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Wondering if they speak English in Brazil for your upcoming trip? Read on for everything you need to know. 

Brazil, a vibrant and culturally rich country in South America, is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, captivating festivals, and warm hospitality. As the second most visited country in South America, Brazil’s lush jungles, bustling cities, and beautiful beaches have an undeniable allure that attracts travelers from all corners of the globe. 

One aspect that often concerns tourists on their way to Brazil is the language barrier since Portuguese is the official language spoken throughout the country. Having personally traveled to Brazil twice, I can attest to the fact that, while English proficiency may not be widespread among the locals, tourists are still able to navigate the country fairly easily. The Brazilians’ kindness and willingness to assist, along with the availability of translation apps, make it quite easy to bridge the language barrier. 

This blog post answers the question, “Do they speak English in Brazil?” as well as gives you an understanding of the languages spoken in Brazil and tips to help you navigate the country if you don’t speak Portuguese.

Do They Speak English in Brazil? 

No, English is not widely spoken in Brazil. Only around 5% of people in Brazil report speaking English, and – of that 5% – not all of them speak it fluently or regularly. The official language in Brazil is Portuguese, which is spoken by 98% of Brazilians. When traveling to Brazil, it is helpful to learn some basic words and phrases in Portuguese to better communicate.

I also recommend downloading a translation app such as Google Translate or a language-learning app like Duolingo. These apps can help you communicate when ordering at restaurants, bartering for souvenirs, or communicating with taxis and Ubers in Brazil

Can You Travel to Brazil Without Speaking Portuguese? 

Yes, it’s possible to travel to Brazil without speaking Portuguese. Consider that only about 3% of the world’s population speaks Portuguese, but Brazil is the second most visited country in South America. Thus, most tourists navigate trips to Brazil without being fluent in Portuguese. 

Despite Portuguese being the dominant language, major tourist hubs and popular destinations often have some English-speaking individuals. This is especially common in restaurants and hotels in big cities – like São Paulo, as well as tourist information centers.

When visiting a new country with an unfamiliar language, it’s always good practice to learn some basic phrases and vocabulary before your trip. This will show respect for the locals and help you communicate basic needs. In addition, be sure to download and become familiar with a translation app like Google Translate. 

What is the Official Language of Brazil?

The official language of Brazil is Brazilian Portuguese. Brazilian Portuguese is spoken by 98% of the people in Brazil as either a first or second language. It is the language you will hear most often when traveling to Brazil, and it is the language spoken for business, in the media, in most schools, and among locals in public places.

History of the Portuguese Language in Brazil

The Portuguese first arrived in Brazil in the 1500s. At that time, there were over 1,000 different native languages spoken throughout Brazil by the 6 million indigenous people that lived there,

One of the most popular native languages, referred to as Língua Geral (General Language), consisted of a combination of languages spoken by the native Tupi people. Although Língua Geral was commonly spoken at home, the popularity of Portuguese began to spread in public places and for business use. 

As Portuguese influence spread, Portuguese became the main language in Brazil. At this time, it was still heavily influenced by the native Languages, such as Língua Geral. 

Now, Brazilian Portuguese is the most commonly spoken language throughout the country and is the official language in Brazil.

Is Brazilian Portuguese Different from European Portuguese?

There is a difference between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese. This is because Brazilian Portuguese was heavily influenced by the native languages throughout Brazil, and therefore picked up different words and pronunciations. 

Today, Brazilian Portuguese is considered a different dialect than European Portuguese, and many words have different pronunciations. While the dialect differs, most Brazilian Portuguese speakers can still understand European Portuguese.

Similarly to British English and American English, it’s common for Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese to have different words for the same thing.

What Languages Are Spoken in Brazil?

While Brazilian Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, there are other commonly spoken languages throughout the country. Some of these languages include German, Italian (very common), Spanish, Japanese, French, and English (less common.)

The Three Main Languages Spoken in Brazil

The three main languages that are spoken in Brazil are Brazilian Portuguese, German, and Italian. This may be surprising, but it makes sense considering that many Germans and Italians immigrated to South America and settled down in Brazil. 

Brazilian Portuguese

Brazilian Portuguese is by far the most commonly spoken language in Brazil and it is the official language of the country. Brazilian Portuguese is the language you will hear the most when traveling in Brazil as it is used in public spaces, businesses, schools, and the media.


German is the second most popular first language in Brazil. This is because Brazil is home to a large influx of German immigrants. Currently, over 1.9 million people in Brazil speak German as their first language. German is spoken mostly in areas of Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul. 

Similar to Portuguese, Brazilian German is a different dialect than European German. This is because the language is influenced and altered, creating different words for the same thing and different pronunciations. 


Italian is the third most commonly spoken first language by people in Brazil. Similar to German, the Italian language is common due to the large influx of Italian immigrants to Brazil. Italian is especially common in parts of Rio de Janeiro due to the number of Italian immigrants in that area.

Less Common Languages Spoken in Brazil

There are also several minority languages in Brazil. Some of these languages are spoken as a second language by people that speak Brazilian Portuguese as their first language, and some of these languages may be spoken as a less common first language.


Somewhat surprisingly, Spanish is considered a minority language in Brazil, even though Spanish is the official language of most of the other countries in South America. There are around 460,000 Spanish speakers in Brazil.

It is especially common for people living on the borders of Brazil to communicate with their Spanish-speaking neighbors using a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese – sometimes known as Portuñol.


