Best Practices

How to Translate from English to Portuguese More Accurately

To translate is, per se, a challenge for any translator. And it will always be, especially for those translating to Portuguese. This is because of the peculiarities of the Portuguese language: complex grammar, wide array of vocabulary, variants, many dialects, intrinsic cultural aspects and dynamicity of the language.
Gabriel Polycarpo
25 min

Peculiarities of the Portuguese Language

To translate is, per se, a challenge for any translator. And it will always be, especially for those translating to Portuguese. This is because of the peculiarities of the Portuguese language: complex grammar, wide array of vocabulary, variants, many dialects, intrinsic cultural aspects and dynamicity of the language.

Influences on the Portuguese Language

Portuguese is a Romance language, meaning it derived from Latin, more specifically the vulgar or colloquial Latin. It was greatly influenced by the Arabic language, due to the Muslim expansions into the Iberian Peninsula that started in the 8th century and lasted for at least 800 years with the Arab peoples in the region.

Moreover, the Portuguese also received some influence from Greek, as well as indigenous peoples in the case of Brazil.
 Because of that, Portuguese is a language rich in vocabulary and grammar, with a wide gamut of semantic nuances.

The Internet Boom

The tech boom period, that started in 1995, was instrumental for the influence of the English language on many cultures in the world. Many words such as ‘web’, ‘e-mail’, ‘internet’, download’, design’ and ‘login’ are now part of the Portuguese language.

Spelling Reform of the Portuguese Language

On January 1st, 2009, seeking to unify spelling between the Brazilian and European variants, an agreement was put in practice. Some of the changes included the abolition of umlaut (those two little dots over the letter ‘u’ in some words), abolition of the circumflex (^) and the acute accent (´) in some instances.

As a translator, you will want to make sure to stick to the correct spelling of the words. If you are unsure of how a word is spelled, Volp - Vocabulário Oficial da Língua Portuguesa is a great resource.


The Vocabulário Oficial da Língua Portuguesa is responsible for providing the correct spelling for words in Brazilian Portuguese. Whenever in doubt, check out Volp.

Foreign Words and Italicization

Both in English and in Portuguese, foreign words and phrases that are unfamiliar should be italicized.

Because languages are dynamic, a word considered unfamiliar at a given moment, may soon become ‘familiar’ and italicizing it may fall into disuse.

It is important to be aware of the trends and the routes the words are taking.

Foreign Words that Acquired New Meanings in Portuguese

In Portuguese, especially in Brazilian Portuguese, English words that entered the language acquired new meanings or are being used with different meanings then its counterpart. See the examples below:

Languages are dynamic, that is, they are constantly changing. Very often what happens is that a word that was once present in a language might have been replaced with a new term, while the language that inherited the word never replaced it.

When using English words in Portuguese, make sure they carry the meaning you are intending.

The Cases of the ‘Smoking Jackets’ and the ‘Outdoor’

Smoking jackets were jackets designed to be worn while – literally – smoking. They were very popular among the aristocracy of 19th-century Europe and remained popular throughout the centuries, acquiring new names and usages. The word is still used in continental Europe meaning ‘tuxedo’ or ‘dinner jacket’ (not to be confused with a ‘frock coat’, which in Portuguese is a ‘fraque’).

‘Outdoor’ is probably short for “outdoor advertising”. However, only the first portion, “outdoor”, is used in Portuguese. Some of the words above are used in European Portuguese as well, as is the case with ‘outdoor’ and ‘smoking’.

Partial cognates: the enemies of the translators

We often hear about cognates and false cognates, but we don’t usually hear about partial cognates.

Partial cognates are words that are not 100% true cognates, they are very close in meaning, but with subtle differences. In some cases, the difference is so subtle that even the most well-versed translator could miss the subtle nuances in the translation.

Partial cognates can have more than one meaning either in the source or in the target language, affecting the translation negatively if the incorrect term is used in the translation.

