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Can You Understand Portuguese if You Know Spanish?

Published October 8, 2021 in Brazil , Learning Spanish & Portuguese - 0 Comments

Sometimes when I’m drunk enough, I like to listen to Brazilian music.

Perhaps some Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 as you can see here.

Among others!

It’s almost always some type of jazz music though if I’m being honest.

And, if I’m being honest, I should say that I literally never understand any of it.

There are occasional words that I pick up or think I understand.

But I mostly listen to it because of how nice it sounds and how I like jazz in general.

It makes for good music sometimes when I’m drunk alone and like to imagine myself sitting on a balcony in Rio with 5 seductive women who all call me “papi.”

We share some wine together and discuss very important topics like which Brazilian celebrity has the nicest tits and if the Brazilian dictatorship was a necessary evil.

Among other important topics…

Meanwhile we enjoy some of the music like this bit here below…

And life is good!

But yet, unfortunately, I still wouldn’t understand said music.

Nor would I likely understand these 5 women outside of the occasional word like “papi.”

Do they say papi in Portuguese?

I have no idea.

And that just goes to show that I really don’t know Portuguese that well.

Which is the topic at hand.

Can You Understand Portuguese if You Know Spanish?

Well, as you can guess already, I have difficulty understanding it when it’s spoken to me.

There is the occasional word that I catch though.

Similar to English, there are words that sound similar enough to words in Spanish.

For research purposes, I googled the word “daddy” or “papi” into Portuguese on Google Translate and it’s apparently “papai.”

Close enough.

So, as I said, I can sometimes catch a word or two in Portuguese if it’s close enough to Spanish and if the pronunciation of said word isn’t too crazy for me.

Which is the second point – pronunciation is a bit different.

Due to different pronunciation rules between Spanish to Portuguese, that makes it harder to understand words spoken to me.

Even if said words are similar when written down.

On top of that, it also makes it difficult for me to even try speaking Portuguese myself or reading out Portuguese words from a book.

Though I have sometimes pulled off a few words in Portuguese!

When I was in an apartment in Buenos Aires of Argentina, I had a Brazilian friend named Thal who I spoke some Portuguese to from a Google Translate.

While drunk, I was curious if the dude could understand me if I tried reading a few sentences.

He did!

And, on that topic, I have tried practicing very basic Portuguese in other circumstances.

When I was in a Mexican restaurant in my home town in Iowa, I remember once greeting the woman who runs the place with a basic Portuguese introduction – “como vai voce?”

And she understood me!

Well, to be fair, it’s not that much different from “como esta usted?”

We at least have the como to be the same!

And voce is a little bit similar sounding to the Spanish “vos.”

Though, being Mexican, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t use the “vos” in regular conversation.

At any rate, I can sometimes kick out a sentence in Portuguese if you give me a sentence to repeat.

And I guess I can maybe sometimes get the pronunciation close enough to where it should be despite not knowing the Portuguese pronunciation rules very well?

But I couldn’t speak it naturally because I don’t know any words in Portuguese from memory outside of literally just “como vai voce” and “ola.”

And when it comes to reading then?

This is actually the part of Portuguese that I can understand the best.

It has no complications with pronunciation rules and I can ride off the occasional word here and there that is similar enough to words in Spanish.

There have been moments where I’m looking at Portuguese and can legit understand entire paragraphs.

Then, while reading whatever it is, there’ll come a paragraph that hits me like a brick to a face and I have no idea what it says.

None of the words look similar enough to words I know in Spanish.

So, when it comes to reading, I can either do it fairly well or occasionally fuck it up quite badly.

With most of my reading skills not being that bad actually considering that I never studied Portuguese formally or informally.

And how have I handled myself in a Portuguese setting in the real world?

Real Experience in Brazil: Fail in Portuguese

And I have only spent a very brief period in Brazil once in my life and that’s it.

Back when I was in Brazil, I had strong difficulty communicating myself in normal situations.

Like when I went to a restaurant and the waiter didn’t know English or Spanish.

And I just guessed whatever random item on the menu and hoped it would turn out to be something good.

Thankfully, it was.

To one time when I was in a little shop looking for a small wooden bird to buy for my mom and the lady at the store also didn’t speak English or Spanish.

To which I had to do a little imitation of what I was looking for by flapping my arms and pointing at the wooden animals she had on display.

She had a wooden tiger, a wooden giraffe, a wooden dog and plenty of other wooden animals.

Nothing like a bird though.

So would she understand if I flapped my arms and pointed at the wood animals?

My results indicated  a strong NO.

To my credit though, my weak Portuguese was strong enough to get some random chick to dance with me at some random samba bar late at night in São Paulo.

So my bad Portuguese can’t get me a wooden bird but it can possibly get me some ass?

These are conditions that I can live with.

Anyway, I guess it should be said that, above all, my Spanish has only aided my Portuguese understanding when it comes to reading comprehension largely with some noticeable results.

Anything else like speaking? It doesn’t look good but I can catch a few words here and there.

And that’s it!

Got any comments? Drop them below in the comment section.

And follow my Twitter here.

Thanks for reading.

Best regards,


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