Similar words in Portuguese and English

There are a lot of similar words in Portuguese and English. The reason is that both these languages contain many vocabulary words which originated from Latin.

Portuguese words ending in “-dade” which are similar to English words

Portuguese words ending in “-dade” often originate from Latin words ending in “-tas”. Some of these Latin words have been incorporated into the English language, through loanwords from French.

The “-tas” ending in Latin changed to a “-té” ending in French, and then to a “-ty” ending in English.

The table below contains examples of words which are similar in Portuguese and English, and for which both words are derived from a Latin term ending in “-tas”.

Table: Latin-derived portuguese words ending in "-dade" which are similar to Latin-derived English words ending in "-ty"
English Portuguese Latin
liberty liberdade libertas
simplicity simplicidade simplicitas
quantity quantidade quantitas
quality qualidade qualitas
security seguridade securitas
reality realidade realitas
possibility possibilidade possibilitas
university universidade universitas
celebrity celebridade celebritas
opportunity oportunidade opportunitas
credibility credibilidade credibilitas
community comunidade communitas
difficulty dificuldade difficultas
activity atividade activitas
dignity dignidade dignitas
probability probabilidade probabilitas
variety variedade varietas
utility utilidade utilitas
proximity proximidade proximitas
serenity serenidade serenitas
agility agilidade agilitas
fragility fragilidade fragilitas
morality moralidade moralitas
stability estabilidade stabilitas
vitality vitalidade vitalitas
humanity humanidade humanitas
festivity festividade festivitas
diversity diversidade diversitas
continuity continuidade continuitas
sincerity sinceridade sinceritas
property propriedade proprietas
clarity claridade claritas
immensity imensidade immensitas
sensitivity sensibilidade sensibilitas
familiarity familiaridade familiaritas
hospitality hospitalidade hospitalitas
civility civilidade civilitas
vanity vaidade vanitas
severity severidade severitas
humility humildade humilitas

Minor spelling differences among words which are similar between Portuguese and English

Similar words in Portuguese and English sometimes have additional spelling differences in addition to the changes in endings.

Double consonants in Latin tend to disappear when the word is incorporated into Portuguese.

For example the Latin word “opportunitas” has a double ‘p’ whereas the Portuguese word “oportunidade” doesn't.

Similarly, the Latin word “communitas” has a double ‘m’ whereas the Portuguese word “comunidade” doesn't.

A third example: the Latin word “difficultas” has a double ‘f’ whereas the Portuguese word “dificuldade” doesn't.

In contrast to Portuguese, the double letters in Latin words tend to be preserved when the word is incorporated into English.

In addition to the changes in endings, and dropping of most double letters, there are sometimes some minor additional differences between these Portuguese-English similar words.

For instance sometimes the letter ‘c’ got changed to a letter ‘g’ as the word was Incorporated from Latin to Portuguese. For example the Portuguese word “seguridade” vs. the English word “security”.

In some other instances, the letter ‘c’ gets dropped: For example the Portuguese word “atividade” vs. the English word “activity”.

Portuguese words ending in “-ção” which are similar to English words

Portuguese words ending in “-ção” often originate from Latin words ending in “-tio”. Again, some of these Latin words have been introduced into the English language as borrowings from French.

The “-tio” ending in Latin changed to a “-tion” ending in French, and kept that ending when those words were assimilated into English.

Table: Latin-derived portuguese words ending in "-ção" which are similar to Latin-derived English words ending in "-tion"
English Portuguese Latin
perfection perfeição perfectio
communication comunicação communicatio
condition condição conditio
collection coleção collectio
production produção productio
contemplation contemplação contemplatio
prediction predição praedictio
verification verificação verificatio
accumulation acumulação accumulatio
occupation ocupação occupatio
evolution evolução evolutio
initiation iniciação initiatio
admiration admiração admiratio
justification justificação iustificatio
education educação educatio
introduction introdução introductio
celebration celebração celebratio
option opção optio
explanation explicação explicatio
edition edição editio
description descrição descriptio
satisfaction satisfação satisfactio
navigation navegação navigatio
conjugation conjugação coniugatio
imagination imaginação imaginatio
discretion discrição discretio
competition competição competitio
protection proteção protectio
solution solução solutio
institution instituição institutio
consideration consideração consideratio
translation translação translatio
modification modificação modificatio
interpretation interpretação interpretatio
abbreviation abreviação abbreviatio
generation geração generatio
conservation conservação conservatio
decoration decoração decoratio
information informação informatio

Portuguese words ending in “-ência” or “-ância” which are similar to English words

Among the similar words between Portuguese and English, there is a group which concerns those derived from Latin terms ending in “-entia” or “-antia”.

