Can You Translate These Basic Portuguese Phrases?


By: Abi Luftig

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

We here at Zoo love foreign languages. And we believe that, even if you never plan to travel, you should learn at least one foreign language in your lifetime. We believe this not only because it's a good idea to never stop learning, but learning a foreign language expands your frame of reference of the world in addition to keeping your mind sharp. We also believe that it's a good idea to be able to communicate with individuals other than those in your daily lives. 

So, whether you choose to learn a foreign language to gain knowledge of other cultures, to talk to that cute new guy or gal in your class, or to prepare for a trip abroad, we salute you. Of course, if you're planning on traveling, the importance of learning some basic phrases in the language of the country you will be visiting takes on a whole new meaning, doesn't it? After all, you will need to know how to ask for food and shelter.

Did you study Portuguese in school? How well did you do? Did you do well enough to ace this quiz of 35 basic Portuguese phrases? Let's get started to find out.

How do you say "hello" in Portuguese?

Portuguese is the official language of (in order of population) Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Portugal, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, East Timor, Macau, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Príncipe. UNESCO says that it is the fastest-growing European language and is catching up to English.


What does "Adeus" mean in Portuguese?

Similar to the Spanish "adios,," "adeus" is the Portuguese word for goodbye. It literally translates to "with God," as in "go with God."


What does "com licença" mean?

Com licença translates as "excuse me" or "pardon me." It is used less as a way of getting attention and more as a way of trying to push through a crowd.


How do you ask someone if they speak English?

Fala is Portuguese for “speak.” Other languages that might be asked about include French (Francês), Spanish (Espanol), German (Alemão), and Italian (Italiano).


What does “A que horas fecha?” mean?

Since many restaurants outside the more touristy areas of Portugal’s city centers close midday, it’s important to know how to ask what time they close? Also important is “a que horas abre,” which means “what time do you open?”


How do you ask “How much is it?”

Portuguese is the sixth most widely spoken native language in the world. It is the most spoken language in South America.


What does “Onde fica a casa de banho” mean?

“Banho” is the word for bathroom typically used in European and African Portuguese. Brazilian and Caribbean Portuguese speakers tend to use the word “banheiro” instead.


How do you ask someone how they are doing?

These are all acceptable ways of asking someone how they are, and their usage depends on the context of the situation and the familiarity the speakers share. Friends in a casual setting typically ask “tudo bem?”


What does “Até já” mean?

“Até já” literally translates to “until already,” but is understood to mean “see you soon.” It’s similar, but not identical to, “até logo,” which means “see you later."


What does “desculpe” mean?

“Desculpe” is used in two different ways. It is used as an apology, or to get someone’s attention, such as a waiter at a restaurant.


How do you respond when someone tells you “desculpe”?

The correct response to "desculpe" is "Não faz mal," which translates as “no worries.” Another slightly more informal response is “sem problema,” which means “no problem.”


What does it mean if something is “fixe”?

In European and African Portuguese, “fixe” has come to mean "cool” (as in “awesome” not as in “in between cold and warm.”) In Brazilian Portuguese, “cool” is said as “legal!”


What are you asking if you say "Como se diz em português..."?

This is how you ask how to say a word or phrase in Portuguese. For instance, "Como se diz em português internet quiz?" is "How do you say internet quiz in Portuguese?" ("Questionário na internet," in case you were wondering.)


How do you say "I don't know" in Portuguese?

"Não sei" is a more formal way to tell someone you don't know the answer to their question. The informal version of this phrase is "Sei lá."


What are you ordering if you ask for "Uma bica, por favor"?

While you could order "um café" (a coffee), locals in Portugal tend to order "uma bica" (an espresso) instead. Portugal has a big café culture, and locally-run coffee shops are popping up everywhere.


What are you saying if you say "Quero o vinho da casa"?

France might have the better PR team, but Portugal's wine is nothing to sneer at. For those less familiar with the different varieties of Portuguese wine, it's always a safe bet to order the house wine, either tinto (red), branco (white), and sometimes verde (green)!


What does "Como se chama" mean?

This is the formal way of asking someone what their name is. A Portuguese name typically consists of two first names and two (sometimes three) surnames.


How do you ask "Do you understand?"

Asking "Percebe?" is how to ask if someone understands what you said. Fun, if odd, Fact: Percebes is the name of an expensive dish made of Gooseneck barnacles.


What does "Deixe-me em paz!" mean?

