Before starting to learn Portuguese, one should make a vital decision: which version to study first? Generally Portuguese has two types: European spoken in the country of its origin, Portugal and Brazilian used in the biggest Portuguese-spoken country in the world. There are also Angolan or Mozambique versions, but above mentioned two matter the most. What are the main differences between BP and EP?


First thing noticed, while having experience with spoken BP and EP, is the accent. BP is spoken with open vowels and more slowly, hence for some it is easier to understand at first. In Portugal people speak very fast, so the first impression is that the language is rushed or even mumbled. However, it is worth to point out, that in BP there are numerous regional accents, thus travelling to different sides of the country may come with troubles in communicating, even with knowing the main version of the language. In Portugal there are far less, and far less differentiated from each other, local accents.


Spelling used to be an issue some time ago with BP having simpler versions of many words – in EP even silent letters were written and in BP they were omitted. That has vastly changed with the spelling reforms of the recent years, whose aim was to unify both types of language. Many words are now spelled the same and the more straightforward versions of BP prevailed. There are a few differences in spelling that were left, like for word “fact” – in BP is “fato”, in EP “facto”, or “reception” – in BP “recepcão”, whereas in EP it is “receção”.

Brazilian and European Portuguese – Grammar


Most notably differences in grammar are:

  • In expressions used for describing ongoing actions. In Portugal they use “estar a fazer” scheme, whereas in Brazil the gerund comes in handy with “estar fazendo” expression. 
  • In EP it is normal and permitted to omit the personal pronoun before verbs, whereas in BP even though it is acceptable, it is not frequent. When proclaiming love Brazilians will say: “Eu te amo”, whereas Portuguese: “Amo-te”.
  • In EP there is a very strict distinction between informal and formal “you”: “você” is formal and declined in third person singular, whereas “tu” is informal, declined in second person. In Brazil “você” works for every context, also informal.


On the field of vocabulary there are many differences. BP takes vastly from South American indigenous languages combing words from them with Portuguese, whereas EP is closely related to other European Roman languages, and this is where most vocabulary differences come from. Most common examples are:

EnglishBrazilian PortugueseEuropean Portuguese
Ice CreamSorveteGelado
Pineapple Abacaxi Ananás

Watch out also for false friends! “Rapariga” in EP is “girl” – a very common word – but in BP it means “prostitute”. “Propina” means “students fee at university” in EP, but in BP it means “bribe”. “Cara” is “face” in both, but in BP it is also used as equivalent of “dude”.

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