1000 Words You Already Know in Portuguese

Posted on 20. Sep, 2007 by in Learning

Did you know that you can use a large swath of your English vocabulary in Portuguese?

It is no secret that Portuguese is a Romance Language and that it shares many cognates with languages such as French, Italian, Spanish and English. Since this blog focuses on helping English speakers learn Portuguese, let’s dive into an examination of some different categories of English/Portuguese cognates. [I will save the caveats for the end of the article]

1. Nouns of Quality – Words ending in ‘TY’

Take an English noun ending in ‘TY’ replace the ‘TY’ with ‘DADE‘ to form (in many cases) the correct Portuguese word. It is worth noting that these resulting Portuguese nouns are generally female.

  • CIDADE = CITY
  • VELOCIDADE = VELOCITY
  • SIMPLICIDADE = SIMPLICITY
  • NATURALIDADE = NATURALITY
  • CAPACIDADE = CAPACITY


2. Words ending in ‘TION’

Following a similar method as in 1. simply replace the ‘TION’ with ‘ÇÃO’ to form the Portuguese correspondent.

  • SIMPLIFICAÇÃO = SIMPLIFICATION
  • NAÇÃO = NATION
  • OBSERVAÇÃO = OBSERVATION
  • NATURALIZAÇÃO = NATURALIZATION
  • SENSAÇÃO = SENSATION

Again as in 1. these Portuguese nouns are typically female in gender.

3. Common Adverbs – Words Ending in ‘LY’

Using the English root, one can formt he Portuguese equivalent by replacing ‘LY’ with ‘MENTE.’

  • NATURALMENTE = NATURALLY
  • GENETICAMENTE = GENETICALLY
  • ORALMENTE = ORALLY

4. Words Ending in ‘ENCE’

In these cases, it is possible to switch ‘ENCE’ with ‘ÊNCIA.’

  • ESSÊNCIA = ESSENCE
  • REVERÊNCIA = REVERENCE
  • FREQÜÊNCIA = FREQUENCE
  • ELOQÜÊNCIA = ELOQUENCE

5. The Grand Finale – Words that do not change

Many words that end in ‘AL’ in English are exactly the same in Portuguese. Since you already know these words, take all that time you saved by not having to memorize them, and practice the sound of the terminal ‘AL’ in Portuguese. Remember, do not pronounce the final ‘L,’ favoring a sound more like the ‘AU’ dipthong in English.

  • NATURAL = NATURAL
  • TOTAL = TOTAL
  • GENERAL = GENERAL
  • FATAL = FATAL
  • SENSUAL = SENSUAL

Caveats: Okay… so nothing in life is that easy. As you might imagine, there are many many exceptions to these rules, and it is imperative that one memorize the exceptions in order to use these categories properly. For example: geralmente is cognate with generally, and is used much as English speakers use the word typically. Another example: capacidade is the correct word to use to say ability; as far as I know (and my dictionary agrees) there is no such word as abilidade in Portuguese.

Obrigado André for showing me this article at English Experts, a great blog for Brazilians learning English, and to whoever wrote that email back in the day!!

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No Responses to “1000 Words You Already Know in Portuguese”

  1. Wanderley Caloni 20 September 2007 at 10:26 pm #

    Hello!

    Thanks for the blog, it is being really useful for me, even being a Brazilian guy. I use it to understand the opposite of your explanations.

    Let me give you a little tip: the word abilidade exists indeed, but it begins with an H: habilidade.

    []s

  2. Ann 1 October 2007 at 8:38 pm #

    how do you use SER in a sentence

  3. Person Number 2 22 December 2008 at 8:58 pm #

    Yo this is confusing but I got some of it after saying and saying it

  4. Leonardo 25 December 2008 at 2:58 pm #

    Hi,

    There is the world “habilidade” in Portuguese. It has pretty much the same meaning as ability, and you probably could not find it because it carries an “h” in Portuguese.

    One very important exception to the tips mentioned is the word “eventualmente”, as it means either “às vezes” (=sometimes) or refers to something that may happen but is not certain that will. It therefore has very different meaning from “eventually”. Also, the noun “eventualidade” is used to designate something that is not foreseen, and normally indicates something bad to which we need to get prepared.

    Leonardo


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