Tocar a vida & more: 4 Brazilian Expressions with Tocar

Tocar a vida & more: 4 Brazilian Expressions with Tocar. Portuguese lesson by Luciana from Street Smart Brazil

Don’t you love how idiomatic expressions can convey so much meaning in just a few words? They also make your communication sound more natural and clear. That’s exactly what you’ll find with these four Brazilian expressions with tocar. If you thought tocar just meant “to play” or “to touch”, you’re in for a surprise.

The Basics of Tocar

Before we dive in our exploration of Brazilian expressions using tocar, let’s briefly touch upon the basic meanings of the verb.

Tocar is primarily known to learners of Portuguese as meaning to produce sounds or play music. For example:

  • Você toca a campainha. = You ring the doorbell.
  • Você pede ao DJ para tocar sua música favorita. = You ask the DJ to play your favorite song.
  • You can tell your spouse that their phone is ringing:  Seu telefone está tocando.
  •  You may be learning to play the guitar, which is tocar violão in Portuguese.

Tocar also means to touch, as in the following examples:

  • Esse filme me tocou. = This movie touched me.
  • In a museum, you might see a sign that says “Do not touch the objects”, which in Portuguese is Não toque nos objetos.
  • Or, you might encounter a piece of equipment with a tag advising not to touch the wires: Não toque nos fios.

Now let’s explore the four Brazilian expressions with tocar that I promised you.

4 Handy Brazilian Expressions with Tocar

1. Tocar o Barco

Literally translating to “to play the boat”, this expression has nothing to do with boats or playing.

Instead, it means to keep things moving forward, to proceed, or to carry on, especially in the face of adversity.

The closest English expression would be “to keep the ball rolling”, “to carry on” or “to move on”.

Here are examples:

1) Mesmo com todas as dificuldades financeiras que enfrentamos no momento, precisamos tocar o barco e buscar soluções.

= Even with all the financial difficulties we are facing at the moment, we need to keep going and look for solutions.

2) This is the headline of an article by Brazilian magazine “Contigo!”: “Com azar no amor e solteiro, como Neymar pretende tocar o barco?

= With bad luck in love and single, how does Neymar intend to carry on?

2. Tocar o Negócio

Tocar o negócio literally translates to “to play the business.” However, it specifically refers to managing or running a business or affair.

It’s akin to saying “to run the show” or “to keep the business going” in English.

Here are examples:

1) Joana não esperou por ninguém para realizar seu sonho de ter um restaurante. Ela arregaçou as mangas e tocou o negócio sozinha.

= Joana didn’t wait for anyone to fulfill her dream of having a restaurant. She rolled up her sleeves and ran the business by herself.

2) Com a viagem do proprietário, coube ao gerente tocar o negócio e garantir que tudo corresse bem na ausência do dono.

= With the owner away on a trip, it was up to the manager to keep the business going and ensure everything ran smoothly in the owner’s absence.

3. Tocar a Vida

This expression means to lead or live one’s life, often implying moving forward with resilience and optimism, regardless of the challenges encountered.

It can be equated to “to move on with life” or “to carry on with life”.

You will also see the related expression tocar em frente which also means “to carry on with life”.

There is a beautiful song by Almir Sater called “Tocando em frente”.

Here are examples using the expression:

1) Após o divórcio, ela decidiu que era hora de tocar a vida e buscar a própria felicidade.

= After the divorce, she decided it was time to get on with her life and seek her own happiness.

2) Perder o emprego foi um golpe duro, mas ele sabia que precisava tocar a vida e encontrar novas oportunidades.

= Losing his job was a hard blow, but he knew he needed to move on with life and find new opportunities.

4. Se Tocar

Used with the reflexive pronoun, “se tocar means to take a hint. It means to become aware or conscious of oneself or the situation, often used when someone needs to realize they are out of line or not understanding social cues.

For example:

1) Ela falou várias vezes que não estava interessada, mas ele não se tocava. Finalmente, um amigo teve que explicar a situação para ele entender.

= She said several times that she was not interested, but he wouldn’t take the hint. Finally, a friend had to explain the situation for him to understand.

2) Depois de várias dicas sobre seu comportamento inadequado no trabalho, Diego se tocou que precisava ser mais profissional.

= After several hints about his inappropriate behavior at work, Diego realized that he needed to be more professional.

I hope you will now get to use these very Brazilian expressions.

The video below provides a concise explanation of the expressions along with an additional example for each.

Take the Next Step

Now, imagine how enriching it would be to have idiomatic expressions explained to you in Portuguese, complete with a wealth of additional vocabulary and examples from various media sources.

Envision a quiz that not only shows you the expression in various contexts but also helps you practice and memorize it.

That’s precisely what my course, the 30-Day Brazilian Portuguese Experience, offers you.

The course is not about learning slang or common phrases like “show de bola”.

The idiomatic expressions you’ll learn in the course are great; they will make your communication more fun, natural, authentic, and rich. These expressions are my way of providing intermediate speakers with an opportunity to bring some Portuguese into their lives every day for 30 days. You’ll learn a lot of vocabulary, practice understanding spoken Portuguese, and practice verb conjugation in context.

Here is what’s inside the course:

🌟 30 video lessons in Portuguese, with Portuguese subtitles to boost your listening skills

🌟 30 quizzes so you can practice the expressions in different situations and different verb tenses

🌟 My special ASA system for each lesson: Assimilate, Situate, Activate

🌟 Access to an exclusive community where I’ll be on hand to answer all your language questions

Vem comigo!

The 30-Day Brazilian Portuguese Experience. Immerse yourself in brigadeiro-sized daily Portuguese lessons to enhance your listening skills, vocabulary, and verb conjugation through engaging idiomatic expressions.