5 phrases to sound more natural in Portuguese – Part 1

When learning a language, you might feel frustrated at times because you think you still can’t speak “fluently” or like a “native”. It can be exhausting, but you must remember that it’s part of your learning process to be persistent and determined even when it feels like you will never excel. When it comes to speaking Portuguese, if you don’t get many chances to practise it or if you haven’t been exposed to it enough, you might think you still sound a bit “robotic”. So here are 5 phrases you can use to sound more natural immediately. 


  1. Say “ééééé….” when you’re thinking

In Portuguese, if you want to give yourself time to think, just say “éééé….” (it can be either short or long) instead of  “Hmmm” in English. But remember, we only do it when speaking. 

A: O que vamos fazer hoje? (What are we doing today?)

B: Éééé…. Não sei! Vamos no cinema? (Mmmm.. I don’t know! Shall we go to the cinema?)


A: O que você quer comer? (What do you want to eat?)

B: Ééé… que tal pizza? (Mmm… How about pizza?)


  1. Say “né” to check information

If you need to check information because you either don’t know or because you simply want to make sure you got it correct, just say “né” at the end. It’s the same as “right?” or the question tags in English (isn’t it?, don’t you?,..and so on). 


  • Seu nome é Paulo, né? (Your name’s Paulo, isn’t it?)
  • Ela é de Minas, né? (She’s from Minas, isn’t she?)
  • Você trabalha aqui, né? (You work here, don’t you?)


  1. Say “cara” (Rio) , “mano” or “véi” (São Paulo) when talking to people

These are frequently used all over the country and they literally mean “mate, dude, man”. We usually use them when drawing someone’s attention or when we want to emphasise what we’re saying.


  • Cara, ontem eu fui numa festa muito legal! (Mate, I went to such a nice party yesterday)
  • Eu tava dirigindo e, mano, apareceu uma vaca na minha frente! (I was driving and then, dude, a cow suddenly showed up in front of me!)
  • Eu não acredito nisso, véi! (Man, I can’t believe it!)


  1. When you want to agree with someone, say “aham” [uh-hun]

This is a good one to use when you wish to agree with someone or if you just simply want to show that you’re listening to what someone is saying


A: Hoje tá quente, né? (It’s hot today, isn’t it?)

B: Aham! (It is!)


A: Ontem eu estava trabalhando e aí meu chefe estava muito nervoso (I was working yesterday and my boss was really angry)

B: Aham… e aí? (Oh.. and then what happened?)

A: E aí ele começou a gritar comigo! (and then he started screaming at me!)


  1. Say “ué?” when you feel confused

Sometimes things can happen in a very weird way. Imagine you’re using your phone and then you leave it on the bed for a second, go to the bathroom, come back but then you can’t find your phone anymore. Your first reaction is to feel confused why your phone’s gone as you had literally just put it down! Or imagine you’ve been seeing someone and they seem really happy to be with you. Then all of a sudden, they start ghosting you. You’ll definitely feel confused! This feeling is “ué?” in Portuguese.


A: Eu não quero mais ver esse filme. (I don’t want to see this movie anymore)

B: Ué, mas você que escolheu ele… (What do you mean? You were the one who chose it)


A: Ué, cadê meu carro? (What the…Where’s my car?)


A: Pedro e Mariana terminaram o namoro (Pedro and Mariana have broken up)

B: Ué, mas eles pareciam tão felizes! (Wait, what?… they seemed so happy)


We’ll be posting part 2 very soon so make sure to keep checking our blog out!

And if you haven’t followed us on Instagram, what’s taking you so long?!

Até mais!

Luciana Veloso

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