Facts about Portuguese People – part 2

Escola Caravela » Portuguese Things » Facts about Portuguese People – part 2

Olá Amigos, we are here for the second part of “Facts about Portuguese People”. If you really want to know more about contemporary Portuguese people, you can’t miss this. In addition, take a look on the first part as well (you will find a link bellow).

Women do not put their bags on the floor


Facts about Portuguese People – part 2

When our female students enter in the classroom, sit and put them bags on the floor, we immediately understand that we are teaching Portuguese for foreigners. Here the keyword is “foreigners”, because Portuguese women wouldn’t do that.
That happens for two reasons: superstition and pragmatism.
Firstly, some people think that put the bag on the floor brings bad luck.
On the other hand, not everybody shares this superstition so it should be another reason.
Consequently, the second reason is about cleaning and safety. Firstly, it is more likely that a floor is dirtier than a chair or table. So it’s always a better choice do not put the bag on the floor. Moreover, when you put your bag on the floor, it disappears from your field of vision. Therefore, if someone wants to steel your bag, he can do this much more easily.

Doctor doesn’t mean to be a doctor

As you can suppose by reading the headline, this one is really strange for foreigners…
The use of academic title is very important in Portugal. In other words, if you are an engineer, architect, or a (real) doctor, people should call you “Engenheiro José”, “Arquiteto Manuel”, “Doutor Pedro”. Sometimes even “Senhor Engenheiro/ Arquiteto/ Doutor”…
For some foreigners this reveals arrogance or lack of self-steam, for others is just an absurd. Although, in this case they have the right to be called “engineer”, “architect” or “doctor”, because they got these degrees.
And what to do with people who got an academic degree, but are not engineers, architects, or a (real) doctors? For example, people who have studied 4 or 5 years at university? Here becomes the weirdest part…
In this case we call them “doctor” (“Doutor” in Portuguese language, abbreviation – Dr.). Therefore, in the most of the cases, they are not “real doctors”, but people who have an university degree (bachelor’s or master’s degree, for example). So what we wrote in this headline is 100% correct in Portugal!
Nowadays, this is becoming less important. However, it is still very strong habit and because of that, probably Portuguese people will keep doing this for some time.

Big dogs in apartments

In general, Portuguese people love dogs. A dog is part of family, so they should live together.
In other countries, people who live in apartments prefer cats or small dogs. Although, in Portugal to live in an apartment does not prohibit having a big dog. So, once in Portugal, don’t be surprised to share your lift with a dog.

Eat on the street

In many countries is common to buy some food to take away and eating while walking. It’s a good way to save time or not feel hungry in a busy day. However, in Portugal is very difficult to find those stands where you can just pick food. Almost always you have to enter in a cafe.
Moreover, if you want some coffee, it will be almost impossible to pick one. In this case, you’ll have to drink it inside a cafe.
In general, Portuguese people don’t like to eat on the street, especially while walking. It looks uncomfortable and even inelegant. The exceptions are the holidays with especial street food. For example, the party of “Santo António”, in Lisbon, when people eats sardines with bread and drinks wine in the streets or the party of “São João” in Porto!

Drink and buy drinks

As you see, Portuguese people usually don’t eat or drink on street. Nevertheless, drinking alcohol on the street is not forbidden. For example, if you buy a beer and you’re drinking and walking at the same time and cross a police officer, nothing will happen to you (if your behavior is OK). In Portugal you don’t need to hide your drink in a paper bag, as people in many countries do in these cases.
Even to buy alcoholic drinks in supermarkets is allowed every time. You can buy it at 8.00 a.m. or at 11 p.m. as well. In other words, if the supermarket is open, it can sell alcohol anytime.

Enter the supermarket

Another fact, for which we are not able to explain the reason, is the way that Portuguese people enter in the supermarket. They never enter the supermarket through a check-out lane. Once more, this is not forbidden, but they just don’t do that.

Talking with strangers

Portuguese people like to have a good conversation or if it isn’t possible, just a conversation. Talking is a good way to relax, create empathy with people and even laugh. Therefore, it’s a good way to release the stress, increase your mood and avoid boredom.
So if someone in a public space starts to talk with you, don’t be afraid. Probably he is not a psychopath; he just wants to chill a little bit. Take it as an opportunity to practice Portuguese with a native speaker.


This was the second part of “Facts about Portuguese People”.

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