How to say hello in European Portuguese
Hey folks! Long time no see… today I come to you to teach you how to say “hello” in Portuguese. You might think “But isn’t it just a simple word, and that’s it?” Well, not so fast…
In European Portuguese we have many different ways to greet one another. It can depend on the time of the day, if you want to be more formal or totally informal, and the different weight you are trying to put on that “innocent” greeting.
Ok, if you just want to learn the literal translation of the word “hello” in English, then I can tell you right away – it is “Olá”. However, if you want to know more about it, continue reading.
Depending on the time of the day:
So, depending on the time of the day we are – whether it is morning, afternoon, evening or night – we will adapt our way of greeting people.
In the morning (6h – 12h):
This expression means “Good morning” and we use it as a form to say hello. We can also mix it with “olá”. We can say “Olá, bom dia!”. Actually, that is a really common way of saying it.
Please note that you can use “Bom dia!” also later in the day, but more in a general sense like “I wish you a good day” and not for saying hello.
During the day (12/13h – 19/20h):
This expression means “Good Afternoon” or “Good evening”, if it is already after 6pm. It can also be combined with “Olá”, as in “Olá, boa tarde!”.
At night (19h/20h onwards):
This can mean hello if we are greeting someone that we see for the first time and it literally translates as “Good Evening”. Please note that it can also be used to say “Good Night” when you go to bed, but in that case is not related to saying hello.
Formal ways to say hello in Portuguese
As I previously mention, if we are speaking to a person who we need to treat formally, we will have to use certain expressions that are considered more respectful and polite. Let us take a look at them:
Bom dia!, Boa tarde! and Boa noite! – These three expressions that I have mentioned above are used to greet someone in a more formal way. If you want to be formal, choose this instead of the more simple “Olá”;
If you look this up in other websites and even the dictionary, you can soon understand that it literally translates into “How are you going?” or, put more simply, “How are you?”. However, many times we skip the “hello” part all together and we directly ask “How are you”. For us, this is already a way to say hello, because it is understood by both parts that this is what we mean. In fact, many times we are not even expecting an actual answer from the other person, but it is really just meant as a brief greeting. After saying it, you don’t expect for an answer, but you just keep going on with your life. You have done your job, and you keep moving =)
This works exactly in the same way as “Como vai?”. Please see above.
Sometimes we can also mix and match the expressions above with a brief “Olá” before – as in “Olá, como está?” or “Olá, como vai?”. We can also opt to add “Viva”, which is another way to say hello – as in “Viva, como está?” or “Viva, como vai?”. “Viva” literally means “Live”, but it is a greeting like in “God save”. It means you wish good health to the other person or people.
Informal ways to say hello in Portuguese
If we want to be informal and “normal”, like in everyday interactions with our friends and family, then we can use the following expressions to say hi:
Once again, this is the literal translation of “hello” and it is very informal. We use it a lot and you will probably hear it all the time if you come to Portugal. Try to put the stress right at the end, in the “ó”, because otherwise you might sound a bit Spanish.
This is really informal. “Pá” means something like “dude” or “pal”, so be sure to use it with your Portuguese friends to make them smile. They won’t expect it from you. Do not use it with anyone that is not your friend, though, or with a stranger, because this is really not polite. Ok with close friends, not ok with anyone else!
‘Tá tudo?/ ‘Tás bom?
These expressions are short for “Está tudo bem?” and “Estás bom”, respectively, and we use them also with friends only. It means something like “What’s up?”, so you see my point: it is only meant for close friends. It is fairly common to ask this also as a way to just say “hi”, not expecting any answer in return.
A bit less informal (or “slangish”) than “Tá tudo?” or “Tás bom?”, but still quite informal. You could use it with your family as well, though, unlike the two expressions above. It is also not expected that the other person answers, when used as a simple greeting. The other person can answer or not. Sometimes, two people even say “Tudo bem?” or any of the expressions above at the same time, not waiting for the answer and moving on with their lives. Get the picture?
And this is it for today. What of these expressions do you use the most when speaking Portuguese? Did you know them all?
Please let me know all about it in the comments section below. If you want to know more, drop me a line.