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60+ English Portuguese Cognates to Increase Your Vocabulary

English-Portuguese cognates area a goldmine of Portuguese vocabulary you haven’t dug into yet.

Cognates are words shared by two languages that look and sound similar and have the same meaning.

These words are extremely useful to know and the easiest to learn.

In this post, you’ll learn over 60 English-Portuguese cognates and several false friends—words that look like cognates but aren’t.


Identical English-Portuguese Cognates

These cognates are spelled the exact same in Portuguese as English. The only difference is their pronunciation.

Animal Animal
Natural Natural
Real Real
Social Social
Vital Vital
Original Original
Total Total
Chocolate Chocolate
Banana Banana
Cinema Cinema
Rádio Radio
Crime Crime
Familiar Familiar
Zero Zero

-ly -mente Adverb Cognates

You’ll find that a lot of English adverbs ending in -ly can easily be converted into Portuguese by switching the ending to -mente.

Place the stress on the –me- in the Portuguese version.

Realmente Really
Basicamente Basically
Historicamente Historically
Automaticamente Automatically
Oralmente Orally
Naturalmente Naturally

-ty -dade Feminine Cognates

You can generally transform English -ty words into their Portuguese equivalent by changing the ending to -dade.

Note that Portuguese words ending in -dade are feminine.

The stress here is placed on the -da- of the Portuguese word.

A cidade The city
A universidade The university
A honestidade The honesty
A simplicidade The simplicity
A velocidade The velocity

-ent-ente Cognates

This one works with both nouns and adjectives and is relatively straightforward. In this case, the stress falls on the -e- of -ente:

Diferente Different
Presidente President
Recente Recent
Componente Component
Inocente Innocent
Residente Resident
Excelente Excellent
Consistente Consistent

Watch out for those double letters in English.

As you’ll notice in some of the above examples (such as “innocent” and “inocente”), they don’t carry over to their Portuguese counterparts.

-ive-ivo/-iva Gendered Cognates

In this instance, you’ll convert English nouns and adjectives ending in -ive into Portuguese words ending in -ivo (if the subject is masculine) and -iva (if the subject is feminine).

Positivo (masc.)

Positiva  (fem.)
Executivo (masc.)

Executiva  (fem.)
Criativo (masc.)

Criativa  (fem.)
Competitivo (masc.)

Competitiva  (fem.)
Narrativa Narrative
Motivo Motive
Incentivo Incentive

Not to complicate things, but there is such thing as motiva. It’s the female third person singular for the verb motivar (to motivate).

Likewise, incentiva is the female third person singular for the verb incentivar (to incentivize).

Neither word applies here since we’re talking about nouns, not verbs.

-ous → -oso/-osa Cognates

Once again, these cognates are gendered according to whether the subject is male or female.

Religioso (masc.)

Religiosa  (fem.)
Famoso (masc.)

Famosa  (fem.)
Misterioso (masc.)

Misteriosa  (fem.)
Generoso (masc.)

Generosa  (fem.)
Ambicioso (masc.)

Ambiciosa  (fem.)

-ble -vel Cognates

This one covers the English -able and -ible cognates.

The Portuguese equivalents are -ável and -ível.

Possível Possible
Responsável Responsible
Impossível Impossible
Terrível Terrible
Vulnerável Vulnerable
Confortável Comfortable

tion/-sion -ção/-são Open-ended Cognates

Portuguese words ending in -ção and -são are feminine.

As far as pronunciation is concerned, the Portuguese tilde (accent mark) is the most challenging part. You should definitely listen to these words a few times and repeat them to yourself to practice your enunciation.

For English words ending in -tion, change the ending to -ção.

And for English words ending in -sion, use the ending -são.

Situação Situation
Comunicação Communication
Informação Information
Educação Education
Televisão Television
Expressão Expression
Conclusão Conclusion
Missão Mission

-ist -ista Cognates

These words are normally gender-neutral—you need to add the right definite article before them (o for males and a for females) to correspond with the person you’re talking about.

Dentista Dentist
Comunista Communist
Jornalista Journalist
Especialista Specialist
Artista Artist
Economista Economist
Feminista Feminist

English-Portuguese False Friends

A false friend is a word that looks like a cognate but actually isn’t.

Here are a few of the most common English-Portuguese false friends:

Atualmente Currently
(Mistake: actually)
Argumento Reasoning
(Mistake: argument)
Balcão Counter
(Mistake: balcony)
Compromisso Appointment
(Mistake: compromise)
Costume Custom, tradition
(Mistake: costume)
Data Date
(Mistake: data)
Dececionar To disappoint
(Mistake: to deceive)
Esperto Smart
(Mistake: expert)
Eventualmente Maybe
(Mistake: eventually)
Injúria Insult
(Mistake: injury)
Jornal Newspaper
(Mistake: journal)
Notícia News
(Mistake: notice)
Pretender To intend
(Mistake: to pretend)
Recordar To remember
(Mistake: to record)
Retirar To withdraw
(Mistake: to retire)
Taxa Rate, fee
(Mistake: tax)


Believe it or not, this is barely an intro to all the English-Portuguese cognates out there!

You’ll discover a trove of other patterns and groupings just by engaging with Portuguese media, such as movies, books, videos, etc.

FluentU even lets you learn cognates through context with authentic Portuguese videos, thanks to the interactive subtitles that let you click on words you don’t know.

I hope this post inspires you to delve further into the knowledge you already have as you continue your Portuguese fluency journey!

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