Portuguese False Friend Words

There are many very similar words between Portuguese and English; they make it easier for a speaker of one language to learn the other. Such words are called transparent words, an example of such would be the word “transparent” itself, who equivalent in Portuguese is “transparente”, and both have the same meaning.

Then there are the false friend words that are there to make the learning a little bit harder. These words are very similar, but mean a completely different thing. Here are some examples:

Brave – Bravo

Brave is a synonym of “courageous”, but in Portuguese it is mostly used to describe anger!

“He’s very angry” – “Ele é muito bravo”
“He’s very brave” – “Ele é muito valente”

Novel – Novela

A novel is a long written narrative, while in Portuguese the term “novela” is used to describe soap operas.

“I just read the best novel!” – “Eu acabei de ler o melhor romance!”
“I just watched the best soap opera! ” – “Eu acabei de ver a melhor novela!”

Pretend – Pretender

Pretending is putting on an act or impersonating something or someone, “pretender” in Portuguese is to intent/mean on doing something.

“They pretend to be friends” – “Eles fingem ser amigos”
“They mean to be friends” – “Eles pretendem ser amigos”

Collar – Colar

The “collar” of your shirt sounds very similar to the Portuguese word “colar” that means necklace.

“My collar is very tight” – “Meu colarinho é bem apertado”
“My necklace is very tight” – “Meu colar é bem apertado”

College – Colégio

In English, college usually means a higher education institution. Its Portuguese counterpart “colégio”, however means “high school”.

“I have to go to college next week” – “Eu tenho que ir para a faculdade semana que vem”
“I have to go to school next week” – “Eu tenho que ir para o colégio semana que vem”



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