Speaking Portuguese in Portugal: 10 Hilarious Language Mistakes

Here’s a compilation of funny and embarrassing Portuguese language mistakes foreigners have made while speaking Portuguese in Portugal.


10+ Portuguese Language Mistakes in Portugal

  1. Haha … one time we were invited to dinner at the very elegant home of an Admiral. Before dinner, he was showing us his home. As he showed us a portrait of him in full colorful uniform, I wanted to know if he still wore a uniform so I asked, “O senhor ainda usa fraldo?” He stopped and a gave me the weirdest look. So I repeated the question … my companion, a Brazilian was holding his mouth as he dragged me out the door into the street without dinner. Outside he rolled on the sidewalk laughing before composing himself and explaining that the word is “fardo”; that I had asked twice if he still wore a diaper!! (Curtiss, Portugal Lisbon Mission)
  2. We would play a joke on the newbies, partly for fun but also partly to teach them nuances of a new language. When we would go to dinner at a member’s house for the first time, we would tell them that the members like to feed the Elders and they will pile the food on. We told them that “no” was “não”, but to be more polite, they should say “pois” or “porque não”. What we did not mention was that these are actually polite ways of saying “of course” and “why not”. After his fourth plate of food, one poor Elder was bodily covering his plate, almost whimpering, “Porque não!”, repeatedly. The nice sister feeding us gave us all a half-hearted scolding, and made us explain and apologize. (Matthew, Portugal Lisbon South Mission)
  3. I put the ending ona at the end of the word fubeca. I said fubecona, and got slapped by one of the sisters in the ward. I didn’t realize why for over 18 months. Apparently the mixture of the word and incorrect ending make a very bad word. (Chris, Portugal Lisbon South Mission)
  4. The words for coconut and feces in Portuguese are spelled exactly the same way, just accented differently. I once accidentally went into a little cafe and ordered a feces cake instead of a coconut cake. We all laughed. (Jami, Portugal Lisbon South Mission)
  5. It did not happen to me, but my trainer told me that a new missionary (could possibly have been him) his first day or so went to a member’s house to eat and his trainer told him when he was done to tell the members that he was full by saying “Estou gravida” which actually means “I’m pregnant”. So he says that while rubbing his belly and all the members died laughing. Don’t fall for that one. (Jesse, Portugal Lisbon Mission)
  6. People feed you tons of food and so you have to say no more, I’m full. But my companion joked with me and told me to say “I’m pregnant” instead of full. (McKay, Portugal Lisbon Mission)
  7. In my first transfer, I didn’t know the difference between ‘pedra’ (stone) and ‘rocha,’ which means rock, but not a little rock, rather sheet rock or a boulder. And so one time I announced that I had a ‘rocha’ in my shoe and everyone laughed at me. Some words have different meanings in Brazilian Portuguese. We were teaching a Brazilian couple, who had just barely moved to Portugal. They showed us a picture of their daughter who lives in Brazil, and I commented that she looked like a nice ‘rapariga’ (young woman, in Portugal Portuguese). Apparently that word has a horrible connotation in Brazil. It was awkward. (Anonymous, Portugal Lisbon Mission)
  8. In my first week, I told a girl that I liked her fur. I meant to say hair. (Kelsey, Portugal Lisbon Mission)
  9. I called an investigator’s kid a monkey once (mucaco). Apparently that’s super offensive, but I thought it was cute. And true. They were understanding about it, thankfully. (Kelly, Portugal Lisbon Mission)
  10. In the MTC we taught investigators. One time I accidentally accused my investigator of beating her children. It was interesting… (Charles, Portugal Lisbon Mission)
  11. I spoke Portuguese but especially in the North even when I spoke Portuguese to investigators, they would ask me to speak Portuguese! Maybe because my missionary tag read “Sister”. (Maria, Portugal Lisbon Mission)
  12. I made the mistake of reading graffiti out loud with a native companion, needless to say it wasn’t anything a missionary should be saying. (Daniel, Portugal Lisbon Mission)
  13. I can’t tell you how many times I called people a variation of an animal or called the sender the wrong one and offended people. (Noah, Portugal Lisbon Mission)

Helpful videos about Portuguese in Portugal:

Portuguese in Portugal vs. Portuguese in Brazil

Cool Facts About Portuguese Language

What an American accent in Portuguese sounds like

For more resources about serving in Portugal:

For more language mistake compilation posts:

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