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Spanish v. Portuguese

Hey friends! I learned Spanish through school and love keeping up with it on DuoLingo, but I really would love to start up on Portuguese. Any hints on getting over how similar but different they are? Especially with pronunciation? Thanks a ton!

April 12, 2018



Well, as someone who speaks Spanish and is learning Portuguese, the pronunciation is vastly different. To me it does sound more French- or Romanian-like. And surely it is lovely....but different, very different.

As far as cognates and such, there are many of those (and many words where only one to two letters are different), so according to this you shouldn't have much trouble guessing meanings and readings and such. It is actually speaking it that differentiates this.

The grammar is a bit different, but I have not yet looked into the exactitude of that statement enough in order to explain.

I am currently working the Portuguese from Spanish tree. One would think it confusing, but actually I understand it much better that way than from English. And really, you will memorize the similarities almost immediately in this fashion.

Best of luck!


Spanish and Portuguese share about 80% of their vocabulary. It can be a good thing, when whe words are similar, but you could mess the words up.


Hi all, Hi Rando, Hi Kylie,

yes, if you are speaking about the lexican similarities of factor 0.89 according to Wikipedia or this site: http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/e/languages/similarities/index.html

However, I had to start from scratch with Spanish and failed to test-out any Spanish words on www.lingvist.com even I had learned Portuguese on DuoLingo (finished EN-PT tree, golden owl) and Memrise (completed PT BR Basic, PT BR 1-7 courses, DuoLingo PT BR by MartinPen) for 1,5 years.

Lingvist gave me for my "end of 2017 year challenge" an intro placement test with basic Spanish words, and yes, the basics of Spanish and Portuguese are IMHO still very different.

So, to learn 1000 Spanish words (within a shown complete sentence) in 11 days (in 20 hours) I basically had to start from scratch!

This is how similar Spanish and Portuguese are!

  • a) There will words which are written exactly the same but with different pronunciation
  • b) There will be similiar words with 2-3 letters of minor difference AND (very different) pronunciation
  • c) most basic words (e.g persons, verb conjugations, etc.) are VERY different in both languages

I also failed two times the DuoLingo web portal placement test of EN-SP but only suceeded with Duo's placement test on the Android app (tapping) to Spanish level 9.

So no, not too many similarities (in the basics) ;)
Well, if I would be truly fluent in Portuguese (native speaker) or had learned in for 3-5+ years or already passed the 5000-8000 PT words mark, Spanish might get a bit easier for me.

I had a (very) hard time of Spanish verb conjugations on Lingvist, because of all the differences to Portuguese (BR).

And I had not started yet the DuoLingo Spanish course by going skill-by-skill / lesson-by-lesson through the tree.
I plan in doing so once I complete my two PT-DE / PT-EN reverse trees.
The DuoLingo PT course also does not very much use the Tu (es) verb conjugations (uses 2nd/3rd person "você" form); but Lingvist Spanish - because of the many more person forms - penetrated me with the Tu (you/Du) 2nd form.

My feeling is that Mondly focuses on their tree and 365 (free) daily lessons equally on ALL person verb conjugations, incl. the Portuguese 2nd Tu form, not only on the 3rd "Você" form like DuoLingo does.

No, this is no complain :-)
My goal is to first focus a bit on the 3rd Você person form - it is IMHO hard enough to remember all verb tenses and Subjunctive by just leaving out "Tu" for the moment.

However, I liked the superb crystal clear Spanish audio on www.lingvist.com much more than Duo's Spanish TTS!

My 2cents

Viele Grüße / Best regards


I would start by watching youtube videos about Portuguese pronunciation. There is a ton of material on that. If you know spanish well, you could try laddering - doing the Portuguese for Spanish speakers course.


If there is a Portuguese from Spanish tree try using that


You could try the Portuguese tree from Spanish if your Spanish is strong enough. It could help because you would be constantly comparing Portuguese to Spanish grammar and vocabulary. I had been doing the Catalan for Spanish speakers tree and I found it helpful for my Spanish (it made me think about word choice and grammar and to remember where and when to add accents, for example.)

Search for the podcast “Tá Falado” from the University of Texas. It’s a podcast for learners of Portuguese with a background in Spanish.

Link: http://coerll.utexas.edu/brazilpod/tafalado/index.php

There is also an old Portuguese for Spanish Speakers course from the Foreign Service Institute available here:

Link: https://www.livelingua.com/course/fsi/From_Spanish_to_Portuguese_Course


Words and spelling are very similar but Portuguese has more vowels and more consonants. There are a lot of rules of change (i.e.: ouro vs oro, porta vs puerta, mineiro vs minero, areia vs arena, etc etc etc), but they can be complicated to discover, especially in spoken language.


Portuguese is extremely similar to Spanish. I only know Spanish and I can understand it. The biggest differences seem to be in spelling and pronunciation.

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