6 Key Differences Between Portuguese And Brazilian (That Every Portuguese Learner Should Know)

6 Key Differences Between Portuguese And Brazilian (That Every Portuguese Learner Should Know)

If you’ve clicked to read this article, you’ve probably been intrigued by the title about the differences between Portuguese spoken in Europe and Brazilian Portuguese.

No matter if you’re already studying Portuguese or still haven’t decided which one to learn, you surely want some precise answers about the language (or even languages).

Many think that Portuguese spoken in Brazil and the language spoken in Portugal are two independent languages. Very similar, but independent.

The other half is entirely sure that it is one language and that Brazilian and European Portuguese differ in several minor linguistic parts.

It can be a million-dollar answer, unless you keep reading because, in the following lines, you will find out whether it is one language with different varieties or they are two separate languages.

Are European Portuguese And Brazilian One Language?

With around 250 million speakers and 11 Portuguese-speaking countries, Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world. 

Portuguese is one of the Romance languages, the descendant of vulgar Latin. It shares the language family tree with Spanish, Catalan, French, Italian, And Romanian.

Therefore, according to linguistics, Portuguese is one language, with different variants of the language.  One of the reasons why so many people think that Portuguese spoken in Brazil and the one spoken in Portugal are two independent languages is because of cultural and historical differences.

6 Main Differences Between Portuguese And Brazilian

Although it is one language, it doesn’t necessarily mean that no differences can be found. Language is a living thing, with the tendency to change over time, especially when its speakers don’t live close to each other.

If we put aside Portuguese slang words, the following differences between Portuguese and Brazilian are the most apparent ones any person can understand. 

Moreover, they can be quite useful for Portuguese students and help them in the learning paths.

Pronunciation

One of the main differences why people think that these two languages are different is the pronunciation.

Some consonants are pronounced in different ways, like the ‘S’ consonant. In Brazilian, at the end of a word, this consonant is pronounced as SS, while in European Portuguese it is pronounced as SH.

There is a difference in pronouncing vowels, too. Brazilian pronounce vowels longer, with wide opened mouths, and European pronounce them without opening their mouth much.

Accent

Those who hear the language for the first time say that Brazilian sounds are very clear. On the other hand, European Portuguese sounds like mumbling. The reason why Brazilian is more pleased to an ear than European Portuguese is in the fact how they pronounce vowels, what you may see in the previous lines.

Moreover, Brazil has much more regional accents, and therefore, more differences within one country.

Interestingly, in Rio de Janeiro, people pronounce the letter ‘s’ at the end of a word quite similarly as they do in Portugal.

Spelling

Even though it is one language, years and years of distance between Brazil and Portugal made them differ not only historically or culturally, but in spelling as well.

Some words are spelled differently, such as ‘recepção’ in Brazilian. In European Portuguese, this word is spelled as ‘receção.’ The ‘P’ letter is silent in European, while in Brazilian it has to be written.

Another difference lies in the loanwords. Brazilian often uses words from American English, while European usually takes words that have Latin roots. According to this fact, European Portuguese isn’t so open to the new foreign words as Brazilian.

Vocabulary

As you already suppose, many words are different in Brazilian and European Portuguese.

One of the main reasons why the two Portuguese variants differ in vocabulary lies in the previous explanation: Brazilians tend to loan words mainly from American English and indigenous languages, while Portuguese, if necessary, takes words from Romance languages.

Below you can see the list of different words.

European Portuguese

Brazilian Portuguese

English

Gelado

Sorvete

Ice cream

Frigorifico

Geladeira

Refrigerator

Ananás

Abacaxi

Pineapple

Chávena

Xícara

Cup

Autocarro

Ônibus

Bus

 

Grammar

In Brazilian, many nouns can be converted into verbs. In European Portuguese, that’s not the case. 

Let’s take a look at the following example: the phrase ‘dar os parabéns,’ which means ‘to congratulate’ is used like this in European Portuguese. The word ‘paraben(s)’ is a noun, and ‘dar’ is a verb. In Brazilian, people would rather say ‘parabenizar.’ Having the previous in mind, you can see how in Brazilian, from the noun ‘paraben’  is created a verb.

Informal And Formal Speech

It is the part where any Portuguese learner can see the difference between the varieties.

When talking about informal and formal speech, European Portuguese is considered more formal than Brazilian. To make it more clear, let’s take a look at the example.

In Brazilian Portuguese, the word ‘você’ is used in an informal way, in the meaning ‘you.’ In European Portuguese, if you want to use the pronoun ‘you’ informally, you use ‘tu.’ Europeans don’t use the word  ‘você’ often. In fact, they consider it a bit harsh and tend to use the third person singular for formal conversations.

Brazilian Portuguese vs. Portugal Portuguese: Which One to Learn?

Even though there are differences between these two Portuguese dialects, you don’t have to decide right away which one to learn.

We suggest learning the language itself. When you get to the point that you have a basic, decent knowledge to communicate with native speakers, you will easily master either Brazilian or European Portuguese.

However, we can give you some tips that might be helpful in your decision.

Choose European Portuguese if:

  • You want to be able to communicate with native speakers in any of the Portuguese-speaking countries.
  • You want to use the language more formally
  • You want to travel or live in Portugal

 

Choose Brazilian Portuguese if:

  • You want to travel, visit or live in Brazil.
  • You like South America, its culture, history, and tradition.
  • You want to use the language informally and casually.

 

As much as they differ from each other, those differences are minor. Besides, these two are, after all, one language. 

There are many Portuguese YouTube channels for learning either of the variants.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve mentioned several times, the differences between Portuguese and Brazilian are the main ones, but they don’t have to be the reason you’ll choose one variant over the other.

True that the decision is all yours but for a start, it would be ideal not to think about the dialects but to focus on learning Portuguese in general.

Don’t forget that whichever you choose, the language is the same. Just decide to learn Portuguese.

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