What’s the Difference Between Brazilian Portuguese, Portuguese and Spanish?

These three languages are similar, yet different in many ways. They each have distinct features that make them unique. So what are those distinctions? Let’s take a look.

Portuguese is a language that’s spoken in many countries across the globe. But native speakers know how different the dialects can be, especially between European and Brazilian Portuguese. Portuguese and Brazilians speak the same language even though it has changed slightly over the decades thanks to both cultural and historical differences.

Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese

There are many differences between both kinds of Portuguese, which are Brazilian vs. Portuguese.


Some consider Brazilian Portuguese to be more phonetically-pleasing thanks to its open vowels, while European Portuguese comes off as more mumbled. Brazilian accents have a lilt and cadence to them.

Grammar and Spelling

Some words are spelled differently between the two, of course. But Brazilians also get more creative, converting nouns into verbs. Additionally, the assimilation of foreign words into Brazilian Portuguese can feature a bit of a phonetic twist. On the whole, European Portuguese is more change-resistant when it comes to assimilating foreign words.

Formal/Informal Speech

Formal vs. informal speech can be somewhat confusing for a Brazilian immigrant who comes to Portugal. It’s easy to confuse “tu” with “você”, for example. Using the more informal “tu” may appear impolite or aggressive. On top of that, the Portuguese don’t say “você” outright. For them this pronoun is used in formal speech, and in informal situations they take out the pronoun and conjugate the verb in third-person singular. On the other hand, in Brazil “você” is widely used in informal conversations.


There are words between both languages that are entirely different. For instance, to say train in Brazilian Portuguese is “trem” while in European Portuguese it is “comboio.” Suit in Brazilian Portuguese is “terno” and in European Portuguese it is “fato.” Ice cream in Brazilian Portuguese is “sorvete” and in European Portuguese it is “gelado.”

Spanish vs. Portuguese

These are two of the world’s most common languages, classified as Romance languages referred to as West Iberian or Hispano-Iberian. These contain several variants and dialects that can be understood by both languages to some degree. However, there are big differences to note as well.

Mainly, there is a difference in word meaning. For example, “abono” in Portuguese means allowance or deposit, while in Spanish it means subscription or fertilizer. “Cola” in Portuguese means glue but it means line in Spanish.

Contact BRIC Language Systems

Here at BRIC Language Systems, we focus on Brazilian Portuguese. In fact, our Portuguese teachers live in Brazil and speak Brazilian Portuguese all the time. When you sign up for a free trial, our Language Experts can figure out the best level for you depending on your current Portuguese speaking skills. Classes range from beginner through advanced.