).

5. Goodbye  – Tchau

If you say hello, you should also learn how to say goodbye. Just like in English, there are many different ways to say goodbye, depending on the context. One of the most common words is “tchau”. It’s pronounced like the Italian “ciao”. 

If you’d like a more formal way to say goodbye, you can say “adeus”, which is similar to the Spanish word “adios”. 

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6. Excuse me – Com licença

There are many different uses and ways to say excuse me in Portugal.

If you’re passing through a crowd and need to politely ask someone to step out of your way, you can say “Com licença” or simply “licença”. 

If you need to ask someone to repeat what they’re saying, you can say “a como?” or “o que disse?” These also translate to “excuse me?”

If you need to apologise for bumping into someone, or you’re trying to get a waiter’s attention, you can say “Desculpa” which also means “excuse me”. 

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7. Please – Por favor

If you’re looking for some easy Portuguese phrases that will help you be a little more polite and respectful on your trip to Portugal, don’t forget your pleases and thank yous!

You can add “por favor” (please) on to the end of a sentence to make it more polite. For example, if you want to ask for the bill in a restaurant, you can say to the moço (waiter): “Você pode trazer a conta, por favor?” (Can you bring the bill please?)

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8. Thank you – Obrigad(a/o)

The way to say “thank you” in Portuguese changes depending on your gender. If you’re female, say “obrigada”. If you’re male, say “obrigado”. You can also shorten it to “brigada” or “brigado”. 

You can also say “de nada” (you’re welcome) after some thanks you. 

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9. Yes – Sim

This is one of the most simply Portuguese phrases but it’s an essential one. 

Like the word “bom”, sim also contains a nasal vowel. If you’re having trouble pronouncing it correctly, try saying it like the English word “sing”. 

“Yes” in Portuguese is sim. Like bom above, sim contains a nasal vowel. To a first approximation, it sounds like the English word “sing”.

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10. No – Não

It’s one of the most basic Portuguese words to know but it’ll come in handy. No is “não”, pronounced in a similar way as the English “no”.

11. Where is… ? – Onde está…?

If you’ve just arrived in Portugal, you might need some extra help finding your way around. If you need to ask for directions, say “onde está…?” (where is…?)

Here are some basic Portuguese phrases to learn to help you navigate Portugal: 

Onde está a casa de banho? – “Where is the bathroom?” 
Onde está a estação de comboio? – “Where is the train station?” 
Onde está a parada de autocarro? – “Where is the bus stop?”

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12. What is your name? – Qual é o seu nome?

If you want to get to know someone, ask their name by saying “Qual é o seu nome?”

You can then tell them your name by saying “O meu nome é or Me chamo…” (My name is…).

13. How much does this cost? – Quanto custa isso?

If you’re planning to do some shopping in Portugal, one of the best simple Portuguese phrases to learn is “Quanto custa isso?” (how much does this cost?).

14. I don’t understand – Eu não entendo

If you’re new to learning the Portuguese language, you’ll likely have some trouble understanding everything at first. Let people know when you’ve lost them by saying “Eu não entendo” (I don’t understand). You can also say “O quê?” (What/Say that again?)

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15. Do you speak English? – Fala inlgês?

If you’re really struggling and need to find someone who can speak English, it’s polite to ask them first instead of assuming they can speak your language. You can say “Fala inlgês?” (Do you speak English?) or let them know that you don’t speak Portuguese by saying “Não falo português”. You can also say “Eu estou aprendendo Português” (I am learning Portuguese) and people may even help you with some basic phrases.

What are your most important basic Portuguese phrases to learn? Let us know in the comments below!


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