Beat the Hazards of Learning Portuguese

Are you thinking of living in Portugal? Are you afraid of the big bad wolf of language?  May you not fulfill your dream from the fear of not being able to speak the language and even worse, understand it? Then join the club as so many others have.

It’s not all doom and gloom though as with perseverance, it is possible. Thousands upon thousands have proved that and so many of them, would have imagined they could never have learnt what is often considered an impossible language to learn.

Granted, it may not be easy. It is not a matter of just learning to speak the language and I feel, from phrasebooks alone, you’ll never learn. Immersion is required and an understanding that learning a language involves at least five elements; the memorizing of the words themselves, the reading of, speech itself, pronunciation and the all important, understanding of what you hear.

In my attempts to master what I initially considered to be an impossible task, I’ve compiled a selection of links that I perceive to be of value to myself and others.  The introductions as seen below, will often be from the sites themselves.  Though far from comprehensive, the compilation shall be added to over a period of time, so do pop back and check for possible additions. The list may be short now (April 2014), but shall grow.

Before proceeding, let me just say one thing. When I first took on the challenge of learning Portuguese, I soon came to the conclusion that I was obviously extremely dense. That said, I suppose I was under the same impression whilst learning to drive. After all, how can you operate three pedals, hold the steering wheel with both hands as suggested in the highway code, change gear and use the indicators all at the same time. Oh, I forgot, be alert as to what’s going on around you too. Perseverance – Perseverança saved the day and since, I have (tenho) driven hundreds of thousands of miles. It can be done as is the case with the learning of Portuguese.

Adeus, Bom Dia. 🙂


Hacking Portuguese

There are a lot of websites for learning Portuguese out there. This is not one of them. This is a website about how to learn Portuguese, as intelligently and efficiently as possible. Hacking Portuguese refers to hacking in the sense of ”any sort of trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method to increase productivity and efficiency“. Recently, some linguaphiles on the web have been applying the art of hacking to language learning. On this site, we’ll look at how we can apply these techniques to learning Portuguese in particular.

Because hacking any language involves having the right tools and resources at your disposal, much of this site is dedicated to collecting and reviewing the resources that are out there. I’ve spent the last 3.5 years obsessively combing through every book, audio course, app, video, podcast, and blog I could find in my own journey to become fluent in Brazilian Portuguese. This website is the result of all that effort, a place to share with you those resources that I’ve found to be indispensable for motivated learners. I hope the tools here will be useful for both intermediate students who want to reach fluency faster, and for beginners wondering where to start. I’ll also apologize up front that though the name of this website is not Hacking Brazilian Portuguese, there is a deep Brazilian bias to this site that reflects my own love of Brazilian culture.

Visit Hacking Portuguese

Word Reference Portuguese

A community of thousands from around the world to help and explain the Portuguese language. The community is so large that an answer is seldom more than an hour away.

Visit Wordreference Portuguese


Linguee is a unique translation tool combining an editorial dictionary and a search engine with which you can search hundreds of millions of bilingual texts for words and expressions.

The Linguee search results are divided into two sections. On the left hand side you see results from our reliable editorial dictionary. This provides you with a quick overview of various translations of your search term. On the right hand side, you see example sentences from other sources to give you an idea of how your search term has been translated in context.

Compared to traditional online dictionaries, Linguee contains about 1,000 times more translated texts, which are displayed in full sentences. Linguee shows translations for expressions such as “strong evidence”, “strong relationship” or “strong opinion”, and even for rare expressions or specific technical terms.

Visit Linquee

Voice and Speech Source

Voice and speech source is a place to go if a little help is required to create some of the vowel sounds to perfect your Portuguese. It is interactive. The vowels page is linked to here.

Visit Voice and Speech Source 


A lively introduction to Portuguese in 11 short parts with printable activities. The video clips have been improved and now come with a full screen option. There are also transcripts to read, key phrases to learn Portuguese sounds and pronunciation with audio clips. This seems like it could be very helpful but, in my case, I’m unable to see the clips.

Visit Talk BBC Portuguese  

Local Papers – Portuguese

One way of brushing up on language structure is to read newspapers and, even better still if studying from afar, is to do so online. Jornais Portuguese is a site that list a huge number of online news sites in European Portuguese. What could be better. The publications are arranged by city (cidade), therefore adding to the benefit of such a site so receiving up to date news for Norte, Porto, Lisboa, Centro etc. plus Açores and Madeira are catered for. Obviously, the publications are in Portuguese but, remember I mentioned above. Between the two, they become an invaluable aid in the study of the Portuguese language.

