The Portuguese language spoken in South America is so different from the European one that many foreigners call it Brazilian (brasileiro). In this article, I have put together some of the crucial differences between Brazilian Portuguese (BP) and European Portuguese (EP).
1. Mouth wide open or not?
If you want to work in accent suppression, the advice is opposite depending on how you want to sound. If you are going for European Portuguese, try to pronounce the words with a more closed mouth and with less pronunciation of vowels. In Brazilian Portuguese vowels tend to sound longer and wider, so feel free to exaggerate a bit.
2. Referring to others
In Portugal, tu (you) is used for familiar situations, and você for formal ones. Down in South America, você is used in the majority of states as the familiar version. On the rare occasions that include formality, the word senhor (sir) will be used.
In Portugal, it is enough to use a + infinitive of the verb (ex.: estou a falar). In Brazil, the suffix NDO is used after eliminating the last R of the verb (ex.: estou falando).
4. Influences from other cultures
After it got to Brazil, the Portuguese language was influenced by the different cultures that came to the country. The Amerindian languages such as Tupi-Guarani are in our vernacular. They refer to the local flora and fauna, to food and many streets and cities have their names with Amerindian language origins.
African languages, specially Yoruba, lent words that are in the culinary, music and religious glossaries. Finally, European languages such as Italian and French also gave their more modest contributions. The most remarkable one is the Italian ciao (bye) that in Brazilian Portuguese has the writing tchau.
5. The s sound
In Portugal, it will always sound like a shushing. In Brazil, depending on where you go, it can sound like the s in the word super. If you want to sound like someone from Rio de Janeiro, go for the former. If you want to sound like someone from São Paulo, go for the latter.
6. The Ts and Ds
When followed by an i or an e, the Brazilian Portuguese d will most likely have a g sound (ex.: bom dia). The t, when followed by i or e, will sound like the chi in chimney (ex.: dente).
7. The easiest one
Sorry to say that, but I am afraid there is no easier one. Brazilian Portuguese may be simpler in treatment pronouns, but it is also more diverse in local expressions. Portugal may be the land that created the language, but it is also very small in size and population. There are many factors to consider, but the decisive one should be the use that the language will have in your life.