It is important to mention that less commonly used partial cognates, such as ‘sacrosanct’, might go totally unnoticed by less experienced translators.

When a Word Translates in Several Different Ways in the Target Language

Whenever there are several possibilities of translation for a certain word, no matter what word you choose, it will have an impact on the quality of the translation.

Not always words have an equivalent in the target language. Sometimes, there are several options for a given word. Making a wrong decision may affect your translation negatively. For example:

‘Cachorro’ or ‘Cão’?

Both terms translate as dog in English. Only the word ‘dog’ can describe a dog in English. We could use the words ‘pup’ or ‘puppy’, but that will affect the meaning of the word, since a pup is a young dog. The term ‘hound’ can be used, but again, a hound is a special type of dog, a hunting one. 

In Portuguese there are, at least, two terms for the word ‘dog’ = ‘cachorro’ and ‘cão’, being the word ‘cachorro’ the term more broadly used in colloquial contexts. .

It is important to mention that, for the word ‘dog’, there’s an almost perfect equivalence between English and European Portuguese:

  • Dog = cão 
  • Pup, puppy = cachorro, cachorrinho

A female dog is a ‘cadela’ in both Brazilian and European Portuguese.

Baby animals of any species are known in Portuguese as ‘filhotes’.


The ending ‘inho’ (sometimes ‘zinho’) is a suffix that transmits the idea of a less intense, smaller version of the object/animal/adjective, or gives a more affectionate flavor to it. For example:

  • bonito = beautiful
  • bonitinho = cute, sweet, pretty 

We can add the ending ‘zinho’ to ‘cão’ (‘cãozinho’) as well. This would translate as ‘doggy’, ‘doggo’, little dog’ or even ‘cute little dog’. A young female dog would be a ‘cadelinha’ or ‘cachorrinha’. 

Other versions not so broadly used may be found in Portuguese, such as ‘doguinho’.

Regional variants may prefer one term over the other, so it is always important to bear in mind who your readers are, especially when dealing with localization and literary Portuguese.

The Difficulty of Translating the Word ‘You’

The word ‘you’ is one of the most basic terms of the English language but also one of the most difficult to translate. This is because many terms translate as ‘you’ in Portuguese, namely, ‘tu’, ‘você’/’vocês’, ‘cê’, ‘cês’, ‘vós’, ‘o senhor’/’os senhores’, ‘a senhora’/’as senhoras’, among other terms.

Each of these words have different usage depending on historical context and dialectal variants.

In Brazil:

Tu = used in some states such as Rio Grande do Sul. When addressing more than one person, ‘vocês’ is used.

Você = very common in states like São Paulo.

= a reduced and very informal version of “você’, used in colloquial speech in those states that use “você”. “Cês” is the plural form of “cê”. These should never be used in formal contexts.

O senhor/a senhora = a respectful way to address an older person. The use of ‘tu’ or ‘você’ when addressing older people is considered impolite in Brazil.

Vós = found more often in historical or religious contexts. It is a very formal term. The plural version of ‘vós’ is ‘vós’ (or ‘vós outros’, when emphasizing the opposition between the speaker and the other party). 

Note: some states in Brazil use both ‘tu’ and ‘você/vocês’. In English, the plural form ‘vocês’ may be rendered as ‘you’, ‘you guys’, you all/y’all (southern U.S.), ‘you boys/girls’, ‘you both’ (when addressing two people)’, ‘you lot’ (BrE), etc.

‘You’ In Portugal

In general, ‘tu’ tends to be the way people address others of around the same age, while ‘você’ tends to reflect a superior-to-inferior treatment, and ‘o senhor/a senhora’ the proper way to address older people. However this is not a fixed rule, and different dialects may disagree in terms of the level of formality/informality of those terms. In a few regional dialects of northern Portugal the word ‘vós’ is used.

Whenever translating the word you, make sure to know who your audience is, so as to to make an unfortunate decision.

