18 Great Books to Learn Portuguese for Beginners & Beyond

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The Portuguese language is arguably one of the most beautiful-sounding vernaculars in the Western world. Yet mastering it can be tricky for learners who haven’t approached another Romance language before. Even those who have might be prone to making silly mistakes.

That’s why we’re positive that our list of the best books to learn Portuguese available on the web will come in handy for so many of you.

Why use books to learn Portuguese?

Even though Portuguese learning apps are the way to go if you’re always on the move, they’re often less focused on structured grammar topics than the real deal, i.e. textbooks. And in case you’re still undecided about whether you should pick this most traditional method for studying Portuguese, check out great reasons to make up your mind:

  • They offer a trustworthy path all the way to fluency. Surely, learning practical expressions and basic rules is essential to beginners, but you’ll have to push harder if you want to manage to convey complex ideas. Textbooks, being developed by highly qualified teams and reviewed countless times, provide a well-thought-out immersion into a language, which means they’re the right way to do it.
  • They’re a fantastic fit for self-teaching students. Relying on books to learn Portuguese doesn’t make for doing away with all other resources, yet it does let you set your own pace while taking in a consistent mix of grammar and vocabulary.
  • They have kept up with the times. Gone are the days when books were sleep-inducing. To stay relevant, most have incorporated interactive tools like exclusive websites complete with downloadable contents and even dedicated forums.

Editor’s note: To reach fluency faster, combine these books with language learning apps such as Babbel, pick up conversational skills with the world-famous Pimsleur, and consider hiring an affordable tutor with italki. You can thank us later!

Best Portuguese books for beginners

We start off with options aimed at beginners because they’re the ones who need encouragement and guidance the most. Intermediate to advanced learners can skip to the next four sections instead.

1. Basic Portuguese (Practice Makes Perfect)

Presenting both Brazilian and European versions of similar structures, “Basic Portuguese” boasts short and to-the-point lessons, tons of examples, plus compelling exercises. It’s an awesome Portuguese crash course.

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This book is best for:

  • students with no previous knowledge of Portuguese;
  • those in search of understanding how both sides of the Atlantic speak;
  • people who count on other tools for listening lessons.

2. Portuguese: How to Learn Portuguese Fast, Including Grammar, Short Stories, and Useful Phrases

This is overall one of the best books to learn European Portuguese available to order, in that it emphasizes simple and crucial sets of phrases and has you memorize them through short stories.

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This book is best for:

  • learners concentrating on the European dialect;
  • folks in need of content-packed material;
  • those who have to learn the basics in record time.

3. The Everything Learning Brazilian Portuguese Book

Developed by a Brazilian professor who has been teaching Portuguese to college students for almost 30 years, this book introduces you to the fundamentals of vocab, grammar, and pronunciation. Yet it might be more beneficial to those of you who have at least some familiarity with the language.

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This book is best for:

  • people focusing on South American Portuguese;
  • students who learn better from interactive tools;
  • beginners, though not absolute first-timers. 

Best textbooks for Portuguese students

As we’ve pointed out, a Portuguese textbook is a great way of teaching yourself the language. In this section, we’ve included options meant for learners of all levels.

4. Ponto de Encontro: Portuguese as a World Language

The most amazing thing about this book is that it offers both European and Brazilian Portuguese courses packed into one volume. What’s more, it explains where both dialects differ. While pricier than your average textbook, its 650+ pages of superb content are totally worth the investment.

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This book is best for:

  • those looking not only to speak Portuguese, but also learn more about its linguistic mechanisms;
  • learners who consider getting an activities manual as well (either European or Brazilian);
  • folks who are certain they won’t drop out halfway, as this book goes all the way to advanced.

5. The Language Lover’s Guide to Learning Portuguese

This textbook is aimed at newcomers wanting to dig into European Portuguese, but it does put examples in Brazilian Portuguese into the bargain. This comes in handy, as occasional songs or videos spoken in the South American dialect are virtually inescapable for Portuguese learners.

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This book is best for:

  • students seeking a comprehensive study guide of European Portuguese;
  • those who’d benefit from audio samples to improve their pronunciation;
  • teachers in search of engaging material for their classes.

6. Living Language Brazilian Portuguese, Complete Edition

Being as complete as these things get, “Living Language” is hands-down one of the best books to learn Brazilian Portuguese. The course itself is divided into 46 lessons spread across three books, but what’s most impressive are the nine (!) audio CDs and online interactive content. 

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This book is best for:

  • people learning the Brazilian dialect of Portuguese;
  • first-timers who don’t feel like switching methods throughout their studies;
  • those who enjoy a more interactive approach.

Best books to learn Portuguese vocabulary

In case you feel like your learning journey so far has been focusing somewhat too much on grammar structures and rules, buying at least one of these Portuguese vocabulary books will balance it out.

7. 2000 Most Common Portuguese Words in Context

What I love about this bilingual book is its emphasis on what really matters, i.e. words and expressions that will have you understand more than 80% of daily interactions in Portuguese. Accompanying audio tracks make it a truly worthwhile purchase.

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This book is best for:

  • learners who already have other tools to study grammar;
  • speakers aiming at improving their fluency in Brazilian Portuguese;
  • intermediate-level students mostly.

8. Conversational Portuguese Dialogues

We all know how going from intermediate to advanced level is the most troubling part of learning a foreign language. With 100+ conversations and short stories, complete with English translations, his book will ensure you make this breakthrough in Portuguese.

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This book is best for:

  • those who are somewhat confident about their basic grammar skills;
  • intermediate-level students who still freeze when interacting with native speakers;
  • beginners wanting to challenge themselves.

