Talk Portuguese - Guides and notes

Useful information

Guides and notesHere's a compilation of useful guides and notes from all Talk Portuguese topics.

Pronunciation guide
  • Bom dia
    The om in bom is an example of a Portuguese 'nasal' sound.
    In nasal sounds, the final m isn't quite fully pronounced.

    Está, estou, adeus
    At the end of a word and before consonants s sounds like sh.

  • Chamo-me, Como se chama?
    The ch is similar to the sh sound in English: shop

    O meu colega, O meu namorado
    A final or single o is always pronounced oo like moo in English.

    Muito prazer
    Z at the beginning or in the middle of a word sounds like the z in English: zebra.

  • Inglesa, escocesa, galesa, irlandesa
    An s between vowels sounds like z in English maze.

    S at the beginning of a word sounds like s in English sun.

  • Se faz favor
    At the end of words, z sounds more like g as in mirage.

    Um copo de vinho branco, vinho tinto
    The nh is pronounced like the ny sound in canyon.

  • Pão, salmão
    The end of words ending in ão is pronounced like the ow in the English miaow.

    Ç before a, o, or u and c before e and i sound like the c in the English lace.

  • Uma noite, para esta noite, en nome de, de casal
    You rarely hear the e at the end of words. It's almost swallowed.

  • É longe
    G followed by e or i sounds like the s in the English usual.

    Há um/uma …, Há um sinal
    The á sounds like the u in the English upper.

    O castelo está aberto hoje?, sabe a que horas fecha?, fecha às oito horas
    H is always silent in Portuguese.

  • um autocarro, um carro, um barco
    A single r at the beginning or a double r in the middle of a words is gently rolled.

  • Bom dia!, gosto de, gostaria de
    In Brazilian Portuguese, d sounds like j before i or a final unstressed e.

    Restaurante, jogar futebol
    In Brazilian Portuguese, t sounds like ch before i or a final unstressed e.

    Gosto de, gostaria de, jogar, ir para um jogo de futebol
    When g is followed by a, u or o, it sounds like the g in the English got.

    jogar tênis, jogar golfe
    Sometimes, there are differences in European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. For example, in some accents and words such as ténis - tênis, golf - golfe.

Grammar notes
  • Obrigado, obrigada
    In Portuguese, everything and everybody (people, places and things) has a gender: they are either masculine (m) or feminine (f).
    Many masculine words end in o and feminine words often end in a. Likewise, the word for thanks is obrigado when said by a man, or obrigada when said by a woman.

  • Este é o meu amigo, Esta é a minha amiga
    The words for the in Portuguese are o for masculine and a for feminine people or objects.
    O amigo is a male friend and a amiga is a female one.
    With human beings the gender of a noun is obvious enough. However, with other objects, you'll need to learn the gender as you go along.

  • Sou...
    Sou, é, somos are forms of the verb ser, to be.
    Sou means I am, as in Sou escocesa, I'm Scottish (f).
    É is the equivalent of he is, she is and also you are, so É inglês means He is English or You are English.
    Somos means we are, as in Somos galesas, We are Welsh (f).
    This can become a question, as in É português? Are you Portuguese? or Is he Portuguese?

    De onde é?
    To mention where you're from use Sou de, I'm from. It can be followed by the name of a city, as in Sou de Londres, I'm from London.
    Most countries require 'from the' depending on the gender of the country: do for masculine, as in Sou do País de Gales, I’m from Wales and da for feminine, as in Sou da Inglaterra, lit. I’m from (the) England, Sou da Escócia, I’m from Scotland, Sou da Irlanda, I’m from Ireland.

    Sou estudante, sou pescador
    When talking about jobs, sou is followed directly by the job title, as opposed to the English I am a ...

  • Um / uma
    The words for a/an have masculine and feminine forms. You say um café because café is masculine and uma cerveja because cerveja is feminine.
    As well as meaning a/an, um and uma also mean one. The only low number other than 'one' that takes a feminine form is two, as in: dois sumos (m) and duas limonadas (f).

  • Sardinhas, legumes, azeitonas, morangos, pastéis de nata
    Words ending in vowels are made plural by adding an s: azeitona, olive becomes azeitonas, olives.
    Words ending in consonants generally add es: doutor becomes doutores. But there are a few exceptions, for example: l becomes is, as in hotel and its plural hotéis, and m becomes ns, as in jardim, garden and its plural jardins, gardens.

  • Eu sou vegetariano, eu sou vegetariana, eu vou comer
    Portuguese people rarely use the words for I, you, he, she. This is because the form of the verb normally shows quite clearly which person you are referring to.
    When they do use it, it's usually to make a distinction between someone else: Eu vou comer uma carne de porco, I’m going to have the pork, compared with what others at the table are going to have.

  • Quartos vagos, individual
    Adjectives take the same form as the nouns they describe. So you'd say quartos vagos, rooms available and quartos individuais, single rooms for masculine and plural, but cerveja francesa, French beer, since cerveja is singular and feminine.
    Adjectives usually come after the nouns they describe.

  • É perto, não é longe de aqui
    Another use of the verb ser, to be, is to talk about where things are located. For example, É perto, It’s close and Não é longe de aqui, No, it's not far from here.

