I bet that one of the first words that you learned in Portuguese was Bem, which means well. In fact, my most watched video lesson is the one that tells you what Tudo bem really means.
But we also use Bem a whole lot with a different meaning, and that’s what I’m going to teach you today.
- Bem = very, really as in “very close” or “really tall”
- Bem = right, as in “right here” or “right there”
Here’s an example:
- Essa música é bem romântica. = This song is very romantic.
We Brazilians use Bem like this a whole lot, so it is useful to learn it.
A Tiny Bit of Grammar
Let’s do a tiny bit of grammar review:
- Adjective is a word that expresses an attribute or quality of something (e.g., beautiful, tall, strong).
- Adverb is a word that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb (e.g., slowly, fast, here, there).
Bem takes on the different meanings that I am showing you here when it is placed before and adjective or an adverb. But don’t worry. You will get this even you don’t like grammar.
Using Bem = very, really
Here are examples:
- Adriana é uma excelente assistente executiva. Ela é bem organizada.
= Adriana is an excellent executive assistant. She is very organized.
- Vou tomar um banho bem rápido. Estarei pronta em dez minutos.
= I will take a very quick shower. I’ll be ready in ten minutes.
- Pedro é bem alto. Ele tem quase dois metros de altura.
= Pedro is very tall. He is almost two meters tall.
Using Bem = right
This is commonly the case when Bem is used with adverbs of place.
- Seus óculos estão bem aí na mesa. Não tá vendo?
= Your glasses are right there on the table. Don’t you see them?
- Tenho certeza que deixei meu carro bem aqui. Acho que roubaram meu carro!
= I’m sure I left my car right here. I think my car was stolen!
- Carlinhos mora bem pertinhoda praia.
= Carlinhos lives very close to the beach/right by the beach.
In the last example, notice how I am using the diminutive to further add emphasis to what I am saying. I have a good lesson on the use of diminutives in Portuguese. It’s really useful to know this. Watch the lesson here.
Bom and Bem
Bom and Bem are not the same. These words are not interchangeable. Visit my lesson on Bom and Bem to use the correctly.
This lesson was originally posted in October 2012. It has been updated to include a video and additional examples.