Tip 20. Another half-friend: Levar

Like Spanish llevar, Portuguese levar refers to the act of taking something or someone from one place to another. However, unlike Spanish llevar, Portuguese levar is not used to talk about clothes that one is wearing.

Example 1:
English: He is going to take his son to the World Cup.
Spanish: Va a llevar a su hijo a la Copa.
Portuguese: Ele vai levar o filho à Copa.

Example 2:
English: I always wear a yellow shirt for luck.
Spanish: Siempre llevo una camiseta amarilla para traer suerte.
Portuguese: Eu sempre uso uma camisa amarela para dar sorte.

Tip 19. A major problem: mayor vs. maior

Although the Portuguese word maior looks like the Spanish word mayor, the two words often do not mean the same thing. In Portuguese, maior refers to size and is equivalent to más grande in Spanish.

Example 1:
English: This stadium is bigger than that one.
Spanish: Este estadio es más grande que aquel.
Portuguese: Este estádio é maior do que aquele.

But if you are referring to someone who is older be sure to use mais velho in Portuguese.

Example 2:
English: The older gentlemen should sit down.
Spanish: Los señores mayores deben sentarse.
Portuguese: Os senhores mais velhos devem se sentar.

Tip 17. The family

For speakers of Spanish, many of the kinship terms are similar (though not necessarily identical) to those in Portuguese. Just pay attention to how they are pronounced in Brazil. Also note that the Portuguese word criança means “child” (and thus is different from crianza in Spanish).

English Spanish Portuguese
mother madre mãe
father padre pai
son / daughter hijo / -a filho / -a
grandfather / -mother abuelo / -a avô / avó
man hombre homem
woman mujer mulher

English: That woman is my friend’s mother.
Spanish: Aquella mujer es la madre de mi amigo.
Portuguese: Aquela mulher é a mãe do meu amigo.

Tip 16. Coming and going in Portuguese: Venir vs. vir

Irregular verbs, nobody likes them. Unfortunately, they exist in Portuguese too and vir, the equivalent of venir in Spanish, is especially tricky for Spanish speakers. For example, veio means (él / ella / usted) vino, NOT (yo) veo.

English: My friend came to the hotel.
Spanish: Mi amigo vino al hotel.
Portuguese: O meu amigo veio ao hotel.

Tip 15. Some true friends

Naturally, several words are very similar in Spanish and Portuguese, although it is always wise to pay attention to the pronunciation in Portuguese. Here are some of these “true friends”:

English Spanish Portuguese
now ahora agora
when cuando quando
where donde onde
so entonces então
today hoy hoje
new nuevo novo

English: So, where are you now?
Spanish: Entonces, ¿dónde estás ahora?
Portuguese: Então, onde é que você está agora?

Don’t be fooled! The word hoy in Spanish looks like and means the same as Portuguese hoje (“today”). However, hoy sounds like Brazilian Portuguese oi, which is a common greeting (hola in Spanish).

Tip 14. A word with many meanings: Ficar

In Portuguese, the word ficar can have different meanings. Some of the most common meanings for ficar correspond to Spanish quedar(se), estar, ponerse.

Example 1:
English: We are going to stay at a hotel near the beach.
Spanish: Nos vamos a quedar en un hotel cerca de la playa.
Portuguese: Vamos ficar num hotel perto da praia.

Example 2:
English: Our hotel is far from the stadium.
Spanish: Nuestro hotel está lejos del estadio.
Portuguese: Nosso hotel fica longe do estádio.

Example 3:
English: When my team doesn’t win, I get sad.
Spanish: Cuando mi equipo no gana, me pongo triste.
Portuguese: Quando meu time não ganha, eu fico triste.