9. Portuguese-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary

Boasting over 10,000 entries, this book will be useful to virtually every Portuguese student, but folks coming from radically different languages (i.e. Chinese, Arabic, Russian,…) will make the most of it. Those of you who need a visual trigger to grasp the meaning of words more easily will love it just as much.

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This book is best for:

  • learners of all levels;
  • those studying European Portuguese, since a lot of the words are pretty specific to Portugal;
  • visual learners above all else.

Best books to learn Portuguese grammar

Portuguese grammar books are a key addition to the small library you’ll have to build up if you’re serious about becoming fluent in Portuguese. Here are some of the best-reviewed guides that we can recommend:

10. Essential Portuguese Grammar

Despite the potentially misleading cover, this book doesn’t concentrate on a specific Portuguese dialect — and that’s its greatest asset. A broad-reaching grammar book like this one is a must-have for all Portuguese students.

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This book is best for:

  • speakers of all levels, and especially newcomers to upper-intermediate;
  • folks who’ll travel to a Portuguese-speaking country in the near future;
  • those looking for a reference guide to add to their library.

11. Portuguese Verbs & Essentials of Grammar

The best thing about this book is that each unit revolves around a single concept, giving you a clear-cut idea of everything you’ll have learned by the end of it. And the appendix with the 300 most common verbs in the language is a tremendous bonus.

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This book is best for:

  • advanced beginners to intermediate students;
  • people who are determined to boost their knowledge of major language structures;
  • learners of both European and Brazilian Portuguese.

12. 501 Portuguese Verbs

Unless you’re a verb freak, you won’t actually read this book in its entirety, but you sure should consider getting a copy regardless of your level. The 501 models included here will let you conjugate over 1,250 other verbs. Getting a complex tense right is probably the easiest (well, not really) way of impressing a native speaker… and feeling pretty good about yourself!

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This book is best for:

  • Portuguese learners of all levels;
  • folks struggling with so many verb tenses;
  • those who rely on other resources for vocabulary.

Best audiobooks to improve your Portuguese

Many non-native speakers believe there’s a considerable gap between Portuguese spelling and pronunciation, so you should definitely consider getting one of these to improve both your listening and speaking skills. 

13. Portuguese for Beginners

Offering more than 11 hours’ worth of lessons, this audiobook will make you go from only knowing bom dia (i.e. good morning) and basic Portuguese greetings to being able to strike up a casual conversation in your next trip to Lisbon.

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This book is best for:

  • learners who are too busy to sit and read a real book;
  • students in a hurry to become fluent in European Portuguese;
  • folks approaching Portuguese for the first time.

14. Collins Easy Learning Portuguese Audio Course

Centering on European Portuguese, this 3-CD phrasebook gives you an exceptional introduction of the language, particularly in case you have to learn it for a business trip or the like.

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This book is best for:

  • students who like European Portuguese better;
  • people more eager to speak fluently than to write perfectly;
  • those having a hard time with pronunciation.

15. A Volta ao Mundo em 80 Dias [Around the World in 80 Days]

Since most of us are familiar with the plot of Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days” (or the movie version starring Jackie Chan), listening to this audiobook shouldn’t be too hard for lower to upper-intermediate level students. In fact, it’ll turn learning Portuguese into an even more fun adventure.

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This book is best for:

  • intermediate learners in need of a challenge;
  • advanced students seeking to cement their knowledge;
  • folks who want a break from more grammar-oriented content.

Best storybooks in Portuguese

Last but not least, we bet you’re craving some lighter material after going through such content-intensive stuff. So we made sure to include some storybooks to help you learn Portuguese in a more relaxed fashion.

16. Portuguese Short Stories for Beginners

The 20 stories included here provide a really interesting glimpse of Brazilian culture. You’ll take in lots of practical words and not even realize you’re studying! It’s not bilingual, though, so Portuguese first-timers should pick another title. 

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This book is best for:

  • newcomers who feel like they lack some key vocabulary;
  • students focusing on Brazilian Portuguese;
  • intermediate learners who need to refresh a couple things.

17. Portuguese Short Stories

Listening to these 11 short stories is a straightforward way of getting acquainted with the basics of European Portuguese while not obsessing over grammar rules. The book’s also available in audio form, narrated by the same guy on #13.

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This book is best for:

  • learners with a penchant for European Portuguese;
  • beginners relying on other tools to study grammar;
  • those in need of a more fun approach to language learning;

18. Contos de Shakespeare [Tales from Shakespeare]

Given this most special storybook is an audiobook too, it could well have been placed in the previous section. These 20 tales, adapted in the early 1800s by siblings Charles and Mary Lamb, are based on some of the Bard’s most beloved plays, such as “Romeo and Juliet”, The Merchant of Venice, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and “The Taming of the Shrew”. You’ll sigh, laugh, possibly even tear up… in Portuguese!

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • students who are after taking their Portuguese skills to a whole new level;
  • people who love literary classics (or are up to being introduced to them);
  • advanced learners satisfied with their everyday life vocabulary.
Portuguese is the mother tongue of some or most of the population in eight countries across four continents: Brazil, Sao Tome and Principe, Cabo Verde, Timor-Leste, Mozambique, Portugal, Guinea Bissau, and Angola.

Portuguese has been increasingly popular with language aficionados all over the world… and you shouldn’t miss out on this trend! If you learn to speak Portuguese, you’ll be able to make the most of your vacation on the stunning coast of Mozambique or in Portugal’s historic towns. And on top of that, you might open up a world of business opportunities linked to Brazil’s huge consumer market or Angola’s booming oil industry.

So lean into some of the books to learn Portuguese we’ve covered here (ideally one per section) and you’re guaranteed to have a head start! Then hit the comments with your thoughts on which you found the most helpful.

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