7 Perfect Brazilian Portuguese Phrases for Tourists

I met a Brazilian couple in Egypt while travelling and they sold me on a visit to the country without having to say very much. The same was true for the incredibly intelligent Brazilian students I taught this summer. A country filled with contradictory elements like the favelas and 4 star hotels, there are so many amazing things to see and experience in Brazil including the current FIFA World Cup! Why not check out these phrases to help prepare you for your trip:

Photo by Barrazine da Barra

Photo by Barrazine da Barra

1. Fala inglês?

Meaning:  Do you speak English? A key phrase in any place you may travel. Chances are in most popular cities you will find people who can speak English in tourist areas. Outside of that, many Brazilians can read and write well in English but their conversational skills may be lacking. This gives you the perfect opportunity to practice your Brazilian Portuguese!

2. Não entendo

Meaning: I don't understand. The Não is pronounced like ‘now’ and the second e in ‘entendo’ should be drawn out slightly as that is where the stress lies. When in doubt, stick with this phrase, as many locals will only speak faster and with more enthusiasm if they think you’re fully on track with the conversation.

3. Não faz mal

Meaning: That's all right. Something you’ll hear quite a lot from locals in conversation. It’s a bit like “No worries” or “No problem” in its usage and it literally means “It doesn’t hurt”.  You can throw this around in conversation with anyone, as it doesn’t necessarily lack register or insult.

4. Fala sério!

Meaning: No way!You’re kidding! For the pronunciation imagine replacing the r with a ‘d’ as it sounds more like “say-dee- oh”. You would use this whenever you think someone is pulling your leg, or when you’re astonished by something. You can also say Não acredito (here, pronounce the d as a j “akrejeetoh”) which means “I can’t believe it!”

5. Que saudade!

Meaning: Well, this is a bit of a tricky one to give a precise meaning to. Think of it like an expression encompassing nostalgia and the pain for something that once was. Pronounce it like “Kay sah-ooh-dah-jee” and don’t be surprised if you see Saudades at the end of an email between good friends that haven’t seen each other in quite some time.

6. Pois não?

Meaning: Can I help you? You will hear this over the phone or in shops as you enter quite a bit in Brazil. The same can be said for its use in restaurants. The ‘pois’ is pronounced like “poh-eez”. It literally means ‘because no’

7. Cadê o pênalti?

Meaning: Where’s the penalty? This will be particularly useful for any one traveling to Brazil intending to take in a football/soccer match. This doesn’t just have to be during the World Cup of course, as Brazil has amazing football whenever you choose to view it. Use it the same way you would if the ‘blind’ referee ignored that obviously outrageous penalty back home; by shouting it loudly and with more than a slight modicum of anger at the television or playing field.

Photo by Mark Hillary

Photo by Mark Hillary

Want to see how good your Portuguese is before heading off to Brazil? Why not try one of our level tests here?