Many Portuguese, especially the younger generations, are now fluent in English. But learning the language basics will greatly improve your trip and help you get around Lisbon and Portugal.
Of course, Google Translate can help you decipher menus and signs, understand conversations and get the pronunciation right.
However, you’ll be more prepared if you familiarise with some key Portuguese phrases such as “Olá“, “Obrigado” and “Onde fica…?” when you’re planning your trip to Lisboa and beyond.
Portuguese is a Roman language spoken by about 260 million people according to official numbers, 80% of which are concentrated in Brazil.
The language is spoken in nine countries that belong to a Lusophone Commonwealth known as CPLP (Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa): Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Portugal, and São Tomé and Príncipe.
However, Portuguese is only spoken natively by most population in Portugal, Brazil, Angola, and the archipelago of São Tomé and Príncipe. In the remaining countries, Portuguese is an official language that many citizens use as a second language.
There are two main varieties of Portuguese, the European Portuguese and the Brazilian Portuguese, but differences in vocabulary, intonation and pronunciation can be found in all nine countries.
Portuguese uses the Latin alphabet plus
- ã / ãe / ão / õe for vowel nasalization
- â / ê / ô for vowel closing
- á / é / í / ó / ú for syllable stressing and vowel opening
- à for agglutination of two words
- ç for giving “c” the “s” sound before “a”, “o” and “u”
Portuguese has masculine and feminine forms of words. Where necessary, we include them, separated by a slash with the masculine form first, eg obrigado/a (m/f).
We also include word phonetics and use phonemes such as “ɐ” pronounced as in “up”, “ɨ” as in “roses”, “ɔ” as in “dog”, “ɛ” as in “head”, and “ʃ” as in “ship”.
Common Words and Phrases
If you speak another Roman language, like Spanish (or Castilian), French, Italian or Romanian, you may able to recognise some common words, phrases or sentences.
|Good morning||Bom dia (used before noon)||bõ díɐ|
|Good afternoon||Boa tarde (used after noon)||boɐ taɾdɨ|
|Good evening/night||Boa noite||boɐ nojtɨ|
|Goodbye||Adeus / Tchau||ɐdéwʃ / tʃáw|
|Yes / No||Sim / Não||sĩ / nãw|
|Please||Por favor||pur fɐvór|
|Speak English?||Fala inglês?||fálɐ ĩgléʃ|
|I don’t understand.||Não percebo.||nãw pɨrsébu|
|How much is it?||Quanto custa?||kwɐ̃tu kuʃtɐ|
|What’s your name?||Como se chama?||kómu sɨ ʃɐ´mɐ|
|My name is…||Chamo-me…||ʃɐmúmɨ|
Words for Getting Around
When exploring Lisbon and beyond, you might need to identify and use some common words and phrases for directions and transport.
|Where is… ?||Onde fica…?||õdɨ fíkɐ|
|Subway / Underground||Metro||mɛ´tru|
|Bus stop||Paragem de autocarro||pɐráʒɐ̃j dɨ ɐwtokáru|
|Funicular / Lift||Ascensor / Elevador||ɐʃsẽsór / ilɨvɐdór|
|Train station||Estação de comboios||ɨʃɐsãw dɨ kõbɔ´juʃ|
|One ticket, please.||Um bilhete, por favor.||ũ biʎétɨ|
|One-way / Return||Ida / Ida e volta||ídɐ / ídɐ i vɔ´ltɐ|
While visiting Lisbon and other destinations in Portugal, it helps to know words for locations and facilities.
|Avenue / Street||Avenida / Rua||ɐvɨnídɐ / rúɐ|
|City centre||Centro da cidade||sẽtru dɐ sidádɨ|
|Entrance / Exit||Entrada / Saída||ẽtrádɐ / sɐídɐ|
|Open / Closed||Aberto / Fechado||ɐbértu / fɨʃadu|
|Men / Women||Homens / Mulheres||omẽʃ / muʎɛrɨʃ|