Numbers and Symbols


In English, when writing figures over 999, such as 1,000, a comma is placed every third digit (thousands separator). 

However, in Portuguese-speaking countries a period is used instead. For example: 1.000. 

This is usually only used when expressing amounts. A period will not appear in house numbers, for instance.


When writing centuries in Portuguese, always use Roman numerals. For example:

  • Séc. XVII = the 17th century

Money Sign

In English, a space is not added between the money sign and the numeral, for example: US$100.55. In Portuguese, do add a space between the money sign and the numeral: R$ 100,55.


When expressing time in Portuguese, it is important to mention that both Brazil and Portugal use the 24-hour clock. For example:

Note: in informal speech, 14h30 will be read as ‘duas e meia’ (‘two thirty’).


Collocation refers to the natural juxtaposition of words and terms. For example, we say ‘knife and fork’, not ‘fork and knife’ (although the latter is not technically incorrect from the grammar viewpoint). 

There are many terms in Portuguese that will appear in the reverse order of their English counterparts. See the examples below:

Collocations include: verbs that are used with certain verbs, adjectives that go with certain nouns, verbs and expressions with prepositions, among others.

More examples: ‘a quick meal’ (not ‘a fast meal’), fast food (not ‘quick’ food), a round of applause, to burst into tears, etc.

These may greatly affect the quality of your translation.

Changing Word Order May Mean a Change in Meaning

In Portuguese, when changing the order of the terms, you might end up changing the meaning of your statement. For example:

Differences in Vocabulary Between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese

Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese differ not only in grammar, but especially in vocabulary. See the examples below:

Regional variations:

Different regions within a country may adopt different terms for the same word. For example:

  • Tangerine: tangerina, bergamota, vergamota,  laranja-cravo, mexerica, mimosa, poncã, among others.

  • Cassava: mandioca, aipim, macaxeira, castelinha, maniva, among others.

Whenever localizing a text or translation, it is important to make sure that the correct term that will resound with a certain audience is used, always taking into account register and style.

Names of Countries, Cities and People

Many names of countries, cities and people have their own version in Portuguese, the same way as it happens in English. For instance: ‘Veneza’ (city in Italy) in Italian, ‘Venice’ in English and ‘Veneza’ in Portuguese.

It is very important to check dictionaries when translating names of cities, regions and countries.

Names of countries

Names of cities

Historical Names of People

Historical names in English also have their version in Portuguese. It is the case with famous kings and queens, philosophers, sailors, warriors, biblical characters and other characters of historical relevance.

Biblical names also have their own unique versions in Portuguese:

Glossaries, TMs and Terminology Management Systems

Glossaries, translation memories (TMs) and terminology management systems are the best friends of translators, as they help them find accurate translations for specific words in the target language, while saving time and ensuring consistency. 

A glossary can be defined as a compilation of terms in a specific field of knowledge, such as medical, botanical, civil engineering, etc.

In the translation field, it is common for translators to create glossaries of key terms in CAT tools (computer-assisted softwares) to be used in translation projects. These databases are managed by terminology management systems.

In a CAT tool, translation memories help translators save time, at the same time that they help deliver consistent translations.

Final Words

The complexity of the Portuguese language can pose big challenges to translators, especially for the less experienced translators.

When in doubt, it is important to check style guides, dictionaries, specialized glossaries, and resources such as the Vocabulário Oficial da Língua Portuguesa.

Moreover, it is of paramount importance to have a powerful translation management system.

Bureau Work’s leading-edge translation management system, through its sophisticated technology, ensures linguistic consistency, while its integrated AI system provides alternative translation versions and flags potential semantic errors.

Streamline your workflow, ensure accuracy and save time with Bureau Works.

Collaborative translation is a powerful tool for your business if you’re looking to expand to new global markets. By coordinating a team of professionals who work together in real-time, you can quickly deliver high quality translations that resonate with local audiences.

