Mal dá pra acreditar! Learn Useful Idiomatic Expressions


On the first day of the month I posted the picture above on Facebook:

  • Já é setembro! Mal dá pra acreditar! = It’s already September! I can hardly believe it!

In today’s Portuguese lesson, I will give you a few more examples using:

  • Mal + verb Dar + para

Mal = (1) the opposite of well; (2) evil; (3) illness; (4) damage; harm (5) barely, hardly.

The verb Dar is one you should become very familiar with. Literally it translates as To Give, but what makes it a special verb is that it is used in a number of idiomatic expressions with completely different meanings.

Now let’s see some useful sentences using “Mal dá pra”. Please notice that in the examples below I use “pra” as a short for “para”. This is how we almost always say it in spoken Portuguese in Brazil. 


1) Num show:
Joana: Quanta gente! Mal dá pra ver a banda.

At a concert:
Joana: So many people! I can barely see the band.


2) Dois amigos conversando:
Antônio: Paulinha chegou de viagem. Ela estava na festa ontem. Você a viu?
Carlos:   Vi, mas mal deu pra falar com ela porque saí cedo da festa.

Antônio: Paulinha is back from her trip. She was at the party yesterday. Did you see her?
Carlos:   Yes, but I could barely speak with her because I left the party early.


3) Numa palestra:
Camila: Ele fala muito baixo. Mal dá pra entender o que diz.

At a lecture:
Camila: He speaks too softly. I can barely understand what he says.


4) Falando da vida:
Pedro: As coisas estão muito caras aqui no Brasil. Mal dá pra se viver com o salário mínimo.

Talking about life:
Pedro: Things are very expensive here in Brazil. One can hardly live with the minimum wage.


5) Em casa, depois do trabalho:
Melissa: Tive um dia daqueles! Mal deu tempo pra tomar um café.

Melissa: I had one of those days! I barely had time to have a cup of coffee.


In all the examples above, you can also translate “mal dá/deu para…” as: “it is/was barely possible to…”.

Stay tuned for additional Portuguese lessons with Mal. In my next post I will show you the relationship and the differences between mal, bem, mau, and bom. And in a following lessons I will teach you how to use Mal with other verbs.


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