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Conhecer Alguém Pela Primeira Vez

Meeting Someone For The First Time

Follow along as Daniela and João greet each other and introduce themselves.

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  • I’m just looking for a little further clarification about when it’s ok to adress someone you don’t know as “Tu” as the characters do in this dialogue. I’ll be travelling to Portugal for the 1st time (I hope, at last) this fall and I’m not sure if I should just stick to speaking to everyone in the 3rd person or if there are times when that would be weird. Is relative age a big factor? I know you get lots of questions about this topic but I’m still unsure. Thanks for your patience!

    • We’ll cover this in much more detail in the Informal You and Formal You unit. 🙂 It’s is a tricky topic because there aren’t always consistent rules — it comes down to developing a sense of when to use what form over time.

      However, when in doubt, while traveling it’s probably safest to stick to the 3rd person conjugation, since you will likely be interacting with people you don’t know well. So in most cases, you can keep it simple and drop the pronoun (i.e. É de onde?, Quer café?, Pode ajudar-me?). We’ll talk about the other variations in that upcoming unit, though.

      If you’re speaking to a child or if you meet someone about your age in a more casual/friendly setting, you could probably use “tu”.

    • And just to share my own experience… I used the formal form when talking to anyone in a place of business / service setting, like a waiter/waitress, cashier at the supermarket, bank teller, store clerk, etc., regardless of their age. If someone was much older than me, I used the formal form, even if it seemed like a pretty casual interaction.

      My landlord was older than me, but not by much, so I wasn’t sure. We had spoken many times about more than just small talk, so it felt more like talking to a friend. But at some point I used “o senhor” to ask him a question and he joked that I was making him feel old by being so formal. So maybe in that context I could have used “tu” or could have at least dropped “o senhor” to reduce the formality a bit. The bottom line is, it’s hard to know for sure! But most people will understand that you’re learning the language and won’t be offended. 🙂

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