Which Languages Are Spoken in Brazil? (2023)

What language do Brazilians speak? The main language spoken in Brazil is Portuguese. Indeed, almost all of the translation services that we provide for customers in Brazil, or customers doing business with Brazil, include Portuguese in the language pairing among many other languages. However, a linguistic tour of Brazil is about far, far more than Portuguese alone, which is precisely why we’ve devoted this article to exploring language in Brazil.

What do Brazilians speak when they’re not speaking Portuguese? Perhaps surprisingly (at least to those unfamiliar with Brazilian history), German is the second most spoken language in Brazil, while Italian comes in the third position. We’ll explore the reasons behind this in detail below. Read on to discover more about the Brazilian language and how many languages are spoken in Brazil!

The Official Language of Brazil

The primary language in Brazil is Portuguese, which is spoken by 98% of the people in Brazil. It is the language of government, of education, of the arts and of almost every element of daily life.

Portuguese arrived in Brazil in 1500, when the first Portuguese colonialists/conquerors/invaders (views on such matters are evolving rapidly) arrived in the country. With each boatful of new arrivals, the language’s grip deepened, to the point that modern-day Brazil is home to around 205 million Portuguese speakers.

At a national level, Portuguese is the official language of Brazil. While the country is home to numerous minority languages, they are recognised at municipality level rather than national level. We’ll explore these in more detail below.

While many English speakers these days assume that they will be able to use their native language when abroad, using English in Brazil won’t get you very far. English is not widely spoken there, with the British Council reporting that only 5% of the Brazilian population (a little over 10 million people) were able to communicate in English in 2019.

The lack of use of English in Brazil means that the Tomedes team is well used to providing English to Portuguese translation services for companies looking to do business with Brazil. With the United States being one of the country’s largest trading partners, such services are essential for keeping goods and money flowing into and out of Brazil.

Interestingly, Brazil is the only country in Latin America to speak Portuguese, with the majority of other nations speaking Spanish predominantly. As such, Spanish to Portuguese translation services (and vice versa) are also key to keeping Brazil’s business flowing internationally.

What are the top three languages spoken in Brazil? Read on to find out!

(Video) How many languages are spoken in Brazil?

Do you want to watch a video instead? Here's a short one that can indulge your viewing pleasure.

The Top Three Languages Spoken in Brazil

Other than Portuguese, Brazil is home to a range of European languages (or evolutions thereof), languages from elsewhere in the world and hundreds of indigenous tongues.

Brazilian Portuguese

Over the centuries, Brazilian Portuguese has evolved from its European origins to take on a distinctly different accent, as well as grammatical and orthographic differences. The Portuguese spoken in Brazil was influenced both by the country’s indigenous languages and by settlers from other European countries.

A major attempt was made to unify Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese through the Orthographic Agreement of 1990, which saw Brazil enact linguistic changes in 2009 and Portugal enact them in 2012.

As the differences are relatively minor, it is easy for European Portuguese speakers to converse in Brazil, just as it is for Brazilian Portuguese speakers to converse in Portugal. The differences can be likened to those that exist between UK and US English.

The number of Portuguese speakers in Brazil boomed massively in the 1800s. In 1808, the Portuguese court upped sticks and moved to Brazil and the resulting wave of migration meant that it was most likely somewhere in the 1830s when Portuguese-speaking Brazilians began to outnumber Portuguese speakers back home.

Today, Brazil is home to more Portuguese speakers than any other country. Portugal’s Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva, however, believes that Portuguese speakers in Africa will outnumber those in Brazil by 2100. Tomedes will, of course, be keeping a close eye on that particularly linguistic development.


Do you automatically think of German when wondering what language is spoken in Brazil? No? Well, you’re not alone! Many people assume that the second most spoken language in Brazil would be Spanish, due to its extensive use across the rest of Latin America, or perhaps Italian due to the fact that there are more immigrants of Italian origin in Brazil than there are immigrants of German origin.

