Just like its people, the Portuguese language is very courteous. Below are just some of the ways in which to express basic, everyday courtesy in Portuguese:
In Portuguese, please can be por favor or se faz favor. They’re both equally correct and used in the same situations. Example:
Poderia trazer-me água, por favor? Could you bring me some water, please?
We Portuguese tend to shorten words whenever we can. So don’t be confused if instead of se faz favor you hear ´faz favor in fast, informal speech.
The Portuguese expression is: Obrigado Obliged
It’s said to be a leftover from an expression that went more or less like “I am obliged (obrigado) to return your favor”. In fact, the English expression “much obliged” has the exact same meaning and would be an accurate translation of muito obrigado.
Because you are the one who feels obliged to return the favour, the word obrigado must reflect your own gender, not that of the person you’re talking to. (Even native speakers sometimes mistakenly apply the listener’s gender to the word, perhaps due to not knowing its origin.) So remember: male speakers should always say obrigado and female speakers, obrigada.
Obrigado pela tua ajuda. Thank you for your help. male speaking
Obrigada pelos presentes. Thank you for the gifts. female speaking
After hearing an obrigado/obrigada, you have a couple of different options for saying “you’re welcome” in Portuguese:
- De nada – It’s the shortest and most used response in Portuguese, in any context. You could think of it as a reduction of “you are obliged to nothing”.
- Não tens de quê (casual) or Não tem de quê (formal) – Also commonly heard. It’s like saying, in short, that the other person has nothing to be thankful for.
You might eventually hear other alternatives, such as Com certeza Of course, sure or even a lively Ora essa! Oh, please!. Now let’s put it all together:
Muito obrigada por tudo! Thank you for everything!
De nada! You're welcome!
Sorry & Excuse Me
Desculpa (informal) I'm sorry or Desculpe (formal) I'm sorry is a versatile expression which you can use to apologize, to politely ask for someone’s attention, or to excuse yourself as you walk around someone.
For a more specific way to say “excuse me” you also have Com licença Excuse me. There are lots of ways to respond to a com licença, from a formal Faça favor Please to a mere Claro Sure. Examples: Desculpa, eu não te queria magoar. I'm sorry, I didn't want to hurt you.
Desculpe, quanto custa isto? Excuse me, how much does this cost?
Com licença, minha senhora. Excuse me, ma'am.
When you want to say sorry simply as a way to express compassion, you would say Eu lamento I'm sorry. If the person is sick and you want to wish them a swift recovery, you can say As melhoras Get well soon.
Example: Lamento que tu estejas doente. As melhoras! I'm sorry that you're sick. Get well soon!
Finally, when you want to congratulate people for any reason, you can say Parabéns Congratulations. It’s also a way of wishing someone a happy birthday.
Parabéns pelo teu prémio! Congratulations on your award!
É o teu aniversário? Parabéns! Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!