45 Basic Portuguese Phrases and Words for Absolute Beginners

Basic Portuguese Greetings

Greetings are often the first thing you cover when learning a new language—and in Portuguese, it’s no different.

Whether you need a reminder of your basic hellos and goodbyes, or you’re yet to learn them, here are some of the key greetings you need to know:

1. Bom dia/Boa tarde/Boa noite — Good morning/afternoon/night

2. Olá — Hello

3. Oi — Hi

4. Alô/Está lá — Hello (on the phone)

Note that the former is used in Brazil while you’d say the latter in Portugal.

5. Tchau — Bye

6. Até logo! — See you later!

7. Até amanhã — See you tomorrow

8. Adeus — Goodbye (formal)

9. Tudo bem? — How are you?

10. Como vai? — How’s it going?

11. Eu estou bem, e você/e tú? — I’m good, how are you?

Note that e você? is the form of “and you?” most commonly used in Brazil. E tú? is the preferred form in Portugal, though you tend to hear it in certain parts of Brazil too.

Nailing Your Etiquette

Good manners always make a positive impression. If you’re ever traveling to Brazil or Portugal, these terms will help prevent any cultural misunderstandings that might arise from basic etiquette:

12. Por favor — Please

In Brazil, por favor is also commonly used in the same way that “excuse me” is said in English when you’re trying to politely grab someone’s attention.

13. Com licença — Excuse me

14. Obrigado/Obrigada — Thank you

Note that obrigado is masculine and therefore said by men and boys; obrigada is the feminine counterpart that women and girls would use.

15. De nada — You’re welcome

16. Desculpa/Desculpe — I’m sorry

Both are a variation of the same thing, though desculpe is slightly more formal.

17. Perdão — Forgive me/pardon me

18. Prazer — Nice to meet you

19. O senhor/a senhora — Formal way of saying “you” when addressing a man (senhor) or a woman (senhora)

For example: O senhor/a senhora poderia me ajudar? — Would you be able to help me?

Getting Your Linguistic Bearings

There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it. In fact, it’s all part of the learning experience.

If you’re talking to a native Portuguese speaker, use these phrases to aid your comprehension:

20. (Você/O senhor/A senhora) Fala inglês? — Do you speak English?

In Portugal, just saying Fala inglês? will suffice. In Brazil, it’s more common to precede with você or, if appropriate, the more formal versions of “you.”

21. Alguém aqui fala inglês? — Does anyone here speak English?

22. Não compreendo — I don’t understand

23. Eu compreendo — I understand

24. Não entendi — I didn’t understand [what you said]

25. Entendi — I understood/I understand (the past in this sense is used as an affirmation)

26. Eu não sei — I don’t know

27. Como se diz… em Português? — How do you say … in Portuguese?

28. Fale mais devagar, por favor — Please speak more slowly

Out and About

Traveling to Brazil or Portugal? Then these questions will definitely help you along the way. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’ll help you get started:

29. Onde é o banheiro? — Where is the bathroom? (Brazilian Portuguese)

30. Onde fica a casa de banho? — Where is the bathroom? (European Portuguese)

31. Quanto custa? — How much does this cost?

32. Que horas são? — What time is it?

33. Que horas abre/fecha? — What time does this place open/close?

An alternative to this is: Que horas vocês abrem/fecham? — What time do you open/close?

34. Para onde vai esse trem/ônibus? — Where does this train/bus go?

35. Como chego ao (à)… — How do I get to…?

Grammar note: use ao for masculine nouns, à for feminine.

For instance: Como chego à estação de trem? — How do I get to the train station?; Como chego ao ponto de ônibus? — How do I get to the bus stop?

36. Você pode me mostrar no mapa? — Could you show me on the map [where this is]?

Other Essentials

37. Qual é o seu nome? — What is your name?

38. Me chamo… — My name is…

An alternative to this is: Meu nome é…

39. Estou com saudades/Tenho saudades — I miss you (Brazilian/European Portuguese respectively)

40. Eu estou doente — I’m sick

41. Preciso de sua/tua ajuda — I need your help (Use sua in Brazil and tua in Portugal)

42. Sim/não — Yes/no

43. Quando? — When?

44. Por quê? — Why?

45. Vamos! — Let’s go!