Despite this, German is the second most spoken first language in Brazil (after Portuguese), being spoken by around 1.9% of the population. Census data reveals why this is. While there are more Italian immigrants in Brazil than German immigrants, half of the children of those Italian immigrants speak Portuguese at home. Two-thirds of German immigrants’ children, meanwhile, speak German at home as their mother tongue.

(Video) Portuguese Conversation for Beginners | BR Portuguese

Brazilian German differs from European German considerably – far more than Brazilian Portuguese differs from European Portuguese. Descended from the Hunsrückisch dialect of West Central Germany, Brazilian Hunsrik has around three million native speakers, many of them located in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. In fact, two municipalities within that state recognise Hunsrik as a co-official language.

Pomeranian German is also spoken in Brazil, largely in Espírito Santo, while the country is also home to some 1.5 million standard German speakers.


The third most natively spoken language of Brazil is Italian. Again, the language spoken in Brazil differs from that spoken in Europe. It even has its own name: Talian. Also known as Brazilian Venetian, this form of Italian is mostly spoken in Rio Grande do Sul, where it s a co-official language in some municipalities.

Italian was brought to Brazil towards the end of the 19th century, when a wave of settlers from Italy descended on the country. Some 60% of these immigrants hailed from Veneto – hence the distinct Venetian influence on the Italian spoken in Brazil.

Minority Languages

Brazil is home to many other minority languages, due to migration patterns over the past few centuries, meaning that visitors might hear Spanish, French, Japanese, Dutch, Vlax Romani, English, Chinese, Korean, Polish, Ukrainian and more as they tour Brazil. Let’s take a look at some of these minority languages spoken in Brazil right now.


Is Brazil a Spanish-speaking country? No, it’s not. But do Brazilians speak Spanish? Some of them! In fact, around 460,000 Brazilians speak Spanish, according to Ethnologue. The two languages are similar in many ways, though more in their written form than their pronunciation. As such, many Brazilians are able to understand Spanish, though they may not speak it fluently.

As with speakers of all minority languages in Brazil, Spanish speakers pop up in clusters. Many of these occur close to Brazil’s borders with other Latin American countries, where Spanish is the primary language. Spanish speakers are also clustered in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, both of which have made learning Spanish mandatory.


As with German, Japanese may not be the first language that leaps to mind when you’re wondering, “What do they speak in Brazil?” However, Brazil is home to a large Japanese expat community, following a wave of immigration that took place from 1908 onwards.

Today, Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population in the world (outside of Japan itself), most of whom call São Paulo home. There are around 1.5 million people of Japanese descent in Brazil and while many second and third generation immigrants have adopted Portuguese as their mother tongue, Brazil is still home to a sizeable number of Japanese speakers. São Paulo even has its own Japanese language newspaper, which has been published since the 1940s.

(Video) What's the OFFICIAL LANGUAGE of Brazil? (Bots on a street)


Portuguese may be the national language of Brazil, but the country is also home to a fair smattering of French speakers. Around 30,000 French people live in Brazil, most of whom are located in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, meaning that French is another of Brazil’s minority tongues.

Vlax Romani

According to People Groups, Brazil is home to some 354,000 Vlax Romani, who form part of a wider community of nearly 1.2 million Vlax Romani that spans 21 countries. As such, Vlax Romani is another of Brazil’s minority languages.


While it’s not widely used in Brazil, languages spoken there do include English. Around 5% of Brazilians speak some degree of English, though that’s not to say they are fluent.

Native Languages

In 1500, when Europeans arrived in what is now Brazil, the country was home to between six and ten million Amerindian people. Between them, they spoke around 1,300 indigenous languages. The loss of native peoples, cultures and languages since then has been staggering.

How many languages are spoken in Brazil by indigenous peoples today? Over the past 500 years, the number of indigenous languages spoken in Brazil has dropped to around 274 languages, according to the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA).

Many of these remaining languages (over 100 of them) are endangered, with each new generation speaking them less and less. IWGIA reports that only 37.4% of Brazil’s indigenous population now speak an indigenous language. 76.9%, meanwhile, speak Portuguese.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the more widely spoken indigenous languages of Brazil.


What is the main language in Brazil when it comes to indigenous tongues? The main language spoken in Brazil is Tikúna. The Tikúna people account for some 6.8% of Brazil’s total indigenous population, making them the country’s principle indigenous ethnic group. This position is largely due to the Tikúna’s relatively inland location, which kept them away from European settlers’ violence and diseases until 1649.

Interestingly, their language is believed to be a language isolate, though some theories connect it to the now extinct Yuri language. Tikúna is written in the Latin script. Today, it has some 35,000 native speakers in Brazil.

(Video) What Language is spoken in Brazil?

Guarani Kaiowá

The Guarani Kaiowá aren’t believed to have had any contact with European settlers until the late 1800s. Today, some 26,500 Guarani Kaiowá speakers remain in Brazil. They use the Latin script to write their language, though literacy levels are low – no higher than 5-10%.


Around 22,000 members of southern Brazil’s 30,000-strong Kaingang nation speak the Kaingang language, with most also speaking Portuguese. Kaingang is a Ge family language, which is the largest language of the Macro-Ge grouping.


Brazil’s 2010 Census identifies 13,300 Xavante speakers within the country. Some 7,000 of them are monolingual.

This native language of Brazil is spoken mainly in the Eastern Mato Grosso region. Xavante is a Jê language with an unusual phonology due to its use of honorary and endearment terms in its morphology and its ergative object–agent–verb word order.


Brazil is home to approximately 12,700 Yanomami speakers. The language is known for its extensive nasal harmony; when one vowel in a word is nasalized, so too are all other vowels in that word. Yanomami isn’t believed to be associated with any other language family and there is no native written form of the language.

Which Language Should You Speak if You Intend to Visit?

If you’re an English speaker who’s planning to visit Brazil, it’s best not to rely on your native tongue alone. What do they speak in Brazil? Portuguese – so that’s what you will need to speak when you visit!

Thankfully, Portuguese is a fascinating language to learn (click the link below for further details) and one of the easiest for English speakers to pick up. So you should have no trouble mastering the basics at least before you head off to Brazil on your travels.

Read more: How to Learn Portuguese – Your Need to Know Guide

Wrap Up

How many languages are spoken in Brazil? Hundreds! From the Brazilian national language (Portuguese) to various minority tongues and a huge range of indigenous languages, the country is home to rich linguistic diversity.

(Video) Can Brazilians speak English? (in São Paulo)


What are the top 3 languages spoken in Brazil? ›

The biggest languages present in Brazil include: Portuguese – 208.31 million speakers. Spanish – 6.38 million speakers. English – 8.50 million speakers.

How many languages does Brazil speak? ›

There are about 228 languages spoken in Brazil. These include Portuguese and 11 other foreign or immigrant languages, as well as 217 indigenous languages. In the following article, you can learn more about what languages people speak in Brazil.

What is the 2nd language in Brazil? ›

However, German is Brazil's second most spoken language after Portuguese. It's spoken by around 1.9% of the population, and just like the local Portuguese, Brazilian German differs from European German. In fact, there's a much more significant different in the German dialects that there is in the Portuguese dialects.

Can Brazilians speak Spanish well? ›

In fact, around 460,000 Brazilians speak Spanish, according to Ethnologue. The two languages are similar in many ways, though more in their written form than their pronunciation. As such, many Brazilians are able to understand Spanish, though they may not speak it fluently.

Is Brazil more Portuguese or Spanish? ›

Though Spanish is the primary language in most South American countries, Portuguese is actually what's spoken most in South America, and that's all thanks to Brazil.

Is Brazil like Spanish? ›

Brazilians speak Portuguese and not Spanish. As the only country in South America to officially speak the language, there's an intriguing story behind that unique piece of cultural heritage.

How different are Spanish and Portuguese? ›

Spanish has 5 vowel sounds, while Portuguese is leading with 9. The vowels with a nasal sound don't found in Spanish. Portuguese has much more complex phonology than Spanish with many extra sounds. And this is the one reason that Portuguese speakers have an easier time understanding spoken Spanish than vice versa.

What are the top 3 religions in Brazil? ›

  • Roman Catholicism: 123,280,172 - 64.63%
  • Protestantism: 42,275,440 - 22.16%
  • Other Christians: 3,773,564 - 1.98%

Why do they speak Portuguese in Brazil instead of Spanish? ›

As trade grew, Portugal increased its influence and political power in Brazil. Other European countries then established their own colonies in South America. Brazil became the central source of Portugal's entry into South America. As a result, Portuguese is now the main language of Brazil.

Is Portuguese a rare language? ›

Portuguese is one of the six most widely spoken world languages, with over 215 million native speakers worldwide in Portugal, Brazil, Africa and beyond, and is becoming ever more important as a language of commerce.

How close are Spanish and Portuguese? ›

Portuguese and Spanish have a lexical similarity of almost 90%. This means that both languages have words that are found in equivalent forms. The 2 languages have a high proportion of cognates, which are words that have the same roots and correspond to each other. Much of the vocabulary is shared.

What religion is in Brazil? ›

Two percent practice Afro-Brazilian religions, and 3 percent are Spiritists. According to the 2010 census, the most recently available data from official sources, 65 percent of the population is Catholic, 22 percent Protestant, 8 percent irreligious (including atheists, agnostics, and deists), and 2 percent Spiritist.

Which language is most spoken in the world? ›

These are the most spoken languages in the world
  • English – 1,121 million speakers. ...
  • Mandarin Chinese – 1,107 million speakers. ...
  • Hindi – 698 million speakers. ...
  • Spanish – 512 million speakers. ...
  • French – 284 million speakers. ...
  • Arabic – 273 million speakers. ...
  • Bengali – 265 million inhabitants. ...
  • Russian – 258 million speakers.
Jun 4, 2022

How many Brazilians know Spanish? ›

About 4% of Brazilians speak Spanish. This is equal to about 8.4 million Spanish speakers. However, people often confuse Spanish and Portuguese since these languages are closely related.

Is Brazil easier than Spanish? ›

Both languages are beautiful. Spanish has simpler grammar and is easier for English natives to pronounce than either Continental or Brazilian Portuguese. If you're new to language learning, that would be an argument for learning Spanish before Portuguese.

Can a Portuguese person understand a Spanish person? ›

While there are some differences between the two languages, most native Spanish and Portuguese speakers can understand each other if each party speaks clearly.

Can Spanish understand Brazilian? ›

Can Spanish speakers understand Brazilian Portuguese? A Spanish speaker and a Portuguese speaker that have never been exposed to each other's languages will understand around 45% of what the other says. In real life, of course, this is not that common.

Why is Portuguese so different from Spanish? ›

Differences today

However, Portuguese and Spanish differ mainly because of their different origins during the period following the Muslim conquest of Iberia and the advent of the Reconquista.

Why does Brazil have so many Japanese? ›

Beginning in the early twentieth century, Japanese nationals (Nikkei) arrived in Brazil as contract agricultural workers. Most were younger sons from rural areas of Japan facing the economic upheaval that accompanied Japan's modernization efforts; few intended to emigrate permanently.

Why is Brazilian Portuguese so different? ›

Brazilian Portuguese is thought to be more phonetically pleasing to the ear thanks to its open vowels, while European Portuguese can sound somewhat garbled. Brazilian accents have a strong cadence and lift to them, making it easier to learn and understand.

Which is the smallest Spanish speaking country? ›

The smallest Spanish-speaking country shouldn't come as a surprise. It's by far Equatorial Guinea. With Around a third of the population in Equatorial Guinea speaking Spanish and being among the least-visited countries in the world it's no wonder that this Spanish-speaking country is the smallest on our list.

