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We get a lot of questions on Facebook about why we don’t feature content teaching European Portuguese. The simple answer is that none of the Portuguese bloggers know European Portuguese – only Brazilian Portuguese. The longer answer, which follows in detail, is that the two are so different that they are taught individually, almost as different languages. In fact, some people from Portugal don’t acknowledge Brazilian Portuguese as the same language; they call the language brasileiro, or Brazilian.
While Brazilian Portuguese developed from European Portuguese, the two dialects diverged enormously over time, much more so than UK English and American English, for example. There are several areas where the languages differ, so let’s take a look at a few of them.
Despite reforms to the Portuguese language, differences in spelling in continental Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese abound. European Portuguese tends to be closer to Spanish – for example, the word current is atual in Brazilian Portuguese, whereas in European Portuguese, it’s actual. Click here to see more examples.
European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese use very different vocabulary, and speakers may have trouble understanding each other because of it (along with spoken accents). European Portuguese tends to have words more closely related to other Romance languages, particularly Spanish, whereas Brazilian Portuguese has more words from South American indigenous languages. A good example of this is the word for pineapple: in Portugal, it’s ananas, like in Spanish, whereas in Brazil, it’s abacaxi, which comes from Tupi.
3. Infinitive & gerund
In Brazil, you use the gerund to describe something you are doing right now, whereas in Portugal, you use the infinitive. Here’s an example, using the sentence “I am working.”
Brazil: Estou trabalhando.
Portuguese: Estou a trabalhar.
4. Object pronouns
In Brazil, the object pronoun tends to come before the verb, whereas in Portugal, it’s more common for the object pronoun to follow the verb with a dash. Here’s an example, using the sentence “Nobody warned me.”
Brazil: Ninguém me avisou.
Portugal: Ninguém avisou-me.
The word você (you) is more commonly used in Brazil than in Portugal. In Brazil, it’s frequently used throughout the country for both formal and informal you, along with the informal tu in certain parts of the country. Meanwhile, in Portugal, people tend to use just tu for informal you, and o senhor/a senhora in formal situations. However, the use of você is increasing amongst young people in Portugal.
For more information about the differences between the two types of Portuguese, click here.