In Portuguese these words end in “-ência” or “-ância”, while in English these words end in “-ence” or “-ance”.

Table: Similar words in Portuguese and English which are derived from Latin words ending in “-entia” or “-antia”
English Portuguese Latin
occurrence ocorrência occurrentia
prudence prudência prudentia
existence existência existentia
conscience consciência conscientia
arrogance arrogância arrogantia
ignorance ignorância ignorantia
consequence consequência consequentia
sequence sequência sequentia
patience paciência patientia
science ciência scientia
residence residência residentia
intelligence inteligência intelligentia
efficiency eficiência efficientia
surveillance vigilância vigilantia
absence ausência absentia
excellence excelência excellentia
experience experiência experientia
distance distância distantia
convenience conveniência convenientia
appearance aparência apparentia
circumstance circunstância circumstantia
resistance resistência resistentia

Portuguese words ending in “-ável” which are similar to English words

Another batch of similar words between Portuguese and English can be found among words derived from Latin adjectives ending in “-abilis”.

The Latin suffix “-abilis” produced the Portuguese suffix “-ável” and the English suffix “-able”.

Table: Similar words in Portuguese and English which are derived from Latin words ending in “-abilis”.
English Portuguese Latin
comparable comparável comparabilis
reasonable razoável rationabilis
durable durável durabilis
honorable honorável honorabilis
inexorable inexorável inexorabilis
abominable abominável abominabilis
intolerable intolerável intolerabilis
portable portável portabilis
mutable mutável mutabilis
stable estável stabilis
miserable miserável miserabilis
sociable sociável sociabilis
communicable comunicável communicabilis
vulnerable vulnerável vulnerabilis
impenetrable impenetrável impenetrabilis
formidable formidável formidabilis

Portuguese words ending in “-ico” which are similar to English words

Examples of similar words in Portuguese and English can also be found among another group of adjectives: those which are derived from a Latin word ending in “-icus”.

In the cases where English and Portuguese have both derived their vocabulary word from one of these Latin words, the Portuguese word typically ends in “-ico”, while the English word ends in “-ic”.

Table: Similar words in Portuguese and English which are derived from Latin words ending in “-icus”.
English Portuguese Latin
specific específico specificus
authentic autêntico authenticus
aquatic aquático aquaticus
pacific pacífico pacificus
fanatic fanático fanaticus
exotic exótico exoticus
historic histórico historicus
public público publicus
economic económico oeconomicus
problematic problemático problematicus
scientific científico scientificus
scholastic escolástico scholasticus
honorific honorífico honorificus
atlantic atlântico atlanticus

Portuguese adverbs which are similar to English adverbs

Adverbs are another grammatical category in which there are many similar vocabulary words between Portuguese and English.

Many Portuguese adverbs, particularly those formed from adjectives, end with the suffix “-mente”, while many English adverbs end with the suffix “-ly”.

Table: Examples of Portuguese adverbs which are similar to English adverbs
English Portuguese
completely completamente
totally totalmente
recently recentemente
certainly certamente
probably provavelmente
especially especialmente
finally finalmente
extremely extremamente
immediately imediatamente
initially inicialmente
exactly exatamente
generally geralmente
absolutely absolutamente
sincerely sinceramente
properly propriamente
directly directamente
constantly constantemente
basically basicamente
partially parcialmente
curiously curiosamente
correctly corretamente
considerably consideravelmente
seriously seriamente
periodically periodicamente
eternally eternamente
exceptionally excepcionalmente
intensely intensamente
doubly duplamente
occasionally ocasionalmente
accidentally acidentalmente
consciously conscientemente
collectively coletivamente

Why are there so many similar words between Portuguese and English?

Portuguese is a romance language, and as such it has evolved from Latin. As a result a large part of Portuguese vocabulary directly descends from Latin vocabulary words. (See here for a comparison of Portuguese vs. Latin).

English is a Germanic language, and not a romance language. Basically English is not a language which originates from Latin. However, historical reasons, in particular the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century, resulted in a large number of French vocabulary words entering the English language.

Many of these French loan words which entered the English language come from Latin, because French is a romance language. This results in many English vocabulary words which come from Latin.

Although Portuguese has more Latin vocabulary than English, both these languages have a fair amount of vocabulary which has a common Latin origin, and this is the reason for the many similar vocabulary words between Portuguese and English.

Lexical similarities relative to Latin for Portuguese, English and other languages

As shown in the diagram above, the Latin-English lexical similarity is higher for example than the Latin-German lexical similarity. Consequently, one can expect a larger number of similar words between Portuguese and English, than between Portuguese and German.

Conclusion

The numerous similar vocabulary words between Portuguese and English is one of the reasons why Portuguese is among the easiest languages for English speakers to learn.