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European vs. Brazilian Portuguese

Main Differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese

Portuguese is spoken in numerous countries worldwide and is an official language in ten. However, non-linguists often assume it is spoken exactly the same way everywhere. This is not the case: just like U.S. English and British English there are many differences. For native Portuguese speakers, the regional differences are significant. Let’s consider some of the differences between European vs. Brazilian Portuguese.

Pronunciation and Accent

One of the most noticeable differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese is pronunciation and accent. In European Portuguese, the pronunciation tends to be more conservative. Consonant sounds are often softer, and vowels tend to be more closed.

In Brazilian Portuguese, on the other hand, pronunciation is generally smoother and more open. Vowels are pronounced more prominently, and there is a tendency to reduce consonants in some words. This is seen in words like “cidade”, “cadeira”, “parede”.

For example, in European Portuguese, you hear the phonemes “d” and “t” pronounced like “de”, “di” and “te”, “ti.” However, in Brazilian Portuguese, they are pronounced like “dji” and “tji.” This can be seen in words like “diário”, dia”, “apetite”.

Additionally, accents vary widely from region to region in Brazil, contributing to a diverse range of pronunciations.


Another notable difference between the two variants is vocabulary. While most of the vocabulary is shared, words and expressions are exclusive to each variant.

For example, in European Portuguese, the word “carro” is used to refer to an automobile, whereas in Brazilian Portuguese, it is common to use the word “automóvel” or “veículo.” Similarly, in Portugal, “comboio” is used to refer to a train, while in Brazil, “trem” or “metrô” is used, depending on the context.


In terms of grammar, the differences between the two variants are relatively small, but there are still some noticeable distinctions.

The Pronouns Tu/Teu vs Você/Seu

One notable grammatical difference is that there are different ways of saying “you”. In Portugal, it is common to use “você” to address someone formally, while in Brazil, “você” is often used informally. In Brazil, the pronoun “o senhor” or “a senhora” is more common for formal situations.

In Portugal, informal address is generally done using the pronoun “tu”, with the verb correctly conjugated in the 2nd person singular: tu queres, tu foste, tu és, tu podes. In formal situations, the verb is conjugated in the 3rd person singular, but the pronoun “você” is often omitted, being replaced by a form of address or the person’s own name: quer, pode, ouviu, a senhora vai, o senhor é, a Ana espera, o Pedro pretende. In Brazil, “você” is used to address the majority of people, with the exception of older individuals or in very formal situations, where other forms of address should be used, such as “o senhor,” “a senhora,” and other titles. It’s important to note that in some regions of Brazil, “tu” is also used.

Similarly, the possessive pronoun/determiner “teu”, used in Portugal, is replaced with “seu” in Brazilian Portuguese.

Demonstrative pronouns

Within the context of European Portuguese, demonstrative pronouns such as “este,” “esta,” and “isto” are employed to denote objects in proximity to the speaker (“this”), while “esse,” “essa,” and “isso” are used for objects slightly more distant (“that”). In Brazilian Portuguese, the usage of “este” and “isto” is infrequent. Instead, expressions like “esse aqui” or “isso aqui” are commonly heard to indicate nearby objects, akin to saying “that here.” Likewise, when referring to objects beyond the speaker’s immediate reach, Brazilian Portuguese combines “aí” (there) with “esse” and “isso,” resulting in expressions like “esse aí” or “isso aí,” resembling the notion of “that there.”


One of the obvious distinctions between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese lies in the utilization of the gerund. Brazilian Portuguese extensively employs this non-finite verb form, whereas European Portuguese favours the structure of “a + infinitive” instead. 

EP – Ela está a dançar. (She is dancing.)
BP – Ela está dançando. (She is dancing.)

Clitic object pronouns

These types of pronouns can manifest in three distinct positions: before, in the middle or after the verb. In Brazilian Portuguese, the proclitic position (before the verb) is the conventional norm, whereas in European Portuguese, the enclitic position (after the verb) is the standard practice.

EP – Amo-te (I love you)
BP – Te-amo (I love you)

EP – Ele disse-me (He told me)
BP – Ele me disse (He told me)

The pronouns “o”, “os”, “a”, and “as” are still present in Brazilian Portuguese, but they are usually replaced with the pronouns “ele”, “eles”, “ela”, and “elas”. For example:

EP – Eu vi-a ontem. (I saw her yesterday)
BP – Eu vi ela ontem. (I saw her yesterday)

As for indirect object pronouns, “lhe” is rarely found in Brazilian Portuguese. Instead, speakers use the structure “para + personal pronoun”. For example:

EP – Eu contei-lhe tudo (I told him everything)
BP – Eu contei tudo para ele (I told him everything)

The verbs “ter” and “haver”

Brazilian Portuguese makes use of the verb “ter” in place of the verb “haver”. For example:

EP – Há imensa comida. (There’s a lot of food.)
BP – Tem imensa comida. (There’s a lot of food.)

Using the singular instead of the plural form is also very common.

Preposition “em” and “a”

Portuguese combines the preposition “em” with the definite articles “o” and “a” to form “na” and “no” and the Brazilian Portuguese use these contractions in a different way:

EP – Fui ao estádio. (I went to the stadium.)
BP – Fui no estádio. (I went to the stadium.)


Certain words exhibit distinct spellings between European and Brazilian Portuguese. For instance, the term “reception” is spelled as “receção” in European Portuguese, while in Brazilian Portuguese, an audible “p” is added, resulting in “recepção.” This divergence is observed in words where the letter “p” is pronounced in Brazilian Portuguese but remains silent in European Portuguese.

Additionally, Brazilians showcase creativity in their language usage by transforming certain nouns into verbs. For example, to convey congratulations in Portuguese, one typically employs the phrase “dar os parabéns.” However, Brazilians turn this expression into a single verb: “parabenizar.”

Note: In 2008, all the Portuguese speaking countries (Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, East Timor, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and São Tomé and Principe) decided to standardise their spelling.

Idiomatic Expressions and Slang

Finally, both variants of Portuguese have their own idiomatic expressions and slang. Brazil, due to its vast geographical expanse and cultural diversity, has a wealth of regional slang and expressions. In Portugal, you will find its own regional expressions and slang.

In summary, while European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese share a common linguistic base, they have developed noticeable differences in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, and idiomatic expressions. 

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