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Brazilian Portuguese: Lesson 1

Olá! Are you a total beginner and would like to start learning Portuguese?

How about your very first right here, right now? Unfortunately, it will not be as dynamic as it would be if we were having a 1:1 lesson but it gives you an idea how it could be.

How do you greet your co-workers when you get to work and the clock shows 8:00 am? - Bom dia!

What do you say between 12 pm and 5:59 pm?

- Boa tarde!

You finished work! Oba! It is 6pm, what do you say?

- Boa noite!

If it is an informal situation you may also say oi or olá. You will talk more about them later.

Now we are going to see very useful sentences you may use in your usual in your language lessons or when you visit your Brazilian friend and in-laws ;)

In order to be polite, you could use these very important terms:

- Com licença [excuse me] - You could use this to call the waiter's attention or to ask someone to move over because you need to get through.

- Por favor [please] - when you make a polite request

- Desculpe [sorry] - when you need to apologize for something you have done, or simple to call the waiter, for example. Some people may use desculpai, which is also fine here.

- Obrigado [thank you] said by a man - when a man is grateful, that's what he says

- Obrigada [thank you] said by a woman - when a woman is grateful

- De nada [you're wecome] - that's what you reply when someone says obrigada(o).

What would you say in the following situation?

It seems like the boy wants to get in, right? In this case, he probably should say:

- Com licença, posso entrar?

What could the lady say? - Claro!

- Entre!

- Pode entrar!

There are other options, but these are the most used ones.

Have you noticed the words posso and pode?

They are both conjugations of the verb poder in the present tense. Take a look:

Presente do Indicativo:

Eu posso [I can]

Você pode [you can - singular]

Nós podemos [we can]

Vocês podem [you can - plural]

Poder is the verb you are going to use every time you need to ask permission to do something or request someone to do something for you. For example:

(Eu) posso entrar? [Can I come in?]

(Você) pode abrir a janela, por favor? [Can you open the window, please?]

So, next time you need to come into your friend's room or your in-law's living room, you could say:

Com licença, posso entrar?

Let's say you are thirsty and would like them to give you a glass of water.

- Pode me dar um copo de água, por favor?

What could they say next?

- Claro!

- Só um minuto... aqui está!

So you can politely reply:

- Obrigado(a)

Now, you are at a restaurant and you need to know where the toilets / the restroom is.

- Com licença, onde fica o banheiro?

The waiter (garçon) will probably point at the direction:

- Por ali. [That way}

- Fica atrás do bar. [It is behind the bar].

Which other ways do you think he/she could you give directions?

What if your teacher says something you really do not understand what she said:

You could say:

- Desculpe, não entendi.

- Como?

But please avoid saying: Que?!

We do tend to say it among friends but you need to make sure they are totally informal and Ok with you using this term. Otherwise, you may be seen as rude.

You could also use:

- O que isso significa? [What does it mean?]

- Como se diz isso em português? [How do you say this in Portguuese?]

- Como se soletra isso? [How do you spell it?]

Did you notice how we do not write the word português with a capital letter?

Let's imagine you got to Brazil and you need to ask someone to help you with something... anything... how would you ask him/her to help you?

- Você pode me ajudar por favor? [Can you help me please?]

But... what if it was an emergency... could you simply say Ajuda! [Help]

Well.... yes, we would understand you need assistance with something, and that it is probably an emergency if you screaming. However, if you were hurt, for example?

- Socorro! [Help!]

I guess that's it for today.

How do you feel about this opening lesson? Every lesson with a different student goes in a way. We often find ourselves discussing topics, vocabulary or structure that was not on the plan. As long as it is not going to interfere in your learning process negatively, I do not see why we cannot comment on them as and when they happen. What do you think?

Leave your comments below.

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