Book Review: The Everything Essential Brazilian Portuguese Book

The Everything Essential Brazilian Portuguese Book, by Fernanda Ferreira

In general, I have to say that this is a well-organized book for those who want a basic understanding of Portuguese.  I’m not sure exactly how many people are looking for that, and the book is not quite as detailed as I would prefer for myself, but it certainly is good as a basic book that seeks to teach vocabulary and some basic grammar.  It is easy to recommend this book to someone who wants to know enough Brazilian Portuguese to be able to communicate with others in a variety of ways in ordinary conversation.  The book does a good job both at hinting at the complexity of the Portuguese language but does not provide the sort of depth that one would need if one was attempting to write or communicate more seriously in a literary or spiritual way.  But I do not think that most people are looking for the sort of complexity that I am from a book, and so I can wholeheartedly recommend this book for what is basic and fundamental about the language so that someone can communicate and understand on a basic level what they would need to operate in Brazil.  And that will be enough for most readers.

This book is between 200 and 250 pages long and is divided into eighteen chapters and three appendices.  The book begins with an introduction and then introduces the Portuguese language and its similarities to Spanish as well as the differences between Brazilian and Portuguese Portuguese (1).  After that the author discusses the sounds of Portuguese (2) as well as the beginning conversation of greetings (3).  After that come some basic nouns, articles, and contractions (4) as well as ser (5) and estar (6).  The author then discusses how to describe people and things (7) in Portuguese as well as the vocabulary of numbers (8).  There are explorations of verbs that end in -ar (9) as well as -er and -ir (10) in the present tense along with vocabulary.  There are important verbs to know (11) as well as verb tenses like the preterite and imperfect and future and conditional (12) and even more verbs (13) in the participle and passive voice.  After this comes a discussion of negative words and constructions (14) as well as questions and exclamations (15).  Finally, the main part of the book ends with the future and personal infinitive (16), imperative and subjunctive constructions (17) and various means of communication like writing letters and calling on the phone (18).  What follows are three appendices that give an English to Portuguese (i) and Portuguese to English glossary (ii) and an answer key (iii) as well as an index.

In general I would say that this book is particularly pleasant when it comes to structure, and that is something to enjoy.  I am always intrigued by the way that books are structured to convey information and what order things happen to come in.  This book does a good job with the way that it conveys its information to the reader.  Being familiar with the series of books that this is part of [1] certainly made this a comfortable read as well.  I am by no means unfamiliar with books that seek to help people with languages and as a fan of that genre I tend to enjoy those books that are able to fulfill their purpose.  This book is the sort that can easily be read for someone by oneself.  The author assumes that someone will read this book after listening to a bossa nova song or watching a Brazilian movie and wanting to know more about the language.  And for this sort of introductory approach the book does well.  But I wonder if the author could have thought that people might have more serious reasons for picking up a book like this.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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