Coming to Lisbon for a few days and worried that you won’t be understood? No need to worry, Portuguese people speak english fairly well and will make an effort to understand what you’re trying to say (unless you’re rude. If you are they will make you eat pigs ear and drink bad wine. Or maybe they won’t, that’s for us to know and you to find out). This being said we really appreciate it when you make an effort to speak a few words of portuguese from Portugal and not spanish from Spain. They are different countries and you really don’t want to offend anyone by assuming that it’s the same thing (should we mention the pigs ear thing again?). To help you out and because we care about you and your well being, here are a few words and phrases that you should learn before coming over.
Olá / Adeus – Hello / Goodbye
These are the portuguese words for Hello and Goodbye. They are super easy to pronounce so just go for it.
Obrigado/Obrigada – Thank you
This is the most important one. Just learn to say thank you and your life will be easier (even in your own language). This word is pronounced o-bree-gah-do with an O in the end if you’re a man or an A if you’re a woman.
De nada – You’re welcome
Just use it like you would in English, if someone says ‘Obrigado’ just reply ‘De nada’. Not a lot of tourists do this so if you do you will instantly get some points for politeness.
Bom dia/Boa tarde/ Boa noite – Good morning/Good afternoon /Good night
It’s very polite to greet someone when you enter a place be it a coffee shop, a restaurant, a store or a museum, just greet the people you talk to. Good morning, good afternoon or good night are the way to go and you will be treated well if you just make that extra effort.
Por favor – Please
Nothing charms the locals more than polite tourists so, again, make the effort and be nice. You might even get a kiss from an old lady, an honor for anyone really.
Saúde – Cheers
This is pronounced Sa-ú-de with a mute D in the end and not Sa-ú-dji like in Brasil. Learn this well, you will need it for the many many toasts you will do here in Lisbon.
Uma água, por favor – A water, please
We were going to teach you to ask for beer (cerveja) or wine (vinho) but decided to just go for water. When you’re dehidrated from the sun and walking around all day just remember that drinking water is the safest way to not end up in the hospital.
Desculpe – Excuse me
This one is reserved for those special moments when you bump into people accidentally (or not), want to apologize to someone or want to get their attention. You just use it like you would in english.
Fixe – Cool
This is pronounced feesh and it’s an informal way of saying that something is cool or very good. Try using it, not a lot of tourists do and it might surprise some portuguese people.
Não falo português. Pode falar em Inglês? – I don’t speak portuguese. Can you speak in english?
Last but not least, if everything else fails you can always use this very long phrase. Hopefully you’ll be lucky enough to be speaking to someone who speaks english well and who will be happy to help and if they don’t, just go for the old method of mimicking. You never know, you might find you have an hidden talent and never want to do anything else with your life.
Now that you’ve read this text you should feel a lot smarter, more informed and an all around better person. If you don’t then you haven’t paid enough attention and should go back to the beginning of the text and read it again. We’re kidding, but really read this text carefully, practice in front of the mirror and when you come to Lisbon you’ll be the best tourist ever!
Looking for places to stay while travelling in Portugal?
If you like to party, meet people from all over the world and still get to know the local gastronomy – Oasis Backpackers Mansion is the perfect choice!
In Porto, Tattva Design Hostel will provide you a relax and welcoming stay right in the heart of the city!