Learn Portuguese in Lisbon - header image

False friends/Falsos amigos - Part I

How do we say actually in Portuguese? Is it atualmente? Are you sure about that? In a restaurant, if you feel like eating beef, will order bife in Portuguese? Hum… I don’t think so! When you are watching a movie, do you normally read the subtitles? Or should we say subtítulos? Wrong again! My favourite part of the day is lunchtime. That means hora do lanche? Ups… wrong answer!
These are the kind of mistakes we make quite often. In fact, when we are speaking is very common to use words that look or sound similar, but differ significantly in meaning. False friends can cause difficulty for students learning a foreign language, particularly one that is related to their native language, because students are likely to identify the words wrongly due to linguistic interference.   

English – Portuguese Portuguese – English
actually na verdade, de facto atualmente currently, nowadays
beef carne de vaca bife steak
subtitles legendas subtítulos subheading (text)
lunchtime hora do almoço hora do lanche snack time
data dados (números, informações) data date
chef chefe de cozinha chefe boss
avocato abacate advogado lawyer
balcony varanda balcão counter
cigar charuto cigarro cigarette
pasta massa pasta briefcase/folder
costume roupa de fantasia costume habit, custom
discussion debate discussão argument
tax imposto taxa rate/fee
to pull puxar pular to jump
to push empurrar puxar to pull
parents pais parentes relatives

Whether the translation is English-Portuguese or Spanish-Portuguese, the number of false friends (falsos amigos) is big. Please, take some minutes and have a look to the following examples. Pay attention and be careful every time you use them!
Did you memorize all of them? Hope so! Now, it’s your turn to do some homework. What is the meaning in Portuguese of the following words?

novel, lamp, expert, fabric, legend, library, office, pork, eventually, policy.

The answers will be given in the next post.