colors in portuguese

Follow the Rainbow! Learn Colors in Portuguese and Find a Pot of Gold

Today just might be your lucky day!

Because today, we’re going on a search for the treasure hidden at the end of the rainbow.

On the journey to fluency in Portuguese, there’s nothing more important than being able to describe the world around you.

What better place to start than with the beautiful colors we see covering everything?

To learn the colors, vamos em uma aventura! (let’s go on an adventure!)

During this adventure, you’ll have a chance to learn all sorts of colors, including basic ones used for everyday objects, advanced colors that’ll truly impress other Portuguese speakers and even colors used only to describe people.

See if you can memorize as cores (the colors) and earn that treasure at the end of the rainbow!

Why Is Learning Colors Important?

Not only will learning colors open up your vocabulary and allow you to describe the world around you, they’re also essential to understanding all types of pop culture references, movies and songs. Most importantly, colors are used every day to distinguish between things.

Picture this: You’ve just arrived at the airport in Salvador. You’re ready to spend the best week of your life dancing and listening to incredible Brazilian music. Yeah, you guessed it. It’s Carnaval! Since you want to immerse yourself as much as possible in the city and culture, you ask someone what bus to take to get to the city center. O ônibus amarelo,” she replies.

Outside, a bus pulls up to the curb. But what color was amarelo, again? Suddenly, you’re not sure. This could be your bus. If it is, you’ll have to hurry…

Are you prepared? Do you know your colors?

Adjectives and Agreement: Easy-to-follow Grammar Tips

Before we jump into the colors, let’s nail down a couple of simple rules for using them.

Portuguese Colors and Gender

Every Portuguese noun has a gender. When using adjectives it’s necessary to make the adjectives agree with the nouns. How about another look at that bus situation? The helpful lady at the airport used the color amarelo (yellow) to describe o ônibus (the bus).

Because o ônibus is masculine (you can tell by the article “o”), the adjective, amarelo, must be made masculine as well. To do this, we simply make it end in o.

When describing a feminine noun, such as a casa (the house), instead of ending the adjective in o, it ends in a.

O ônibus amarelo

A casa amarela

Remember, adjectives in Portuguese almost always follow the noun.

Portuguese Colors and Pluralization

Just like with gender, adjectives must agree in number with the noun being described.

To make an adjective agree with a plural noun, we simply add an s to the end of the word. So the first two examples, made plural, would become:

Os ônibus amarelos (the plural form of the word “ônibus” is the same as the singular form)

As casas amarelas

Exceptions

The examples listed above work only for regular adjectives ending in o or a. When a noun doesn’t end in o/a, it doesn’t change its ending for gender agreement.

There are occasional other exceptions to these agreement rules, but don’t worry! Any other exceptions will be explained as they come up on your journey to the end of the rainbow.

Follow the Rainbow! Learn Colors in Portuguese and Find a Pot of Gold

Let’s get started! Here, you’ll learn all the color words you could possibly want to know in Portuguese.

The Basics: Colors of the Rainbow in Portuguese

Since we’ll be following the rainbow on this journey, we obviously need to know the colors of that rainbow. Here they are:

Vermelho/a — red

O sangue vermelho — The red blood

Uma blusa vermelha — A red shirt

Alaranjado/a — orange

As mangas alaranjadas — The orange mangos

Um capacete alaranjado — An orange helmet

Da cor laranja — [of the color] orange

Exception: Some colors in Portuguese appear to be adjectives, but actually represent nouns of the same color. Laranja actually refers to the fruit orange. These noun-colors formally appear as da cor ____, such as:

O copo da cor laranja — The orange cup (literally, “the cup of the color orange”)

The beginning of this phrase can also be left off, such as:

O copo laranja — The orange cup

In this case, the ending of the color doesn’t change for masculine/feminine or for plurals. This is because the color is a noun, not an adjective. So the plural of the previous sentence would look like:

Os copos laranja — The orange cups

Amarelo/a — Yellow

Os pássaros amarelos — The yellow birds

A minha prancha amarela — My yellow board

Verde — Green

A grama verde — The green grass

Uns cactos verdes — A green cactus

Azul — Blue

O céu azul — The blue sky

Azul is a slightly irregular color word. It doesn’t change based gender, but in the plural form becomes azuis.

Os carros azuis — The blue cars

Índigo/a — Indigo

Much like in English, this color isn’t very commonly used in spoken Portuguese. But since it’s technically a color of the rainbow, we’ve included it here for consistency.

O meu vestido índigo — My indigo dress

As suas pulseiras índigas — Their indigo bracelets

Violeta/Da cor Violeta — Violet

Exception: Violeta, like laranja, is a color referring to a noun, and therefore doesn’t change based on gender or number.

Os óculos violeta, or os óculos da cor violeta — The violet glasses

Congratulations! Now that you know the colors of the rainbow, you’re well on your way to earning that treasure at the end of the rainbow.

Other Must-know Colors in Portuguese

While the colors of the rainbow are important, the next group of colors appears at least as frequently in Portuguese, and are therefore some must-know colors.