But what if you don't know how to synchronize a large team's efforts? Or are you‌ struggling to find the right software for a well-coordinated translation process? Well, look no further! In this guide, you'll learn all the know-how's of collaborative translation to bring your brand to global audiences.


  1. What is collaborative translation?
  2. Why seamless translation collaboration is important
  3. Best practices for collaborative translation and global market success

What is collaborative translation?

Collaborative translation is when multiple people simultaneously work together to translate content. A collaborative translation process often makes use of specialized tools and software to make sure the translation is quick, accurate, and consistent.

  • Example: Let's say you're a B2B SaaS company looking to translate your marketing materials into a new language to connect with potential clients abroad. Use collaborative translation to bring together translators, developers, and other specialists to translate content into many languages at once.

Your team can use a collaborative translation platform like Redokun to work on projects simultaneously. A coordinated workflow will make sure that your translations use the same terminology and style, improving the quality of the translated product for your target audiences.

Collaborative Translation vs. Crowdsourcing

People often confuse collaborative translation with crowdsourcing and think the two are the same. However, these approaches to translation are different.

Crowdsourcing is when a large group of people contributes translations, often through an open call or invitation by a company or author. Brands can turn to crowdsourcing, community translation, or volunteer translation when they are looking to reduce costs and accelerate the process, especially for large multi-language projects.

In crowdsourced translations, the contributors can be volunteer translators, subject matter experts, or just anonymous individuals online. In other words, you may not know who's worked on the translation and what their qualifications are. It makes crowdsourcing distinct from collaborative translation, where the team would be an established group of professionals you've selected

Why seamless translation collaboration is important

As a busy B2B/B2C marketing manager or project manager, you might ask yourself: Isn't the "divide and conquer" a better strategy when working on a translation or localization project? It seems logical that each project team member, including translators, designers, and editors, works on their tasks separately and step by step.

However, collaborative translation can help your team reap many benefits compared to a traditional approach to translation projects:

Reasons why seamless translation collaboration is important
  • Produce high-quality translations consistently. When your whole team works on a translation project simultaneously on one platform, it's easier to stay in context and keep track of the translation accuracy for every target language. On top of that, your team can conduct agile QA throughout the project cycle.
  • Faster turnaround times. By working together, your team can complete projects faster and more efficiently. Centralization saves a lot of time at every stage of translation. And since your team can work on more than one translation at a time, you can publish your translated content in several new markets at once.
  • Reduced costs. You get to improve efficiency while working with a smaller team of translators. The smaller and more coordinated the team, the less the risk of costly translation errors. It means reduced translation costs and better project budget compliance.
  • Increased flexibility. Collaborative translation allows your team to produce translations into many languages at once and easily make changes to any project document. You can conveniently engage in a feedback loop and guarantee a continuous localization process.
  • Better communication. Collaborative translation effectively brings all members of your localization team together on one platform. It helps you make sure that everyone is working toward the same goals ‌and simplifies overall localization management.

Six best practices for collaborative translation and global market success

To be great at collaborative translation, you need to approach it strategically. Even if you've never used this approach before, you can follow the six steps below to build an efficient collaborative translation workflow. And if you're already familiar with this method, these practices will help you improve the way you collaborate on any translation projects.

Six best practices for collaborative translation for your global business success

1. Work out a detailed project plan

Before you start working on translations together, you need a clear-cut project plan. You should first identify the following items.

  • Project timeline: Define crucial deadlines, project milestones, and the overall project duration.
  • Translation volume and key deliverables: Calculate the general word count, and determine the workload for every language pair if you translate into multiple languages.
  • Project budget: Keep in mind possible added and hidden translation costs.
  • Project team: Define what kind of specialists you need: translators, editors, proofreaders, etc. Will you need to find external translators? Consider all your HR needs in advance.
  • Your approach to the translation process: How much do you want to rely on machine translation? At what point will you edit translated strings? Answer all these questions before you go on.
  • Quality assurance protocol: Establish an efficient QA procedure for all the language pairs you're working on.

