Common translation mistakes from English to Portuguese


Courtesy of picjumbo, by Viktor Hanacek

I have already written a post on some common grammar errors Brazilians usually make in Portuguese. Today, I decided to write on some common errors beginners usually make when translating from English to Brazilian Portuguese.

Below is a list of 10 examples of common errors I’ve come across throughout my experience as a translator (which is mainly with IT texts).

  1. Please
    In English, it is very common to apologize for everything. However, in Portuguese, it isn’t. Therefore, you should simply ignore it whenever the word pops up on your translation.
  2. Eventually
    This one is a false friend: it should never be translated as eventualmente (which actually means ocasionalmente), but as finalmente or consequentemente.
  3. Sincerely
    Sinceramente is not used as a letter/email closing in Portuguese. Instead, you should choose atenciosamente.
  4. Information
    Although uncountable nouns in English are usually singular, in Portuguese, they are plural, therefore, the right translation is informações.
  5. Delete
    Excluir, not deletar.
  6. Enter
    Digitar, not inserir.
  7. Sensible
    The right translation is not sensível (sensitive), but sensato.
  8. Verify
    Confirmar, comprovar, garantir, não verificar (check).
  9. Application
    In IT, it means aplicativo, não aplicação. App is its short form, therefore, it’s masculine, not feminine: o app.
  10. Address
    It’s never translated, although you may, depending on the case, translate the name of the city and country, if applicable.

Needless to say all these translation options depends on the context, but, in general, they do apply. It’s essential that you always refer to the client’s reference material, style guide and glossaries, and that you always do a thorough research, even when you think you know the translation of a term. Translators can never be too cautious.

When I was a beginner myself, I also made most of these mistakes, but I learned with practice, always paying careful attention to feedback, trying to assimilate and learning from them. I never make the same mistake twice, and if you have the possibility of never making them altogether, why waste the chance, right?

Would you add any other term to the list?

9 thoughts on “Common translation mistakes from English to Portuguese

  1. Nice post! It’s always good to remember the basics.
    I would consider adding the word “virtually” also. I often find this translated as “virtualmente” when it should be translated as “praticamente” or the like.


    • Thanks, Thomaz! 🙂
      Yes, you’re right. Thanks for adding.
      I know there are many other examples, but I couldn’t remember them when I was writing the post.
      There’s one I came across yesterday, after having already posted: “listed.” People always translate as “listado,” but it should be: relacionado, apresentado, indicado, informado, etc.


  2. Pingback: Erros comuns em traduções do inglês para o português | Carol's Adventures in Translation

  3. My dear Carol,
    Great to read your article! Congratulations.
    List also means ‘estar à deriva’ or ‘inclinar-se’. The ship listed to the left.
    And another one: assault, which is not ‘assalto’ but more like ‘agressão’. Assalto would be theft.
    And rapto, which is not rape, but kidnapping. Rape would be ‘estupro’.
    And then we have things with different meanings in Brazil and Portugal. Bicha is just a queue in Portugal, but in Brazil it is a gay!
    And completely different words for the same thing, such as ‘comboio’ which is a train in Portugal, whereas in Brazil we say ‘trem’. (In Minas, everything is ‘trem’, so if you mean a railway train the correct term in mineirese is ‘trem de ferro’).
    Beijos e bom final de tarde! Hope to see you at a translation event after the pandemic!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s