The differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese

The differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese

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You can learn a lot about a language by its country’s history and culture. So, if one of your goals is to learn Portuguese, the history of Brazil and the history of Portugal are very important in order to understand not only the Portuguese language but also the main differences between both variants.

Origin of the European Portuguese

The European Portuguese origin comes from the vulgar Latin. The language was first introduced by the roman who occupied the Iberian Peninsula. We can call Portuguese a neolatin language, since it is one of the modern languages that originated from the vulgar Latin. The Portuguese language suffered modifications with the invasion of the Germans and later the Arabs, although their language was never established in total. In the XV century, the peninsula was reconquered from the Arabs and after that different dialects emerged from the contact of the Arabic and Latin.

Although the language wasn’t established in total, the Arabic occupation in Portugal was crucial to shape the Portuguese language, given that there are more than one thousand words in Portuguese that have Arabic roots. Which is also why Arabs can learn Portuguese more easily! Here are some examples of those words:






السكر (asukkar)



الكحول (al-kuhul)



حي (hayu)



الكابد (al-kabid)



المخدة (al-mohada)



الزليج (azulejo)



الزعفران (azafran)

Origin of the Brazilian Portuguese

Portugal occupied Brazil in 1500 and the Portuguese language took root, while the indigenous languages started to disappear slowly. But their existence was crucial for the Portuguese spoken in Brazil nowadays. The Brazilian Portuguese is influenced by the indigenous languages, along with the African language from the slaves that were taken by the Portuguese. In 1759 the Portuguese language became the official language of Brazil after the Jesuits were expelled.

Main differences

Você/ Tu

“Tu” means “you” in English, it is the second person in the singular form, it is informal and used with people you know well. But, in a formal occasion, in Portugal is used “você”. In Brazil, the term “você” is used in both occasions, whether you are talking to someone you know very well or someone you don’t know. Although, in both European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese you can use terms like Ms. (Senhora) or Mr. (Senhor) in an extremely formal occasion.


The pronunciation is one of the biggest differences between both variants. For example, in European Portuguese words tend to be pronounced with a more closed mouth, the vowels aren’t as open as they are in the Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation. In Brazilian Portuguese the “s”, when it is at the end of the word it is pronounced like “ss” and in the European Portuguese it is pronounced like “sh”. The “t”, usually when in the middle of the word, in the Brazilian Portuguese is pronounced as “ch” and in the European Portuguese it is similar to the way you pronounce it in English.


The vocabulary is also one of the biggest differences both variants carry. These are some of the many words that vary from the European Portuguese to the Brazilian Portuguese. Take a look:


European Portuguese

Brazilian Portuguese







ice cream










One of the things that differ from the Brazilian Portuguese to the European Portuguese is the use of gerund. In the Brazilian variant it is very common to use the gerund in the verbs of action. And, despite the gerund being used in the European variant as well, it is not as usual as it is in the Brazilian one. For example:


European Portuguese

Brazilian Portuguese

I am running.

Eu estou a correr.

Estou correndo.

I am eating.

Eu estou a comer.

Estou comendo.

I am talking.

Eu estou a falar.

Estou falando.

I am driving.

Eu estou a conduzir.

Estou dirigindo.

How to learn the two variants

It is not as confusing as it sounds and, once you get a hold of it, you will be perfectly capable of distinguishing both variants from one another. Whether you’re thinking of travelling to Portugal or Brazil or you are just thinking of learning a new language, VocApp is the way to go! Our flashcards won’t let you down and can help you learn a language more effectively! And if you want to learn more differences between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese you can check out the course about the expressions used in both variants. This way you can not only learn the Portuguese language, but also learn what differs in the two variants.

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