The joy of languages

20 Portuguese Survival Phrases

Portugal is the home of port, peri-peri, and delicious cream tarts. It’s also somewhere many of us go to enjoy sunshine, beaches, amazing cities, and a seductive way of life.

It’s always good manners to learn some of the local language before going to a new country, so Memrise is here to help, along with our exclusive Native Speaker videos!

So next time before you get on the plane, have a go at learning these fun Portuguese phrases, and of course check out more in our official Memrise Portuguese course!

1. Que maravilha! / How wonderful!

“Maravilha” is a great word in Portuguese! Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, where they also speak Portuguese, is commonly called “a cidade maravilhosa”, which roughly translates as “the wonderful city”.

2. Vamos lá! / Let’s go

With so many world-class sights and cities in Portugal, such as beautiful Porto in the north, the sunny Algarve in the south, and Lisbon, the country’s capital in the centre, you’ll want to go everywhere! Vamos lá!

3. Sinto muito / I’m sorry

Just in case you find yourself in a sticky situation while you’re in Portugal. Miscommunications and misunderstandings sometimes happen! Here’s how to apologise in Portuguese.

4. O meu nome é…

One of the greatest joys of travelling is the people you meet. Here’s how you’d introduce yourself while in Portugal or any Portuguese speaking country:

5. Estás com sede? / Are you thirsty?

Remember to keep hydrated in the hot temperatures! And look out for your friends too. If you wanted to change this to “I’m thirsty”, you’d just say “estou com sede”.

6. Pode dar-nos a ementa por favor? / Can we have the menu please?

Portugal benefits from being on the Atlantic coast but retaining a Mediterranean feel. That means gorgeous food is going to be served, from delicious fish to beautiful salads.

7. Bom dia / Good morning

Did you know that Portugal is the only country in mainland Europe to share the same timezone as the UK?

8. Estou feliz / I’m happy

Although actually, studies suggest that Portugal may in fact be amongst the least happiest countries in Europe!

9. Gosto de laranjas / I like oranges

Did you know that Portuguese merchants might have been the first to introduce oranges to Europe?

10. Há um multibanco? / Is there an ATM?

Portugal uses the Euro, like most of the rest of the EU. Generally, Portugal has quite a low cost of living compared with the rest of Europe.

11. O que é aquilo? / What’s that?

If you’re in Lisbon, why not take a trip down to the Mercado da Ribeira? This famous indoor market is full of different foods, fruit, vegetables, arts and crafts. Find out what everything is with this super useful phrase!

12. Tem namorada? / Does he/she have a girlfriend?

Did you know that the Portuguese are the least likely nation to get married in Europe?

13. É alérgico a frutos secos / He’s allergic to nuts

If you’re travelling with an allergy, this is one of those need-to-know phrases that could save your life! No Brazil nuts for you 🇧🇷

14. Que horas são? / What time is it?

One of the main differences between Portugal and Spain is that in Portugal, restaurants open much earlier, at times that will seem much more “normal” to the rest of Europe! Expect lunch to be around midday, and dinner to be served from about 7pm.

15. Viva! / Hurray!

There are many local and national festivals in Portugal the whole year round. Like in all Catholic countries, the biggest of these is the Semana Santa (Holy Week) which takes place around Easter.

16. Onde é o hospital? / Where is the hospital?

Portugal is served by the Serviço Nacional de Saúde, which is a publicly funded health service similar to the NHS in the UK. EU visitors can use their European Health Insurance Cards to receive treatment while on holiday. Non-EU tourists should look into getting health insurance.

17. Já chega / That’s enough

This phrase literally means “already arrives”!

18. Onde é a estação de comboios? / Where’s the train station?

Portugal doesn’t have the greatest reputation in the world for its train service, but that may not be entirely fair. Portugal now has high speed trains connecting the capital Lisbon with Faro in the south and Porto in the north in just 3 hours.

19. Estamos perdidos / We’re lost

Lisbon has a comprehensive and relatively inexpensive public transportation system, meaning everywhere should be within fairly easy reach. Don’t forget to check out its iconic yellow trams, which run on line 28. If you’ve ever been to Budapest in Hungary, you may recognise these!

20. Pode falar mais devagar, por favor?

Many people mistake European Portuguese for Russian when they hear it, because of its many ‘sh’ sounds and dark vowels. Brazilian Portuguese sounds completely different, however, with its musical tones. Note that some Brazilians may struggle to understand European Portuguese, while people in Portugal generally understand Brazilians much better.

Want to learn some more Portuguese before your next holiday in Portugal? Check out Memrise!

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