basic portuguese phrases

41 Must-Know Basic Portuguese Phrases for Beginners

Diving into a new language can be daunting, but mastering basic Portuguese phrases is the first step towards fluency. This article covers essential phrases that are not only useful for travelers in Portuguese-speaking countries but also crucial for anyone starting their language learning journey.

Comprehensive List of Basic Portuguese Phrases

Greetings and Common Courtesies


Let’s start with the basics – greetings and common courtesies. These are the building blocks of polite conversation in Portuguese, helping you make a good first impression.

1. Olá – Hello.

A universal and informal greeting, “Olá” is suitable for almost any casual situation. It’s the first word you’ll likely use when meeting someone and is a friendly way to initiate conversation.

2. Bom Dia – Good Morning.

A common greeting used until noon. It’s a friendly way to start any interaction, whether it’s in a casual or a formal setting.

3. Boa Tarde – Good Afternoon.

Used from noon until the early evening, this phrase is perfect for greeting someone during the later part of the day, be it in shops, restaurants, or just meeting someone.

4. Boa Noite – Good Night.

This phrase is versatile as it’s used for both greeting someone and bidding them farewell in the evening or at night. It’s a polite way to acknowledge someone at the end of the day.

5. Por Favor – Please.

An essential phrase in any language, “Por Favor” shows politeness and respect in your requests or questions. It softens the tone of your requests.

6. Obrigado/Obrigada – Thank You.

Expressing gratitude is key in any culture. Men say “Obrigado,” and women say “Obrigada.” It’s a small grammatical detail that shows your effort in respecting the language’s gender nuances.

7. De Nada – You’re Welcome.

This phrase is a gracious response to someone who has thanked you. It’s a part of everyday courtesy and keeps the conversation pleasant and polite.

8. Desculpe – Excuse Me/Sorry.

A multipurpose word, useful for politely getting someone’s attention, navigating through crowds, or apologizing for minor inconveniences. It’s a sign of good manners to use this word appropriately.

Getting Around

When traveling or moving around in Portuguese-speaking areas, these phrases will be your guide. They’re essential for asking directions, using public transport, and exploring with confidence.

9. Onde Fica…? – Where is…?

Essential for finding your way around, whether you’re looking for a specific place, a landmark, or a facility. It’s a practical phrase in travel and daily life in Portuguese-speaking areas.

10. Quanto Custa o Bilhete? – How much is the ticket?

Very important for using public transportation systems like buses, trains, or when attending events. It helps you manage your travel budget effectively.

11. Esquerda – Left.

Knowing basic directions is crucial when navigating in a new place. “Esquerda” helps you understand and give directions accurately.

12. Direita – Right.

The counterpart to “Esquerda,” this word is equally important for receiving and giving directions. Knowing both terms is fundamental for effective navigation.

13. Em Frente – Straight Ahead.

Often used in conjunction with other directional phrases, it’s helpful for straightforward navigation and is commonly used in giving or receiving directions.

14. Estação de Trem – Train Station.

Vital for travelers using train services, this phrase helps in locating train stations, which are key transit points in many Portuguese-speaking cities.

15. Parada de Ônibus – Bus Stop.

For those utilizing bus services, especially in urban areas, knowing how to ask for the bus stop is crucial for smooth travel.

Shopping and Transactions


Whether you’re shopping for souvenirs or just picking up essentials, these phrases will make your shopping experience smoother and more enjoyable.

16. Quanto Custa Isso? – How much does this cost?

Crucial for any shopping experience. It helps you stay informed about the price of items, whether you’re in a market, a souvenir shop, or a boutique.

17. Só Estou a Olhar – I’m just looking.

A handy phrase for when you’re browsing without the intent to buy immediately. It lets shopkeepers know that you are in the exploration phase, reducing pressure to make a quick purchase.

18. Aceita Cartões de Crédito? – Do you accept credit cards?

In an increasingly digital world, it’s important to know whether credit cards are accepted, especially in tourist areas or major stores. This phrase helps avoid any payment-related surprises.

