13 Greetings to Master before You Land in Brazil
Are you ready for Brazil? If you’re joining ADRA Connections Extreme in the heart of the Amazon this summer (July 8-22), there are a few words and phrases you’ll want to know! Don’t worry, Brazilians are some of the friendliest people on the planet and they will love to hear you speak their language. So, learn these words, have fun using them, and make friends along the way. Boa viagem—Have a good trip!
In the US, we say “Hi”. In Brazil, they say “Oi”. Pretty simple, right? It’s less formal than “ola”(pronounced O-lah), which means “hello”. Give it a try and you just might make a personal connection.
2. Tudo bem?
Now that you know how to use “Oi”, try adding “Tudo bem”, which literally means ‘Everything well?’ This is probably the most common greeting in Portuguese, much like ‘how are you’ in English. You can say ‘Tudo bem’ by itself or use it as ‘Oi, tudo bem?’.
Expect the person to respond politely by saying ‘tudo bem’. The only difference? The intonation. They might also say ‘tudo bom’ (all is good), ‘tudo joia’(I’m great), or ‘tudo bom, e vocé? (all is good, how about yourself?) or a combination of tudo bom and tudo joia.
3. Estou optimo
To the greeting ‘Tudo bem?’ you can also respond with ‘Estou optimo’, which means ‘I’m fine.’ Just remember that the ‘p’ in ‘optimo’ (pronounced O-chi-moh) is silent. This word is also gender specific, so use ‘optimo’ if you’re male and ‘optima’ if you’re female.
Pronounced pra-ZAIR, this word means ‘pleasure’, as in “it’s a pleasure meeting you”. If you want to be more emphatic, you can say ‘Muito prazer’ (pronounced MOI-tu pra-ZAIR), which means “very pleased to meet you.” Remember that being polite goes a long way, and Brazilians will love you for it!
5. Bom dia, Boa tarde, Boa noite
You can use ‘Bom dia’ (Good morning), ‘Boa tarde’ (Good afternoon), and ‘Boa noite’ (Good night) if you want your greeting to match the time of day. The same word, ‘noite’ is used for both evening and night, so switch from ‘Boa tarde to ‘boat noite’ around sunset.
Don’t worry, ‘legal’ (pronounced leh-GOW) in Portuguese has nothing to do with legal or illegal. It’s a slang word that just means that something is ‘cool’, ‘very good’, ‘groovy’, alright’, or ‘ok’. Beleza (pronounced beh-LEH-zah), which means ‘beauty’, can be used to mean ‘it’s a deal’, ‘yes’, and ‘lovely’.
One of the most important words to learn, ‘obrigado’, means ‘thank you.’ It’s another gender-specific one, so keep in mind that men say ‘obrigado’ and women say ‘obrigada’. Some people use the slang word ‘valeu’, which also means ‘thank you’.
8. Quero a conta, por favor
If you’re eating out and are ready to pay the bill, say ‘Quero a conta, por favor’, which means ‘I want the bill, please.’ It might sound a bit strange to say it that way, since we tend to say, “Could I have the bill” in the US. But don’t worry. You’re saying it right.
9. Vá com Deus
Brazil is a melting pot for religions. It’s no surprise then that references to God are found in Portuguese greetings. ‘Vá com Deus’, which means ‘Go with God’ is one such expression that can be used while saying goodbye to someone.
Taken from the expression ‘Nossa Senhora’ (Our Lady), the word ‘Nossa’ is often used in response to something surprising or even shocking, or when something is frustrating. If you’re standing in a slow line at the airport, keep your ears open because you might just hear someone use it.
11. Com licença
Although it translates as ‘with license’, this expression actually means ‘excuse me’. If you need to get through a group of people, ‘com licença’ will do the trick. You can also add ‘por favor’ (please) for added politeness.
If you feel that you’ve said something wrong or bumped into somebody by accident, use ‘desculpa’, which means ‘sorry’. But if someone has received bad news and seems to be sad or upset, use ‘me sinto muito’ instead, which literally means ‘I feel a lot’, but translates as ‘sorry’.
In Brazil, you can say goodbye in many different ways. ‘Tchau’ (‘bye’) is the easiest of all the options. But if you want to impress, there’s also ‘tchau tchau’ (bye bye), ‘até mais’ (see you later), ‘a gente se vê’ (see you around), ‘a gente se fala’ (talk to you later), ‘até logo’ (see you later—same day), ‘até amanhã’ (see you later—until tomorrow), ‘até ja’ (see you soon), and ‘até a próxima’ (see you next time).
There’s more, but for now get going with these fun options and start connecting!
Worried about making a mistake with any of your new words? Don’t be! Remember that when communicating in another language, people will be very forgiving when you use a word that’s not completely accurate and will appreciate your efforts to speak in their language.