Who colonized Brazil? ›

The Portuguese arrived to the land that would become Brazil on April 22, 1500, commanded by Pedro Álvares Cabral a Portuguese explorer on his way to India under the sponsorship of the Kingdom of Portugal and the support of the Catholic Church.

What percent of Brazil speaks Spanish? ›

In fact, 4% of Brazil's population is estimated to speak Spanish. Nevertheless, Brazilians who live closer to borders with Spanish-speaking countries are likely to speak it. Learning Spanish is also mandatory in the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, so you might meet Brazilian Spanish speakers there, too!

Is Portuguese like Russian? ›

Portuguese and Russian share common phonological features that make them sound superficially similar from a distance – both are stress-timed languages with a similar rhythm and accentuated vowel reduction. Additionally, both languages share an abundance of hushing fricative and palatal consonant sounds.

What is the easiest language to learn? ›

And The Easiest Language To Learn Is…
  1. Norwegian. This may come as a surprise, but we have ranked Norwegian as the easiest language to learn for English speakers. ...
  2. Swedish. ...
  3. Spanish. ...
  4. Dutch. ...
  5. Portuguese. ...
  6. Indonesian. ...
  7. Italian. ...
  8. French.
Nov 9, 2021

Is Portuguese closer to Spanish or Italian? ›

Where lexical similarity of Italian and Spanish is around 80%, Spanish and Portuguese is around 90%. In other words, these Latin languages are cousins. If you are passively listening to the three languages being spoken, they are similar enough to realize that they belong to the same language group.

What is Brazil famous for? ›

Brazil is famous for its stunning beaches, rainforests, and diverse cities. It is known as the country of football with world-renowned footballers such as Pelé and Neymar born there.

Do Brazilians celebrate Christmas? ›

In fact, Christmas Eve is the main day for celebration in Brazil. Following mass, many friends and families join together to exchange gifts and enjoy a traditional Brazilian Christmas dinner. Those who do not attend church also celebrate with food, drink, family, and presents on the night of the 24th.

How do you say hello in Brazil? ›

If you'd like to say “hello” in Brazilian Portuguese, you would generally use “Olá”. You can also use “Oí"—which is often considered more informal. Here are a few other basic phrases you'll find useful: Bom dia. / Good morning.

What is Portuguese a mix of? ›

In all aspects—phonology, morphology, lexicon and syntax—Portuguese is essentially the result of an organic evolution of Vulgar Latin with some influences from other languages, namely the native Gallaecian and Lusitanian languages spoken prior to the Roman domination.

What is the closest language to Portuguese? ›

Portuguese and Spanish are very similar languages

Portuguese and Spanish are closely related, as they are both Latin-based languages and share many grammatical structures and patterns.

How many Americans can speak Portuguese? ›

The United States is home to 693,000 Portuguese speakers and Canada has 222,000.

What is the hardest language to learn? ›

Across multiple sources, Mandarin Chinese is the number one language listed as the most challenging to learn. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center puts Mandarin in Category IV, which is the list of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.

Which is harder Portuguese or Spanish? ›

For most native English speakers, Spanish is slightly easier to learn than Portuguese. This is primarily a matter of access. Since Spanish is spoken by over 400 million people worldwide (compared to just over 200 million for Portuguese), it's easier to find Spanish resources and media for learning or practising.

Which came first Portuguese or Spanish? ›

The Spanish language, a sort of older sibling to Portuguese, developed from Latin first. Portuguese then evolved from the Galician-Portuguese dialect of Spanish in the 1100's and became a separate tongue. Portuguese explorers and colonizers carried their language to other parts of the world beginning in the 1400's.

What is the national dish of Brazil? ›

Feijoada is a black bean stew that is brewed with a variety of salted and smoked pork and beef products from carne-seca to smoked pork spareribs. The more traditional feijoada also includes “cheaper” cuts such as pig's ears, feet and tails, and beef tongue.