This is the formal way of telling someone to leave you alone. Since formal ways of speaking include strangers as well as superiors, this is most likely the phrase used if someone is being hassled on the street by someone they don't know..


How do you shout for help in Portuguese?

"Socorro" is most often used when asking strangers for help. "Ajuda" is informal and singular, as if you were asking a friend for help. "Ajudem" is informal and plural, for when you need your entire squad to help.


What are you saying if you shout "Chame a polícia"?

Law enforcement in Portugal is divided into three main groups: Guarda Nacional Republicana (National Republican Guard), Polícia de Segurança Pública (Public Security Police), and Polícia Judiciária (Judicial Police). Law enforcement in Brazil has three tiers at the federal level and two at the state level. Federal law enforcement in Brazil consists of Polícia Federal (Federal Police of Brazil), Polícia Rodoviária Federal (Federal Highway Police), and Polícia Ferroviária Federal (Federal Railroad Police). The state law enforcement is handled by Polícia Militar (Military Police) and Polícia Civil (Civil Police).


How do you say "fire"?

If you see something on fire and you need to alert those around you, shout "fogo!" Portugal, sadly, was host to a rash of fatal wildfires in both June and October of 2017.


What does "obrigado/a" mean?

Obrigado/a depends on the gender of the speaker and not the recipient. Regardless of whom they are thanking, men always say "obrigado" and women always say "obrigada."


How do you say "thank you" in Portuguese?

"You're welcome" is the same in both Spanish and Portuguese, written as "de nada." However, the pronunciation varies depending on which part of the Portuguese-speaking world you're in. Portugal and African countries pronounce it as de nah-dah, but it is pronounced as chee nah-dah in Brazil and Caribbean countries.


What does "Está bem" mean?

"Está bem" can be used in two different contexts. It can be translated as "it's ok" when you agree with someone's idea or suggestion. It can also mean "that's enough" to signal a server at a restaurant that you have enough food on your plate or wine in your glass and they can stop serving you for the time being.


What are you saying if you say "Eu não falo português"?

If someone tries to start a conversation with you in Portuguese and you don't speak the language, this phrase is how you let them know. People who do speak Portuguese are called Lusophones and the Portuguese-speaking world is referred to as the Lusosphere.


What do you want to know if you ask "Aceita cartão de crédito?"

In today's global economy and digital world, most places accept credit cards, especially in major cities and tourist attractions. However, for travelers who like to go off the beaten path and visit smaller towns and villages in the Lusosphere, this is an important phrase to know, just in case.


What are you trying to find by asking "Onde fica a farmácia mais próxima?"

"Onde fica a farmácia mais próxima?" translates to "Where is the nearest chemist/pharmacist?" This is a very important phrase to know, should you find yourself needing first aid supplies or bug bite cream.


What does "Ena" mean?

"Ena!" is an exclamation that means "Wow!" You could also say "Nossa" depending on context and/or location.


What is wrong with you if you tell someone "Estou perdido/a"?

"Perdido" is how a male explains he is lost. "Perdida" is how a female explains she is lost. Much like obrigado/a, the ending of the word depends on the speaker and not the listener.


What are you saying if you tell someone "Preciso de um médico"?

Telling someone "Preciso de um médico" is your best hope for getting medical attention, should you need it. Depending on the severity of your problem, the doutor (doctor) might give you a receita médica (a prescription).


What are you telling someone if you say "Sou alérgico/a a camarão"?

A very important phrase to know for those with severe allergies is "Sou alérgico/a a" followed by whatever they are allergic to, in this case, "camarão", or shrimp. Other common allergies are amendoins (peanuts), ovos (eggs), laticínios (dairy), trigo (wheat), and soja (soy).


What are you trying to locate if you ask, "Como chego ao à estação de trem?"

If you are in Brazil, you would ask for the "estação de trem." If you are in Portugal, you would do better to ask for the "estação de comboios."


What does "Eu sou vegetariano" mean?

For those who are vegetarian or vegan, "vegetariano" and "vegano" are important words to know. However, most of Portuguese cooking tends to involve meat (usually seafood), so your restaurant options might be limited. As of 2013, only 0.3% of Portugal's population identified as vegetarians, but this number is growing slowly.


What are you asking for if you say "Pode dar-me uma garrafa de cerveja?"

"Pode dar-me uma garrafa de cerveja?" translates as "May I have a bottle of beer?" Brazil is the third largest market for beer worldwide, after China and the US. (Sorry, Germany.)


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