If you’re planning to visit Brazil don’t underestimate the value of knowing a few basic phrases in Brazilian Portuguese. Boa viagem!
Ways to greet people include: Bom dia (bong jee-ah) – good morning, Boa tarde (bowa tarjay) – good afternoon/evening, Boa noite (bowa noychay) – good night. And more informally: Oi! Opa! and Tudo bem? (toodoo beng) – hi / how are you? Other ways to say ‘How are you?’ include Como vai? and Como estás?
You can introduce yourself by saying Meu nome é … (meyoo nomay ey) – my name is, Chamo-me … (shamoo mey) – I’m called …, and to ask someone’s name you can say Como se chama? (comoo sey shama), or Qual é o teu nome? (kwal ey oo tey-oo nome), which is the informal way to put this question. If you want to know where someone comes from, you could ask them De onde você vem? (Jay onjay vosay veng), to which the reply might be Sou de… (sow jeh) – I’m from …
Ways to say goodbye include Tchau! (like the Italian Ciao); Até logo (atey low-goo); Até depois (atey day-poys) – see you later, and Até amanhã (atey aman-yah) – see you tomorrow.
Shopping / eating out
When shopping or eating out, you might find the following phrases useful: Quanto é? (Kwantoo ey) – How much?; por favor, please/excuse me; con licenca (cong lee-sen-sah) – excuse me; obrigado/a, thank you – the version ending in ‘a’ is used by females; garcom (garsong) – waiter; uma cerveja (ooma serveyzha) – a beer; uma coca – a coke; viva! saúde! (sah-oo-jay) tim-tim (ching ching) – cheers / good health!; Onde é o baneiro? (onjay ey oo ban-eyroo) – Where’s the toilet/bathroom?; a conta, por favor – the bill please.
And if you don’t understand…
If you have difficulty understanding what people say to you in Portuguese, you could say Não entendi (naw enten-jee) – I don’t understand; Por favor fale mais devagar – Please speak more slowly, or Fala inglês? – Do you speak English?
The pronunciation of Brazilian Portuguese is quite similar to Spanish, expect there are more nasal sounds and vowels change their pronunciation depending on their position in a word. For example, ‘o’ at the end of a word is pronounced like oo in boo but through the nose, so como is something like ‘comoo’.
If you speak Spanish, you’ll probably find that many Brazilians can understand you.
You can hear recordings of these Brazilian Portuguese phrases, and others, at: