Brazilian Portuguese Phrases You Need To Know Before You Visit Brazil

Campinas is one of the most populous cities in Brazil and attracts people from far and wide
Campinas is one of the most populous cities in Brazil and attracts people from far and wide | © Gustavo Rezende Santos / Alamy Stock Photo
Sarah Brown

Brazilian Portuguese is essentially Portuguese, yet with local colloquialisms that differentiate it slightly from other Portuguese-speaking countries (think of the difference between American and British English, it’s similar). If you have your dream holiday to Brazil coming up, it’s handy to arrive armed with the following essential phrases. Brazilians love it when tourists try speaking Portuguese, so have a go and make some new friends in the process.

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‘Oi’ literally just means ‘hi’ in Portuguese, and has no similarity to the dismissive and rude ‘oi’ in English. It is more informal than ‘ola’ that means ‘hello’ but it’s used in almost every situations from in shops and on public transport, to greeting friends or business acquaintances. Whenever you meet someone, greet them with an ‘oi’.

Tudo bem?

Literally translating to ‘Everything well?’, it is the most common way to ask ‘how are you?’ and usually follows after ‘oi’. So when you meet someone, try greeting them with ‘oi, tudo bem?’. The most common reply, independent on how you really are feeling, is ‘tudo bem’. The reply is exactly the same as the question, just the intonation changes.


‘Obrigado’ means ‘thank you.’ As Portuguese is a gender-based language, men say ‘obrigado’ with an ‘o’ at the end, and women say ‘obrigada’ with an ‘a’ at the end. This is the rule in any context. Sometime you may hear the more informal ‘valeu’ that translates to ‘cheers’ and is common between friends and in more social situations. There is a variation on ‘obrigado’ which is ‘obrigadão’, literally translating to ‘big thanks!’ yet it is not so common.

Quero a conta, por favor

‘Quero a conta, por favor’ literally translates to ‘I want the bill, please.’ In Portuguese, it is more common to ask for things with ‘I want’ (Quero) which is odd to English speakers who tend to favor ‘ Could I have’. To ask this in Portuguese though sounds strange, so best to stick with the verb, I want (Querer). A slightly more polite way would be ‘Queria a conta, por favor’, which roughly translates to ‘I would want the bill, please’, yet either way is perfectly accepted.

Fica à vontade

You will here this expression in shops or when you enter people’s homes. It means ‘feel free’. When you go in someone’s home it will have the sense of ‘make yourself at home’ and in shops it has the feel of ‘feel free to browse through the items’.

Vá com Deus

This is a charming expression that means ‘Go with God’ and is said after saying goodbye to someone. It has the sense of ‘take care and may you be protected by God’.

Nossa Senhora!

This is used as an exclamation when you hear some bad or shocking news, when you see something that is surprising or when you want to complain about a situation that is particularly frustrating. It translates to ‘Our Lady!’ and is used in the sense of ‘Oh my God!’. It is often shortened to just ‘Nossa’, sometimes even just ‘noss’ when used in the middle of a conversation. ‘Nossa Senhora’ is used in full for a particularly shocking moment.

Com licença

This literally translates to ‘with license’ but has the meaning of ‘excuse me’. It’s a handy phrase to know when you want to get off a crowded bus or metro; saying ‘com licença’ will help you get through the crowds.


‘Desculpa’ means ‘sorry’ and is used when you bump into someone or say something wrong. If someone has bad news, you wouldn’t say ‘desculpa’ in this context, but ‘me sinto muito’ which means ‘sorry’ in English with a literal translation of ‘I feel a lot.’


You will hear these words everywhere on the streets. Both expressions mean ‘cool’ or ‘ok’ or ‘sounds good’, yet ‘legal’ is used more often when the meaning is ‘cool’, as in ‘that’s cool.’ They are informal expressions and used as a part of everyday life.

Que saudades

‘Saudades’ roughly translates to ‘I miss you/something’ yet has a deep sense of longing. However, it is used so often in Brazil that you may have ‘saudades’ for someone you met for a short time. ‘Que saudades’ is an exclamation of how much you miss someone or something. After you leave Brazil, you can say ‘Que saudades do Brasil!’ which means ‘I miss Brazil so much!’

Um Beijo/Um abraço

‘Um beijo’ means ‘a kiss’ and ‘um abraço’ means ‘a hug.’ They are common ways to say goodbye, with women using ‘um beijo’ to other woman and men, whereas men tend to use ‘um beijo’ just for women and ‘um abraço’ just for men. So when you are leaving, you can say ‘Tchau, um beijo!’ which means, ‘goodbye, a kiss!’

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