Portuguese is a Romance language closely related to Spanish, and even more closely related to Galician (in fact, many people consider that Galician and Portuguese are the same language). It is spoken as the official language of Portugal and Brazil, with some differences in pronunciation, spelling, and use of pronouns. It is also the official language of Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé e Príncipe, Angola, Mozambique, and the co-official language of East Timor, and Macau. It is spoken mainly by the elderly in Goa, Daman and Diu in India. There are around 200 million Portuguese native speakers, the vast majority in Brazil.
The Portuguese we will include in this phrasebook is of the European usage which differs from the Brazilian in sounds and pronunciation. Even though both European and Brazilian speakers will slightly understand each other if they do communicate.
Needless to say, if you know a Romance language, it will be easier for you to learn Portuguese. However, people who know a little Spanish may hastily conclude that Portuguese is close enough that it need not be studied separately. While they may be able to figure out the meaning of some signage, items on a menu, etc., understanding of verbal communication will be very low to nothing. Words such as "gente" (people) are pronounced so differently in either variant of Portuguese, that you would hardly recognise them. Also, some personal names such as "Jorge Ramos," for example, will be pronounced quite differently as well.
If you know Spanish, watch for a lot of new vowels, a huge number of contractions (comparable to del and al) and irregular plurals. For the non-fluent, some pronunciation differences can be easily missed, such as año (year) becoming ano. If you speak good French, you may find Portuguese pronunciation to be fairly easy, though much of the vocabulary will have changed substantially.
The pronunciation in Portugal differs significantly from that in Brazil. The difference is basically in pronunciation and a few vocabulary differences, which make it tricky even for Brazilians to understand the European Portuguese accent. Now the European uses a lot of those oo's which are not used in Brazilian.
as the 'a' in "far" [ah] / as the 'a' in "cat"
as the 'e' in "get" [eh]
as the 'ee' in "week" [ee] / as the 'i' in "hit"
as the 'o' in "open" [oh]
as the 'oo' in "look" / as the 'oo' in "book"
as the 'a' in "tar" but held longer
as the 'a' in "bat" but short
a nasal sound like 'an' in "angry"
long sound as the 'e' in "bled"
similar to the 'ea' in "bread"
êm, em, ém
nasal sound like 'en' in "end"
like the 'o' in "hot"
like the 'oa' in "coat"
as 'b' in "boy"
as 'c' in "car" with a,o,u
as 's' in "sand" with e,i
as 's' in "sun" with a,o,u
as 'sh' in "shoe"
as 'd' in "desk"
as 'f' in "fist"
as 'g' in "go" with a,o,u
as 'su' in "pleasure" with e,i
as 'gee' in "geek" with gui, as 'ge' in "get" with gue
as 'gua' in "agua" [gwah]
is a silent letter at the beginning of a word
as 'li' in "million"
as 'ny' in "canyon"
as 'su' in "treasure"
as 'k' in "kiss" [foreign sounds]
as 'l' in "lip"
as 'm' in "monkey"
as 'n' in "nice"
as 'p' in "post"
as 'k' in "kite" [especially with 'u']
a rolled 'r' as in Spanish or Italian 'r' sound [not guttural like in Brazil]
as 's' in "sun" when at the beginning of a word or when followed by an 's'
as 'sh' sound when at the end of a word or when followed by a consontant other than 's' eg. Gostaria [goosh-tah-REE-ah]
as 'z' in "zoo" if preceded and followed by vowels eg. casa [KA-za]
as 't' in "tent"
as 'v' in "vine"
as 'x' in "taxi", as 'sh' in "ship", as 's' in "same"
as 'z' in "zest", end of a word 'su' in "pleasure"
as 'ow'in "cow"
as 'ia' in "Lydia"
as 'io' in "frio" also 'ew' sound in "new" [yoo]
as 'ay' in "play"
as 'oa' in "boa"
as 'we' in "wet"
as 'wee' in "weed"
as 'oo' in "took"
as 'wa' in "water"
as 'wee' in "week"
as 'e' in "get"
as 'ay' in "pay" plus 'a' in "far" [all pronounced together]
as 'ay' in "way"
As a general guide, stress the penultimate (last-but-one) syllable except where there is an accent, or the word ends with a diphthong (that is, 2 vowels which are pronounced as a single syllable – explained in full later on), or if it ends with any of the following letters: i; l; r; z; im; um; ins; uns – in which case, the stress is on the last syllable.