How do you greet a man and woman in Brazil? ›

The formal way to greet a man is Senhor and Senhora for women.
Meeting & Greeting:
  1. Men shake hands when greeting one another, while maintaining steady eye contact.
  2. Women generally kiss each other, starting with the left and alternating cheeks.
  3. Hugging and backslapping are common greetings among Brazilian friends.

What are 5 interesting facts about Brazil? ›

Top 10 Facts about Brazil
  • Brazil is the largest country in South America. ...
  • Brazil has 4 time zones. ...
  • The Capital City is Brasilia. ...
  • Around 60% of the Amazon Rainforest is in Brazil. ...
  • In Brazil people speak Portuguese. ...
  • Brazil is home to the 2nd longest river in the world. ...
  • The Brazilian flag has 27 stars on it.
Nov 5, 2021

What language did Jesus speak? ›

Most religious scholars and historians agree with Pope Francis that the historical Jesus principally spoke a Galilean dialect of Aramaic. Through trade, invasions and conquest, the Aramaic language had spread far afield by the 7th century B.C., and would become the lingua franca in much of the Middle East.

What is world's oldest language? ›

Sumerian can be considered the first language in the world, according to Mondly. The oldest proof of written Sumerian was found on the Kish tablet in today's Iraq, dating back to approximately 3500 BC.

What is the least spoken language in the world? ›

Current data states that there are only 7 remaining speakers of the language. Written records are available, such as a dictionary and several books that show the grammar and syntax of the Dumi language. Dumi is the world's least spoken language and one of the rarest.

What is the 2nd most spoken language in Brazil? ›

The biggest languages present in Brazil include: Portuguese – 208.31 million speakers. Spanish – 6.38 million speakers.

Do most Brazilians know English? ›

While many English tourists assume their native language can be used anywhere in the world, English won't actually get you very far in Brazil. It's not a language that's widely spoken in the country. In fact, the British Council reports that a mere 5% of the Brazilian population speaks English fluently.

Do Brazilians get Spanish citizenship? ›

Brazilian people may also obtain spanish citizenship by living in the country. To do so, they must reside legally and continuously in Spain for at least two years. This period may be shortened to one year if they are married to a spanish citizen or are widowed by one.

What is Brazil's most widely spoken language? ›

Language of Brazil. Portuguese is the first language of the vast majority of Brazilians, but numerous foreign words have expanded the national lexicon.

What is the #1 language in the world? ›

1. English – 1,121 million speakers. It is the most widely spoken language in the world because of the global impact of England and the United States in the last three centuries.

What is the hardest language in the world? ›

Across multiple sources, Mandarin Chinese is the number one language listed as the most challenging to learn. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center puts Mandarin in Category IV, which is the list of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.

Can you speak English in Brazil? ›

Do people in Brazil speak fluent English? Nope ! The average Brazilian does NOT speak ANY level of English. However you would find that people at hotels and restaurants and major touristic attractions might speak English, ranging from basic English to mid level proficiency.


1. What Languages are Spoken in Brazil?
(Tomedes Translations)
2. PORTUGUESE or SPANISH Do they understand each other?
(World Friends)
3. What is typical Brazilian? | Easy Portuguese 3
(Easy Languages)
4. Why Do Brazilians Speak Portuguese And Not Spanish?
(NowThis Originals)
5. Brazilian Portuguese vs. European Portuguese | Speaking Brazilian
(Speaking Brazilian Language School)
6. What is the most spoken language in Brazil?
(Leon Ondieki)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Laurine Ryan

Last Updated: 12/29/2022

Views: 5419

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Laurine Ryan

Birthday: 1994-12-23

Address: Suite 751 871 Lissette Throughway, West Kittie, NH 41603

Phone: +2366831109631

Job: Sales Producer

Hobby: Creative writing, Motor sports, Do it yourself, Skateboarding, Coffee roasting, Calligraphy, Stand-up comedy

Introduction: My name is Laurine Ryan, I am a adorable, fair, graceful, spotless, gorgeous, homely, cooperative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.