5 Brazilian Phrases to Instantly Improve Your Portuguese

5 Brazilian Phrases to Instantly Improve Your Portuguese. Portuguese lesson by Luciana from Street Smart Brazil.

I’m thrilled to share with you five powerful Brazilian Portuguese phrases that will instantly elevate your language skills and impress your friends – which is always fun, right? These phrases are not only popular but also highly expressive, helping you sound more natural and confident in your conversations.

Each of these phrases uses the present subjunctive and future subjunctive forms of verbs. Specifically, the first instance of the verb is in the present subjunctive, and the second instance is in the future subjunctive. But don’t worry! You don’t need to dive deep into grammar to use these phrases effectively. These phrases remain constant and are used the same way every time.

In this post, I’ll explain the meaning of each phrase, provide an example for each, and show you how to use them in a dialogue. Let’s get started!

5 Brazilian Phrases to Improve Your Portuguese

Tip to use these phrases correctly:

These expressions are used to talk about present or future situations due to the use of the present subjunctive and future subjunctive verb tenses.

While it is possible to use these expressions with past situations, the verbs in the expressions would need to be in different tenses.

However, we are focusing on their most common use in present and future contexts. This approach keeps things simple and practical for everyday conversations.

1. Aconteça o que acontecer

Aconteça o que acontecer = Come what may. No matter what happens.

“Aconteça o que acontecer” is commonly used to emphasize a person’s determination to proceed with an action, no matter what challenges may arise. It conveys a strong commitment to completing a task or pursuing a goal, regardless of any difficulties or unforeseen circumstances that could potentially interfere. Essentially, it underscores an unwavering resolve to do something, come hell or high water.

  • Vou terminar este projeto, aconteça o que acontecer. (I will finish this project, no matter what happens.)
  • Aconteça o que acontecer, estarei disponível pra te ajudar. (Come what may. I will be available to help you.)

2. Haja o que houver

Haja o que houver = Come what may. No matter what happens.

Both “haja o que houver” and “aconteça o que acontecer” mean the same thing. Only here we are using the verb “haver”.

  • Seguiremos o plano, haja o que houver. (We will follow the plan, come what may.)
  • Haja o que houver, estarei disponível pra te ajudar. (Come what may. I will be available to help you.)

3. Seja quem for

Seja quem for = Whoever it may be

We use this expression when the specific identity of a person isn’t relevant to the situation or outcome being discussed. It suggests that the action or decision at hand applies universally, regardless of which individual might be involved or affected. It’s as if to say, “It doesn’t matter who the person is…” emphasizing the irrelevance of personal identity in the context.

  • Estou exausta. Hoje não quero falar com mais ninguém, seja quem for.  (I am exhausted. Today I don’t want to talk to anyone else, whoever it may be.”)
  • O telefone toca: Seja quem for telefonando, não vou atender. (The phone rings: Whoever is calling, I am not going to answer.)

4. Doa em quem doer

Doa em quem doer = No matter whom it hurts

This expression is used to express the idea that an action will be taken or a decision will be made regardless of the negative impact it may have on others. It’s an acknowledgment that the consequences might be difficult for some people to accept, but the speaker believes the action is essential and must be carried out.

  • Vamos tomar essa decisão, doa em quem doer. (We will make this decision, no matter whom it hurts.)
  • Doa em quem doer, eles vão dizer a verdade. (No matter whom it hurts, they will tell the truth.)

5. Custe o que custar

Custe o que custar  = At any cost. No matter what it takes.

This phrase conveys a deep level of commitment to achieving a goal or carrying out a plan, regardless of the difficulties or sacrifices that may be involved. It means that the speaker is prepared to face whatever hardship, loss, challenges, or consequences that may arise in the pursuit of their objective. The “cost” referred to can be financial, but it can also be metaphorical, representing any sort of sacrifice such as time, effort, personal comfort, or relationships.

  • Vou alcançar meus objetivos, custe o que custar. (I will achieve my goals, no matter what it takes.)
  • Custe o que custar, eu vou proteger minha família. (No matter what it takes, I will protect my family.)

See the expressions in context in a dialogue

Here’s a dialogue incorporating all these expressions, which might occur in a team meeting:

Paulo: Então está resolvido. Vamos adotar a nova estratégia de marketing. Temos que ter a nova campanha pronta até sexta-feira, aconteça o que acontecer.

Marta: E se João não concordar com o novo rumo?

Paulo: É possível que tenhamos opiniões contrárias, mas precisamos fazer isso. Essa decisão é necessária doa em quem doer.

Marta: Sim, temos que alcançar nossa meta custe o que custar.

(O telefone de Paulo toca.)

Paulo: Não vou atender agora seja que for.

Marta: Quero que você saiba que vou apoiar sua decisão haja o que houver.

Translation:

Paulo: So it’s settled. We’ll adopt the new marketing strategy. We need to have the new campaign ready by Friday, come what may.

Marta: And if João doesn’t agree with the new direction?

Paulo: It’s possible that we’ll have opposing opinions, but we need to do this. This decision is necessary, no matter whom it hurts.

Marta: Yes, we have to reach our goal at any cost.

(Paulo’s phone rings.)

Paulo: I’m not going to answer that now, whoever it may be.

Marta: I want you to know that I’ll support your decision, no matter what happens.

Happy practicing! Keep these phrases handy to use them at just the right moment.


Learn 15 Brazilian sayings to boost your Portuguese. Free handout by Street Smart Brazil.

Easily incorporate 15 everyday expressions into your vocabulary! These expressions exist in both English and Portuguese, but with a twist.

Sometimes, a slight difference in wording can lead to mistakes. Other times, the same idea is expressed with completely different phrases.

Download your free handout now and enrich your language skills! 👇🏼

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