Branco/a — White

As nuvens brancas — The white clouds

O seu guardanapo branco — Your white napkin

Preto/a — Black

O pneu preto — The black tire

As nossas mochilas pretas — Our black backpacks

Cinza — Gray

Exception: Again, like violeta and laranja, cinza is a color referring to a noun (ash, or cinder). Therefore, it doesn’t change based on gender or number.

Os gatos cinza — The gray cats

Roxo/a — Purple

A parede roxo — The purple wall

A minha caneta roxa — My purple pen

Rosa — Pink

Exception: You guessed it, rosa refers to the noun “rose,” and doesn’t change based on gender or number of the word it’s describing.

As flores rosa — The pink flowers

Marrom — Brown (Brazil)

A cadeira marrom — The brown chair

Exception: In Portuguese, when a noun ends in “m” it’s made plural by changing the “m” to an “n” and adding “s,” as in:

As cadeiras marrons — The brown chairs

Castanho/a — Brown (Portugal)

A mesa castanha — The brown table

Uns sapatos castanhos — Some brown shoes

Bonus Portuguese Colors to Really Sound Like a Native

If your goal is to pass as a native or to really impress your Portuguese speaking friends, learning these less common colors will really put you a step ahead of the rest.

Bege — Beige

Exception: Here we have another example of a noun-referring color, which won’t change based on gender or number.

As calças bege —The beige pants

Carmesim — Crimson

Os seus batons carmesins — Your crimson lipsticks

O campo carmesin — The crimson field

Transparente — Transparent

A água transparente — The transparent water

With these bonus colors under your belt, describing the world around you will be a breeze.

Killer Vocabulary to Use with Your New Colors

These next few vocabulary words will allow you more flexibility with your descriptions. Using them, you’ll be able to better describe everything around you and even modify the colors you already know.

Colorido/a — Colorful

Incolor — Colorless

Claro/a — Light

Escuro/a — Dark

These last two can be used to modify any color to make it lighter or darker. Remember to modify both adjectives for gender and number!

A garrafa verde clara — The light green bottle

As camisas azuis escuras — The dark blue shirts

The Human Touch: How to Describe People Using Colors

Portuguese, even more than English, has a whole set of colors used specifically to describe people. If you want to be able to talk about your family and friends, these words are definitely necessary. To start, here are some words used for skin tones.

Branco/a — White

Moreno/a — Brown or darker-skinned

Negro/a — Black

Amarelo/aYellow

Note: Unlike in English, where calling someone “yellow” can be considered offensive, Amarelo is a normal and generally inoffensive term for someone’s skin tone in Portuguese. In fact, it often appears on demographics sections of standardized tests and surveys.

This next group is full of colors used to describe someone’s hair color. Which of these describes you?

Ruivo/a — Redhead

Loiro/a — Blonde

Moreno/a — Brown or dark-haired

Note: moreno can also mean “dark-skinned.” So, Ele é moreno can mean “he is dark-haired,” or “he is dark-skinned.” Make sure to clarify, if not already clear through context.

Grisalho/a — Grey

Branco/a — White

Note: Someone who, in English, would be described as having gray hair, is frequently described in Portuguese as having cabelo branco. This description stands even if the person’s hair isn’t bright white.

Except for branco, all of these words for hair color can also be used as nouns, such as:

Ela é uma loira — She is a blonde

Ele é um moreno — He is a dark-haired person

For branco, you’d instead say:

Eles tem cabelo branco — They have white hair

Four Phrases to Jump-start Your Color Conversations

If you’re really dedicated to learning these colors in Portuguese, you’re going to want to practice them as often as possible. Here are four phrases that’ll make talking about colors easy and fun.

Qual é a cor de _____? — What color is ____?

De que cor é _____? — What color is ____?

Que cor é essa? — What color is this?

Qual é a sua cor preferida? — What is your favorite color?

colors in portuguese

If you want to jump-start your Portuguese practice, check out the videos on FluentU. FluentU transforms real-world Portuguese videos—like movie trailers, music videos, new clips and inspiring talks—into language-learning experiences. Each video features native Portuguese speakers, so you’ll see how Portuguese is spoken in the real world. Plus, interactive subtitles in Portuguese and English make it easy to follow along, practice pronunciation and quickly look up unfamiliar words.

As you listen and watch, the color words, their pronunciation and their grammar rules will become more and more clear. It’s a great way to build confidence before using these words in the real world!

Check out FluentU’s free trial and get started!

Congratulations! You’ve Made It to the End of the Rainbow

You made it! After all that hard work, you’ve finally arrived at the finish line; the tesouro (treasure) at the end of the rainbow. Here are a couple more colors so you can talk about what you got!

Dourado — Gold

Prateado — Silver

Você achou moedas douradas e joalheria prateada — You found gold coins and silver jewelry

 

Hopefully, this lesson brought a little more color to your Portuguese journey. If you want some help with pronouncing a lot of these colors, check out this video. On the other hand, if you’d rather find out how that pot of gold got to the end of the rainbow, you’ll want to check this one out. Good luck!

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