Many of the problems, or pitfalls, in learning English are universal


Miami Florida Guide


‘Portuguese to English Language Problems’
By Greg Degnan (English Language Director: South Beach Languages) 






Many of the problems, or pitfalls, in learning English are universal.  Here are a few: 

‘I HAVE’ vs. ‘I AM’

In Portuguese, you say ‘I have 20 years’.  In English, we say I am 20 years old..   

‘KNOW’ VS ‘GO’

In Portuguese, you say I know New York (instead of I went to New York).  So if a recently arrived Brazilian asks if you ‘know Costa Rica?’, they want to know if you have traveled there, not if you know about the country. 

‘MAKE’ VS. ‘DO’

In Portuguese, there is 1 verb, Fazer, but in English we use both Make & Do.  In general, make is used to create or build.  Do is used for actions.  For example

‘make the bed’ ‘make a cake’ ‘make up your mind’ ‘make love’

‘do the dishes’ ‘do the laundry’ ‘do your homework’ ‘do exercises’ 

‘SIT IN THE CHAIR’ or ‘SIT ON THE CHAIR’?

Simple prepositions like ‘in’ ‘on’ ‘at’ can be a nightmare for English learners.  Why is it that we ‘sit in a chair’ but ‘sit on a sofa’?   Or we ‘ride in a car’ but ‘ride on a bus’? 

‘FILL IN’ or ‘FILL OUT’ THE FORM?

These phrasal verbs (a verb plus a preposition) are also so ingrained into English speakers vocabulary, that they hardly even notice all the nuances.  But ‘phrasal verbs’ are very difficult for learners and should be memorized.  Remember ‘Let’s go to work’ & ‘Let’s go to work out’ have completely different meanings. 

‘HOLE’ OR ‘WHOLE’

Homonyms are words with the same pronunciation, yet different meanings.  For example:

To, too, two

Patients, patience

Ate, Eight

Some are tricky, for example ‘whole’ is 100%, but a ‘hole’ is an empty space, or 0%. 

DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IS IT?

Ask this on the street in Miami and few may question your grammar.  That’s because a literal translation from Portuguese would be correct.  But in English this is an embedded question, which we change to ‘Do you know what time it is?’ 
 

South Beach Languages teaches English to Brazilians & other International students.  They offer group, corporate & private classes in their South Beach center or send teachers to the student’s location. 

South Beach Languages, 227 13th Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139.  305-815-4271 

See also: Portuguese Classes




 


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