People are the soul of a country. You can’t really say you explored a country until you speak to its people. For example, if you travel to a Portuguese-speaking country, you don’t even need to speak fluent Portuguese. Just some basic words and phrases like Olá! (“hello” in Portuguese), Obrigado / Obrigada (“thank you” in Portuguese), Bom Dia! (“good morning”) or Como vai? (“how are you?”) are enough to spark conversations with the natives. Nobody will judge you if you don’t speak Portuguese to perfection. On the contrary! They will appreciate your effort.
So next time you go on an adventure to one of the 7 countries where Portuguese is the only official language (Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe), try the following Portuguese greetings and see how easy it is to connect with someone even if you don’t speak the same language.
1. How to say “hello” in Portuguese
“Hello” is a powerful word. It opens doors. It makes people smile. And said the right way and at the right time, “hello” can impact someone’s day and you wouldn’t even know it. So here are the right ways to say “hello” in Portuguese and open doors everywhere you go.
“Hello” in Portuguese – Olá!
Olá is the best choice for most social situations regardless of the person you are addressing. It’s somehow formal, but also friendly.
Be careful with your Portuguese pronunciation though! A lot of people accidentally mistake Portuguese for Spanish. You don’t want to do that. Just say “OH-lah” and everybody from Brazil to Mozambique will understand that you are saying “hello” in Portuguese.
“Hi” in Portuguese – Oi!
Friendly and very informal, Oi! is one of the most common ways to greet your friends in Brazil (people from Portugal use it as well, but not as much as olá). This is how you could greet your mates and close colleagues, but never the people you don’t really know. Don’t stress it tough! When the time comes, you will feel and just know what’s the required Portuguese greeting for that particular situation.
“How are you” in Portuguese – Como estás?
Asking someone how they are doing is probably just as important as saying “hello”. Sometimes you don’t even expect an answer. This is just an even nicer way to greet someone. So let’s see the many ways Portuguese-speaking people ask someone how they are doing depending on the context.
- Tudo bem? – How are you? – suitable for both formal and informal situations. Literally translates to “everything well?”.
- Como está? / Como vai? – How are you? / How do you do? – usually added immediately after the greeting, these are the right ways to address someone in a formal situation.
- Como estás? / Como vais? – How are you? / How are you doing? – these are informal versions of the above mentioned “how are you”. They are mainly used in Portugal.
- Tem passado bem? – Have you been well? – perfect for formal situations. Literally translates to “have you been well?”.
- E aí? – What’s up? – rather than accompany Oi or Olá, E aí is used as an informal substitute mainly in Brazil. In Portugal, young people will greet you saying “como é que é?” (“how is it?”).
- Como vão as coisas? – How’s everything? – informal and suitable for casual use with your friends or equals. Literally translates to “how are things?”.
- Como você está? / Como vai você? – How are you? / How are you doing? – although you can come across “você” in European Portuguese in extremely formal situations, this pronoun is the signature of Brazil where it translates to “you”. Thus, these phrases are informal and suitable to be used with friends, close colleagues and family.
- Beleza? – What’s up? – universally informal and perfect for greeting close friends. It literally translates to “what’s going on with your life?”
- Quanto tempo! – Long time no see! – Used the same as in English.
- Como foi o seu dia? – How’s your day? – Used the same as in English.
2. “Bom dia!” and other Portuguese greetings for certain moments of the day
Good morning in Portuguese – Bom dia! – literally meaning “good day”, this greeting is widely used between approximately 5:30 am and 12:00 – 1:00 pm. If you are in Brazil, you should say “bom GEE-a” and if you are in Portugal, you should sound like this: “bom DEE-a”.
Good afternoon in Portuguese – Boa tarde! – Used between lunchtime and sunset, boa tarde in pronounced “boa TAHR-g,” in Brazilian Portuguese and “boa TAHR-d.” in European Portuguese.
Good night in Portuguese – Boa noite! – The Portuguese language does not make any difference between evening and night. Thus, “goodnight” and “good evening” have the same translation in Portuguese. While in Brazil you will say “boa NOEE-tsh”, in Portugal you will say “boa NOEE-t”.
All three of these are safe to use in any kind of interaction (formal or informal).
3.“Goodbye” in Portuguese – Adeus!
The most common way to say “Goodbye” in Portuguese is Adeus, but you can also use Tchau which simply translates to “bye”.
The same as “hello”, Adeus can be used safely in all kinds of situations (formal or informal), but with Tchau you should be careful as it should not be used in formal situations like meetings or job interviews.
If you want to add a “see you later” to your “goodbye” in Portuguese, you can say até mais tarde.
Or, if you want to say to someone that you’ll see them soon, in Portuguese you say até mais, até logo or até breve.
Another useful phrase for bidding farewell is “have a good day”. In Portuguese, that’s tenha um bom dia.
Bonus: other basic Portuguese phrases that you should know
Now that you know how to greet in Portuguese, shouldn’t you also master basic words like “yes”, “no” or “thank you” in Portuguese? Let’s kill two birds with one stone and see how a basic conversation in Portuguese should sound like:
- Hello! – Olá!
- How are you? – Como está?
- Very good. Thank you – Bem, obrigado. E você? (or tu for European Portuguese)
- Everything is fine. – Está tudo bom.
- What is your name? – Qual é o seu nome?
- My name is Mondly. – Meu nome é Mondly.
- Nice to meet you. – Muito prazer.
- Where are you from? – De onde você é?
- I am from _____. – Sou de _____.
- Please. – Por favor.
- Thank you. – Obrigado (for men) and Obrigada (for women)
- You’re welcome. – De nada.
- I’m sorry. – Desculpe.
- Excuse me. – Com licença.
- No problem. – Não há problema.
- Yes. – Sim.
- No. – Não.
Here’s how to speak Portuguese in 2 minutes a day
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