Romance Languages

I have most interest in Portuguese, but there aren´t really any courses in it or many speakers where I am. However there are lots of Italian/Spanish courses and speakers. Would it make sense to learn one of these languages and then do Portuguese in my spare time? What are the experience of others who have learned Romance languages?

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I don’t think it would make sense unless you want to double your learning time by learning very well one of those languages first and then Portuguese. I wouldn’t do it.

There is so much material online nowadays that I don’t think it is difficult to find content and speakers in Portuguese.

Sure, if you learn Italian or Spanish, you will start to learn all grammar concepts and get familiar with it. You will have to build vocabulary anyway, understanding different conjugations and so on.

My opinion is that until you are not solid with one of these languages, you shouldn’t start a “similar” one. The reason is that if you don’t have solid foundations, you will have a lot of confusion when you will introduce Portuguese. All your weak foundations will start to fall, you will confuse words between these languages, and you won’t be sure if they are Portuguese or Italian or Spanish. You will mix up verbs thinking that because they are similar they should mean the same, and they won’t.
You will think that grammatically they behave the same when in reality they don’t always do.

Of course, if you are not serious about learning a language, and you just need it for tourism or for surviving here and there, it is different. But if you want to learn it seriously, or at least enough seriously, you should consider what I said.

If I want to go to Portugal right now, I would probably survive without doing anything because I know Italian, Spanish and French. But if I would like to talk properly in Portuguese, or writing properly in this language, I know that I should do a lot of work on building vocabulary without mixing words, understanding all the specific differences, and making step by step a big effort to avoid mixing languages.
I will probably achieve an advanced level quite faster than you but afterwards, I will have to dedicate a serious amount of time in refining the language to avoid confusion.


I mostly want to understand it so I can watch Brazillians talking about sport. Do you think from learning Italian it is easy enough to just learn Portuguese vocab to understand it easier?

Learning vocabulary by reading, and understand it when they are talking is different. I have read an articles saying that portuguese understand us better than vice versa but we understand texts better.

I have just tried to listen to a Youtube video where they were talking about football and I could understand very little. But I have no training at all in this language. When I tried reading the transcript I could increase my comprehension and understand a bit more about the topic.

But we have too many false friends between the languages. I would have to train the same as any other language. I would have an advantage from knowing already its structure.
I would have to learn the pronunciation and do a good amount of listening practice to begin to feel comfortable.

Probably Spanish is closer as similarity but then there are differences between Portugal and Brazil. However, I don’t know more, I haven’t read enough about it.


Is italian on your list of languages you wish to acquire or are you asking which language is easier to learn so that you can understand Spoken Portuguese faster? (Portugal or Brazilian?)

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It´s because there aren´t any courses for Portuguese where I am and I saw Metatron listening to Portuguese, getting very confused, then after a few minutes understood a lot of it. So I wondered if I learned Italian would it speed up eventual Portuguese acquisition.

I’m just curious, what do you mean with courses? You mean traditional teacher/class/students course? Why would you need anything like that?
You have LingQ to build vocabulary and the entire internet for everything you need. Plus you can go straight to Brazilian accent and vocabulary.
The only thing you would miss is talking to native people, and I’m sure you can find many portuguese in Slovakia to organise that, I have found them everywhere, and they are usually friendly and helpful.

Or is it another course type of format you are looking for?

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If you want to understand Portuguese… learn Portuguese, and listen to enormous amounts of Portuguese. There is a superabundance of Portuguese-language media and learning resources online.


I just checked, there is Portuguese right here on Lingq. Why not use that?

In my experience, there are pros and cons to learning languages that are similar. The pros are certainly cognates which makes picking up new vocabulary faster, and similar grammar helps too. The similar grammar and cognates can also be a con, as your brain is more likely to mix up the two when you are speaking.

That said, for me the pros outweigh the cons. I mean mixing up languages is going to happen. When I only spoke English and Spanish, sometimes those got mixed up. (I ALWAYS think ‘ganas’ when I want to say desires, and I default to Spanish phonics when reading new words. Now I’m learning ASL, and sometimes when I’m talking to a co-worker in Spanish and can’t think of the word, I find my hands moving to create the sign. That’s really interesting since my Spanish is far better than my ASL.

Now I have added Italian (which is where I draw my observation about the pros/cons from mostly.) But it’s so much fun, that I don’t mind!

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Learning Spanish/Italian, just so it’s afterwards “easier” to learn Portuguese is a waste a time in my opinion.

The only exception would be if you are planning on learning Spanish/Italian in your life anyways, then it may make sense to choose to learn certain languages first, such as those which have more native speakers where you live.

There should be plenty of materials and resources available for Portuguese and many tutors you can hire online too to just jump straight into Portuguese though.

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Thanks, I do use lingq for Portuguese but there are a lot of courses in my town for Italian and I have people around me who speak it. What I was trying to get at is, I have lived in the border regions of Denmark/Sweden and Slovakia/Czechia. Therefore if you did take lessons in Danish and lived in Sweden, it would be a massive benefit. If you did take lessons in Czech and live in Slovakia, it is all good.

With this being the case I was wondering if taking Italian as a subject would be similar to learning Danish whilst studying Swedish (complimentary) etc.

From what people have said they may not be so culturally similar, but perhaps still have something in common when it comes to grammar.

I am fluent in both Spanish and Italian. I like to call the sister languages. They have more similarities with each other than they do with Portuguese (Brazilian). I just started the LinqQ Brazilian Portuguese because I have Brazilian friends where I travel and It was already next in line in my language list.

IMO, Italian is an easier/less complex language to learn compared to Spanish because of the similarities. You would have an advantage in learning Spanish if you are at B2 level in Italian, at the least. (Spanish has more rules and conjugations, uffa!). When it comes to learning Portuguese (Brazilian) I can confirm that I do not have the same edge learning Portuguese as I did when learning Italian or Spanish being C2.

Even though (Brazilian) Portuguese is not as similar to Italian and Spanish as Italian and Spanish are similar to each other, you will still have an upper hand if you know Italian or Spanish because there are still some similar words, just not as many similar root words in Brazilian Portuguese. Any sooner, you may fall prey to what @davideroccato was referring to regarding " weak foundations"

I still can catch some words when my Brazilian friends speak to each other and when I am reading Portuguese here on LingQ.

As long as Italian or Spanish is on your list of languages to learn, IMO I would say go for it. Have fun and get started. I look forward to hearing how it is going.

And for anyone only considering to learn Italian or Spanish just to make it easier to learn Portuguese… Its not worth it, because you can learn Portuguese in half the time it would take for you to learn Italian or Spanish to **B2 level, only to start Portuguese. It doesn’t make sense to me to learn a language that is not in your interest to learn. You will learn the language you are interested in much faster because those very same interests.

**I say B2 Level to further elaborate what @davideroccato mentioned to you earlier regarding confusion:

I believe that B2 level is, approximately, the earliest starting zone - where a learner most likely has established enough of a foundation in that language to begin learning a sister language with little confusion, due to their similarities.

  • This POV may not hold true within other language groups, those foundations may start a level earlier or later.
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