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10 Expressions You Need to Learn Before You Travel to Brazil

By Edited Jan 20, 2015 1 1
Portuguese Phrases

If you plan on traveling to Brazil, you may want to learn a little Brazilian Portuguese to get around. The worst feeling in the world when you are in a foreign country is not understanding what is going on or what someone is trying to say to you. Some of the simplest things can turn into major debacles and you can get some strange looks and be made to feel stupid simply because you do not understand another language.

I got over that a long time ago when I was in Brazil because my Portuguese may not be perfect to a Brazilian, but for most of them, their English is non-existent or at the very best, horrendous.

Is Portuguese hard to learn?

Yes, Brazilian Portuguese is a difficult language at first but it is a beautiful language to hear. There are various books, or CDs on Amazon to get you started on the basics, but if you really want to impress the locals, here are 10 common Portuguese words or Portuguese phrases that you won't find in a Portuguese dictionary.

Saudades (sah-ooh-dah-jees)

This expression really does not translate directly in English. Typically the term is used when expressing a longing for someone or as a way to say you really miss someone or something. Brazilians use this expression when thinking of a person or a time in their lives such as during childhood with their friends or their parents.  Additionally it is used at the end of conversations or emails as another way to say good-bye and they are already missing someone or something.

Um beijo (oong bay-zhoh)

It literally means “one kiss” and is often said at the end of a conversation when someone is leaving.  If you use “um beijo….  saudades” together, your Brazilian friends will be impressed.

Pois Nao? (poh-eez nah-ooh)

Literally, this means “Because no?” however, it is said normally by people working in stores when you enter. What they are really asking is “can I help you? So why they say “Because no?” instead. I do not know, they just do. Really, I do not think anyone in Brazil knows, but as far as you are concerned, it does not matter, but now you can understand what that store clerk is saying when they first see you.

Com certeza  (koh-oong seh-teh-zah)

This literally means “with certainty” which is the way Brazilians say “of course” or definitely. So if someone asks you if you are going to the beach, instead of saying simply yes, say “Com certeza” and they will be impressed.

Fique tranquilo (fee-kee kdang-kwee-loh)

This translates to “stay calm” or “don’t worry”. Brazilians typically are a very laid back, relaxed people so it is not surprising that this would be one of their favorite expresses.

Por Isso (poor eee-so)

This translates to “for that reason” and is used in conversation a lot. The shortened version of simply “isso” simply means “yes” or “that’s it” or “that’s right”. If you listen to Brazilians talking for just a minute or two, you will here “Isso” numerous times.

Ah E? (ahh eh)

This simply translated to “is that so” and is heard in many conversations, many times a day. So if you tell someone you have a new bike, they might reply “ah e?”

Lonely Planet Brazilian Portuguese Phrasebook & Dictionary
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Fala Serio (fah-lah she-dee-oh)

This is probably my favorite one. It literally means “talk seriously” but what they are saying really is “you are kidding” or “you must be joking” or “no way” in an incredulous manner. It really is funny to hear this in random conversation because it is usually followed by laughter. If someone says this to you, it means they are not really taking you seriously at the moment.

Imagina! (mah-zhee-nah)

It is pronounced without the 'I' sound because that is typically dropped in spoken language. This literally translates to “imagine” in English and is said in the context of telling someone that thanks you for something, to not worry about it. “It was no trouble at all” Why not simply say it was no trouble at all in Portuguese? I do not know. See” Pois Nao?” above. Same story.

 Ah tadinha (ahh tah-deen- a)

This means “oh, poor thing”. You hear this a lot from Brazilian women in regards to a child or when they are joking with you.  An alternate version would be “ coitada”  which also means “poor thing”. So if you hit your arm on a chair and said ouch, my arm hurts, a Brasiliera might say “ah tadinha”. Then she will probably give you a hug which is a good thing.

Final Thoughts

Portuguese Phrases
Credit: mjpyro

2 reasons to learn Brazilian Portuguese

So there are some expressions to get you started with impressing all of your Brazilian friends. You can even try them out on your taxi driver or waiter. They will probably laugh at your attempt but they should get the gist if you use the proper context.

Learning a language as an adult is not easy. Brazilian Portuguese is a difficult language to master because of all of the verb conjugations and masculine and feminine nouns which I will not begin to get into here, but if you start with the basics and remember simple expressions like the ones above, you will know enough to get through your vacation. And then when you return home, you can study a lot more using the "Portuguese to English"  and "English to Portuguese" Portuguese translators because you will be going back. Trust me on that.



Feb 20, 2014 8:40am
It sounds as if travelers to Brazil need to learn a few common phrases if English normally isn't spoken.
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