Differences between Brazilian and European/African Portuguese

I did a search but didn’t really find too many responses to this question. This question is for relatively advanced (B2+) Portuguese speakers or natives, of course, with experience in the two variants of Portuguese.

  1. How great are the differences between Brazilian and European/African Portuguese? I know that they are greater than the differences between the types of Spanish and French, but not how much have they diverged.

  2. Is it with mostly accent, vocabulary, syntax, or what? (I’m aware of the fact that most Brazilians use the “você” while in Africa/Portugal, the normal “tu”) Some Brazilians have said that the sentence structure is what is most different between the two.

  3. How hard is it for each to understand each other? Some Brazilians have also said that when they see European Portuguese on the tv, there are subtitles put on!

  4. I’ve heard that the Portuguese can understand Brazilian Portuguese pretty well because of the Brazilian soap operas that are played on tv in Portugal. But that the Brazilians have less exposure to the European Portuguese so they don’t understand it as well.


Hello, how are you?

Let’s go there.

1 - First of all, Portuguese spoke in european union or Africa is the same that we speak here in Brazil.
Of course that we have differents ways to say something but I believe that if you start to learn portuguese, thinking that both are different probably you’ll have difficulties to understand each other.
I noticed you’re american and probably you can notice that people from Ireland or England have different ways to say something, with brazilian portuguese or european is the same, the vocabulary is the same, the accent is different, we just have differents ways to build sentences.

2- Yes, the sentence structure is what is most different between the two.

3- I have a friend from portugal and I don’t have any problem to understand and I asked to my friend and he said the same, of couse he has slangs that I really don’t understand but to my friend the situation is the same.

4- Yes, it’s not everyday that we find people from Portugal walking around here, so we do not have much contact with European accent.

If I can give any further assistance, do not hesitate to contact me.

Best regars,


Thanks Lucas. I know that English, French, Spanish, any language differs between countries but a lot of Brazilians were saying that in Portuguese the differences were far greater. But now there is one Brazilian saying that the differences aren’t too great. Thanks! The only English I’ve ever had trouble understanding from native speakers is from Scotland or Ireland.

And in Spanish, I don’t find any variant hard to understand except for Caribbean Spanish. But that would just entail like a month of daily exposure to get used to it.

The differences between the types of Portuguese was giving me pause in really learning it, but if they are not that different then it makes Portuguese more appealing to me.


The biggest issue is pronunciation. There are constructions that are favored in one variant that are not used in the other, but they’re not that many, and there’s some vocabulary that’s specific to each country (not slang, I’m talking proper grammatical usage here).

Brazilian Portuguese is the one that stands apart, the others are more influenced by European Portuguese.

I think most Brazilians have some difficulty understanding European Portuguese simply because they’re not exposed to it on a frequent basis, like Americans are exposed to British English and vice versa.

We can understand each other with a little effort (more on our part). The fact that European Portuguese’s vowel sounds are very closed and sometimes almost dropped makes it harder for Brazilians to understand them, probably because our variant is full of vowel sounds, and we’re usually more heavy-handed with nasalization.

As a comparison, I personally see the difference between Br. and Euro Portuguese more or less like the difference between American English and Scottish English. You can understand each other, but it takes a little effort.

I have listened to both European and Brazilian Portuguese without difficulty. You just have to get used to the different accents and some difference in word usage. No big deal in my view.

Ohh…I just listened to Scottish English and it was VERY hard for me to understand. I literally thought that they were speaking in German at the start! Ugh.

I actually have had little exposure to English from Great Britain but have very little trouble understanding it, except for the scottish accent and to a much lesser extent, the irish one.