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Learning Portuguese

Below is the first paragraph from Learning Portuguese. The site is very well put together with clear explanations throughout. I found the pronunciation guide to be most useful and without a very clear understanding in the respect, European Portuguese is a real headache.

There are 4 defined ‘qualities’ of Portuguese vowels, known as open, closed, reduced, and nasal. These are not really hard-and-fast rules of pronunciation, more a categorisation of the ranges of sound that the vowels can represent. It is important to recognise these distinctions, because certain words rely on them to make their meaning clear. For example, the word ‘jogo’ can mean either ‘game’ or ‘I play’, depending on whether the pronunciation of the first ‘o’ is open or closed. The basic ranges of sounds for these vowel qualities are set out in the following table:

Visit Learning Portuguese 

Conjuga-me ?

A great little site if you have problems like. So what’s Conjuga-me ? Conjuga-me (conjugate me), it’s a tool to conjugate verbs in Portuguese. Given an infinitive form conjuga-me will output the conjugation table for regular and irregular verbs.

Visit Conjuga-me ?

Instituto Camoes Portugal

Here is a very useful site that provides accurate sounds of the portuguese language. It is written all in Portuguese though that can be used as a learning aid.

The Portuguese language, like any other, expresses variations that are noted when comparing speakers of various countries where Portuguese is the national and / or official language – Portugal, Brazil, Angola, for example – or speakers of different regions of the same country. Alongside this geographic variation, it is undisputed that the Portuguese, like all languages, also has a temporal variation, ie, a development that can be known through various sources and testimonies.

Since language is a preferred form of human behavior, it is natural that varies in time. This change, called diachronic or historical parallels in changing concepts of life of a society, change in the arts, philosophy and science, and even the changing nature itself. For the same basic reasons – the language as a form of social and individual behavior, the use of language by groups of individuals separated geographically, or socially – all languages ​​exhibit variations in space arising from different geographical or social origin of speakers.

The most obvious changes are the differences between national varieties as in the case of the Portuguese, those notes between the language spoken in Portugal (European Portuguese, forward PE), Brazil (Brazilian Portuguese, hereafter PB), and other countries which was adopted as an official language: Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe and East Timor.

Visit Instituto Camoes Portugal

Lingro – The Cool Site to aid in Reading

I shall not say too much about the Lingro site as it needs to be experienced for what it is. That said it is a perfect place to help improve your reading and writing skills as it permits you to add the url of any site you like and it translates the text. The site is perfect for reading long articles where the results are interactive in that you can click on any word and receive a translation in your chosen language.

Visit Lingro

Russell Walker – Learn Portuguese

Here is a small clip from Russell Walker’s site on learning Portuguese. It’s from the introduction page and well worth a visit. 

This is not so much a language course in the traditional sense – it is more of a study companion, which attempts to explain the things that you need to know to be successful in learning Portuguese. I have used technical terms where I felt it was necessary or useful, but have always attempted to explain what they mean as understandably as I can, and I have worked on the assumption that you know absolutely nothing about grammar already.

I have tried to make liberal use of the more common technical terms, because I think it is good not only to know what they mean, but also to become familiar with them. That way, you at least have a fighting chance when studying other reference works. I have also tried to avoid using terms that have not already been explained – so hopefully you should be able to read this through from beginning to end and gain a progressive understanding. There is also a glossary at the end for handy reference when you forget what a term means.

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Tradutex by Helena Rocha

Helena Rocha has a university degree in Portuguese and French studies (Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa) and she took DELE SUPERIOR, from Instituto Cervantes in Spanish. Helena teaches Portuguese, French, Spanish and Portuguese and has done so since 2002. I also does translations.

Apart from the above, she runs a website that has some most useful tutorials where explanations are well thought out. By visiting Youtube and searching for Tradtex, you will come across additional educational material for those studying European Portuguese.

Visit Tradutex by Helen Rocha


The pronunciation of the Portuguese of Portugal

This is a detailed description of the pronunciation of the Portuguese language as spoken in Portugal, and how it corresponds to the written language. Many original sound samples illustrate the unique sounds of the language.

This description does not fully cover the pronunciation of Brazilian Portuguese, although some of the more striking differences are indicated where appropriate.

The descriptions are presented ordered in two different ways:

  • Alphabetically
    This enables the reader to look up information about the pronunciation of written words, by looking for alphabetic characters and combinations thereof, alone and as influenced by neighbouring characters. The various phonemes each letter or letter combination represents are exemplified, and cross-linked to the corresponding entry of the Phonemic listing.
    Some comments are given in the alphabetic listing too, but the more detailed descriptions are in the phonemic listing and the notes.
  • Phonemically
    Here the phonemes of the language are presented, consonants from the front of the mouth to the back, vowels from front to back and from high to low tongue positions, monophthongs and diphthongs.
    Examples and sound samples are given, usually the same as in the alphabetic listing, and there are cross-links to the way or ways each phoneme can be written.

