It’s common for English speakers to mix up Portuguese and Spanish. Although the two languages have many similarities, there are some distinct differences you should know if you’re interested in studying Portuguese.
In fact, there’s even a name for speaking a mixture of the languages to help speakers of different backgrounds communicate (Portuñal or Portunhol in Spanish and Portuguese, respectively). Similar to “Spanglish,” these dialects help bridge the gap between the two languages. That means if you’re already learning Spanish, you’re at an advantage when it comes to learning Portuguese.
But how similar are Spanish and Portuguese, exactly? You’re not off the hook if you speak Spanish; you’ll still need to work to learn new pronunciations, spellings, and vocabulary in Portuguese. The same goes if you’re a Portuguese speaker trying to learn Spanish!
To help you get started, our friends at LiveLingua put together a post showcasing some key things to remember. The following excerpt will help shine some light on the differences between Portuguese and Spanish.
How Similar Is Portuguese to Spanish?
1. Difference between hasta and hacia. In Portuguese there is no hacia preposition. There is the preposition até, but we need to explain the difference very well so students can learn how to use it properly. In short, hacia indicates the direction in which we move and hasta the point at which we arrived.
2. The preposition “a” after many verbs. The most common example (in Spanish) is “ir a.” I guess it must be weird for some Portuguese native speakers to use an expression even found in Portuguese by adding an “a” in the middle. Let’s have a look at this sentence: Vou sair agora ( Portuguese), Voy a salir ahora (Spanish)
3. The position of reflexive pronouns. The rule is very simple: In Spanish, when the tense is either gerund or infinitive, the pronoun merges to the end of the verb. Otherwise, when the verb is conjugated, the pronoun is placed before the verb and not joined. Example: dormirse, bañarse; se durmió, te bañaste, etc.
4. False friends or very similar words. Every language has to face this issue. We only learn this when we come across those words. There is a funny word which needs to be clarified: almóndiga. This is a Spanish slang word that means “meatball,” but in Portuguese is pronounced albóndiga. In Portuguese, a vagabundo is a person who leads a bad life, while in Spanish, it is someone who lives on the street (morador de rua in Portuguese).
5. Muy or mucho? In Portuguese, this is easy: muito is the only word compared to those two. Muy is used before adverbs and adjectives, while mucho is placed either before a noun or after a verb. When we want to make a comparison, we always have to use mucho. Example: Es mucho (no muy!!!) mejor que tú.
The article goes on to list five more differences between Portuguese vs Spanish — continue reading it here!
Whether your goal is to learn Spanish or Portuguese, working with a private instructor is the best way to maximize your skills. Unlike books or videos, a tutor can give you the personalized feedback and unique guidance that will help you reach your full potential. The good news is that with online lessons, you don’t need to be in South America to find a great Spanish or Portuguese teacher.
As with learning any subject, consistency is key when it comes to learning either one of these languages. Connecting with a native speaker via your mic and webcam is a great way to practice on-the-go or from the comfort of your home. The added flexibility of online lessons makes them a favorite for kids and adults alike.
Now that you know how similar Spanish and Portuguese are, why not try your hand at learning both? If you’re already a Spanish speaker, just a few Portuguese lessons can teach you what you need to know to visit Rio de Janeiro. Time invested in studying either of these languages is never wasted, and you’ll be sure to make new friends along the journey to fluency.
Looking for some more advice on getting started? Keep the following tips in mind:
- Determine your learning style and goals. Instead of blindly jumping into learning, have a plan in place. Are you learning for fun? Do you want to be fluent? How do you learn best? Knowing the answers to these will help you stay on track. Here are some guiding questions to start with.
- Find a conversation partner. The most important part of learning a new language is understanding the context and having real conversations with others, and practice makes perfect! Instead of simply memorizing vocabulary words, make the effort to talk and listen. Of course, your tutor can also serve as your conversation partner!
- Work with a tutor. Taking 1-on-1 lessons with a language tutor is a great way to get conversation practice. TakeLessons offers Portuguese tutors and Spanish tutors to help you improve.
- Plan a visit. Once you’ve got the basics down, you’re ready to hit the ground running! Visiting a Spanish or Portuguese-speaking area will help you develop the “real world” vocabulary and phrases you need to navigate new destinations. This is where you get to put all of your hard work to use!
Readers, do you have experience learning both Portuguese and Spanish? Leave a comment below!