It may sound like a handful but the more detailed the plan, the more streamlined the translations will be down the road. Besides, you can already use Redokun to boost this stage of the localization process!

Redokun is a translation management system you can use to automate, coordinate, and optimize your translation processes from content creation to publication.

Redokun simplifies your project planning. In particular, you can use the tool to:

  • Monitor your ongoing translations easily. Keep track of all of your translation files and projects across multiple languages in one space, and check their progress at a glance.
Redokun Document Detail Page
  • Meet deadlines with digest emails. Redokun will send you daily or weekly email digests to update you on the progress of translations. From there, you can initiate one-click reminders to your translators who are potentially falling behind schedule.
  • Making budget planning easier. Redokun has a transparent, scalable pricing structure that will cover exactly the volume of work your project needs.
Redokun is an easy-to-use tool that requires no onboarding. Your team can start using all the system’s features right away. During your project planning stage, you won’t need to factor in a lengthy training period to introduce team members to the tool.

2. Divide tasks and assign responsibilities the smart way

Good collaboration is impossible without a well-planned distribution and organization of roles and tasks. Ensure that every team member is on the same page and understands their respective responsibilities.

For example, the project managers should divide ‌translation tasks among translation team members according to their language proficiency, area of expertise, or subject matter knowledge.
  • On Redokun, you can invite translators to work on different language pairs and content types depending on their skills. All you need to do is enter the translator's email. The software will send them an email invitation and let you know once they've started translating the file.
  • You can also invite several translators to work on one document.
How to invite translators to Redokun

To maximize the efficiency of project management and task division, establish a clear structure of your workflow. Make sure all your pages, files, and folders are well organized and team members know where to find necessary resources for their respective tasks. A centralized, cloud-based storage for all your documents is a must.

  • Redokun is a cloud-based software that makes file management easy. You can create folders and customize permission settings for multiple users for better organization. No more need to look for spreadsheets and lost documents scattered around different digital locations.
  • Don't forget to make the most of the Reporting Dashboard. It shows you the status of the translation project and helps you see how users distribute tasks (for example, what methods they use to translate different content segments).
Redokun Dashboard with translation statistics

3. Enhance the collaborative translation process with clear communication

It's important to have open communication channels among all team members in your translation project, including internal and external translators. For a successful collaboration effort, you need a shared communication space to:

  • Conduct regular check-ins.
  • Discuss translation options and other aspects of the working process.
  • Update and adjust requirements and guidelines.
  • Maintain feedback loops.
It's up to you to choose between email, messengers, or tools like Google Drive or Slack to keep your collboarative operations flowing. However, using multiple channels for different aspects of the project can get messy. It's harder to manage your team and make sure all collaborators are up to date on the ongoing translation tasks.

You can avoid these potential problems by centralizing all your communications and project management. With translation software like Redokun, you can manage, translate, communicate, and collaborate — all in one place.

  • Translate content in context. Your translators or editors can use page previews in Web Editor to understand the context of the text while working on it.
  • Work together in real-time. Use Redokun as a full-scale collaborative translation platform. It enables real-time cooperation among your team members, improving efficiency and reducing communication errors.
  • Use comments, mentions, and notifications to exchange feedback quickly. Redokun's Web Editor is a convenient place to stay in touch and discuss your translation progress every step of the way.
Collaboration feature in Redokun
  • Create a hybrid workflow. Work with your in-house teams or external translators to suit different localization project formats and scalability needs.

4. Use machine translation and translation memory tools

Computer-assisted translation tools are a great addition to human translation. Machine translation (MT) helps your collaborators speed up the localization process by automating translation. Of course, it doesn't have the quality of a human professional translation — it’s more like a helping hand that's always there to facilitate the translation of complex phrases or new terms.

