False friends in English and Portuguese – Part II


This is part two of a bilingual list of terms that look similar in writing but translate quite differently in Portuguese and English. These terms are known as false friends. The similarities can easily lead to mix-ups and poor use of language so I hope you can find this list useful. In case you missed it, you can check part one here.



A journal can be a diário, revista or periódico. Jornal is the same as a newspaper.

She kept a journal for the 6 months she spent in Kenya. – Ela escreveu num diário durante os seis meses que passou no Quénia.

I keep updated on politics by reading the newspaper every morning. – Mantenho-me atualizado no que toca a política lendo o jornal todas as manhãs.



Large is a synonym of grande, espaçoso, while the term for largo can be wide or broad.

They have those pants in small and large sizes. – Eles têm essas calças nos tamanhos pequeno e grande.

The desk was almost as large as the room. – A secretária era quase tão larga quanto o quarto.



A lecture is a palestra, in Portugal. Leitura, on the other hand, is all about reading.

The first lecture was on emotional intelligence. – A primeira palestra foi sobre inteligência emocional.

This initiative aims at promoting reading habits. – Esta iniciativa pretende promover hábitos de leitura.



A legend is a lenda. The word lenda actually comes from the Latin legenda, meaning ‘things that should be read’. So nowadays, legenda is the translation of the words from a foreign movie/show, etc. shown on a screen. In English, it’s a subtitle.

French film legend Jeanne Moreau dies at 89. – Jeanne Moreau, lenda do cinema francês, morreu aos 89 anos.

They have the subtitles in Portuguese. – Eles têm a legenda em português.



Livraria is a shop which sells books, not a building which lends them to the public. Library is then a biblioteca.

You should return the books to the library in two weeks. – Deve devolver os livros à biblioteca no prazo de duas semanas.

Last week I bought four books at Lello bookstore. – Na semana passada, comprei quatro livros na livraria Lello.



Lunch and lanche are both meals. Lanche is a snack or afternoon tea, a light meal before dinner, while lunch is the almoço.

In hospitals, lunch starts at 12 pm. – Nos hospitais, os almoços começam às 12h.

The kids have milk with cookies as their afternoon snack. – As crianças comem bolachas com leite ao lanche.



Notice, as a noun, translates as aviso. Notícia is the same as news.

The board next to the Principal’s office has several important notices. – O quadro ao lado do gabinete do diretor tem vários avisos importantes.

Forest fires make the headlines in today’s newspapers. – Os incêndios são a notícia de capa dos jornais de hoje.



A novel is a romance. Meanwhile, novela translates as soap opera (also called telenovela) or novella.

Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen. – Orgulho e Preconceito é um romance de Jane Austen.

I grew up watching Brazilian soap operas. – Cresci a ver novelas brasileiras.



Ordinary is the same as normal and comum. It can also translate as ordinário, but only if the intended meaning is common or regular. Most often than not, ordinário just means trashy, rude or ill-mannered.

This Sunday was just like any ordinary day at work. – Este domingo foi como um qualquer dia de trabalho normal.

He is incredibly rude! – Ele é mesmo ordinário!



Parents translates into pais. For parentes, the term that fits is relatives.

My parents are both lawyers. – Os meus pais são ambos advogados.

I don’t know the exact relation but they are Lisa’s relatives, for sure. –  Não sei qual a relação exata entre eles, mas são seguramente parentes da Lisa.



Particular, in Portuguese, means private. It can also mean individual or especial, depending on context. The English term, on the other hand, translates as específico or concreto.

The client came looking for a particular diamond. – O cliente veio à procura de um diamante específico.

Their kids go to a private school. – Eles têm os filhos numa escola particular.



Pasta is an Italian word which translates into massa, in Portuguese, an ingredient used as base for several Italian dishes. In Portugal, we use the term pasta when referring to a briefcase or a folder. It is also possible to use this term for paste, as in toothpaste (i.e., pasta de dentes).

That Italian restaurant is famous for their pasta dishes. – Aquele restaurante italiano é famoso pelas suas massas.

He carried the contracts inside his briefcase. – Ele levou os contratos dentro da pasta.



A phrase is oftentimes a part of a sentence, i.e., of a frase, which has a meaning by itself. It can also be a expressão.

He keeps repeating his favourite phrase ‘it’s a pleasure’’. – Ele passa a vida a repetir a sua expressão preferida “é um prazer”.

Please repeat the first sentence. – Repita a primeira frase.



Physician is a médico. A físico is a physicist.

You should have that leg checked by a physician. – Devias consultar um médico para ver essa perna.

He is the youngest physicist to publish an article on nuclear fission. – É o físico mais jovem a publicar um artigo sobre fissão nuclear.



In Portuguese, a policy is a política, norma or apólice. Polícia translates as police.

We have recently updated our privacy policy. – Atualizámos recentemente a nossa política de privacidade.

Police say protestors were to blame for the disorder. – Segundo a polícia, os desacatos foram causados pelos manifestantes.


This ends part 2 of 3 of this list. Hope you enjoyed it. Please use the comments’ section below to share your thoughts and favourite false friends in EN and PT or any other language really.

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