If you are planning to travel to Brazil, you would better know that just a few people speak English here, consequently, it is very important to speak at least a little Portuguese before going to this beautiful country.
This article is aimed at travellers interested in visiting Brazil without speaking Portuguese. However, first of all, you should know that learning a language is a process and this article is a guide to make clear which vocabulary, verbs and syntactic structures you should study before come to any Brazilian city.
Which vocabulary should I know?
When choosing specifics topics to study before travelling, you have to think about various situations you will pass through during your time in Brazil (actually, in any country) and from those which words and phrases are necessary to deal with them.
That means, if you are planning to go to restaurants and bars, you should know how to order food, if you are planning to go to museums, you should know how to buy tickets and so on. Another important situation you have to take into count is arriving at the airport. Normally, there the people speak English, but you’d better be prepared.
Let’s see some situations and needs that will demand your Portuguese skills.
At the airport
You arrived in Brazil and need to pass through the immigration post. Some usual questions and dialogues will be:
- Qual o destino da viagem?
What is the destination of your trip?
- O senhor (a senhora) está viajando sozinho (a)?
Are you travelling alone?
- Quanto tempo vai ficar no Brasil?
How long will you stay in Brazil?
- Qual o motivo da sua viagem?
What is the reason for your trip?
- Onde o senhor (a senhora) vai se hospedar?
Where are you going to stay?
Possible answers for those questions are:
- Eu vou para (nome da cidade)
I’m going to (city name)
- Sim, eu estou viajando sozinho (sozinha).
Yes, I am traveling alone.
Não, eu estou viajando com a minha família, com amigos, com meu parceiro, minha parceira, colegas de trabalho.
No, I am travelling with my family, with friends, with my partner, my partner, co-workers.
- Eu vou ficar um dia, uma semana, um mês, dois dias, duas semanas, dois meses, três, quatro, cinco dias, semanas, meses.
I will stay one day, one week, one month, two days, two weeks, two months, three, four, five days, weeks, months.
- Eu estou viajando a trabalho, a turismo, a estudos.
I am travelling for work, tourism, studies.
- Eu vou me hospedar em um hotel, na casa de parentes, na casa do meu parceiro, na casa da minha parceira.
I will stay at a hotel, at a relative’s house, at my partner’s house, at my partner’s house.
At the hotel
After arriving, if you stay in a hotel, you go directly there. At the reception, you should fill out a form like this one below:
Nome: Full name
R.G. / CPF: These are the official personal documents used in Brazil. You can just fill with your passport number.
Data de nascimento: Birth date
Endereço, bairro, CEP: Address, zone, ZIP code
Cidade e estado: City and state
Telefone comercial /Telefone residencial /Celular: Office Phone /Home Phone /Cell Phone
Acompanhantes: The person who will stay with you
Doing your check-in
Although many employees who work in hotels are able to speak English, it is never bad to know how to check-in speaking only in Portuguese. Try to memorize some words to do this:
- Bom dia/ Boa tarde/ Boa noite. Eu tenho uma reserva em nome de …
Good morning/ Good afternoon/ Good night. I have a reservation on behalf of…
- Eu fiz minha reserva pelo telefone/e-mail/site
I made my reservation by phone/email/website
- Aqui está meu documento e o documento dos meus acompanhantes
Here is my document and my companion’s document
- Eu vou pagar com cartão de crédito/com dinheiro
I will pay by credit card/cash
Going to the bar, to the restaurant, to the club
After doing your check-in, you will be free to enjoy the city and I strongly recommend you to try some Brazilian food and beverage. When ordering things, we normally use the verbs in conditional, because doing this is more polite and friendly.
By memorizing one single structure, you will be able to order foods and drinks in different situations, even at your relatives or friend’s house: Por favor, eu gostaria de (Please, I would like). Now, let’s see some examples using this sentence:
- Por favor, eu gostaria de uma cerveja e uma porção de batatas fritas
Please, I would like a beer and a portion of French fries
- Por favor, eu gostaria de um pouco de água
Please I would like some water
- Por favor, eu gostaria de uma feijoada completa
Please, I would like a complete feijoada
- Por favor, eu gostaria de uma mesa para duas pessoas
Please, I would like a table for two people
- Por favor, eu gostaria de uma tapioca e um café pequeno
Please, I would like a tapioca and a small coffee
- Por favor, eu gostaria de ver o menu
Please, I would like to see the menu
Asking for information
When asking for information, you’d better use the conditional verbal form for the same reason exposed above: doing this shows you politer and friendly. In this case, memorize the following structure: Por favor, você poderia me dizer (Please could you tell me).
- Por favor, você poderia me dizer onde fica o banheiro?
Could you please tell me where the bathroom is?
- Por favor, você poderia me dizer onde fica o metrô mais próximo?
Could you please tell me where the nearest subway station is?
- Por favor, você poderia me dizer onde fica o supermercado?
Could you please tell me where the supermarket is?
- Por favor, você poderia me dizer como chegar ao Cristo Redentor?
Could you please tell me how to get to Cristo Redentor?
- Por favor, você poderia me dizer qual ônibus vai para o centro?
Please could you tell me which bus goes downtown?
More important words and expressions
This article is just a preview that shows the most common situation you will deal with when travelling in Brazil, but your linguistic necessities and demands will depend on the activities you plan to do during your trip.
Because of this, take note of some more useful expressions:
- Quanto custa (por exemplo: quanto custa o bilhete para o museu)
How much does it cost (for example: how much is a ticket to the museum)
- Bilhete, passagem, entrada, mapa
Ticket, ticket, ticket, map
- À esquerda, à direita, atrás, na frente de
Left, right, back, in front of
- Vá reto, vire à direita, vire à esquerda
Go straight, turn right, turn left
- Eu não como carne
I don’t eat meat
- Eu não posso comer açúcar, glúten, lactose
I cannot eat sugar, gluten, lactose
- Eu não falo português, você fala inglês?
I don’t speak Portuguese, do you speak English?
- Eu estou perdido, você pode me ajudar?
I’m lost, can you help me?
- Eu não estou bem, preciso ir ao médico.
I’m not fine, I need to see a doctor.
A useful content you should learn before going to Brazil is how to order food, to ask for information, to give your personal information, to check-in at the hotel, to ask for help, prices and directions.
But if you really want to learn Brazilian Portuguese with native tutors, online, in your time, alone or in the group, contact us and start learning Portuguese.
Diana Soares Cardoso
Brazilian Portuguese teacher at Brazilingo