50+ False Friends in Portuguese and What You Actually Want To Say

50+ False Friends in Portuguese graphic

Here’s a mixed bag of false friends in Portuguese that I’ve stumbled on before. False friends or false cognates are words from one language that look similar to a word in another language, except it’s a trick. False cognates are words that mean something entirely different from what you would guess. I’ve included the Portuguese word you’re actually looking for, as well as other similar words that mean utterly different things.

Bookmark these words because they’ll stab you in the back at the best of times.

Verbs that are false friends in Portuguese

aplicarapply, enforce or impose
candidatar-seapply for a (job/ course)
realizarperform or carry out
perceber / dar-se contato realize 
passarto spend (time) or pass (an exam)
ser aprovado/ato pass (an exam)
atenderto serve or see to someone
participarto attend
suportar (also aguentar)endure or withstand something
apoiarto support
apontarto point out
nomearto appoint (someone)
introduzir to insert or enter (introduce a new plant species)
apresentarto introduce (someone)
assumirto take on a role
presumir or suporto assume something
enrolarto procrastinate
inscreverto enroll
matricularto enroll
pretenderto intend to
fingirto pretend
assistir (a)to watch (something)
ajudarto help or assist
experimentarexperience, try, exploit, or to experiment
experiênciaan experience
 experimentoan experiment
recordar to remember
lembrarto remember 
gravar to record something
puxarto pull
empurrarto push
discutirto argue
conversarto discuss
Panoramic of Rio de Janeiro with sugar loaf mountain

Nouns that are False Friends in Portuguese

ofíciocraft or occupation
canalchannel (man made river)
estaçãochannel (tv or radio)
cabo cable
peruturkey (bird)
PerúPeru (the country)
TurquiaTurkey (the country)
pastaa folder
massapasta (the food)
panoa cloth
panelaa pan (for cooking)
notaa grade
anotação a note (notation)
almoço lunch
gelatinajello (UK jelly)
gripea cold
agarrarto grip
êxitosuccess (more common sucesso)
saídaan exit

Portuguese Adjectives and Adverbs

na verdadeactually
específico particular or specific
decepção / decepcionadodisappointment / disappointed
enganação/ enganadodeceived

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Common Portuguese Pronunciation Mistakes

10 Ways to Expand Your Portuguese Vocabulary

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