https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ullisvarupptaget

Why do people find Portuguese so hard?

I've read some in the forums and for the most part it looks like people think Portuguese is super hard to learn. I've just started and would like to know what I'm getting myself into, why does people find it so difficult?

August 4, 2019

26 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cymas86

It is generally regarded as one of the more difficult romance languages. I think in particular, it's unfriendly to truly novice learners (native English speakers) because of a few factors:

The concept of gender in languages is difficult to grasp if you've never been exposed to it before. I would have found it a lot harder if I didn't already have 4 years of study in a different language (German) and already internalized the concept.

Portuguese in particular has a lot of sounds that are unfamiliar to native English speakers, which adds a level of difficulty you wouldn't have with something like German where you can work out the pronunciation much more intuitively. This particular issue is also reflective of DL's weaknesses as a language platform in itself, because the TTS language bots they use will not prepare you at all for native level speech.

Lack of general exposure. Unless you live in one of the few areas with an established Brazilian or Portuguese population, you've likely never been exposed to the language at all. Unlike Spanish, French, German and even Japanese, Portuguese has virtually no presence in Western media. It's actually quite common for people unfamiliar with the language to hear it as Spanish.

With Spanish being an extremely common language, at least here in the US, when learning Portuguese you may run into a beginner learning issue known as code switching even if you aren't actively learning Spanish. You may find yourself using Spanish pronunciation, words and grammar without even realizing it because your brain isn't yet able to separate the languages out into their distinctive categories.

It's not always easy, but in practice you can avoid some of the more common pitfalls of learning Portuguese by increasing your exposure to the language via passive learning and immersion, limiting your exposure to Spanish as much as possible in the beginning, and make writing and speaking active parts of your language learning routine.

August 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ullisvarupptaget

Thank you so much for your respons! I really appreciate it! Have a lingot!

August 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ari620077

I dont know Spanish, but I started with Portuguese 4 months ago and I still love it. The vocal sounds can be a challenge for sure, but you kind of get used to it after awhile. Its a fun language to learn. A lot of words are very similar to English words which makes it easier to remember. Im planning on learning Spanish later and its easier to learn Spanish from Portuguese than the other way around.

August 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ullisvarupptaget

Thank you! It's nice to hear something motivating when I've mostly heard that it is super hard and that you don't learn anything which is a real bummer.

August 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VictorTheLead

I think It's because of our verb conjugations

August 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ari620077

I can confirm that those are a challenge for sure.

August 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DiogoNeves996767

You have no idea... Here's the verb "to have" as an example http://conjuga-me.net/verbo-ter

August 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Timothy78926

Some consider it the hardest of the romance languages, though in my opinion that'd probably be romanian due to the slovak influences. There are a few things that make pt more challenging than, say, Spanish or Italian. There are more sounds (including nasal sounds that can be very trick), a few more verb forms (i think spanish/french have 14 whereas pt has 17), and some inconsistencies in the grammar (though this can be said of any language). There can also be some confusion for learners between formal/written pt and spoken pt. Truthfully, it's slightly more challenging than Spanish or French, but not by much. It shouldn't be viewed as a terribly difficult language for English speakers to learn (Foreign Service Institute included it in the easiest rank for native English speakers to learn, easier than German and the same level as Spanish, French, Italian). Japanese and Mandarin are easily 15x as difficult.

August 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarcusJDonnelly

in Spanish the words are Pronounced as they are spoken this is not the case for portuguese

August 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Klgregonis

Portuguese simply uses slightly different spelling conventions than Spanish - and the differences are pretty regular. Actually, I'm finding Portuguese pretty easy after learning Spanish, and can understand a little when I encounter a Portuguese video or an interview with subtitles where the speaker is Portuguese. The biggest problem is the nasal vowels (using the ~ ) and the pronunciation of r and hl.

August 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ullisvarupptaget

Okay, but if you're not learning Spanish nor know any Spanish is there a difference? I've noticed that they doesn't pronounce every letter, but is it something else? It feels like if you just listen to what they say and after a while start watching some shows in Portuguese, it shouldn't be too hard?

August 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarcusJDonnelly

maybe it is easier if you start from fresh but my experience it has been hard trying it after spanish

August 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ullisvarupptaget

Okay, thanks! I have a plan of learning Spanish afterwards, hopefully that won't be too hard

August 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/experaguiar

nope, the words are pronouced exactly as they are written in portuguese, but the portuguese sounds for each letter arent what you are used to in spanish.

that is actually the main problem brazilians face when learning english: they try to pronounce every letter in the word.

