In linguistics, false friends are those words from different languages which look very similar in writing but actually mean different things. For that reason, they can easily lead to error a less careful or knowledgeable speaker in the languages concerned.
On this post, I will be displaying a list of 50 false friends between English and Portuguese. This topic and list are divided into three posts. Below you will find the first 20 pairs of false friends, in alphabetical order.
ACTUALLY – A(C)TUALMENTE
Actualmente (also spelled atualmente) means nowadays or currently. To say actually, we use the expressions na realidade or de facto.
He has actually just left the country. – Na realidade, ele acabou de sair do país.
The party currently has no opponents. – A(c)tualmente, o partido não tem adversários.
ADVISE – AVISAR
Avisar means to warn. Advise basically means aconselhar.
His lawyer advised him not to speak. – O advogado aconselhou-o a não falar.
I warned the police about the protesters’ behaviour. – Avisei a polícia em relação ao comportamento dos manifestantes.
ANTHEM – ANTENA
Antena means antenna or aerial. For anthem, the term in Portuguese is hino.
Everyone sang the national anthem before the game. – Toda a gente cantou o hino nacional antes do jogo.
You must buy a new antenna for your car. – Tens de comprar uma antena nova para o carro.
BALCONY – BALCÃO
Balcão means counter. Balcony translates as varanda.
She has bought an apartment with a huge balcony. – Ela comprou um apartamento com uma varanda enorme.
The kids are hiding behind the counter of the store. – Os miúdos estão escondidos atrás do balcão da loja.
BEEF – BIFE
Bife is synonym of steak, while beef refers to carne de vaca (cow’s meat).
Would you prefer beef or pork? – Prefere carne de vaca ou de porco?
I want my steak grilled with vegetables. – Quero o meu bife grelhado e com legumes.
BONNET – BONÉ
The two terms can easily get mixed up as both refer to an accessory for your head. Nonetheless, boné means cap, while bonnet is a touca or gorro, in Portuguese.
The pink bonnet I got for Christmas was handmade with wool. – O gorro rosa que recebi pelo Natal foi feito à mão com lã.
His mum bought him a Manchester United’s football cap. – A mãe comprou-lhe um boné do Manchester United.
COLLAR – COLAR
Colar is the ornament we use around the neck, the necklace. For collar, the word is colarinho.
The coat has a removable collar. – O casaco tem um colarinho amovível.
The princess is wearing a pearl necklace. – A princesa está a usar um colar de pérolas.
COMPREHENSIVE – COMPREENSIVO
Compreensivo (masc.) or compreensiva (fem.) is someone who is understanding. Comprehensive, on the other hand, is an adjective used to talk about something that is, in Portuguese, abrangente or exaustivo.
It took me a long time to fill such a comprehensive form. – Demorei imenso tempo a preencher um formulário tão exaustivo.
He is the most understanding person I know. – Ele é a pessoa mais compreensiva que conheço.
COMPROMISE – COMPROMISSO
Compromisso is the Portuguese equivalent to commitment. Acordo would be the word for compromise (noun).
After 6 hours of negotiations, they managed to reach a compromise. – Após 6 horas de negociações, conseguiram chegar a um acordo.
Nowadays, his biggest commitment is with his children. – Hoje em dia, o seu maior compromisso é com os próprios filhos.
CONCEIT – CONCEITO
Conceito is the term for concept. For conceit, we can use either arrogância or presunção.
He’s a handsome and talented man but his conceit makes him annoying. – Ele é um homem bonito e talentoso, mas a sua arrogância torna-o irritante.
The design team recreated the brand’s concept. – A equipa de design recriou o conceito da marca.
COSTUME – COSTUME
In Portuguese, costume [kuʃˈtum(ə)] is the same as habit, tradition or custom. Costume [kɒstjʊːm], in English, is the word used when speaking about the clothes people wear on Halloween or Carnival.
Have you picked a costume for this year’s Halloween party? – Já escolheste a fantasia para a festa do Dia das Bruxas deste ano?
It’s a costume for us to eat soup with every meal. – Para nós, é costume comer sopa a todas as refeições.
DATA – DATA
The English term data [deɪtə] translates into dados, informação, while the Portuguese term data [datɐ] means date, in English.
The report was created based on data from 2012. – O relatório foi criado a partir de dados de 2012.
Please fill in the form with your name, address and date of birth. – Preencha o formulário com o seu nome, morada e data de nascimento.
ENROL(L) – ENROLAR
Enrolar is the equivalent of to roll up. But enrol (Br) or enroll (Am) is the same as inscrever or matricular.
They enrolled their daughter in a new school. – Eles inscreveram a filha numa escola nova.
It was hot so he rolled up the sleeves of his shirt. – Estava calor, por isso ele enrolou as mangas da camisa.
EXIT – ÊXITO
Êxito is a synonym of success, in Portuguese, sucesso, while for exit we have the terms sair (verb) or saída (noun).
Go straight ahead, turn left and you’ll find the exit to your right. – Vá sempre em frente, vire à esquerda e encontrará a saída à sua direita.
The success of a marketing campaign depends on several factors. – O êxito de uma campanha de marketing depende de vários fatores.
EXPERT – ESPERTO
The expert is a especialista, someone with a deep knowledge within a specific area or subject. The word resembles the Portuguese term esperto, which means smart or clever.
Tomorrow we are welcoming an expert in financial analysis. – Amanhã iremos receber um especialista em análise financeira.
He’s the smartest kid in the group. – Ele é o miúdo mais esperto do grupo.
EXQUISITE – ESQUISITO
Similar spelling but meaning couldn’t be any more different. Exquisite translates as refinado or requintado, while esquisito means weird, awkward or odd.
The hotel we stayed in was truly exquisite. – O hotel onde ficámos hospedados era verdadeiramente refinado.
They don’t have many friends because they tend to act in a weird way. – Eles não têm muitos amigos porque tendem a ter um comportamento esquisito.
FABRIC – FÁBRICA
Fábrica is a synonym of factory or plant. Fabric, on the other hand, writes as tecido.
I bought some of that blue fabric for a dress. – Comprei um bocado daquele tecido azul para fazer um vestido.
The company is considering opening a factory in the UK. – A empresa está a considerar abrir uma fábrica no Reino Unido.
GRIP – GRIPE
Grip can have several meanings but none of them is gripe, in Portuguese. Grip can mean agarrar or apertar, as a verb. If it’s a noun, it can translate as controlo or domínio, for example. The English term for gripe is flu.
He kept a good grip on the rope. – Ele agarrou bem a corda.
Seems like the flu season has just started. – Parece que a época das gripes acabou de começar.
HAZARD – AZAR
Hazard means perigo and risco. The equivalent to azar, in English, is bad luck.
The report suggests that drinking too much coffee may be a health hazard. – O relatório sugere que beber demasiado café pode constituir um perigo para a saúde.
She had a run of bad luck at the casino. – Ela teve azar no casino.
INJURY – INJÚRIA
Injury is a lesão or ferimento. Injúria means insult or slander.
She was diagnosed with severe internal injuries as a result of the accident. – Foram-lhe diagnosticadas graves lesões internas em resultado do acidente.
I don’t think slander is a crime, is it? – Penso que a injúria não constitui crime, pois não?
This is part 1 of a list with several false friends between English and Portuguese. The post that will follow starts with the letter J. In the meantime, feel free to share your ideas and send me your feedback via the comments’ section below.