You’ve had a long day and you’re feeling kind of tired. How do you express this idea of “kind of” in Portuguese? One way to do this is to use meio followed by the adjective that describes how you feel. But here is where so many people, including Brazilians, get it wrong: If you are a woman, do you say meio or meia cansada?
This is easy to get right! In this Portuguese lesson I will tell you when to use meio or meia in Portuguese.
In fact, you will learn everything about the word meio, which also has other translations and uses.
If you want to skip straight to meio meaning kind of, scroll down past the different meanings of meio. If you want to understand the whole picture, keep reading.
And before we get into the real deal here, I want to get this out of our way:
- Meia = sock
- Meias = socks
As such, the word meia is a feminine noun.
But this is not what this lesson is about. So, let’s keep going.
Meanings of MEIO in Portuguese
The word meio has different translations into English. It can be a noun, an adjective or an adverb.
Do not worry if you dislike grammar. You don’t need it to get what I will teach in this lesson and to say it right from now on. Simply pay attention at the meaning of meio in the situations below and notice when we can use meio or meia and when we cannot.
Meio meaning means
One of the meaning of meio is means, such as in means of transportation or means of communication. Meio is a masculine noun in this meaning. As such, meio has a plural version (meios), but not a feminine one (see the examples below).
This is true for nouns in general. You can have um computador or two computadores. There is a plural version of computador, but there isn’t a feminine version of it. A computer is masculine in Portuguese. So is meio with the meaning of means of communication, means of transportation or the resources to do something.
I highly recommend that you watch my lessons about the gender of nouns and the gender of adjectives in Portuguese. Understanding the general picture is truly helpful even if you cannot memorize everything in one go.
Here are examples using meio as a noun:
1. Qual é o meio de transporte que você mais usa no seu dia a dia? = What is the means of transportation that you use most in your daily life?
2. Quais são os meios de transporte mais utilizados no seu país? = What are the most used means of transportation in your country?
3. Os meios de comunicação passaram por profundas transformações nas últimas décadas. = Means of communication have undergone profound changes in recent decades.
4. Eu acho que e-mail é o meio de comunicação mais usado hoje no trabalho. = I think e-mail is the most used means of communication at work today.
5. Os fins não justificam os meios. = The end does not justify the means. (Did you notice that in Portuguese we use “fins” in the plural in this saying?)
Meio meaning middle
Meio is a noun when it means middle. It means both middle as in the center of something and middle as in a halfway point.
Meio is a masculine noun when it means middle. Therefore, it may be flexed into the plural, but there is no feminine version.
Below are examples:
1. Eu caí no meio da rua. = I fell in the middle of the street. (true story, oh boy – face slap emoji here)
2. Dá licença! Você está no meio do caminho. = Excuse me! You are in the middle of the way.
3. A viagem é longa. Vamos parar no meio do caminho para comer e esticar as pernas. = The journey is long. We will stop halfway to eat and stretch our legs.
Meio or Meia meaning half (fractional number)
When meio means half of something, it agrees with that something in gender and number. Therefore, we have meio, meios, meia, meias.
In this case, meio is a synonym of metade.
Here are examples:
1. Só bebi meio copo de água. = I only had half a glass of water.
2. Só tomei meia xícara de café. = I only had half a cup of coffee. (This would never be me. I don’t leave any coffee behind 😉)
3. Você tá com fome? Tem meia pizza na geladeira. = Are you hungry? There’s half a pizza in the fridge.
4. Uma garrafa de vinho é muito para eu tomar sozinha. Por isso prefiro comprar meias garrafas. = A bottle of wine is too much for me to drink alone. That’s why I prefer to buy half bottles.
5. Vou almoçar. Já é meio-dia e meia. = I am going to have lunch. It’s half past noon. (In Portuguese, literally: It is midday and a half hour)
6. Vou dormir. É meia-noite. = I am going to sleep. It’s midnight.
7. A reunião durou meia hora. = The meeting lasted half an hour.
8. O evento vai durar meio dia. = The event will last half a day.
Meio meaning kind of, somewhat, a little
The word meio is an adverb when it means kind of, somewhat, a little. As an adverb, it does not vary. It is always meio (masculine, singular).
In this case, meio is a synonym of um pouco.
It is common to see Brazilians getting this wrong. But it is pretty easy for you to remember this: When meio means kind of, sort of, a little in English, it is always just meio (masculine, singular) in Portuguese.
Imagine a stubborn dog or cat. You want your cat to get out of the kitchen counter, but he won’t. True story here for us. When MEIO means kind of, it is that stubborn. It is always meio. You cannot change it.
Below are examples:
1) Ana says: Estou meio cansada hoje. = I am kind of tired today.
2) Paulo: Dora não está encontrando os documentos que entreguei a ela ontem. = Dora can’t find the documents that I gave her yesterday.
Clara: Dora é meio desorganizada = Dora is kind of disorganized.
3) Rafa: Vamos pegar um cineminha hoje? = Let’s catch a movie today.
4) Cecília e Clara estão meio estressadas com o chefe delas. = Cecília and Clara are kind of stressed with their boss.
Parabéns! You’ve done it. Now you need to practice what you have just learned to put it in autopilot.
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This Portuguese lesson was originally posted on February 17, 2015. It has been updated to include additional vocabulary, additional examples, and a video.