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  • Writer's pictureSpeaking Brazilian

Don’t Speak Portuñol! False Friends Portuguese/Spanish

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

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Do you speak "Portuñol"? If you do, you're not alone. When I try to speak Spanish, it comes out as "Portuñol" too!

Mixing Portuguese with Spanish is an issue that most students have to overcome.

In this lesson, we are going to study 10 false friends in Portuguese and Spanish so that you don't get confused by these words anymore.

1. APELIDO in Portuguese and APELLIDO in Spanish:

The word “apellido” in Spanish means family name or last name.

In Portuguese, “apelido” is an affectionate or humorous name we give to a person.

For example:

  • O apelido da Fernanda é Fê. (Fernanda's nickname is Fê.)

2. BORRACHA in Portuguese and BORRACHA in Spanish:

The word “borracha” or “borracho” in Spanish means drunk, a person who had a lot of alcohol.

In Portuguese, “borracha” is an elastic substance used to manufacture products such as tires, shoes, among other things.

For example:

  • Eu tenho um sapato com sola de borracha. (I have a pair of shoes with a rubber sole.)

3. CACHORRO in Portuguese and CACHORRO in Spanish:

The word “cachorro” in Spanish means a cub of any mammalian animal.

In Portuguese, “cachorro” is a pet. We use the word “cachorro” for dogs of any age, even old ones.

For example:

  • Este cachorro tem 10 anos. (This dog is 10 years old.)

4. CARTEIRA in Portuguese and CARTERA in Spanish:

The word “cartera” in Spanish means a shoulder bag, usually worn by women.

In Portuguese, “carteira” is a small bag, usually used to store cash and credit cards.

For example:

  • Meu marido sempre leva a carteira no bolso. (My husband always carries his wallet in his pocket.)

5. CENA in Portuguese and CENA in Spanish:

The word “cena” in Spanish means dinner.

In Portuguese, “cena” is a small part of a movie, soap opera, or play.

For example:

  • Gostei muito da última cena do filme. (I really liked the last scene of the movie.)

6. CHULO in Portuguese and CHULO in Spanish:

The word “chulo” in Spanish means cool.

In Portuguese, “chulo” is synonymous with vulgar.

For example:

  • Eu não ensino vocabulário chulo a meus alunos. (I don't teach vulgar vocabulary to my students.)

7. EMBARAZADA in Portuguese and EMBARAZADA in Spanish:

The word “embarazada” in Spanish means pregnant.

In Portuguese, “embaraçada” is synonymous with embarrassed. We also use this word to say that something is disorganized.

For example:

  • Fiquei embaraçada porque cheguei atrasada. (I was embarrassed because I was late.)

  • Meu cabelo está muito embaraçado! (My hair is so tangled up!)

8. ESQUISITO in Portuguese and EXQUISITO in Spanish:

The word “exquisito” in Spanish means exotic, refined, or delicious, depending on the context.

In Portuguese, “esquisito” is something weird or uncommon.

For example:

  • Meu vizinho é um pouco esquisito. (My neighbor is a little weird.)

9. ESTRANHAR / ESTRANHO in Portuguese and EXTRAÑAR / EXTRAÑO in Spanish:

The word “extrañar” in Spanish means to miss someone or something, and “extraño” is the verb “extrañar” conjugated in the first person.

In Portuguese, “estranho” is synonymous with weird. It is something out of the ordinary or unknown. There is also the verb "estranhar," which means to find something strange.

For example:

  • Crianças não devem falar com estranhos. (Children should not talk to strangers.)

  • Eu estranhei os costumes americanos quando me mudei aos EUA. (I found American customs strange when I moved to the US.)

10. OFICINA in Portuguese and OFICINA in Spanish:

The word “oficina” in Spanish means office, a room or place where one works.

In Portuguese, “oficina” is the place where automobiles and machines are repaired or where craft or artistic work is carried out.

For example:

  • Preciso levar meu carro à oficina porque está fazendo um barulho estranho. (I need to take my car to the auto repair shop because it's making a strange noise.)

That's it, everybody! As there are many false friends in Portuguese and Spanish, I will publish another lesson on this subject next week. Stay tuned!

Até a próxima!

Your teacher,



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