Six ways to know it’s European Portuguese

I’ve seen many people in many forums and communities who ask about the differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. Some people answer that with a history lesson, some say they are basically the same while others bring up a few phrases that seem funny in one country or the other. I’d like to tell you about 6 practical ways in which you can know if you are reading European Portuguese.

6 Ways to Know it’s European Portuguese

1. The use of the personal pronoun tu (instead of você). I think it’s important to learn how to use ‘tu’ and how to conjugate verbs using it, as even in Brazil, in the North and the South, you’ll hear ‘tu’ used.

2. Reflexive verbs are hyphenated, with the reflective part always following the verb. In Portugal, the phrase “I want you well” would be “Eu quero-te bem” (enclisis), while in Brazil, it would be “Eu te quero bem” (proclisis). There is also something called mesoclisis (see number 6), which is common in Portugal.

3. The use of “Estar + a + verb in the infinitive” instead of “Estar + verb in the gerund (-ing form)”. In Brazil, you would say “Estou pensando” while in Portugal, you would say “Estou a pensar“.

4. The use of se calhar in addition to talvez as a way to say ‘maybe’. The word calhar means chance/happen.

5. The rearrangement of determinors (aqui, aí, lá, ali, etc). In Portugal, you are more likely to see, for example, “eu lá fiquei” (I stayed there) instead of “eu fiquei lá” which would be found in Brazil.

6. Last but not least, in Portugal, you will see the use of the mesoclisis, which is a grammatical term that means ‘within the verb, between the stem and the suffix’. In Continental Portuguese, you’ll see “eu comprá-lo-ei” (I will buy it) while in Brazilian Portuguese, you will see “eu o comprarei“.

Keep in mind, not everything listed is exclusive to either side of the Atlantic (ocean), although it’s best to be prepared, right?


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