Useful Phrases in Portuguese

Posted on March 09, 2018
Filed under Travel travel

When you’re in a foreign country where people don’t use English as one of their primary languages, it’s always useful to have a few words and phrases up your sleeve to try smooth your way a little. Take a look at these phrases that we recommend you have on hand during your trip to sunny Portugal.

Being Polite

Even if you can’t string an entire sentence together, there is no question that native residents will appreciate a genuine effort to be polite. After all – it’s just good manners!

  • Please - Por favor/Faz favor (pòr fah-vor/fasj fah-vor)
  • Thank you – Obrigado (to men) / Obrigada (to women) (o-brie-ga-doe/dah)
  • Excuse me - Desculpe (disj-koelp)
  • Hello - Olá (oh-lah)
  • Goodbye - Adeus (a-de-oesj)
  • How are you? - Como está? (koh-moe sjtah?)
  • Very well, thank you - Bem, obrigado/da (being o-brie-ga-doe/da)
  • I’m sorry. - Desculpe. (diesj-koelp)

The Basics

Once you go past the niceties, try putting a few words together and get across some basic sentences. It’s always helpful to be able to ask people if they speak English in their native tongue.

And endlessly handy to be able to find out what things cost before you buy them. Being able to ask the location of the nearest toilet is obligatory!

  • Yes/No - Sim/Não (sieng/naung)
  • Do you speak English? - Fala inlgês? (fa-lah ieng-gleesj?)
  • How much does this cost? - Quanto custa isto? (kwan-toe koesj-tah isj-toe)
  • Open - Aberto (ah-BEHR-too)
  • Closed - Fechado (feh-SHAH-doh)
  • Entrance - Entrada (ehn-TRAH-dah)
  • Exit - Saída (sah-EE-dah)
  • Toilet - Banheiro (Bow-ñei-roh)
  • Men - Homens (OH-mehnsh)
  • Women - Mulheres (moo-LYEH-rsh)
  • Today - Hoje
  • Tomorrow - Amanhã

Essential phrases

These four basic phrases are pretty essential to have in your back pocket whenever you’re travelling. Master these, and you should be ok for most holiday situations, including ordering food.

  • Do you have any rooms available? - Há quartos disponíveis? Or Do you have any vacant rooms? - Tem um quarto livre? (teing oeng kwar-too lievr)
  • I have a reservation. - Tenho um quarto reservado (ten-joe oeng kwar-toe re-ser-va-do)
  • Do you accept credit cards? - Aceita cartões de crédito?
  • Where is the toilet? - Onde é a casa de banho? (OHN-deh eh ah KAH-zah deh BAH-nyoo?)
  • A glass of red (/white) wine, please. - Um copo com vinho tinto (/branco), por favor.

When you’re out and about

You’re bound to be doing some sightseeing throughout your adventure in Portugal. Unless you’re lucky enough to be part of a guided tour, these short phrases will come in handy while you’re out seeing the sights.

  • Where is? - Onde é que é?, Onde fica...? Onde é...?
  • Bus stop - estação de autocarros (esj-ta-saung d’oh-too-kah-roesj)
  • Railway station - estação de comboios (esj-ta-saung de kòm-boi-joesj)
  • Tourist information - posto de turismo (posj-toe de toe-riezj-moe)
  • How do I get to _____ ? - Como chego ao (à)
Worldcare Australia - Portuguese Language - Useful Phrases

In times of need

Unfortunately we sometimes encounter some less than ideal situations when holidaying in a foreign country (and sometimes in our own country for that matter!).

Here are some words and phrases to use should you be unlucky enough to find yourself in need of some assistance.

  • Help – Socorro (soh-KOH-roh)
  • Help me – Ajude(a)-me (ah-ZHOO-deh(dah)-meh)
  • Leave me alone - Deixe(a)-me em paz (DAY-sheh(shah)-meh ehn pahsh)
  • Police - Polícia (poo-LEE-syah)
  • I need your help - Preciso da sua(tua) ajuda (preh-SEE-zoo dah swah(twah) ah-ZHOO-dah)
  • It's an emergency - É uma emergência (eh OO-mah ee-mehr-ZHEHN-syah)
  • I'm lost - Estou perdido(a) (ish-TOH pehr-DEE-doo(ah))


Whether you want to be able to say how many ginjinha you want to order (or count how many you’ve consumed!) or need to understand the price of those amazing shoes that are calling out to go home with you, numbers are always good to know in any language.

  • 0 zero (ZEH-roo)
  • 1 um (oon) uma (ooma)
  • 2 dois (doysh)duas (doo-ahsh)
  • 3 três (trehyesh)
  • 4 quatro (KWAH-troo)
  • 5 cinco (SEEN-koo)
  • 6 seis (saysh)
  • 7 sete (SEH-chee)
  • 8 oito (OY-too)
  • 9 nove (NOH-vee)
  • 10 dez (daysh)

Do It Yourself

If you’re thinking about taking a language course before heading overseas so you can be truly immersed in the culture – bravo to you! There are so many amazing benefits of learning a new language – and they’re not all about your incredible adventure of a lifetime either. Learning a new language boosts your brain power. Big time.

With lots of new rules, etymology and meanings, your brain will be stretched to the max to recognise a new language structure. It will sharpen skills well beyond language, included reading, negotiating and problem solving. Funnily enough, it will also improve your use of English. Learning a new language makes you more aware of vocabulary, grammar, sentence construction and conversation in your native tongue.

Sometimes you can be lucky enough to find a class to attend and learn face-to-face with other people. This has obvious advantages of being corrected on your pronunciation immediately and also practicing conversation in a group. But it can be tricky to find such a course – let alone at a venue and time that works for you.

This is where the internet comes into its own. Jump online to check out all the different options available to learn a new language in record time. For an interesting perspective on how to pick up a new language, check out this article written by a man who fluently speaks nine languages. He shares some really practical advice on how to prepare yourself and get the most out of the learning experience.

Tim Ferris of ‘Four Hour Work Week’ fame has also written a very long and detailed account of how to learn any language in record time and never forget it. In it he details the stages of learning and how long each one should take. 

From learning how to hear, produce and spell the sounds of your target audience, through to ideas on how to continually boost your new vocabulary, this is definitely worth a read if you’re considering going down this route.

Learning Resources

There are also some incredibly nifty tools and apps for learning a language.

Duolingo is an extremely popular and fun way to learn a new language. Broken into short lessons based on the principle of gamification, you’ll receive constant feedback on your progress, whilst having fun the entire time. Learn Portuguese while you’re on public transport, or when you’re waiting at the doctor’s office – or pretty much anywhere you like!

Another app-based language learning experience is Babbel. Similarly to Duolingo, Babbel can be downloaded to your smart phone so you can keep learning wherever you might be. It boasts that you’ll be able to start speaking your chosen language right from the first lesson, with integrated speech recognition helping to improve your pronunciation.

Have a Backup

If all else fails, it’s good to have a backup plan. Gone are the days of frantically leafing through the well-worn pages of a local phrase book – there are some brilliant tools and apps for translating different languages on the spot.

This article provides a terrific review of the best translation tools around. Take a look and check out which ones might be best for you. Similarly, this article reviews nine different translation apps – all for iPhone. If you’re a devotee of Apple technology, this is a must-read as part of your travel preparation.


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