Everyday Portuguese Expressions To Know Before You Go To Brazil
All language-learners have been there. After spending months enthusiastically learning a new language, we hit a snag… turns out native speakers have a vocabulary of their own!
This is especially true for those learning Brazilian Portuguese. Conversational Portuguese in Brazil is full of slang and cultural references. The everyday lingo is inundated with popular Brazilian slang words and phrases.
Here’s the solution:
10 Portuguese Slang Phrases to Sound Like a Local in Brazil.
There are seemingly infinite ways to say “cool” or “great” in Brazilian Portuguese, and they differ by region. However, legal is the dominant word, used commonly from North to South of Brazil.
Legal (lay-gow) literally means “legal”, but it is used to declare all things cool or awesome. New shirt? Legal! New movie out? Legal! Got an A on the test? Legal!
Some other Brazilian synonyms for cool that are slightly less formal include: maneiro, da hora, top, sinistro.
In Portuguese textbooks, we learn that when we greet someone in Brazil, the go-to phrase is Tudo bem? (“All good?”), but Brazilians are far more creative than this with their greetings.
Tudo bem? is often substituted with Beleza?
Instead of asking if everything is going well, they ask if everything is beautiful.
You can also substitute Tudo bem? with Tudo jóia?, which literally means “All jewelry?” but is interpreted as “All good/shiny/beautiful?“
Bottom line? Next time you greet a Brazilian, ask Beleza? instead of Tudo bem?
3. E ai?
Literally: “And there?“
E ai (ee-eye-ee) is a mouthful of vowels that basically means “What’s up?” It is most commonly used as a way to greet friends, often followed by a Tudo bem? or Beleza?.
If the conversation is even more intimate or among friends, it will most certainly contain a mano or cara (Brazilian slang for dude/bro). Here’s an example:
Gabriel: E ai mano, beleza? (“Hey bro, all good?”)
Mateus: E ai, como cê tá? (“Hey, how are ya?”)
Key takeaway? Don’t get confused when you hear Brazilians greet each other with what might sound like a random noise.
Literally: No translation (sound, exclamation)
Eita (eh-ta) isn’t a word that is translated in the textbooks, but when you’re surrounded by Brazilians, you’ll hear it left and right.
The sound is an interjection that expresses either satisfaction or fear, depending on the situation.
5. Fica à vontade
Literally: “Be at your will” or “Be at your desire.”
If you’re entering someone’s home, Brazilians use this phrase to tell you to make yourself feel at home.
If you’re entering a store, this same phrase translates more to “Take your time, go at your own pace.”
6. Não Tô Nem Ai
Literally: “I’m not even there.”
Não tô nem ai (now-to-neyng-eye-ee) is an informal way of saying “I don’t even care”(or “I couldn’t care less“).
But be careful! I don’t care is very versatile in English, whereas in Portuguese, you have a different expression for each sentiment.
For example, if you want to say “I don’t care about where we eat“, the expression is da igual (“it’s the same”, literally: “it gives equal”) or não ligo (“I don’t care”, literally: “I don’t connect”).
On the other hand, if you want to say “I don’t care” in the sense that “It is not a big deal”, the expression would be não importa (“It’s not important.”)
7. Sei la
Literally: “I know over there.“
Brazilians often insist that this phrase translates to “Whatever”, but it is far more flexible than the likes of the word “Whatever.”
Most often, it means “Who knows?” For example:
Gabriel: Por que ele fez isso?! (“Why did he do that?”)
Mateus: Sei la mano (“Who knows, man.”)
It can also be used to mean “I have no idea.“ For example:
Gabriel: Sei la o que vou fazer mano… (“I have no idea what I’m going to do man.”)
In a more aggressive way, it can also mean it doesn’t matter or who cares. For example:
Gabriel: O que deveria fazer? (“What should I do?”)
Mateus: Sei la cara, o problema é seu (“I don’t care bro, it’s your problem.”)
Key takeaway? To sound more fluent, try tune your ears to hear sei la and incorporate it into your vocab.
8. Nossa (Senhora)!
Literally: “Our (lady)!”
Nossa (no-sah) is used as an exclamation for everything good, bad, exciting, scary – you name it. But where does this phrase come from?
In the largest country in South America with a population of approximately 210 million, 90% of Brazilians identify as Christians.
This culture seeps into their slang and colloquialism, evolving into several different ways to say “Oh my God!” in Brazilian Portuguese, such as:
- Meu Deus! (“My God!”)
- Nossa Senhora! (“Our Lady!”, referring to the Virgin Mary, often shortened to Nossa)
- Deus do Céu! (“God of Heaven!”, often drawn out with every syllable pronounced)
- Ave Maria! (from the famous Ave Maria, often shortened to aff)
This is an informal, slang way of saying “Bye” in lieu of the typical Brazilian Tchau.
Take this chat between Gabriel and Maria as an example that you might hear in the street…
Gabriel: Tchau, até mais! (“Bye, see you later!”)
Marcela: Falou! (“Bye!”)
Literally: “It was worth it.”
Valeu (val-ay-o) comes from the verb valer (“to be worth, value”). It is an informal way of saying obrigado/a (“thank you”) in Brazilian Portuguese. Sometimes Brazilians combine the two: Valeu, obrigado!
E ai? Are You Ready for Brazilian Portuguese Level 2?
At Pimsleur, we love exploring language through culture so that language-learners can receive the most complete learning experience.
To learn more funny Portuguese expressions, check out our guide to Brazilian Soccer Expressions, or if you’re ready to become conversational in Portuguese, try the Full Pimsleur Portuguese (Brazilian) Premium Course for 7 days Free!