No matter what language you learned first, it’s safe to say you’ve been linguistically lazy at some point. Sometimes we eat our words when speaking or send shorthand text messages, but the important thing is to remember that languages are living things and cutting corners comes with the territory. In Brazilian Portuguese, the case is the same.
A phrase that starts with “dar para” (pra) looks like it means “It gives to” or “It gives for”, but that wouldn’t make much sense. In Brazil, it roughly translates to “Can I/you…” or better yet, “Is it possible…”. When you use this phrase, you’re expressing something that can be done or can’t be done (if in the negative).
Ex. “Dá pra falar agora?” (“Can I/you talk now?”)
If you think that is easy, it gets better. When something doesn’t work out, you can simply say “Não deu”, which would be the same as saying “Não foi possível” (“It wasn’t possible”). Conversely, you can also leave out the “para” when speaking affirmatively.
Ex. “Dá.” (“It’s possible.”)
If you’ve ever dabbled in Romance languages, you may know that French allows for two ways to express “we” (“on” and “nous”). Well, Portuguese allows for the same freedom as well with “nós” and “a gente”. The easier of the two, in my humble opinion, is always “a gente” because it requires the “he/she/it” conjugation of the verb you wish to use. Percentage-wise, I probably use “a gente” around 95% of the time, even though I know how to conjugate verbs into the “nós” form. What I’m not sure about is if I learned this from Brazilians or if I naturally tend towards the simpler option. See Luciana’s video and a post I did on the matter for more information.
Ex. “A gente comeu” (“We ate”)
Ex. “Nós comemos” (“We ate”)
The pronoun “tu” with the incorrect third-person verb form has fallen into popular use in recent years (correct me if it has been longer). At first, it was relegated to uneducated Brazilians but the phenomenon reached to people of all levels of education and economic background. Luckily, “você” as a pronoun is still going strong and I’m pretty sure it won’t be dying out.
Ex. “Tu acha?” (“You think?”)
Speaking of the example above, what do you think about keeping things simple? I’m all for breaking the rules, as long as I don’t lose sight of the actual rules themselves. Fluency doesn’t always pertain to a subject matter. Sometimes it speaks to flexibility, too.
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