Wait, Brazilians speak Spanish, right? Not quite, as Brazil is the largest Portuguese speaking country in the world. Many people commonly assume they speak Spanish or that Portuguese is just a Spanish dialect, but Portuguese is the 7th most spoken language in the world. Besides Brazil and Portugal, several countries including Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and São Tomé and Príncipe have Portuguese as their official language. Also, Portuguese is a co-official language in East Timor (Timor Leste), Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China. Therefore, it makes sense to use hacks to learn Portuguese for Spanish Speakers. One of the best benefits of learning Spanish is that it serves as a gateway to other romance languages and check out some tips below!
The letter R has different sounds per language from a guttural sound in French, a rolling sound in Spanish, to an H sound in Portuguese. One of Portuguese’s most unique traits is the use of the R, which becomes an H- sound at the beginning of a word as well as double Rs. For example, the word rápido (fast) in Spanish, would be pronounced Ha-pidu in Portugese. Another example of this unique sound is arroz or rice in Spanish. However, Portuguese Speakers would say a-Hoz, due to the double R. Lastly, the letter r can sound like an English r when used in the middle of a word, like obrigado(a) meaning thank you.
While this slight pronunciation might seem trivial, it can make it tough to understand spoken Portuguese. In fact, many Spanish speakers (myself included), find it way easier to read Portuguese. Unlike Spanish, Portuguese is not a phonetic language, meaning the words don’t have similar pronunciation compared to written form.
Double L becomes Ch
Spanish has some quirks, especially the double ll, which can be pronounced as a y sound, soft j sound, or even a sh- sound depending on the country. Portuguese shares this with Spanish as many words that have double lls become ch in Portuguese. For instance, llamar (to call) becomes chamar and la lluvia (rain) becomes a chuvia in Portuguese. This tip is primarily relevant to words that start with the double ll in Spanish. Also, chuvia is pronounced SHU-via, similar to Argentinian/Uruguayan Spanish. One possible explanation for this similarity is the close proximity between Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. Also, this region was flooded with Italian immigrants in the early-mid 20th century, which greatly impacted these countries’ dialects.
Lack of Stem Changing Verbs
When you were first learning Spanish, you’ll likely remember learning about boot verbs. Boot verbs, as the name implies, refers to how certain verbs like poder, mover and contar are conjugated. For example, Poder’s (can/be able to) present tense can be seen below with the ue words forming a boot.
As you can imagine, it can be quite tricky to remember all the boot verbs. Luckily, Portuguese present tense conjugations are much easier than Spanish. For instance, Poder has the same meaning in Portuguese and is easier to conjugate. Also, Poder is pronunciation Po-dger, unlike the Spanish pronunciation Po-der. Below is the conjugation of Poder in Portuguese.
As shown above, the conjugation is easier with only 4 variations (posso, pode, podemos, podem) instead of 6 in Spanish. Lastly, you can even use 3 variations by using the phrase a gente meaning “we”. So instead of we can (podemos), you could say a gente pode. In fact, a gente is commonly used in Brazil as a “we” pronoun. This small adjustment make it easier to learn Portuguese for Spanish speakers.
Dad words become Dade
Being a native English speaker has many advantages, including facilitating language learning. For example, you probably know that many -ity words like community become -dad words in Spanish. So community would be communidad in Spanish and humanity would be humanidad. Portuguese takes this a step further as -dad verbs become -dade verbs. Therefore, communidad becomes communidade and humanidad turns into humanidade. Also, the -dade ending is pronounced da-dge, since di and de (only at the end of the word) are pronounced with a G sound in Brazil.
Ción words have ção endings
Similar to the last hack, ción words take on ção endings. Many English words like nation, can be translated into Spanish by replacing the -tion with ción . So nation becomes nación in Spanish. If you want to say nación in Portuguese, replace the ción with ção . I believe that Portuguese pronunciation is tougher than Spanish and ão words prove it. Portuguese has more letters and accents than Spanish, with many being pronounced with a nasal tone.
Spanish is a great language to learn for many reasons, including acting as a base to learn other languages. Spanish can help you learn Portuguese, a related language spoken in places like Portugal, Brazil, many African Countries, and more! These 5 simple tricks to learn Portuguese for Spanish Speakers can be quite helpful and hopefully you won’t be like Bart Simpson in the clip below.
What other ways to learn Portuguese for Spanish Speakers? Please share below!