19. Preciso de… – I need…

This phrase is useful when looking for something specific. It can be followed by the name of the item you need, aiding in effective communication with shop assistants or locals.

Dining Out

Enjoying the local cuisine is a big part of traveling. These phrases will help you order food, ask about menu items, and handle dining situations with ease.

20. Eu Gostaria de… – I would like…

The perfect start to any order in a restaurant or café, whether you’re ordering food or drinks. It’s polite and shows a level of courtesy that is often appreciated in service settings.

21. O Cardápio, Por Favor – Menu, Please.

Essential for reviewing dining options, this phrase helps you request the menu. It’s a polite way to start your meal experience in a restaurant.

22. Água – Water.

A basic but vital request, whether you need a drink to accompany your meal or just to stay hydrated, especially important in hot climates or after a long day of travel.

23. Cerveja – Beer.

Useful in social dining settings, especially if you want to enjoy some local beverages. It’s a common request in bars and casual dining establishments.

24. A Conta, Por Favor – The Bill, Please.

A polite way to request the bill at the end of your meal. It’s useful to know this phrase to conclude your dining experience smoothly.

25. Isto É Picante? – Is this spicy?

Essential for those who prefer milder flavors or have dietary restrictions. It helps to know in advance what to expect from your meal.

26. Sou Vegetariano/Vegetariana – I am vegetarian.

Important for maintaining dietary preferences. This phrase helps ensure that your meal aligns with your vegetarian diet, avoiding any meat-based ingredients.

Emergency and Health

In any travel situation, safety comes first. These emergency and health-related phrases are crucial for dealing with unexpected situations and ensuring your well-being.

27. Socorro! – Help!

A universal exclamation in emergency situations. Use this word to quickly attract attention in case of danger or urgent need for assistance.

28. Preciso de um Médico – I need a doctor.

Crucial in medical emergencies or when feeling unwell. It conveys urgency and the need for medical attention, whether you’re at a hotel, restaurant, or on the street.

29. Chame a Polícia – Call the police.

Important in situations of safety concerns, witnessing a crime, or any emergency where law enforcement is needed. It’s a direct way to request for police intervention.

30. Onde Fica o Hospital? – Where is the hospital?

Essential for directing oneself or others to medical facilities in case of health emergencies. It’s one of the most important phrases to know when traveling, as quick access to medical care can be crucial.

Socializing and Making Connections


Meeting new people and making connections is a delightful aspect of travel and language learning. Use these phrases to introduce yourself, make conversation, and forge new friendships.

31. Meu Nome É… – My name is…

The foundation of introductions and the first step in making a personal connection. This phrase is a friendly way to start conversations and foster new relationships.

32. Sou de… – I am from…

Sharing your origin or nationality often sparks curiosity and opens the door to more engaging conversations. It’s a great way to exchange cultural insights and personal experiences.

33. Você Fala Inglês? – Do you speak English?

Invaluable for finding a common language in conversations, especially when facing language barriers. This question can help facilitate smoother communication in mixed-language settings.

34. Eu Não Entendo – I don’t understand.

Crucial for moments of confusion or miscommunication. It’s an honest way to indicate that you need further clarification or slower, simpler speech.

Accommodation and Lodging

A comfortable place to stay makes all the difference while traveling. These phrases will assist you in various accommodation-related situations, ensuring a pleasant stay.

35. Tenho uma reserva – I have a reservation.

Essential when checking into a hotel or any accommodation. It helps initiate the check-in process and is usually the first phrase to use upon arrival.

36. Onde é o meu quarto? – Where is my room?

After check-in, this phrase will help you locate your room. It’s a practical question that can also be used in hostels, guesthouses, or when renting apartments.

37. A chave, por favor – The key, please.

If you need to request the key to your room, especially in smaller hotels or traditional lodgings where automatic key cards are not in use.

38. Há Wi-Fi gratuito aqui? – Is there free Wi-Fi here?

An important question in today’s connected world, whether you need internet for work or leisure. It’s also helpful for staying in touch with family or planning your travel itinerary.

