The differences between Spanish and Portuguese

26 March 2017
door Regina Coeli

Spanish and Portuguese are two of the world’s most spoken languages. They fall into the branch of Romance languages called West Iberian, or Hispano-Iberian, which has many variants and dialects that, to a certain degree, are understood by all speakers within the branch. Examples are Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese, the many varieties of Spanish spoken in the Americas, and Andalusian Spanish.

Despite the close relationship between Spanish and Portuguese, there are important differences, too. If you already speak one and would like to learn the other, you could come up against a number of problems.

The table below shows some significant differences between Portuguese and Spanish:

Portugees POR => ENG Spaans SPA => ENG
Abono deposit, allowance, compensation Abono subscription, fertilizer
Aceite admitted, accepted Aceite olive oil
Acordar wake up Acordar remember, agree
Acreditar believe Acreditar show
Apelido nickname Apellido surname
Balcão counter Balcón balcony
Barata cockroach Barata cheap
Borrar stain, soil Borrar remove
Borracha rubber Borracha drunk
Botequim bar Botiquín First Aid box
Cena scene Cena dinner
Cola glue Cola start, queue, line, glue
Embaraçada confused Embarazada pregnant
Engraçado funny Engrasado greasy
Esquisito strange, odd Exquisito excellent, delicious
Fechar close Fechar date
Ganância ambition Ganancia profit, gain
Oi hello, hi Hoy today
Largo wide Largo long
Latido barking Latido heartbeat
Ligar call (telephone), join, bind Ligar flirt
Logro deception Logro success, climax
Mala suitcase Mala bad
Ninho nest Niño child, little boy
Oficina workshop Oficina office
Osso blunt Oso beer
Polvo octopus Polvo powder
Prender arrest Prender turn/switch on the light
Rato mouse Rato at a given moment
Risco risk Risco cliff
Salada salad Salada salt
Solo ground Solo alone
Taça glass of wine, champagne, etc. Tasa tariff, fee
Tirar take away, undress Tirar throw away, kick, aim, open (a door)

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This article was written by Language Institute Regina Coeli, a leading language institute in the Netherlands—also known as ‘the Nuns of Vught’. Every year, we welcome more than 3000 students from every corner of the world—people who want to learn a foreign language thoroughly and quickly. Students choose us because they get results.


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