Friday, May 24, 2013

5 Common Mistakes for Portuguese Speakers

Naturally, when we try to speak in a foreign language we translate directly and literally from our own, but sometimes translating does not work, as in the following examples.

1. congress/conference

  • I'm going to an international congress conference about physical therapy this weekend.
Note: Congress is the governing body in the United States consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

2. all the people/everybody

  • I think all the people go everybody goes on vacation in August in Europe.
Note: We use "all the people" when it is more specific or qualified, such as "all the people who registered for the test" or "all the people who I invited to the party"...

3. toes/fingers

  • My feet were so cold after snowboarding all day that I could hardly move my fingers toes.
Note: The word "toes" does not exist in Portuguese; fingers is used instead.

4.  to have/be ______ years old

  • When I had was 10 years old, I visited Finland with my family.

5. to like something

  • I like very much going to the beach very much.
  • She likes more shopping downtown more than going to the mall.
Note: These are syntax (word order) errors.


  1. These are great! I lived in Portugal briefly and wanted to share a few more that I would like to help my friends with :)

    Common errors of Portuguese English:

    “Assist” instead of “attend.”
    To assist, is only a more formal way to say to help.
    Correct examples:
    Will you attend the seminar? I will not attend the course.
    May I assist you with your work? Thank you for your assistance.

    “Tissue” instead of “fabric” or “cloth.”
    Tissue means only flesh/skin (i.e. muscle) or thin, soft paper (i.e. lenço)

    “Coffee” instead of “café.”
    English speakers use “café” to mean a place where you can get a coffee and maybe a sandwich or snack.
    We drink “coffee” at a “café” (or a coffee shop ☺)

    Correct: "I am still working" "Are you still working?"

    Written error: use of “pretend” instead of “portend”
    "Pretend" is only when one is using their imagination, or making something up.
    I have heard that "intend" is also sometimes mixed up with "pretend".

    Mixing up “anybody” and “nobody” – using “anybody” instead of “nobody”
    Correct usage:
    "Is anybody going to the park?" "No, nobody is going to the park."
    "Nobody wants to miss afternoon coffee" (Meaning, everybody wants coffee!)

    1. Wow! Thanks for contributing material. Great examples! :)


Featured Post

When do I use HAVE and HAS?

"Have" and "has" are both present tense conjugations of the verb "to have," and we use "have" or &q...