This is the first 10% of my 2016 book Eliminate the 63 Most Common Mistakes Portuguese Speakers Make in English. Take a read through it, I hope you recognise some of these errors and learn from it. If you find it useful and want to know more it is available to buy for just €6.99.
This book doesn’t cover all grammar, just the most important or tricky parts for Portuguese speakers, all students should have a grammar book for reference and I wrote a review of two English grammar books I have used a lot here.
In 2020 I decided to convert this eBook into a 4-hour video course. I also added 40% more content and have called it “Eliminate the Mistakes Portuguese Speakers Make in English”. It is available on Udemy for just €29.99/69.99R$ and you can read about it and watch some free videos here.
Because of the 40% extra content I recommend you buy the video course, but hey, some people prefer the original eBook.
From my time teaching English to Portuguese speakers, I have noticed that students at all levels make the same mistakes. These errors are very common in everyday speaking, so you might be making them several times a day. This book will show you how to correct the 63 most common mistakes quickly, easily and permanently.
Usually the reason for these mistakes is that students are directly translating from Portuguese into English. If you go online or into any bookstore, it seems to me that an author will write a book on How to Learn English in general, which is then translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian, Chinese, etc. So these books do not consider the reader’s native language.
I haven’t yet found a book that specifically deals with the problems that native Portuguese speakers face when learning English. So I decided to write this one.
This book is designed for native Portuguese speakers who have a pre-intermediate level of English and above. It does not teach you English from the beginning but instead it helps you to eliminate errors that you may not be aware you are making.
For example, I don’t teach the present continuous here, I am eating, because it is, more or less, the same in Portuguese and English. So when Portuguese speakers directly translate into English, they are usually right. However, I do teach important grammar points that can be difficult for Portuguese speakers.
For instance, I have tried to describe the present perfect in the same way I teach it in my private classes. As it is not commonly used in Portuguese it requires a whole new way of thinking in order to use it correctly. We will also look at other grammar points that Portuguese speakers have problems with.
I have included some exercises to help you practice, with the answers at the end of the book. You can also check out more exercises, resources and details on my private classes.
The 28 most common mistakes 1-28
The first part of this book covers 28 of the most common mistakes in everyday speaking. Each section is short but if you study and internalise these lessons then you will be speaking more like a native in only a couple of hours!
Look at this example, if I ask you to tell me your age, I hope you will say I am 26 years old or I am 26 not I have 26 years.
Talking about yourself and giving basic information such as your age is one of the first things you learn when you study English. You understand that translating directly from Portuguese tenho 26 anos, to English, I have 26 years is not correct.
Each of these units is similar to the above example, we just need to understand the difference between directly translating an idea from Portuguese and expressing it correctly in English.
Double verbs 29-35
The next section is what I call double verbs. This is where there is one verb in Portuguese, for example perder, but we have two verbs in English, to lose and to miss.
So we will look at the differences in the seven most common cases here.
Superquick tips 36-44
Next we have some super quick tips that simply need to be memorised! This section includes structures or collocations that use different prepositions in Portuguese compared to English. For example we say depends on in English not depends of, which is Portuguese.
Grammar points 45-61
Then we have the grammar section.
As discussed earlier, this section does not cover English grammar in its entirety, instead it will teach you the important grammar points that native Portuguese speakers have difficulty with.
If you want a complete guide to English grammar then consult a specialist grammar book such as English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy, which is in its fourth edition at the time of writing, or Practical Grammar Level 3 by John Hughes and Ceri Jones.
The present perfect is the most difficult grammar point for native Portuguese speakers to use correctly. However, often grammar books allocate the same number of pages to the present perfect as they allocate to grammar points that Portuguese speakers don’t have problems with, such as the present continuous, eu estou comendo/I am eating.
Instead of doing this, I will use a lot of examples and exercises to help to communicate the idea.
When I teach students the present perfect it normally takes 1 hour to understand the concept, however, I usually repeat the class a second or perhaps a third time to reinforce the idea. Then it requires plenty of practice before it becomes natural to use.
I recommend you read this unit several times and do the exercises. Keep practising and listening to native speakers and you will get there!