  • Redokun is integrated with two Machine Translation tools: Google Translate and DeepL. Translation suggestions by these two tools pop up right below where the translator should key in the translation, as shown here.

To enhance collaboration even further, consider using translation memory tools. They ensure consistency and save translation software users a lot of time.

Translation memory (TM) is a translation technology that stores previously translated sentences or phrases as segments and creates a unique database for your localization projects. You can reuse your translation to increase efficiency and consistency in ongoing and future translations.

With Redokun as your collaborative translation platform, you can leverage TM to:

  • Consistently translate any repeated word, phrase, or sentence across different language pairs and documents. It's especially important for translating technical terms, marketing slogans, CTAs, and other catchphrases. Translation memory helps you stay consistent in your marketing messaging.
  • Pre-translate your entire documents. Combine TM matches from your previous translations with Machine Translation to get a fully pre-translated document even before your team gets to work.
  • Manage your translation memory database. Import and customize your TM database to further improve translation quality and consistency.
”The speed of translation is quite impressive in that it doesn’t take [much time], maybe a couple of minutes when you translate from English to eight markets. I think that’s what I’m most impressed by.”

Read more about how Kenni and the marketing team at Rockfon increased their translation productivity by 70% using translation memories and other Redokun features

5. Use glossaries and style guides

Glossaries and style guides are valuable resources your team can use for reliable reference.

A glossary is a list of terms and their corresponding translations that are specific to a company or industry.

A style guide outlines the preferred tone, voice, and style for a company's marketing materials across markets and languages.

Your collaborators can refer to these resources when they’re not sure about a translation. For example is when they're deciding how to translate a company abbreviation, whether to the Oxford comma, or choosing the right tone to address customers, etc. No more ambiguity about linguistic, stylistic, and cultural aspects of your translations.

  • Use Redokun's glossary feature to create a glossary and style guide that outlines rules for spelling, grammar, punctuation, terminology, and tone specific to your project.
Redokun glossary feature preview

6. Continuously review and revise

A key benefit of a collaborative translation platform is the ability to review and revise translations in an agile and efficient manner. By involving multiple specialists in the process of editing and QA, you can guarantee accuracy and consistency in the translated content at every stage of the project.

To implement effective review and revision procedures in your collaborative translation projects, it is important to:

  • Plan for review and revision in advance. Identify who will be responsible, set the timeline, and use specific tools.
  • Consider involving in-country reviewers who are familiar with the local market and culture to ensure that the translations are accurate and appropriate for the target audience.
  • Perform regular QA checks. They should include consistency in terminology and formatting, and verify that the translations are free from grammatical errors and typos.
Pro-tip: Ever experienced the headache of having to update a translation that’s already 70% done when there is a last-minute change to the source document?

With Redokun’s revision feature, you don’t have to spend hours poring over Excel sheets and comparing files to spot the places where new words have been added or sentences have been changed. Just upload the latest document version and the system will identify new text that needs translating — saving your team’s time and effort while keeping previous translations intact.


Collaborative translation is an excellent approach if you want to improve the consistency of your translations, reduce costs, and establish a strong presence in global markets.

The key to seamless collaboration is a combination of careful planning, role distribution, agile QA, and smart use of translation software.

Make Redokun part of your collaborative translation efforts and enhance the pace of your global business growth‌. Start your 14-day free trial today and benefit from a quicker and more streamlined translation workflow.

Till next time,


Gabriel Polycarpo
As a translator and creative writer, Gabriel specializes in writing/translating for the technology and hospitality industries, having provided copywriting, localization and translation services for major companies such as Skillshare, Tech5, Hotelogix, Fidentech, Earn2Trade, UN agencies, Yarina Lodge, Hacienda La Ciénega and Fundación Pachamama, as well as production companies, independent producers and writers such as the BlinkBox Studio (Jordan), Studio Zut (São Paulo) and American author Bryan Cassady.
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