Differences between Portuguese from Portugal and Brazilian Portuguese

Bandeiras do Brasil e Portugal

The language is the same, but each version has its peculiarities (and few they are not)

Portuguese is spoken by more than 278 million people, according to population estimates for 2017 of the countries that have it as their official native language, and although there are no differences between both languages, since they are the same, the number of details that set them apart is great.

Considering Portugal alone (the country where the language received its name) and Brazil (the country with the highest number of Portuguese speakers in the world), there are considerable differences in both writing and pronunciation, which means that speakers from these two countries cannot always communicate effectively despite having a language in common.

Let’s learn more about the biggest differences between these two variants of the Portuguese language to avoid communication problems and entertain ourselves with some interesting curiosities.

Even though there is no difference between languages, why is the Portuguese language spoken in Brazil different from that spoken in Portugal?

There are several reasons that may have contributed to that, but the distance between the two countries plays an important role. Countries tend to follow the linguistic development of their motherland, albeit with some delay because of the distance.

Brazil and Portugal are more than 7,000 kilometers apart, which is a considerable distance, especially when there were no means of transportation and communication tools like today.

Portuguese was not considered the official language of Brazil until the year of 1758, while colonization only really began in the sixteenth century. During that time, changes impacted the language due to increased contact with European and Asian immigrants.

The other countries that were colonized by Portugal speak a language that is more similar to the Portuguese language spoken in Portugal, since many are African countries that had no external contact with other cultures that could influence their way of speaking.

Another important point is that, compared to Brazil, the African countries gained their independence much later and, therefore, had a more intense contact with Portugal during their development.

Therefore, even with no true differences between both languages, Brazilian and European Portuguese (the name given to “Portuguese Portuguese” to avoid word conflict) have their peculiarities.

What are the biggest differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese?

The most striking differences are the following:


This is where you find one of the biggest differences – perhaps the biggest. If a speaker from another language heard a Brazilian and a Portuguese speaking, he could probably point out a number of differences between both languages.

Brazilian Portuguese pronounces long and open vowels, while European Portuguese pronounces words with a more closed mouth, without pronouncing vowels with such intensity.

The way to pronounce some of the consonants also varies, especially the “S” at the end of each word. Brazilians pronounce words ending in “S” as if it were “SS”, while the Portuguese people pronounce them as in “SH”.

See also: Differences between Spanish and Castilian.


Without considering all accent variations between different Brazilian regions, there are also considerable differences in accent between both countries.

Brazilian Portuguese sounds more phonetically pleasing to the ears, thanks to cadence intensity and speech elevation, which simplifies vowel understanding.

On the other hand, European Portuguese has a lower cadence and more closed vowels, which can make it sound babbling and confusing, especially to those who are not so familiar with it.

Grammar and spelling

Some words are spelled differently. The word “acepção”, for example, is written in Portugal as “aceção”, which sounds wrong in Brazilian Portuguese. In some words, the letter “P” is heavily pronounced in Brazilian Portuguese, but silent in European Portuguese.

Gerund is another peculiarity of Brazilian Portuguese that is not used in Portugal. “Os garotos estão fazendo lição de casa” in Brazilian Portuguese is “Os garotos estão a fazer lição de casa” in European Portuguese.

Another change in syntax is the use of oblique pronouns at the beginning of a sentence in Brazilian Portuguese, as in “me faz um favor?”, which in European Portuguese becomes “faz-me um favor?”.

It should also be emphasized that European Portuguese is more resistant to changes and to the use of foreign words than Brazilian Portuguese, which is clearly more flexible in this sense.

Words with different meanings

As if these differences between both languages were not enough (or at least in the way they are used), there are words that Brazilians understand differently from the Portuguese people.

Check the examples below, with a Brazilian Portuguese word and the word that best represents it in European Portuguese:

  • Acostamento / berma
  • Açougue / talho
  • Bairro / freguesia
  • Calçada / passeio
  • Camisa / camisola
  • Carro / viatura
  • Carteira de identidade / cartão do cidadão
  • Celular / telemóvel
  • CPF / número de contribuinte
  • Delegacia / esquadra
  • Endereço / morada
  • Faixa de pedestres / passadeira
  • Freezer / geladeira
  • Geladeira / frigorífico
  • Horário de pico / hora de ponta
  • Marcha a ré / marcha-atrás
  • Multa / coima
  • Ônibus / autocarro
  • Placa do carro / matrícula
  • Presente / prenda
  • Rapaz / gajo
  • Sobrenome / apelido
  • Sorvete / gelado
  • Suco / sumo
  • Xícara / chávena
  • Zíper / fecho

See also: False friends: see different translations for the same word.

Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese: peculiarities that are almost seen as differences between both languages

Linguistics is quite interesting, since it involves a large number of language details. This can be noticed when there are considerable differences between the same language spoken in different countries.

This doesn’t mean a Brazilian and a Portuguese cannot communicate at all, which would be funny, since the language is the same. But it may be necessary to speak a little slower or wait some time until speakers get used to it, and obstacles will not prevent oral or written conversations.

If differences already exist inside the Portuguese language alone, let alone differences between languages, which are seen even in those languages that originated from a common language. That is why translation is so important in today’s society.

Whenever you need a professional service and if you don’t want to take any chances of having service quality compromised by differences between languages, count on a competent translation agency. So, whether you’re fazendo or a fazer an activity, you will have the best possible result.

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