August 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/opsfran

I'm a native portuguese speaker and we also find it really hard, to be honest. The grammar is full of crazy rules, the verb conjugations are kinda crazy and depending on your native language you can find it hard to understand the concept of nouns having a gender... But it shouldn't scare you from learning it! It's a beautiful language and once you get the hang of it it just flows... I guess. Also, we are usually very friendly to anyone who's trying to learn Portuguese :) and we'll probably understand you even if you are not that great yet hahah Have fun learning Portuguese!

August 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ullisvarupptaget

Thank you!

August 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ruben222175

I think the worst thing is verb conjugation and noun genders. Portuguese has 6 persons, just like in english (I, you, he/she/it, we, you, they), in english there is only verb conjugations for he/she/it, in portuguese you will have one for each person...

Also portuguese have 3 modes for verbs, one for statements, one for possiblitys and one for orders, so for each mode you have some submodes, for each mode 6 persons and for each person you have past, present and future(but for the future in common speech you will rather use an auxiliary verb). I really suck at grammar and can't comment much on those.

Buuuuut, some conjugations are rarely used(really never), unless you are a grammar freak you won't learn it and never hear it. Aaaand verb conjugation is fairly regular and straightfoward, once you got the hang of it you will pretty much know in you heart how to conjugate any verb. I'll put here a conjugation chart for To eat, don't be scared, try to observe that verbs have a fairly regular conjugation(2nd singular person(tu) are rarelly used and plural 2nd(vós) is never used, really never) https://www.conjugacao.com.br/verbo-comer/ But keep calm, you won't learn them at once

If the verbs don't frighten you, a really good news is: even though english is a germanic language, 60% of its vocabulary is from Latin origin, and portuguese is a direct descendant of Latin, so, almost 60% of all the words you already know in english will be very very similar to its portuguese equivalent...

Hope I didn't scare you. If you decide to keep learning, Good Luck :)

If you ever need any help don't hesitate to ask, you can contact me

August 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ullisvarupptaget

I've been learning German for a couple of years so the grammar doesn't sound to bad tbh. Thank you for taking your time and explaining!

August 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/experaguiar

i am brazilian. german grammar is way harder than portuguese, mainly because of the cases. also, german has 3 genders, portuguese only has 2

August 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ari620077

That doesnt necessarily make it easier. Portuguese tend to leave out the word "it" simply because it does not have it or refer to it as him or her which I actually find more confusing

August 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LauraSabai1

Don’t be descouraged! I started 15 days ago and now I already can do a little conversation with my guest!

August 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/experaguiar

ei, tudo bem?

August 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Larry616309

My wife is from Brazil. I have been at this for about two years. there are lots of tricky parts first was thing male, female thing. the next challenge was the nasal sounds, and are still hard to get. they surface early with the words for bread, apple. the plurals running backwards was interesting (os verses o) the words for "the" Portuguese adds a lot of these. verb endings are a challenge, but not too bad. I think there are a thousand words for this, that, these, those. I read somewhere that PT has three times the words that English does. I don't think I will ever figure out how to do the past present and future tense. Sometime I think I am doing well then I get in a room with my wife and her friends all talking at once and realize I don't know much at all. Maybe I am better off that way.

August 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Denise461766

I studied French in school years and years ago. I started Portuguese on Duo about 9 months ago. For me the hard part of Portuguese are the prepositions and the definitive articles. Seems like there's about ten different ways to say "that" -- que, o que, isso, esse, essa, aquilo, aquele, aquela, daquele, daquela, naquela, naquele, etc Sometimes it's a choice and sometimes only one works. And there are probably other ways to say "that" that I have not learned yet. "Os" can be the or it can be them. It can probably be other things I haven't learned yet. It's hard to think fast enough when little words take so much time to figure out which is right for which occasion.

August 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanScand

I'm used to the gender idea but it is a pain to remember whether a glass is masculine and a cup is feminine and the glass is o copo and the cup is a xicara. You will misspell o cuppo and a xicarro and a thousand times a xicara will be a cup instead of the cup. The spelling of everything changes if the noun is singular or plural and between I, he, they and we. I hit a wall after the first months and crashed from loving it to hating it. Took a fortnight off, got over myself and rebooted. Make sure you are studying polyglots and the various techniques they use apart from this endless repetition and find supplemental exercises. Get an exchange student or two and be sure to study spoken and listening skills. A good exchange can explain details that DL never will and reading and writing will never teach you to hear and speak conversationally.

August 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Amani490782

One of the reasons may be because of the nasal letters: ã and õ along with the ão and so on. But that's what I believe

August 9, 2019
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