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Essential Portuguese Phrases for Tourists

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Traveling to a country where you don’t speak the local language can be a daunting but also a rewarding experience. Learning a few essential Portuguese phrases can make your journey through Portugal or any other Portuguese-speaking country much more enjoyable and interactive. Here’s a list of essential Portuguese phrases that tourists should familiarize themselves with before setting off on their adventure.

Obrigado / Obrigada
Meaning: Thank you (used by men / used by women)
This is a powerhouse of a word and is sure to come in handy. Remember, males say “obrigado” and females say “obrigada” depending on their own gender, not the gender of the person they’re speaking to.
Quando o garçom trouxe a conta, eu disse “obrigada”.

Por favor
Meaning: Please
If you remember nothing else, “por favor” is crucial for polite requests.
Você pode me passar o sal, por favor?

Desculpe
Meaning: Sorry
Whether you bump into someone or need to get past someone in a crowded space, “desculpe” is the word to use.
Desculpe, eu não vi você ali.

Sim
Meaning: Yes
Affirmative and to the point, “sim” is a simple response to many questions.
Você quer mais vinho? Sim!

Não
Meaning: No
Just as important as saying yes, “não” is your go-to for declining.
Você está interessado neste produto? Não, obrigado.

Bom dia
Meaning: Good morning
A cheerful way to greet someone until the early afternoon.
Bom dia, você poderia me informar a hora?

Boa tarde
Meaning: Good afternoon
The greeting used from midday until twilight.
Boa tarde, gostaria de fazer o check-in, por favor.

Boa noite
Meaning: Good evening/night
Use this phrase in the evening and at night, whether you’re greeting someone or saying goodbye.
Boa noite, todos. Foi um prazer jantar convosco.

Ajuda
Meaning: Help
Though we hope you’ll never need it, it’s important to know the word for help.
Ajuda! Estou perdido e não consigo encontrar o meu hotel.

Fala inglês?
Meaning: Do you speak English?
A useful phrase when looking for someone who speaks English, particularly in less touristy areas.
Desculpe, fala inglês? Preciso de algumas informações.

Onde fica o banheiro?
Meaning: Where is the bathroom?
Always useful to know, whether you’re at a restaurant, museum, or anywhere public.
Com licença, onde fica o banheiro?

Quanto custa?
Meaning: How much is it?
When shopping or dining, this phrase becomes indispensable.
Este artesanato é lindo! Quanto custa?

Esta mesa está ocupada?
Meaning: Is this seat taken?
It’s important to ask before taking a seat at a café or shared table.
Com licença, esta mesa está ocupada?

Eu gostaria de…
Meaning: I would like…
When ordering food or making a request, start your sentence with this phrase.
Eu gostaria de reservar uma mesa para duas pessoas, por favor.

Posso pagar com cartão?
Meaning: Can I pay with a card?
In the era of plastic and digital money, this question will often come up.
A conta, por favor. Posso pagar com cartão?

Knowing these essential phrases, along with practicing your pronunciation, will not only show respect for the culture but will also open up opportunities for authentic interactions and experiences. The Portuguese people are known for being hospitable and kind, and they appreciate when tourists make an effort to speak their language, even if it’s just a few words and phrases. Boa viagem! (Have a good trip!)

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