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IPA for Portuguese and Galician from Wikipedia




ExamplesEnglish approximation


besta; fábula (BP)




bula (EP, G); placebo[1]between baby and bevy or best


cavalo; livre (P); libre (G)[2]vest or between baby and bevy



fada; padre; rapadura[1]this


duradouro; seu dente

this or dice




cidade; digo[3]dice or engine


fase; café




gato; guerra



goa; magarefe

between go and ahold or get


trigo; amiga[1]between go and ahold


cores; laca; quente; kelvin





lua; calor[4]lot


livro; lipídio; males[5]limp; fault (RP) or world (GA)



mal; principal[6][4]toll; tow or lot


velho (P); vello (G)[7]roughly like million


mesa; comer[4]almighty


nata; ano[4]sonic


 unha; inglesa; can; álbum (G)[4]sing


manhã (P); mañá (G)roughly like canyon[8]


peito; topo





raro; carro; enrascado[9][10]guttural r (P) or trilled r (G)


lar; morte; por favor[9][10][11]ladder in American English
or guttural r


raro; caro; bravo; por acaso[10][11]ladder in American English




já; gente (P); xa; xente (G)rouge or shop



rasgado; portas brancas[12]rouge or zebra



casa; existir; portas abertas

zebra or sack


zona; azulzebra or thought



dez; foz

sheep; sketch or bath


cimeira; braço (P); brazo (G)sack or thought


saco; máximo; isso (P); iso (G)sack


escola; mastro; portas fechadas

sheep or sketch



xarope; baixoshop

chave; acharshop or chop




tipo; ponte[3]stand or cheese


tempo; átomo

IPAMarginal consonants



ExamplesEnglish approximation


 ghato; trigho (G)[13]roughly like hook



 IPA Vowels




ExamplesEnglish approximation 




taça; lá; às; Camões; alface



Laurêncio; Ajinomoto

about or father 


taça; manhã; carapaça

aura; finger (RP) or father 
cama; banho; câmera[15] and also
anglicisms as
rush, bug
purse (RP) or father 



meta, sé



prémio/prêmio[15] incrívelset or play 



meto; sê; acepção[16]play 


semáforo[17]emission or play 


pente; pequeno; se[17]emission; see or play 


meandro; e

see or play 


cima[15] si; dia; paíssee 



formosa; formosos; avó

ball (GA) ~ lot (RP) 


bónus/bônus[15] hospitalball or sole (GA) 



avô; oliveira

sole (GA) ~ sword (RP) 



loop or sole (GA) 


boneco; voo; vi-o; frio[18] 


lume[15] rua; saúdeloop 
IPANasal vowels 



ExamplesEnglish approximation 


canto; ângulo; âmbar; lã[19]uhn-huh (nasal /ɐ/) 

cento; sempre; essência[20]nasal /e/ 


cinto; sim; ímpar

nasal /i/ 


conto; cônscio; bom; cômputo

nasal /o/ 


fungo; algum; cúmplice

nasal /u/ 
IPA Semivowels[21][22] 



ExamplesEnglish approximation 


pais; saia; cães; corações

you or boy 


quando; guarda; frequente; quão

wine or cow 



ExamplesEnglish approximation 


livre [ˈlivɾɨ] ~ [ˈlivɾi]

lexical stress 


contramão [ˌkõtɾɐˈmɐ̃w]

secondary stress 


dia [ˈdi.ɐ] ~ [ˈdʒi.ɐ]

syllable break 

Daily Grammar

Daily Grammar is not a site dedicated to the study of the Portuguese language, far from. What it is, is a place to visit when you are unsure of grammatical terminology and terminology that would also be used in the study of Portuguese grammar. In short, Daily Grammar is a fun, convenient way to learn grammar. By simplifying complex grammar subjects, Daily Grammar is a great teaching tool for both public and home-schooled children, ESL students, and anyone needing to refresh English grammar skills. By practicing language rules, any person able to read will be able to master English grammar.

Daily Grammar consists of 440 lessons and 88 quizzes. Lessons 1-90 cover the eight parts of speech, which are verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Lessons 91-300 cover the parts of the sentence, such as appositives, predicate nominatives, direct objects, prepositional phrases, clauses, and verbals. Lessons 301-440 cover the mechanics of grammar, which is also known as capitalization and punctuation.

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