There are over 2 million people in Brazil that speak Japanese as a first language. A majority of Japanese speakers live in São Paulo. The São Paulo neighborhood Liberdade is heavily influenced by Japanese culture and is considered to be the largest Japanese community outside Japan.


French is another language that is spoken in Brazil, although it is much less common in comparison to the other languages. Between 1850-1960, there was an influx of around 100,000 French immigrants who came to Brazil. However, today there are only around 30,000 people that speak French as their first language in Brazil.


Do they speak English in Brazil? There are not many native English speakers in Brazil, and those who do speak English typically speak it as a second or third language rather than as their first language. Around 5% of Brazil’s population speaks English, which is about 10 million people, however, a majority of that 10 million speak it only as a secondary language.

English is taught in Brazilian schools as a foreign language option, but as with any language, if you do not use it frequently it makes it difficult to become fluent. So while there is a percentage of English speakers in Brazil, there is not a large percentage that speaks English as a first language or is fluent in it.

Native Languages of Brazil

Brazil is home to many indigenous people. As such, there used to be over 1,000 different native languages spoken amongst the indigenous tribes before the Portuguese arrived in Brazil. 

Today, there are around 217 native languages that are still spoken by indigenous people throughout the country. Only around 40,000 people in Brazil speak one of these languages as their primary language. 

Many of the native languages in Brazil today are spoken in Northern Brazil in smaller municipalities, such as those found in the state of the Amazonas. Some of these municipalities even have the native language as a co-official language (in addition to Portuguese.) 

Some of the more popularly spoken native languages include the Ticuna language – which is spoken throughout the Amazonas state in Brazil; the Kaingang language – spoken by the Kaingang people of southern Brazil; the Kaiwá language – spoken by the Kaiwá people in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul; and the Tucano language – which is also spoken throughout the Amazonas state.

Do They Speak English in Brazil? How Can I Travel to Brazil if I Only Speak English?

No, English is not spoken very often in Brazil – even in some touristy areas. Since English is not common in Brazil, it is a good idea to learn some basic Brazilian Portuguese words and phrases before your trip as it will help you communicate more clearly. There are several great translation apps that can help teach you basic words and phrases in Brazilian Portuguese. 

One of these apps is the popular Google Translate. Google Translate has a variety of functions that are useful in navigating a country where you don’t speak the language. 

For example, on Google Translate, you can use the camera feature to translate things like restaurant menus or signs. You can also use the listening and speaking functions to assist in translating a conversation.

To ensure you’re comfortable with using Google Translate, or whichever app you choose, get familiar with using it while you’re at home. Put on a TV show in Brazilian Portuguese and play around with the listening function or scan some Portuguese menus online in preparation for your trip!

Basic Portuguese Words

When traveling, it is always a good idea to learn some basic words and phrases in the local language as it shows respect for the culture. Most helpful are basic greetings and pleasantries, like hello/goodbye and please/thank you.

Below are a few common words and phrases that will be useful when traveling to Brazil.

Hello – Olá
Pronounced as O-la, you can also use the more informal greeting which is Oi and pronounced as Oy.

Thank You – Obrigado
Pronounced as O-brie-gado

Please – Por Favor
Pronounced just as it sounds, Por Favor

No – Não
Pronounced as No

Yes – Sim
Pronounced as Seem

Do You Speak English? – Você fala inglês?
Pronounced as Vo-sei fa-la in-gles? As a more informal way of asking, you can also simply say fala inglês? Pronounced as fa-la in-gles?

Menu in English please – Cardápio em inglês por favor
Pronounced as Car-pa-jio im in-gles por favor

The bill please – A conta por favor
Pronounced as Ah con-ta por favor

FAQ: Do They Speak English in Brazil

Below are some common questions about languages in Brazil.

Q: Do People in Brazil Speak English Well?

A: People in Brazil don’t typically speak English, and those that do speak some English may not speak it fluently. While English is taught in schools, it is not commonly used in Brazil, making it difficult to practice and use in everyday life. Therefore, it is best to expect that people will not speak English fluently in Brazil.

Q: Which Part of Brazil Speaks English?

A: Only around 5% of Brazilians speak English, and of that 5% not many speak English fluently. The best chance of finding English speakers would be in the bigger cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (including hotels in those cities), as well as popular tourist destinations. 

Q: Are Most Brazilians Bilingual?

A: Most Brazilians speak Brazilian Portuguese. There are many Brazilians who are bilingual, as Brazil is a country of over 200 million people from cultures all around the world. Second languages spoken in Brazil may include German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Native Languages, and English. 

Q: Can People in Brazil understand Spanish?

A: Yes, Portuguese and Spanish are linguistic cousins, but this is more true in writing than speaking. Even if a Brazilian understands Spanish, it’s more than likely that their response will be in Portuguese. 

In my personal experience, it did not help me or my Spanish-speaking coworker as much as we thought it would. 

Conclusion: Do They Speak English in Brazil?

So, do they speak English in Brazil? No, English is not a commonly spoken language in even the largest and safest cities in Brazil. Most people in Brazil speak Brazilian Portuguese, and after that the most commonly spoken first language is German. 

Despite the potential language barrier, the country’s status as the second most visited destination in South America proves that you don’t need to speak Portuguese to enjoy the allure of Brazil. When planning your trip, be sure to learn some basic words in Brazilian Portuguese, utilize translation tools, and approach interactions with an open heart. This combination will undoubtedly allow you to explore and appreciate the beauty of Brazil, leaving you with cherished memories of your time in this enchanting land.

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