Basic Foundations of Portuguese - 1

European Portuguese 101: basic dialogue introduction + pronunciation

This might be your very first European Portuguese lesson. Or you might just be interested in refreshing your current language knowledge on basics.

Very often I tell my students to cross-reference their studies to this very first lesson, even when they have been having lessons with me for more than a year.

You need strong foundations when a house is being built. The same applies when you start learning any language. If you put the right amount of time into mastering the basics, then your writing and listening skills will progress in the right learning direction.

Basic useful sentences: Introduction to Portuguese Dialogue

Olá! (Hello!)

Como está? (How are you?)

Estou bem, obrigada/ obrigado. (I am well, thank you. Obrigado - for men, Obrigada - for women)

Muito prazer! (Nice to meet you!)

Como se chama? (What is your name?)

Eu chamo-me… (My name is…)

Tenho vinte e nove anos. (I am twenty nine years old)

Eu sou Inglesa (I am English)

Eu moro na Inglaterra (I live in England)

Onde mora? (Where do you live?)

Vamos agora aprender a falar Português (We are now going to learn to speak Portuguese).


 1. The Vowels (a, e, i, o, u)


Falar (to speak) - closed sound

Chá (tea) - open sound

Irmã (sister) - nasal sound

Alfândega (customs) - stress on its syllable (Al-fân-de-ga)


Open sound (as in “vet”): metro (subway), café (coffee), mel (honey).

Closed sound (as in “souvenir”) : pelo (by the), comer (to eat), vê (see).


Always pronounced as “ee”, as in “see”. E.g. Parti (par-tee) (I broke/I left).


Open sounds: Avó (grandmother); sol (sun); morte (death).

Closed sounds: Avô (grandfather); amor (love); folha (leaf).


Always pronounced as “oo” E.g. Rua (“roo-a” - street).

2. Nasal Diphthongs 

Ão - Limão  (lemon); Melão (melon); Alemão (german); Cão (dog), Pão (bread)  - SINGULAR

Ões - Limões (lemons); Melões (melons)- PLURAL

Ãe - Mãe (mother) - SINGULAR

Ães - Mães (mothers); Alemães (germans); Cães (dogs); Pães (more than one piece of bread) - PLURAL

3. Portuguese consonant bindings and sounds

Lh - Like “billiards” E.g. melhor (better), milho (corn).

Nh - Like “onion” E.g minha (mine, feminine); rainha (queen).

Qu - sounds like “K”, like “cat”; 

  • The vowel “u” is only pronounced if followed by the vowel “a” e.g qual (which), quanto (how many). 

  • You don’t pronounce the vowel “u”, if it is followed by the vowels “e” and “i” e.g. quem (who), queda (fall), quiser (who wants), quinze (fifteen), quilo (kilo).

I will be continuing this post next week, where I will be teaching you how to correctly use the Definite and Indefinite Articles (a rather complex task, as almost every noun and adjective can either be feminine or masculine in Portuguese!), correctly transition from Singular to Plural, followed by a few exercises and vocabulary building.

Stay tuned and please don’t forget to subscribe!

Obrigada e até à próxima!