In English, it's common to use the word 'background' to denote a previous knowledge or even a previous research, like in the examples:

  • I don't have background in botanics;
  • Theoretical background;
  • I have background in this field, so I know what I mean;

The translation for the word is "fundo", but is not the correct word to use in this cases like "Eu não tenho fundo(s) em botânica";

What is the correct word?

  • In my humble opinion both answers are faulty... check WordRef Eng.->Port. dictionary – An old man in the sea. Jul 14 '15 at 21:00
  • @Anoldmaninthesea. If you really think so, you may wish to counter them with an answer of your own. But I seriously don't think my answer is "faulty". – E_net4 the commentary remover Jul 14 '15 at 21:04

The Portuguese word fundo in this context can only be used when referring to a "backdrop" or an extreme end of something, such as a scenery or the end of a hole. In the metaphorical sense, it can also be used to refer to the bottom of a subject ("o fundo do assunto").

On the other hand, fundamento is more appropriate for your situation. Although the primary meaning is "foundation", "motive" and "cause" (it literally translates to the English word foundation), it is often used in Portuguese when mentioning a scientific or technical background.

Não tenho fundamentos em botânica.

Another alternative is to rely on synonyms, such as "experience" or "education".

Não tenho experiência em botânica.

Não tenho formação em botânica.

  • 2
    In this sentence: «no background in botanics», I think it would better «Não tenho 'formação' em botânica» or «Não tenho 'experiência' em botânica». – An old man in the sea. Jul 14 '15 at 20:58
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    Indeed, there are plenty of ways to go around the problem. Instead of "background", one may choose synonyms: experienced, educated, skilled, and so on. :) – E_net4 the commentary remover Jul 14 '15 at 21:00
  • The thing is I don't think that you explain anything wrong. The only thing that you say with which I don't agree is that the user can use 'fundamentos' in that situation. The only thing I disagree, but it probably has more to do with some Brazilian Portuguese - European Portuguese difference. In Europe, we would disagree with the last sentence of your answer, and with the sentence in the orange rectangle. Maybe it's because we're not so influenced by the American English, I don't know... – An old man in the sea. Jul 14 '15 at 21:11
  • You are a bit confused there, I'm also from Portugal. The word fundamentos can indeed be used to refer to a technical or scientific background, as well as alicerces. Even Google Translator and the English-to-Portuguese dictionary you mentioned, WordReference, makes that relation. Not to mention that you may find the word in job advertisements. – E_net4 the commentary remover Jul 14 '15 at 21:14
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    @E_net4 I think you answered the question, especially at the end of your answer, where you provide, in my opinion, the two best translations for the first example given by the person asking. I think, however, that you start your answer drifting away from what was being asked. So you coud improve your answer by going straight to what was asked (which you answer at the end) and then offering, if you which, a few other contexts where 'background' is used in english and the portuguese translation. I would also suggest offering translations for the two other examples given in the question. – Sérgio Pereira Aug 9 '15 at 16:16

In computing terms, background is also oftenly used:

The process is running in background.

This blockquote's background color is yellow.

In those examples, it is commonly translated to segundo plano, and plano de fundo, respectively.

  • It's 'pano de fundo', not 'plano' – An old man in the sea. Jul 14 '15 at 20:55
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    @Anoldmaninthesea. At least in brazilian portuguese, it is plano: meaning a layer, a world, a ground. – falsarella Jul 14 '15 at 20:59
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    Well, I've just learned something today. :) Thanks – An old man in the sea. Jul 14 '15 at 21:02

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