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  • Writer's pictureSpeaking Brazilian

False Friends – Portuguese/English

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

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In this lesson, you will learn some false cognates in Portuguese and English and how to use these words correctly.

Do you know what a false cognate is?

False cognates or false friends are similar words in two languages, but with completely different meanings. There are many false friends in Portuguese and English. Today we are going to study 10 of them.

1– ATUALMENTE in Portuguese and ACTUALLY in English:

“Atualmente” means “currently.” For example:

  • Atualmente, eu moro nos Estados Unidos. (I currently live in the United States.)

The word “actually” could be translated into Portuguese as “na verdade...” For example:

  • - O que você achou do filme? (- How did you like the movie?)

  • - Na verdade, não gostei muito, não. (- Actually, I didn't like it very much, no.)

2– ATENDER in Portuguese and ATTEND in English:

Atender” means answering a phone call or opening the door for someone who has rung the doorbell. For example:

  • Eu liguei, mas ninguém atendeu. (I called, but no one answered.)

  • Você pode atender a porta, por favor? (Can you answer the door, please?)

The word “attend” could be translated into Portuguese as “assistir” or “participar.” For example:

  • Hoje não posso assistir aula. (I can't attend class today.)

  • Hoje não posso participar da aula. (I can't attend class today.)

3– ASSUMIR in Portuguese and ASSUME in English:

“Assumir” means publicly acknowledging something, or taking responsibility for something, or taking on a new position. For example:

  • Maria assumiu o cargo de diretora da empresa. (Maria took over as CEO.)

  • Pedro assumiu a responsabilidade pelo erro. (Pedro took responsibility for the mistake.)

The word “assume” could be translated into Portuguese as “supor” or “presumir.” For example:

  • Eu presumi que ele fosse o professor. (I assumed he was the teacher.)

4– COLÉGIO in Portuguese and COLLEGE in English:

“Colégio” is synonymous with school, an elementary or high school institution. For example:

  • Pedrinho está no colégio. (Pedro is at school.)

“College,” in Portuguese, would be “faculdade.” For example:

  • Eu fiz faculdade em São Paulo. (I went to college in São Paulo.)

5– COSTUME in Portuguese and COSTUME in English:

“Costume” is synonymous with habit. For example:

  • Eu tenho o costume de tomar café todos os dias. (I have a habit of drinking coffee every day.)

“Costume,” in Portuguese, would be a “fantasia.” For example:

  • Carlos usou uma fantasia de pirata no carnaval. (Carlos wore a pirate costume at carnival.)

6– EDUCADO in Portuguese and EDUCATED in English:

The adjective “educado” or “educada” is used to refer to someone who behaves in a polite, kind and well-mannered way. For example:

  • Os filhos de Paula são muito educados. (Paula's children are very well behaved.)

“Educated,” in Portuguese, would be someone “instruída,” “culta” or “alto nível de escolaridade.” For example:

  • Todas as professoras do meu time têm alto nível de escolaridade. (All the teachers on my team are highly educated.)

7– EVENTUALMENTE in Portuguese and EVENTUALLY in English:

“Eventualmente” means occasionally. For example:

  • Eu encontro meus amigos eventualmente. (I meet my friends occasionally.)

The word "eventually," could be translated into Portuguese as "finalmente," “consequentemente" or " no final." For example:

  • Tenho certeza de que tudo vai dar certo no final. (I'm sure everything will work out eventually.)

8– EXCITADO in Portuguese and EXCITED in English:

Attention, everyone! The adjective “excitado” or “excitada” has a sexual connotation and means “sexually stimulated.” For example:

  • Clara fica excitada quando vê seu namorado. (Clara gets aroused when she sees her boyfriend.)

“Excited,” in Portuguese, would be “animado” or “empolgado.” For example:

  • Eles estão animados com o novo projeto. (They are excited about the new project.)

9– JORNAL in Portuguese and JOURNAL in English:

We use the word “jornal” to refer to a daily publication with recent news or TV or radio programs that broadcast news. For example:

  • Meu irmão assiste ao jornal todos os dias. (My brother watches the news every day.)

  • Minha mãe lê o jornal todos os dias. (My mother reads the newspaper every day.)

“Journal,” in Portuguese, would be “diário”. For example:

  • Ana escreve em seu diário todos os dias. (Ana writes in her journal every day.)

10 – REALIZAR in Portuguese and REALIZE in English:

“Realizar” means to make something a reality, make something happen, put something into practice, achieve a dream or a goal. For example:

  • O time realizou o projeto com sucesso. (The team successfully completed the project.)

  • I hope all your dreams come true. (I hope all your dreams come true.)

The word “realize” could be translated into Portuguese as “perceber,” “notar” or “dar-se conta.”For example:

  • Ele não se deu conta que estava tarde. (He didn't realize it was late.)

That's it, everybody!

Até a próxima!

Your teacher,



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