Finally we have two short units on common mispronunciation of words with audio files of the correct pronunciation available on my website.
There are some laws in English grammar that are correct 100% of the time.
There aren’t any exceptions.
For example, Unit 46 where if a verb follows a preposition then the verb is always a gerund, that is the verb + ing.
Then there are rules that in general you should follow but sometimes there are exceptions.
Note that because I am The Irish English Teacher, all spelling in this book is British English. Therefore the subtitle of this book should read “improve pronunciation and conversation quickly”, but due to people’s search patterns online I am using the American English style of not using an adverb here. So I hope that “improve pronunciation and conversation fast” means that more people find the book online.
Dicas/Tips for Learning English
10 minutes of grammar
I am a teacher of English but also a student of Portuguese, so I know what it is like to study a second language. As students it would be great if we could study grammar for 2 hours a day every day, but of course this is unlikely.
However, if you study grammar for just ten minutes at a time it can make a huge difference. Just take ten minutes on your lunch break, on the bus or while at home and look over your notes or look at some grammar. It will help a lot.
Study what you are interested in and enjoy doing
I recommend that you read what you are interested in, for example, sports, politics, the news, celebrity gossip, history, etc.
If your English is at a lower level then Yahoo is good.
Here are some extensions for Google Chrome and other browsers such as Firefox which make studying English easier and more interesting.
Take a look at the following text, does this English seem familiar to you?
In the last week in my job, I was with a headache. It was so painful, so after I had a lunch I went out of my job. I wanted to know my neighbourhood so I went on an excited travel! I walked until a pharmacy, had many medicines but they didn’t have nothing for headaches. I couldn’t believe!
I saw on internet that in the end of the street, near from the 5 stars hotel, have other pharmacy. I was with a headache yet but after more 5 minutes I arrived there and went in the pharmacy.
However, in this moment, I am in my house. Everybody know I am very exciting because more late at night I will make a party!
Now take a look at this:
Last week at work, I had a headache. It was very painful, so after I had lunch I left work. I wanted to get to know my neighbourhood so I went on an exciting trip! I walked as far as a pharmacy, there was a lot of medicine there but they didn’t have anything for headaches. I couldn’t believe it!
I saw on the Internet that at the end of the street, near the 5-star hotel, there is another pharmacy. I still had a headache but after 5 more minutes I arrived there and went into the pharmacy.
However at the moment, I am at home. Everybody knows I am very excited because later tonight I will have a party!
Which one is better? Which one looks like it was written by a native speaker?
It’s the second one.
Let’s look at the first one again:
In the last week1 in my job18, I was with2 a headache. It was so23 painful, so after I had a lunch17 I went out31 of my job18. I wanted to know33 my neighbourhood so I went on an excited12 travel!21 I walked until4 a pharmacy, had8 many6 medicines59 but they didn’t have nothing7 for headaches. I couldn’t believe!9
I saw on internet11 that in the end of the street5, near from26 the 5 stars hotel22, have8 other3 pharmacy. I was with2 a headache yet15 but after more 514 minutes I arrived there and went in the28 pharmacy.
However, in this moment16, I am in my house19. Everybody know25 I am very exciting12 because more late10 at night24 I will make20 a party!
In this very short example I have made all 28 of the most common mistakes!
I have even managed to squeeze in three extra ones, Unit 31, Unit 33 and Unit 59.
In each unit I will show the error and the correction under the headline MY STORY.
Let’s start correcting them!
In Portuguese we say, na semana passada, neste mês, no próximo ano.
Translated directly into English this is: in the last week, in this month, in the next year.
This is incorrect, instead we say:
na semana passada = in the last week = last week
neste mês = in this month = this month
no próximo ano = in the next year = next year
So last/this/next = no extra preposition
See you in the next week! = See you next week!
In the last weekend I went to the cinema = Last weekend I went to the cinema.
I am very busy in this month = I am very busy this month.
Can we have class in the next week? = Can we have class next week?
In this week I will finish my report = This week I will finish my report.
In the last week = Last week
This is not a law but a rule. In general:
Eu estou com is literally translated into I am with.
