Short Portuguese Lessons

Contents of lesson 1:



Simple Words

The Numbers


Portuguese is one of the Romance languages, descendent from the vulgar Latin. It is though related to languages such as French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, and Catalan. It is very similar to Spanish, and in fact, the small differences between the two languages allow mutual understanding with little difficulty, easily overcome with some practice.

Structurally, and like its Romance sisters, Portuguese is a flexive language. The role of each element in the sentence is indicated by prepositions, and word order is important, eventhough not as rigid as in English. The language phonetics vary in some extent between different parts of the Portuguese-speaking world, but without limiting mutual understanding.

I confess that the grammar is far more complicated than in English, but not very different from other Romance tongues. There are two genders: masculine and feminine, but no neutral. Adjectives must agree with the nouns thay are describing, but this is easier to do in Portuguese than in many other languages. Verbs are perhaps the most complicated thing, but anyone who has ever learned French or Spanish won't find that very hard.


The first thing to know when learning a language is to say hello! You'll also need to say goodbye, and of course, to wish people a good day. These expressions are the most common in Portugal, but there are many others.

Olá - Hello, Hi
Oi - Hello, Hi (used mainly in Brazil)
Bom dia - Good morning
Boa tarde - Good afternoon
Boa noite - Good evening, Good night
Chau, Adeus - Goodbye

Simple Words

Being limited to saying hello is quite frustrating. To expand your vocabulary, here is a list of some simple words. They might not be very useful, but we'll need them for lesson 2, when we will start making some short sentences.

Some Verbs:

Ser - To be (permanent form)
Estar - To be (transient form)
Ter - To have
Cantar - To sing
Comer - To eat
Partir - To break, to leave

Some Nouns:

Mulher - Woman
Homem - Man
Rapariga - Girl
Rapaz - Boy
Gato - Cat
Cão - Dog

Some Adjectives:

Bom / Boa - Good
Mau / Má - Bad
Belo / Bela - Beautiful
Feio / Feia - Ugly
Novo / Nova - Young, New
Velho / Velha - Old

As you may have noticed, there are two forms for each adjective: the masculine and the feminine. In portuguese, the adjective must agree with the noun in both gender and number. For those of you who are getting scared and thinking that this is too complicated, just look at the above examples. In most cases it is very straightforward to turn the masculine into feminine: just change the final o to an a. Want to make it plural? Even more simple: just add an s.

The Numbers

There are people who collect numbers. Really, the first thing (and very often the only thing...) they learn in a foreign language are the numbers. Why people like them so much? I don't know, but I don't want to make anyone sad, so here are the numbers in Portuguese from 0 to 20:

0 - Zero
1 - Um
2 - Dois
3 - Três
4 - Quatro
5 - Cinco
6 - Seis
7 - Sete
8 - Oito
9 - Nove
10 - Dez
11 - Onze
12 - Doze
13 - Treze
14 - Catorze (also "Quatorze" in Brazil)
15 - Quinze
16 - Dezasseis (also "Dezesseis" in Brazil)
17 - Dezassete (also "Dezessete" in Brazil)
18 - Dezoito
19 - Dezanove
20 - Vinte

And that's all for lesson 1. You are welcome to continue and go on for lesson 2. There you will learn how to conjugate some verbs, and weŽll also start making some simple sentences.

Please send me your comments, sugestions, or whatever! If there's anything you would like to see included in these Short Portuguese lessons, please tell me so!

Lesson 2 Go on to Lesson 2

Lessons Back to the Short Portuguese Lessons page

Last updated: 97/04/04

Dario Oliveira Teixeira