Portuguese and French: Similar or Different Languages?

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French and Portuguese languages are the two most spoken Romance languages in the world. People often assume reading both names together that there is nothing in common, however, it is interesting to note that Portuguese speakers can rather understand Spanish better than French. That does not necessarily mean that there are no similarities between both languages.

It is easy to learn a new language if that new language shares the common grounds with the previous knowledge of the first language. However, there are several aspects that make them different.

Here is a list of the differences and similarities of both languages which companies dealing with Portuguese and French translation services should have an idea while working on the relevant project.

Similarities between Portuguese and French 


Portuguese and French languages like many other European languages, be it Spanish or Italian, are also Latin. As soon as the fall of the Roman Empire happened the common language at that time started to break into a lot of variants all across Europe. This movement gave birth to several languages and Portuguese and French were a few of these which happened to be created through colonization.

All the languages that have their origin in Latin have evolved as distinct languages all these years. A few of the similarities between both languages are as follow:

The same alphabet as English

French and Portuguese share the same alphabet as English, unlike a few other European languages. These languages all have the English alphabet from A to Z. Also, these languages don’t contain additional letters such as German Eszett (ß) or ø from the Danish language. It is quite convenient for English language speakers as they can learn this language quite easily.

French and Portuguese languages use accents. A few of these are unique from each other whereas some others are used in both languages.

The accents which are common in both languages are

  1. The acute accent (é)
  2. The grave accent (à)
  3. Circumflex mark (ê)
  4. Cedilla (ç)

However, there are two accents that are different in each language

  1. tilde (ã) for Portuguese
  2. dieresis (ë) in French           

The translation agencies need to have a quick grip on the languages and their dialects to offer professional French translation services for clients all over the world.

Same syntax

Both the languages under discussion have similar syntax. The sentence structure is the same and follows the form subject verb object. The fact that the sentence structure remains the same between the two makes it quite easier to juggle between French and Portuguese, unlike many other languages.

Moreover, the verbal conjugation is also the same for both. It is on the same common grounds. The verbs and tenses match gender numbers that imply that these vary as per the person (first, second and third with both singular and plural.

Also, the phrasal structure is quite easily apprehensible if you know one language already and are about to start learning another. This is why the translators who work on the French language and its translation can try their hands at good and best Portuguese translation services too.

Similar vocabulary

The languages French and Portuguese have a lot of similar words and vocabulary. When it comes to scanning for the similarities between two languages in terms of vocabulary, linguists use the concept of lexical similarity. It tells about the level and degree that two languages are alike.

As per the specialists, the lexical similarity coefficient between French and Portuguese is 0.75

The similarity coefficient ranges from 0 to 1, with 0 meaning no similarity and 1 standing for a total similarity.

Comparison of the lexical similarity

English and French 0.27

English and German 0.60

The translators need to know all these details before working and offering professional Portuguese translation services. As these minor details are important to translate the content more productively.

Examples and references

The list of vocabulary words that are similar in Portuguese and French are

English                                Portuguese                          French

To write                                    Excrever                              Écrire

To do                                        Fazer                                   Faire

Lesson                                     Lição                                   Leçon

Tree                                        Árvore                                Arbre

Differences between Portuguese and French

The lexicon was, though, one of the main similarities between both languages. There are words that are not alike in French and Portuguese and often confuse people. Although many words are similar and others are not. Someone, who is fluent in one language, might use one word from another language thinking it is the same and that could be the wrong choice.

A few of the words which are totally different are

English                                Portuguese                          French

Computer                        Computador                                    Ordinateur

Grape                                  Uva                                                 Raisin

To be                                   Ser                                                    Etre

These are the words and also verbs that may confuse the French or Portuguese speakers when they utter a word thinking it is the same and actually it is different. Professional translation services understand these differences very well.


It is one of the huge and major differences between both languages. French and Portuguese hardly sound alike when it comes to phonetics. Even a person who has no idea of both languages can easily trace the differences.

Final words

Portuguese and French languages both share the same origin and are Latin. These have a lot of commonalities and differences in phonetics big time. It is also important to note that both languages use the 26 alphabets of the English language.

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