Is Learning Spanish and Portuguese Together Possible?

Hello there,

I’d like to ask a question to only who learnt Spanish and Portuguese at the same time. I’m a language lover and I’m really young(16 y.o.) so I can learn new languages faster with respect to the adults.
My favorite language is Portuguese and I want to learn it, however, I’m learning Spanish right now and it confuses me about if I’m going to mix the words. Is there a way to learn them both? How?

Thank you for your all to-be attention beforehand.

Learning Spanish + Portuguese at the same time can be confusing because they’re basically sibling languages, but it’s not impossible. The hardest thing is keeping their vocabulary separate.
Be careful of sentence structure in Portuguese as opposed to Spanish. The way they phrase things in Portuguese is sometimes really weird compared to Spanish.

I am at a C1 level in Portuguese and probably B2 in Spanish. My experience is this: listening and reading, I can go back and forth between the languages just fine. But when it comes to speaking, it seems the dial is set on one or the other. Right now, it’s set on Portuguese and if I try to speak Spanish, I must go veeeeery slowly or I will end up speaking Portunhol. If I spend a few weeks in Spanish and get the dial set back to Spanish, I have the same issue switching back to Portuguese. I won’t discourage you from studying both languages at the same time, but until you reach a really high level, you are likely to keep mixing the words. Sorte/Suerte!


Yes, well at least I think it is because most languages are similar. Hope this helps. I took Spanish last year and now this year I am learning French and its hard bc I get them mixed up but I manage its supper fun if your up to the challange.

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I think you got this absolutely right. Learning two closely related languages at once is not only feasible but in fact it can be very useful because some very common words or expressions in one also exist, even if they are rarer, in the other and often you can get a deeper understanding of some features of one language by means of the other. One of my favorite examples is that Portuguese learners may find very confusing the different plural forms of words ending in ão, e.g. capitão makes capitães, but mão makes mãos and contribuição makes contribuições. However, if you know Spanish you can easily predict when to use each because they have different terminations: capitán, mano, contribución. The plurals are those that you’d expect from regular Spanish rules. You can also predict to a large extent (not perfectly) which vowels are open or closed in Portuguese from Spanish, e.g., fora has an open vowel because you get Spanish fuera, not fora. Remembering some forms of verbs may be also easier because they are more distinct in a language than in the other, e.g. gettting the forms of ver and vir right, which even native speakers sometimes struggle to do, and many other examples.
The only problem is production. There you’ll get interference until you’re very good at, at least, one of the languages.
So, my advice would be:

  • First get started in one of the languages until you get some “feel” for it. OP seems to have already done that with Portuguese, so this box is checked.
  • Start learning the second one, concentrating on understanding and appreciating the similarities and differences
  • Choose just one of them to make it active. The second one (at least for now) you just try to understand. Essentially you’re treating both languages as just varieties of a single one but one of them is the “standard variety” for you and the second one is some kind of obscure register, say an older or a very literary version or a too slangish way of speaking, something that you want to understand but don’t need to use. Just as an English learner would treat a text written by Charles Dickens or even Shakespeare.
    If you ever need to speak your “passive” language, just resign yourself to speaking “portuñol”. Because you know the language you’ll be able to avoid the worst pitfalls and you can even choose an accent that is closer to the other language (e.g. BP rather than EP) so you’ll be understood all right even if you mix up the languages.
    Much later, when your level in your “active” language is good enough you can begin activating your passive one step by step, striving to keep them separate.

[Note] This is the strategy I’m using with Malay/Indonesian

I am already bad at listening. I cannot listen to things very well so I have hard times while listening to French, Spanish and even English news. I know that Portuguese has unique sounds as well. So is it easier to listen than Spanish?

I don’t think either is easier per se. You need to expose yourself to the language, both written and spoken, and be very patient. Listening skill takes time to develop in any language, the more used you get to the language the easier it becomes.

you never specified which portuguese dialect your learning the ones of portugal or the ones from brazil ,most people find the accent from portugal more difficult than the one in brazil and spanish ,portuguese has way more sounds/phonemes than spanish how difficult they are might depend on your native language if your native language has nasal vowels or you know french you will be used to the nasal vowels. if not you have to train your ears to hear the subtle diferences .they are words in portuguese that are spelt the same but can mean something else if not pronounced correctly like the word for grandmother and grandfather or the word for bread pao which has another meaning that can be quite embarassing in brazil. trust me you don’t want to make that mistake my brazilian friends keep laughing at me when i say it.
i think they are very similar languages spanish is slightly easier in my opinion to pronounce and understand in the beginning but if you chose to learn portuguese it should not be that more difficult

The main reason that I want to learn Portuguese is because I love it. I find Portuguese a very elegant, seducing language, the pronunciation of the nasal sounds and getting softer at the last syllable of the words are completely sweet to my ears. I already know English and French besides my native language Turkish. That is to say I have no worries about learning a language for business or the usefulness of the language that I am thinking of learning. Even I haven’t decided whether I am going to learn Brazilian accent or the continental accent. So I wait for your tricks to learn Portuguese.

You would be able to understand both of them fine. However when you speak or write you may carry over certain grammatical structures and vocab over to the weaker language.

We can ask this question with another perspective…
Is it bad to talk Portugnol?
Maybe that can have a better answer than these all discussions ?