39. Posso ter mais toalhas? – Can I have more towels?

A common request in accommodation settings, especially if you need extra amenities for comfort during your stay.

40. O café da manhã está incluído? – Is breakfast included?

Useful to know what is included in your stay. This question helps you plan your meals and understand the services provided by your accommodation.

41. Onde é a saída de emergência? – Where is the emergency exit?

Essential for safety reasons. It’s important to know how to quickly exit the building in case of an emergency.

Tips on Learning Portuguese

Learning Portuguese

Learning a new language is an exciting and enriching journey. When it comes to Portuguese, immersing yourself in the language and culture can accelerate your learning process and deepen your understanding. Here are some comprehensive tips to help you effectively learn Portuguese, whether you’re a beginner or looking to improve your skills.

1. Embrace Regular Practice

To truly grasp Portuguese, regular practice is essential. Set aside dedicated time each day for language practice. This could be through structured lessons, writing exercises, or speaking drills. Consistency helps in reinforcing what you’ve learned and in building a strong linguistic foundation.

2. Engage with Native Speakers

Interacting with native Portuguese speakers is invaluable. It provides you with real-world language exposure and helps in understanding colloquial expressions and cultural nuances. Consider joining language exchange groups, community classes, or online platforms that facilitate conversations with native speakers.

3. Utilize Language Learning Apps

In the digital age, numerous apps make learning Portuguese more accessible and engaging. Apps like Duolingo, Babbel, or Memrise use interactive methods to teach vocabulary and grammar. They often include games, quizzes, and challenges to keep you motivated.

4. Watch Portuguese Media

Immersing yourself in Portuguese media is a fun and effective way to enhance your listening skills and cultural understanding. Watch Portuguese films or TV shows with subtitles initially, and as your proficiency improves, try watching without them. Listening to Portuguese music and trying to follow along with the lyrics can also be a beneficial exercise.

5. Read in Portuguese

Start with simple texts like children’s books or short articles, and gradually move to more complex materials as your reading comprehension improves. Reading enhances vocabulary and gives you a better grasp of sentence structures and grammar. It also exposes you to different writing styles and contexts.

6. Keep a Vocabulary Journal

Maintaining a journal where you jot down new words and phrases can be incredibly helpful. Regularly revisiting this journal helps reinforce your memory and understanding of these words in different contexts.

7. Practice Speaking Aloud

Practicing speaking Portuguese aloud is crucial. It helps in improving your pronunciation and building speaking confidence. Try to narrate simple stories, engage in self-talk, or read aloud in Portuguese. Recording your speech can also help in identifying areas for improvement.

8. Enroll in a Course

Formal courses offer structured learning, which can be beneficial, especially for understanding complex aspects of the language like grammar and conjugation. Many community colleges, language institutes, and online platforms offer courses tailored to various proficiency levels.

9. Be Patient and Persistent

Language learning requires patience and persistence. Progress might seem slow at times, but it’s important to stay motivated and consistent. Remember, making mistakes is part of the learning process and every error is an opportunity to learn.

10. Explore Cultural Contexts

Understanding Portuguese culture enhances your language learning. Familiarize yourself with Portugal’s or Brazil’s history, traditions, and social customs. Cultural insights can provide context to the language, making your learning experience more holistic and meaningful.

By incorporating these tips into your study routine, you can make your journey of learning Portuguese more effective, enjoyable, and culturally rich. Remember, every step forward in language learning opens up new horizons of communication and cultural exploration.


These 41 basic Portuguese phrases are a stepping stone into the rich world of the Portuguese language. Whether you’re navigating the streets of Lisbon, dining out in Porto, or just starting your language journey, these phrases will enhance your experience and communication. Remember, each phrase you learn connects you deeper with the culture and its people.

AboutCorinne Switzer

Corinne is an avid reader and takes a keen interest in conspiracy theories. When not busy with her day job, she likes to indulge the writer in her and pens columns on a wide range of topics that cover everything from entertainment, healthy living to healthcare and more.