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Basic Greetings

Basic Greetings

Click on the highlighted words to hear them pronounced.

English Portuguese Pronunciation/Notes
 
Hello Olá Olah – This is quite an informal greeting.
 
How are you? (formal) Como está? Komu eshta? – You often say things differently depending on whether you are speaking formally or informally.  Speak formally to people you meet for the first time, people older than you, or as a general sign of respect.
 
How are you? (informal) Como estás? Komu eshtazh? – This is the informal variation, which is only used with people you know well, family members, children, or people significantly younger than yourself.
 
I’m OK, thank you. Estou bem, obrigado/a Eshtoh baym[ng], Obrigahdu/a – lit. ‘I am well, thank you.’  This is perhaps the most common response to the above question.  For ‘thank you’, men say ‘obrigado’, women say ‘obrigada’ (regardless of whether the person they are talking to is male or female). More on this later.
 
I am fine Estou ó[p]timo/a

Eshtoh ohtimu/a – note that the ‘p’ in ‘optimo’ (fine) is virtually silent (the Brazilian spelling, without a ‘p’, was adopted in the Portuguese orthographic agreement, so technically it should be omitted when writing). Again, whether to use ‘optimo’ or ‘optima’ depends on your own gender.

 
Is everything OK? Tudo bem? Toodu baym[ng]? – lit. ‘everything well?’  Note:  This is probably the most common greeting in Portuguese - it is used much more frequently than ‘como está?’ (this is true in Portugal, despite it being a Brazilian expression).
 
Yes (everything is ok) Tudo [bem] Toodu – lit. ‘everything [well].’  The ‘bem’ is optional when replying to the above question.
 
Not too bad Mais ou menos Myze oh menush – lit. ‘more or less.’  Use this response if you want to indicate that you are a little ‘under the weather’.
 
Pleased to meet you Prazer Prazair – lit. ‘pleasure.’
 
Very pleased to meet you Muito prazer M[ng]wee[ng]tu Prazair – lit. ‘much pleasure.’  The word ‘muito’ has a very nasal sound, which kind of breaks the rules of pronunciation!  Sometimes it can sound more like ‘moitu’, depending on the accent of the speaker.
 
Good Morning Bom dia Bom[ng] deeya – lit. ‘Good day’ – a slightly more formal greeting than Olá – generally used up until about noon.
 
Good Afternoon Boa tarde Boa tarde (after about midday)
 
Good Evening Boa noite Boa noite – note that the same word, noite, is used for both evening and night.  Switch from saying ‘boa tarde’ to ‘boa noite’ around sunset.
 
Good Night Boa noite Boa noite
 
Note:  You can mix Olá with bom dia, boa tarde, boa noite to make another fairly informal greeting (e.g. Olá, bom dia)
 
Goodbye Adeus Adayush – lit. ‘To God’.  Note that you can use bom dia, boa tarde, and boa noite to say goodbye as well.
 
‘Seeya’ Tchau/Chau Chow – this is a Brazilian expression (an orthographical adaptation of the Italian word ‘ciao’, probably introduced to Brazil by Italian immigrants), but is widely used by Portuguese as well (apparently some people also spell it ‘Xau’).
 
See you later (same day) Até logo Atay logu – lit. ‘until straight away’.
 
See you later (another day) Até amanhã Atay aman[ng]yah – lit. ‘until tomorrow’ – used even if you won’t actually see the person for a few days.
 
See you soon Até já Atay zhah – lit. ‘until already’ – you get the idea!
 
See you next time Até a próxima Atay a prossima
 
Yes Sim Sim[ng]
 
No Não Now[ng] – can also mean ‘not’ or ‘don't’.
 
Please Se faz favor Se fazh favor – often shortened to ‘faz favor’
  Por favor Por favor - another alternative
 
Thank you Obrigado Obrigahdu – only said by males *
  Obrigada Obrigahda – only said by females *
 
Thank you very much Muito obrigado/a M[ng]wee[ng]tu Obrigahdu/a

To say ‘you're welcome’ (as a response to ‘thank you’) in Portuguese is ‘de nada’ (literally, ‘of nothing’ - which doesn’t seem to make sense, but there you go). In other circumstances (eg. when someone arrives at your home), ‘welcome’ would be ‘bem vindo/a’ (or more formally to a large group ‘boas vindas’). The verb ‘to welcome’ is ‘acolher’.

* There is some debate about the correct usage of the words obrigado and obrigada. The usage indicated above is by far the most common way the words are used, that is, men always say obrigado and women always say obrigada. This usage implies that the word is being used as an adjective to describe the one speaking (literally meaning ‘obliged’).

Technically , it can be argued that the word obrigado, when used on its own to say ‘thank you’, is an interjection, not an adjective (in the same way that the word ‘hello’ is an interjection). Under this school of thought, both men and women should say obrigado regardless of whether they are addressing a man or a woman. Whilst this is probably the ‘correct’ usage, it is hardly ever encountered. Of course, if you are male, it doesn’t really matter as you would say obrigado anyway.

In some regions, particularly the Algarve, it is common for both men and women to use both obrigado and obrigada - switching between them depending on the gender of the person they are talking to. However, this usage does not seem to have any rational technical explanation! I would therefore recommend against that usage unless you happen to live in a region where the locals would be offended if you addressed them differently.

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