8 Facts about Portuguese Language.

1. Origin and Classification of Portuguese.

Even though there is evidence that Portuguese was introduced in around 200 BCE, it became the official language of Portugal only in 1290. Portuguese evolved from Latin and it is being categorized as Romance language. The other languages that belong to this group are French, Romanian, Italian and Spanish. Since Portuguese shares quite a lot of similarities with Spanish, most Portuguese speakers are able to understand this foreign language quite well. However the same cannot be said about Spanish speakers since they find it difficult to understand Portuguese. It should be also mentioned that Portuguese has even more similarities with Galician, which is a language that is being spoken in northwestern part of Spain. Some other important dates for Portuguese is year 1986, when it became the official language of EU (European Union).

2. Statistics.

portuguese-statisticsPortuguese has around 230 million of speakers, which makes it the 8-th most spoken language in the world and 3-rd in Europe. While this language originates from Europe, the largest number of speakers can be found in Brazil. Due to previous colonization, Portuguese has quite a large number of speakers in some African countries too. Based on future projections, the number of Portuguese speakers is expected to grow further. Due to immigration, quite large communities of Portuguese speakers can be also found in US. It is estimated that this number can be between 0.8 – 1.2 million speakers.

3. Official Language in 4 Different Continents.

Due to long history of this foreign language, Portuguese is spoken in four different continents. In Europe it is being spoken in Portugal, in South America – Brazil, Asia – Macau and East Timor and in Africa – Sao Tome, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau as well as Mozambique. All in all, Portuguese has the official language status in 10 different countries / territories.

4. Two Major Dialects.

Due to so many different countries speaking Portuguese it is quite normal that this foreign language would have many different dialects. Two of the most commonly distinguished dialects are Brazilian and Standard Portuguese.

Although these dialects have quite a lot of differences they are still being considered as mutually intelligible. The main differences between these dialects can be found in vocabulary (Brazilian Portuguese has more loan words). There are quite a lot of words in Portugal and Brazil that describes the same, but are totally different. A few examples could be bus is ônibus (Brazilian) and autocarro (European); mouse is mouse (Brazilian) and rato (European). Differences in pronunciation of the same words is also quite common among these dialects too. In addition to vocabulary differences, there is some distinction in syntax. For instance, speakers of Standard Portuguese dialect tend to add pronoun (object) after the verb while Brazilian speakers – before the verb.

While there are other dialects too, they have fewer differences than compared to Brazilian. One of the main reasons for that is that other Portuguese colonies declared their independence only recently. Due to this spoken Portuguese in these colonies tends to be very similar to European Portuguese.

It is also worthwhile to mention that dialect differences within regions are more noticeable in Portugal. This is quite surprising fact keeping in mind that Brazil is significantly larger than compared to Portugal.

5. The Alphabet.

The alphabet of Portuguese language consists of a total of 23 letters, where 11 letters have diacritics. The pronunciation of these letters is quite similar to English, so it is quite easy for most learners to read and write in this foreign language. Due to large influence of English language, recently Portuguese alphabet was modified. Three new letters were included into the alphabet – k, y as well as w. The main reason for this is that these letters are needed for writing English loan words and foreign names.

6. Official Language of International Organizations.

Portuguese has the official language status in many international organizations. The list includes European Union (EU), International Monetary Fund (IMF), The Common Market of the South (Mercosul), African Union and a few others. Since it has a working language status in so many organizations, learning Portuguese can be a great choice for people who are seeking international career.

7. Grammar – Difficult to Learn.

portuguese-grammarWhen it comes to grammar, it can be said that Portuguese is not an easy language to learn and there are a couple of reasons for that. Verbs in Portuguese can be inflected and there are a total of 3 possible moods, 3 tenses, 3 voices and 3 aspects. Adjectives, articles, nouns and pronouns can be inflected too. There are 2 possible genders – feminine & masculine and 2 possible numbers – plural or singular. Learning Portuguese grammar can be easier for learners who are familiar with other Romance languages since they share quite a lot of similarities in this area too. For instance, the format of Portuguese sentence is similar to English so most learners are able to express their ideas without too much difficulty.

8. Influences from Other Languages.

One of the languages that influenced Portuguese is Arabic. During the time of 700 – 1500 CE Spain was ruled by Moors, which also affected Portugal. The influence of this can be seen in Portuguese language and its vocabulary. Some of the words that originates from Arabic include alface (lettuce), azeite (olive oil), aldeia (village) and many others.

Some words originated from Portuguese can be found in English language too. These include words like piranha, cobra, mango, banana, flamingo and many others.

How to learn Portuguese language on your own.

One of the biggest tasks while starting to learn a new foreign language might be to find the right resources that are suitable for your learning style. Without having a clear plan what material you will use for studying you might end up jumping from one book to another without clear idea what you are learning. So it is important to plan ahead and make sure you have all resources for successful studying.

Learn Portuguese via books and e-books.

There are quite a lot of books available on Amazon that can help you learn Portuguese on your own pace. It can be used as the only material for learning or in addition to classes or online lessons. Some books are dedicated to teaching you grammar others speaking and listening so you can choose based on what you want to learn. Bellow you can find a list of some of them.


1. Essential Portuguese grammar.

This book is dedicated to teaching the most essential grammar rules. With this 128 page book you will be able to understand different tenses, how to use articles and other aspects of grammar. It is not a complete guide to Portuguese grammar, but for this low price it’s definitely worth considering adding it to your list of learning materials.


2. Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar: A Practical Guide.

This is a more complex book on grammar for those who want to learn not just basics, but also need to understand more complicated aspects of grammar. In addition to this book you can also get a workbook by the same authors, which would allow you to practice what you have learned. It is not as cheap as the first book, but 496 pages of material make it worth every dollar.


3. Larousse Concise Dictionary: Portuguese-English / English-Portuguese.

While learning any foreign language at some point it is impossible to study without a proper dictionary. When it comes to Portuguese language this particular dictionary seems to be one of the best choices. It includes about 1290 pages and the reviews from users are quite positive.


4. The Everything Learning Brazilian Book: Speak, Write, and Understand Basic Portuguese.

As the name itself suggest this book is aimed at teaching you all aspects of this language. The material presented in the book can’t be called extensive, but it is a great introduction to Portuguese. It is not a book investment and it contains about 304 pages of material and also a CD practice your speaking and listening skills.

These are only a few examples of books that are available for learners of Portuguese Brazilian. You can definitely find more of them on Amazon or on other websites if you spend some time searching. For people who don’t have budget to spend on learning Portuguese it might be a good idea to visit local library where you might find some similar books for free.

Study via online courses.

keep-calm-learn-portuguese-brazilianOnline courses is yet another convenient way to learn foreign languages for people who do not have enough time to attend regular classes or go to language schools abroad. It can be said that it is also a cheaper option since usually one class or lesson with a private tutor can cost as much as the whole online course. When it comes to Portuguese there aren’t that many online courses available as with other more popular languages such as Spanish, French and etc. Even though there are courses available the problem is that they are up to some level. Since the popularity of Portuguese as a foreign language started to increase only recently, popular language software’s only offers from 1 to 3 levels. Even though there are less levels than with more popular languages it’s still a great way to start learning and people can actually learn enough to be considered an intermediate or even advance learner. It is definitely enough to communicate while traveling or handling simple business conversations. For people who want to learn Portuguese there are 4 well-known courses to choose from. The first one is a Rosetta Stone software, which offers 3 levels for Brazilian dialect. Even though it is one of the most popular online courses for learning foreign languages it is quite often criticized for not including explanations and making learning quite confusing. The second one is Pimsleur lessons, which offers audios for learning both European and Brazilian dialects. Although it’s only worth considering learning Brazilian since European has only 10 lessons. It is a great way to study for audible learners who want to learn how to speak and don’t intend to learn grammar. The third one is Rocket course, which offers to learn Brazilian Portuguese through audios and different software’s, games. It is one of the cheapest and most dynamic courses for learning this language. Last but not least is a Fluenz course, which offers two levels for Portuguese learners. It is still quite new program, but its innovative design and various activities in the lessons make it a good way to start learning Portuguese. If you are interested in finding out more about each of these courses read more detailed reviews in this website.

