Mas vs Mais in Portuguese: This seems to be a source of endless confusion, including among Brazilians. It is, however, super easy for English speakers to learn the difference between these two words and always get it right. I have a handy tip to help you with that.
Here is how to remember Mas vs Mais in Portuguese
Mas = but. Notice that both words have three letters.
Mais = more, plus. Notice that both words have four letters, which means they have more letters than mas. In other words, they have three letters plus one. Get it?
That’s my trick to help you always remember which one is which.
Here are examples using Mas:
1. Eu queria malhar hoje, mas estou com dor de cabeça. = I wanted to work out today, but I have a headache.
2. Camila vai sair do trabalho. Ela gosta da empresa e do time dela, mas recebeu uma proposta melhor para trabalhar em outro lugar. = Camila will leave her job. She likes her company and her team, but she got a better offer to work elsewhere.
3. Cláudio adora viajar, mas morre de medo de andar de avião. = Cláudio loves to travel, but is terrified of flying.
And here are examples with Mais:
1. Você sabe quantas pessoas vêm para a reunião? Você acha que precisamos de mais cadeiras? = Do you know how many people are coming to the meeting? Do you think we need more chairs?
2. Vou tomar mais um café. Estou precisando de mais energia. = I’m going to have one more coffee. I’m in need of more energy.
3. Cinco mais cinco são dez. = Five plus five is ten.
4. O que mais você quer? = What else (more) do you want?
Pronunciation of Mas and Mais in Portuguese
What makes these words even more confusing is that they are pronounced the same way in many parts of Brazil. In northeastern Brazil, for example, words that end in “as” are pronounced as if they have an extra “i” there.
Here is the pronunciation of mais:
And here is how I say mas:
They sound exactly the same.
In southern Brazil, it is different. They pronounce a clearer mas, without that extra “i”:
When MAIS indicates intensity
The first lines of the famous song Garota de Ipanema go like this:
“Olha que coisa mais linda, mais cheia de graça…”
In this sentence, mais is used to indicate intensity. I would translate this sentence as:
Look how she is so pretty, so full of grace…
This is a common use of mais. Here are additional examples:
1. Que ideia mais louca! = What a crazy idea!
2. Olha que gato mais lindo. = Look how beautiful this cat is.