  • Posso/pode/podemos
    These are all forms of the verb poder, to be able to in the present tense.
    They are also very useful as key phrases in the question form: Posso? - May I?
    Pode? - Can you? and
    Podemos? - May we?
    They’re usually followed by a verb:
    Pode repetir, por favor? - Can you repeat that please?
    Posso falar com o Senhor ...? - May I speak to Mr…?

  • Adoro, gosto de
    These are very useful phrases to use, especially in Brazil, where people like to express themselves with lots of enthusiasm: Adoro ir à praia, I love going to the beach.
    Gosto is always followed by de: Gosto de jogar futebol, I like to play football.
    When asking someone else, change the o to an a: Gosta de ir dançar? Do you like to go dancing?

Cultural notes
  • Meeting and greeting

    The expressions to use when meeting and greeting peopleIn Portuguese, people use the expressions Bom dia, Boa tarde and Boa noite both when saying hello and goodbye, as in Olá, bom dia - Hello, good morning or Adeus, boa tarde - Goodbye and good afternoon to you.
    For good evening, boa tarde is used before it gets dark and boa noite after.

  • Cultural Renaissance in Portugal

    A description of cultural Renaissance in PortugalLisbon is one of the most exciting places for artists to work in the Iberian peninsula, with countless art galleries, museums and other cultural attractions. Every summer, there's a simultaneous opening of many of the city's art galleries.

  • Summer festival in Lisbon

    The description of a summer festival in LisbonOne of the most colourful events in Lisbon is the Marchas de Lisboa, a regular summer parade that takes place each June. The various marching groups are judged on their singing, costumes and floats.

  • Café culture in Portugal

    A description of the café culture in PortugalOne of the delights of a visit to Portugal is sampling the café culture. It’s warm enough to sit outside from April to October and there are cafés everywhere.

  • Never far from the sea

    A description of food marketsMost towns in Portugal have a regular fresh produce market, Um mercado. They’re excellent places for buying fruit, vegetables, olives and, of course, for the freshest of fish, Peixe, straight from the Atlantic.

  • Eating out in Portugal

    A description of the types of food Portugal has to offerThere's a huge choice of fish and seafood in Portuguese restaurants, most famously bacalhau, dried cod and camarões, shrimps. There's also a range of sweet desserts like pudim flan, crème caramel, arroz doce, rice pudding and gelados, ice cream.

  • The home of Port wine

    A description of the home of Port wineThe city of Oporto is the economic and cultural capital of northern Portugal. It’s famous for its magnificent bridges and, of course, its age-old trade in port wine. It’s also a popular centre for visitors to the nearby Douro Valley.

  • Surviving an earthquake

    Buildings that survived the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755The Convento do Carmo or Carmelite monastery is one of very few medieval buildings to have survived the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. However, it was badly damaged. The chancel, the only part that remains intact, contains an archaeological museum.

  • Means of transport

    A description of transport in LisbonIn Lisbon, you may find some unusual ways of getting around, for example by tram, O eléctrico or the funicular, O elevador. In the north, trains take you on remarkable journeys through high mountain passes and you can also enjoy boat trips on the major rivers.

  • Salvador and the tropical north-east of Brazil

    A description of Salvador and the tropical north-east of BrazilBrazil is the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world. Salvador was its capital for two hundred years from 1549 and one of South America’s largest slave ports. The State of Bahia is still known today as A alma negra do Brasil, The black soul of Brazil.

User guide
  • Step by step

    Talk Portuguese is made up of 10 short units: Greetings, Finding your way, Summer in Brazil, etc. including one extra unit with documentaries on the history of Portugal and its cities and towns.
    The course is most effective if you follow the units in sequence, but you can just dip into them, if you like.
    Try doing one unit per visit. It will take you about 30 minutes to complete, depending on the number of videos in each unit.

    Tutors may also want to read about ideas on using Talk Portuguese in the classroom and more tips for tutors.

  • What do you need?

    Flash software for the videos, sound files, slideshows and essential phrases. You can download it, free of charge, by following this link: Flash. Without it, you'll still see the text and the pictures, but you won't be able to enjoy the audio and video.

  • The features

    The video clips can be used with a full screen option. There are also transcripts to read and key language to learn.
    Every unit includes slideshows, with pictures and sound, to practise the language. These are edited highlights of the Talk Portuguese videos. Watch them with the Portuguese text in vision, or with an English translation. Click through the slideshows using the Next button. At the end, you'll get a summary. To access the slideshows you’ll need Flash (see above).

  • Key language and essential phrases

    These are the most useful words and phrases of the unit. As well as the translations there's also help with pronunciation and grammar.
    In the essential phrases section, you can click on the Start button to listen and repeat the phrases one by one.

  • Quizzes

    A link at the end of the slideshows leads you to the quizzes. Use them to check how much you've learnt. If you already know some Portuguese you might want to start with these, using them to brush up your knowledge.

  • Cultural notes

    These contain interesting facts about today's Portugal and Brazil, as well as useful information for the traveller.


Useful resources


Check out the TV transcripts

For tutors on BBC Active:

Introduction to the Tutor's Guide

Print out activities and worksheets

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