In English we don’t use I am with, we use I have.
Eu estou com dor de cabeça = I am with a headache = I have a headache.
Ele está com ressaca = He is with a hangover = He has a hangover.
For the past we use had.
Eu estava com dor de dente = I was with a toothache = I had a toothache.
Nos estávamos com roupas diferentes = We were with different clothes = We had different clothes on.
Eu estou sem meus óculos = I am without my glasses = I don’t have my glasses. This is a temporary situation.
I don’t have glasses means I do not own a pair of glasses. This is a permanent situation.
However, feelings are described similar to Portuguese.
Eu estou com fome = I am with hunger = I am hungry.
Eu estou com medo = I am with fear = I am afraid.
Ele está com ciúmes = He is with jealous = He is jealous.
I was with a headache = I had a headache
TABLE OF CONTENTS
My history = my story
28 most common mistakes 1-10
- NO PRÓXIMO ANO = NEXT YEAR
- EU ESTOU COM… = I HAVE…
- OUTRO(AS) = ANOTHER/OTHER/OTHERS
- ATÉ = UNTIL/AS FAR AS/UP TO
- IN THE END/AT THE END OF [SOMETHING]
- MANY/MUCH = A LOT/LOTS OF
- DOUBLE NEGATIVES
- TEM = THERE IS/ARE
- I LIKE = I LIKE IT
- MAIS FÁCIL = EASIER
28 most common mistakes 11-20
- ON THE INTERNET/IN THE USA
- É ISSO! = THAT’S IT!
- MAIS UMA CERVEJA! = ONE MORE BEER!
- AINDA = STILL/YET
- NESTE MOMENTO = AT THE MOMENT
- NO ARTICLE WITH MEALS
- TRABALHO = JOB/WORK
- FAZER UMA FESTA = TO HAVE A PARTY
28 most common mistakes 21-28
- VIAGEM = TRIP/TRAVEL/JOURNEY
- 5 YEARS CONTRACT = 5-YEAR CONTRACT
- AT NIGHT/THAT NIGHT, THIS NIGHT/TONIGHT
- EVERYBODY KNOW… = EVERYBODY KNOWS…
- CLOSE TO/FAR FROM/NEAR
- HISTÓRIA = STORY/HISTORY
Double verbs 29-35
- PERDER = TO LOSE/TO MISS
- PASS TIME, SPEND TIME
- SAIR = TO GO OUT/TO LEAVE
- TO LISTEN, TO HEAR
- TO KNOW/TO GET TO KNOW/ TO SEE
- GANHAR = TO EARN/TO WIN
- FICAR = TO STAY/TO BE
Exercises double verbs 29-35
Superquick tips 36-44
- A MAIORIA DAS PESSOAS = MOST OF THE PEOPLE = MOST PEOPLE
- HOJE DE MANHÃ = TODAY MORNING = THIS MORNING
38 ALL THE DAY = ALL DAY
- TO WAIT/TO AWAIT
- DIFERENTE DE = DIFFERENT OF = DIFFERENT TO
41 DEPENDE DE = DEPENDS OF = DEPENDS ON
42 SAME OF = SAME AS
43 SIMILAR OF = SIMILAR TO
- PARTICIPATE OF = PARTICIPATE IN
Grammar points 45-61
- PREPOSITION STRATEGIES AND THE PREPOSITION TRIANGLE
- PREPOSITION & VERB + ING
- PRESENT PERFECT
- DATES, AGO/IN…TIME
- PREPOSITIONS OF ‘SPEAKING’
- STATIVE VERBS
- I DECIDED DON’T GO = I DECIDED NOT TO GO
- WOULD IS THE ‘PAST’ OF WILL
- COULD/WAS ABLE TO
- I CUT MY HAIR = I GOT MY HAIR CUT
- PROBLEMS WITH GERUNDS -ING
- COMMON MISTAKES WITH COUNTABLE AND UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS
- FALSE COGNATES AND FALSE FRIENDS
- FAZER = TO MAKE AND TO DO
- ED ENDINGS
Putting it all together exercises