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Mastery or More Languages?

Hi everyone, I study French and Spanish at school and am definitely advanced. I can have complex conversations and am comfortable with grammar. I use subjunctive comfortably now and feel that I am very strong with the languages. I will continue to work on them, but should I try to add in portuguese as well? I know that I would be able to reach a strong level in portuguese quickly because I have learned French and Spanish, but would it be better to continue to work on the other languages more or add in portuguese as another language? I would continue to work on the others but adding another would dilute my practice time.

Would it be better to master the other 2 languages or add a new one as well?

May 5, 2017



It's a question only you can answer. What do you value more highly?

Seemingly you wouldn't be asking if you didn't want to learn Portuguese, but you also you presumably wouldn't be asking if you were truly comfortable with where you are in French and Spanish.

If you're worried about drawbacks or interference or something, there's really no way to know if those will affect you without just giving it a shot. Such problems are probably overstated in general (i.e. they do simply resolve themselves with practice), but they can obviously be a source of vexation.


Thanks, I guess it really does just come down to me. Its a pretty hard question though.


slogger's suggestion is an excellent one. It would seem to provide the best of both worlds. The Portuguese from Spanish tree should be in a more complete conditions since it's been out much longer, but I think I'd generally be inclined to try it from French just because Spanish and Portuguese are so very similar.


A Google search brings up many interesting perspectives. I've heard learning two languages simultaneously that are similar is not good but rather learning languages that are very dissimilar is better. Not the case with you as you are advanced in both Spanish and French.

I'd say go for it. It seems you have talent for learning languages and you are very advanced in Spanish and French already.


Thanks, its always helpful to get more perspectives on this. Duolingo is such a great community.


Whatever works for you. Try various things out, to see what seems best.

You might try learning Portuguese from French or Spanish here on Duo, or (what I like to do) find a textbook in French or Spanish with an answer key--you can buy them online, and your language skills should be good enough to navigate your way through websites in those languages, so that you can place an order successfully--that teaches Portuguese. Not only is this really fun, but it turns out to be very helpful in keeping the languages distinct in your mind. Lacking such a book, look for online sites in French or Spanish that teach Portuguese.


Thanks, that sounds like an interesting idea, I had been thinking of maybe doing that.


Best of luck! As long as your "base" language is strong enough, you'll probably find doing this to be really fun. And if it's not, just back off for a while and then try later when you've learned more of the base language. Learn some grammatical terms before you start. :)


Vos "meta linguistic abilities" doivent être déjà bons , car vous parle beaucoup de langues. Mais si vous voulez les ameliorer encore , apprendrez Mandarin, Hindi ou Afrikaans.

Bon courage, et remarquez les erreurs dans mon français.


merci, c'est une idée assez intéressante. Mais Je crois que je ne veux pas apprendre ces langues parce qu'ils ne sont pas si utiles.


You sound very confident in your language knowledge. There's no harm in trying it, I'm doing just that at the moment, as I got comfortable knowing my Spanish, and then I found out I was going to a Portuguese speaking island (Sal, Cape Verde), so I've started learning Portuguese I mean learning similar language can either help you or hinder you. For me, it's meant that it's made learning Portuguese a lot easier, but not focusing too much on the Portuguese training, you might find yourself mixing in some Spanish grammar, but you won't find out until you try it! :D


Thanks, I think I will be able to keep them separate. Because they are pronounced so distinctly, spanish and portuguese, I have been able to not mix them up so far. There are actually a lot of cape verdian and portuguese people around where I live in massachusetts.


Portuguese and Spanish are very similar. It also has similarities with English and French. Thus if you speak Spanish + French + English it should be a walk in the park. Once you've got the basics of Portuguese down you should be relatively good at it in no time (given sufficient practice).

Taking a random sample of 112 words from my wordlist, 80 are equal or similar (vs Spanish). Only 32 words were quite different / completely different. Note that the sample isn't representative for the language in general and it also ignores synonyms (if there's a synonym and one matches, I've counted it as equal / similar). For those same 112 words, 53 are similar to French - note though that the 53 French matches are on average still more different compared to the 80 Spanish matches.

When taking the "bias" of my word list into consideration and based on my (limited) knowledge I'd say that Spanish and Portguese have roughly 70-80% matching (similar words) words. And French - Portuguese maybe ~40%.

French isn't as good of a base language as Spanish is, but it does help for some words that are similar to French but not Spanish.

While at it, I'll also mention Italian. But I do still lack a lot of knowledge about Italian so take this with a grain of salt. It seems like Italian is a bit in the middle of the mix, having more similarities with Spanish, Portuguese and also French compared to Spanish (or Portugese) versus French. But still a lot more different than Spanish - Portuguese. If I'd really have to put a % on it like I did with the previous languages. I'd say very roughly a 55-65% match between Italian and Portuguese (or Spanish). And maybe 45-55% for Italian with French? These last numbers could differ a fair bit from reality though.

Overall, Spanish-Portuguese compared to other Romance languages: very easy to learn. Spanish-Portuguese compared to languages in general: extremely easy to learn.

On a side note, verbs in Portuguese are more regular than in Spanish. Most "irregular" verbs can even be divided into categories that are conjugated exactly the same way. I'll mention them here, I highly advise you to write them down (it's so much easier when you know this):

(note: there are more verbs matching those, I only listed verbs from Duolingo and very frequently used ones. Some of these only have minor differences with the regular -ar -er -ir or are only irregular in a few times. A website that shows the irregularities can also be useful to consult, for example: http://www.conjuga-me.net/verbo-sair)

-car: Ficar Explicar Publicar Indicar Significar Aplicar Verificar Dedicar Identificar Justificar Praticar Criticar

-çar: Começar Dançar Alcançar Forçar Lançar Avançar Ameaçar

-ear: Frear Bronzear Passear Basear

-gir: Agir Surgir Atingir Dirigir Exigir

-edir: Medir Pedir Impedir Despedir

-air: Sair Cair Trair Atrair Extrair

-uir: Diminuir Incluir Destruir Distribuir Constituir Possuir Construir Concluir Atribuir Substituir Contribuir

-eguir: Seguir Conseguir Prosseguir

-or: Por Supor Propor

Excluding "ter" itself: Manter Conter Deter Obter (Ter itself is almost exactly the same except for one diacritic different (present ele) or 3 when also counting "tu" (present and imperative))

Verbs with the same base:

Vir Convir Provir Intervir

Ver Prever Rever

Fazer Satisfazer Desfazer

Ferir Preferir Conferir Referir


Thanks a lot, this is very helpful info. I started with spanish so I am very strong in it so there shouldn't be any mixing between spanish and portuguese or at least the portuguese shouldn't affect my spanish. I think I will add in portuguese. This list is gonna come in handy for those verbs!


GL. One last piece of advice would be to compare the Portugese vocabulary to Spanish, it could just be by mentally also translating each word to Spanish. That way you also actively learn and remember the differences between them. Alternatively you can simply use Spanish instead of English (or whatever your native language is) as "from" language, which automatically gives you the comparison.

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