Use free resources to learn Portuguese.

In case you do not have a budget for Portuguese learning or don’t want to spend money it might be a good idea to find some free material. The first place you should look is YouTube, since you can find free lessons that are aimed for beginners. It will help you learn some basic phrases that will come in handy while traveling. The next step would be to look for some websites that offer grammar explanations. Even though it is not easy to learn grammar, in order to progress you will still need to understand at least basic rules. Also there is always an option to go to the library and borrow some books from there.

Learning Portuguese: is it difficult?

What you should know about Portuguese language.

Portuguese is considered to be one of the most widely spoken languages all over the world. Currently there are more than 210 million native speakers in four different continents, which make it the 6-th most spoken language in the world and third in Europe. Although the language itself originated from Europe (Portugal) the vast majority of speakers are elsewhere. The biggest number of speakers can be found in Brazil (184 million) and Portugal (10.5 million). Currently it is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Principe and Sao Tome. Portuguese is also one of the official languages of Macau together with Chinese (Cantonese), Equatorial Guinea together with French and East Timor together with Tetun.

When it comes to dialects, Standard Portuguese is based on dialect of Lisbon. Different dialects within Portugal are very limited and the differences are minor. However when we compare Portuguese and Brazilian dialects the difference is quite huge. The differences can be found in syntax, verbs and pronunciation of vowels. Although these differences are more in a spoken form and there are less of them between educated Portugal and Brazil people. Even though there are quite a lot of differences between these dialects it can be said that people would be able to understand each other and communicate. When we compare other dialects that are spoken in Asia and Africa they are considered to be closer to European rather than Brazilian.

How difficult it is to learn Portuguese?

learn-all-the-portuguese-wordsPortuguese is much easier to learn for people who are already familiar with other Romance languages such as Spanish, French and Italian. If you already speak one of these languages it will be much easier learning Portuguese or vice versa. The similarity can be seen in vocabulary and language structure. According to FSI (Foreign Service Institute) scale Portuguese falls into first category of easiest languages to learn for English speakers. Based on this rating it is estimated that you can learn this language within 23 weeks or 575 hours. By “learn” it meant that you can achieve speaking level (S3) and reading level (R3). Other languages that are in this group are Spanish, French, Italian and etc. According to the same rating more difficult languages like Chinese, Japanese and Arabic can take up to 64 weeks to achieve the same level. Although this rating is useful when comparing difficulty of languages it doesn’t necessary mean that it will take you that much time to learn it. There are quite a lot of factors which will determine your learning length such as determination, hours you can spend learning and etc.

The more difficult parts of Portuguese are pronunciation. There are some sounds that might be quite difficult to pronounce for some people. Some examples could be a sounds “ão” and “ç” that are challenging for most learners. However even though you might make mistakes while pronouncing words or sounds you will still be easily understood, which is the most important part. The grammar is also quite difficult due to many tenses and verb forms. Just like many Romance languages, Portuguese also has two genders: masculine and feminine. In most cases masculine nouns ends with “o“, while feminine with “a“, although there are some exceptions. An article that goes before noun is an indication of gender. One interesting feature of this language is that you can make a simple sentence a question without making changes to word order like in English. This can be done by raising your tone at the end of a sentence.

While learning Portuguese you will soon notice some familiar words. You can find some words in English language that were loaned from Portuguese for example piranha, flamingo and etc.

Some interesting facts about Portuguese language.

  • The vast majority of Portuguese vocabulary originated from Latin and from languages like French, Arabic and Italian;
  • There are different ways of saying “you” in Portuguese. When you want to be polite and are taking with older people you should use “senhor” for men and “senhora” for women instead of “tu“.
  • Most people who speak Portuguese can understand Spanish, although it’s not mutual;
  • If we would compare 18-th century Portuguese to Brazilian and European dialects, surprisingly the closer one would be Brazilian;
  • Even though the main roots of this language comes from Latin, quite a lot of vocabulary is from Arabic origin;