Tip 51. Remember that waking up is hard to do in Brazil: Acordar doesn’t always mean what you think…

When Portuñol speakers try to communicate with Brazilians, they often get a confused look when they unwittingly use a Spanish word that has a similar-sounding equivalent in Portuguese. Despertar(se) is one of those words. To wake up in Portuguese you say acordar NOT despertar. Like in Spanish, acordar in Portuguese can mean to agree or reach an agreement. But its most common definition in Portuguese is “to wake up.” That’s right, despertar(se) just isn’t used in spoken Brazilian Portuguese to say “wake up.” So don’t use it.

Also, acordar in Portuguese doesn’t mean “to remember,” even though it looks a lot like acordar(se) in Spanish.

Example 1:
English: I woke up at 3 in the morning and couldn’t go back to sleep.
Spanish: Me desperté a las 3 de la mañana y no pude volver a dormir.
Portuguese: Acordei às 3 da manhã e não consegui mais dormir.

Example 2:
English: I don’t remember.
Spanish: No me acuerdo.
Portuguese: Eu não me lembro.

Tip 48. Responder vs. contestar: It’s all a matter of frequency

Just because the same word exists in both Spanish and Portuguese doesn’t mean it’s the best word to use or that it’s one that Brazilians normally use. There are many examples of words used more or less frequently in one language or the other. Responder and contestar help illustrate this point.

In Spanish, when answering a question or responding to someone, the most common verb used is contestar. However in Portuguese, the verb responder is used most frequently.

Example 1:
English: He asked me a question, and I answered.
Spanish: Me hizo una pregunta, y contesté.
Portuguese:  Ele me fez uma pergunta e eu respondi.

Sound Brazilian! When you answer the phone in Brazil, say Alô! but when you talked about answering the phone use atender, not responder.

Example 2:
English: My friend called during my flight and I couldn’t take his call.
Spanish: Mi amigo me llamó durante el vuelo y no pude contestar.
Portuguese: O meu amigo me telefonou durante o voo e eu não pude atender.

Tip 43. One more false friend: Tirar

In Portuguese, tirar means “to remove, to take off”. So, Portuguese tirar is close to Spanish quitar, not to Spanish tirar. Spanish tirar may correspond to Brazilian Portuguese jogar fora (“to throw out”), atirar (“to shoot”).

English: Take off your shoes and put your feet in the water.
Spanish: Quítate los zapatos y pon los pies en el agua.
Portuguese: Tira o sapato e põe o pé na água.

Sound Brazilian! Note that often Brazilians use the singular to refer to something in the plural, like the example above: o sapato and o pé actually refer to “shoes” and “feet.”

Sound Brazilian! In Brazil, you will have many opportunities to take pictures–tirar fotos in Portuguese. If you want to ask someone to take your picture, say, “Você pode tirar uma foto?

Tip 42. If you need something

Use the word precisar in Portuguese to talk about something that you need (usually necesitar in Spanish). In Brazil, if you need something or someone use de after precisar, but if you need to do something, don’t worry about that de.

Example 1:
English: I need one more towel, please.
Spanish: Necesito una toalla más, por favor.
Portuguese: Eu preciso de mais uma toalha, por favor.

Example 2:
English: I need to be at the airport at 3:00 pm.
Spanish: Necesito estar en el aeropuerto a las 3 de la tarde.
Portuguese: Eu preciso estar no aeroporto às 3 da tarde.

Tip 36. Remembering Brazil

If you want to talk about your memories, use the word lembrar in Portuguese (equivalent to recordar and acordarse in Spanish).

English: I remember that street!
Spanish: ¡Me acuerdo de aquella calle!
Portuguese: Eu lembro daquela rua!

Sound Brazilian! If you buy a souvenir (a recuerdo in Spanish) you are buying a lembrança.

Don’t be fooled! The word acordar in Portuguese means “to wake up”, NOT “to remember.”

English: I woke up late today.
Spanish: Me desperté tarde hoy.
Portuguese: Eu acordei tarde hoje.

Tip 33. Gostar doesn’t work like gustar

Although the words for “to like” are very similar in Spanish (gustar) and Portuguese (gostar), the words that go with them are different. In Portuguese, the word de often comes after gostar. In fact, the structure in Portuguese is closer to English “I like” than it is to Spanish me gusta.

Example 1:
English: I like soccer.
Spanish: Me gusta el fútbol.
Portuguese: Eu gosto de futebol.

Example 2:

Friendly Brazilian: Do you like to travel?
You: Yes, I do.

Brasileño amigable: ¿Te gusta viajar?
Tú: Sí, me gusta.

Brasileiro simpático: Você gosta de viajar?
Você: Gosto, sim.