Portuguese Greetings You Need to Know

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Written By Jessica Knight

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

We all ultimately want to make a great first impression. Greetings are the first step in any interaction. So learning to greet in Portuguese is an important first step into learning the language and making friends.

No one wants to get off on the wrong foot or make a cultural blunder which is easily done when a language has both formal and informal phrases. 

Fingers crossed this article is going to help spell it all out and make sure you know how to start any interaction appropriately. 

We have sourced some Brazilian Portuguese options as well so no matter which Portuguese-speaking territory you venture into we have you covered!

So without further ado, let’s look at some basic Portuguese phrases and some formal and informal ways to address people in person and in writing. 

Greetings in Portuguese – An Overview

Olá (Hello)
Bom dia (Good morning, lit. “Good day”)
Boa tarde (Good afternoon)
Boa noite(Good evening / Good night)
Bem-vindo (Good evening / Good night)
Tudo bem? (How are you, lit. “Everything well?”)
Até logo / Até amanhã(See you later/tomorrow, lit. “Until later” / “Until tomorrow”)
Como está? / Como vai? (How are you? / How do you do?, lit. “How do you go?”)
Tem passado bem?(Lit. “Have you been well?”)
Cumprimentos (Greetings)
Estimado… / Caro… / Prezado… (Dear…)
Atenciosamente / Cordialmente(Sincerely, Best regards / Cordially)
Oi! (Hi)(Hi)
Alô? / Está? / Estou sim?(Hello?)
E aí?(What’s up?)
Como você está? / Como vai você? (How are you? / How are you doing?)
Abraço (Hug)
Beijinho (Lit. “Little kiss”)
Tchau! / Xau!  (Bye!)

Basic Portuguese Greetings

We are opening with some of the most common phrases you are going to hear thrown around in everyday conversation. 

As with English some of these greetings are time-of-day specific and we have also thrown in some ways to say bye as they are equally as important especially if you want to make a good first impression! 

Olá  (Hello)

“Hello” is the obvious place to start, which in Portuguese is “Olá” not to be confused with a Spanish “Hola”. 

Despite the pronunciation being the same the two languages are distinct from one another. 

Bordering with one another of course means similarities but make no mistake your Spanish isn’t going to fly if you head to Portugal. It will however give you a leg up on learning the language. Why not read our “how long does Portugues take to learn” article to find out more?

The pronunciation of “olá” doesn’t change from one Portuguese-speaking territory to the next so it is a safe bet to memorize and as greetings go it doesn’t get any easier.

If you feel it is too basic for some interactions you can combine it with the following time-specific greetings below.

Bom dia (Good morning, lit. “Good day”)

At the start of the day you can wish passersby a “good day” with the phrase “bom dia” ; it is a literal translation and therefore easy to remember.  It is a sweet expression that is used more often than we say the equivalent in English-speaking countries. Saluting strangers in Portugal is pretty common. We are a little more reserved comparatively!

A quick note on the Brazilian pronunciation to remember is that the “g” is said as a softened “g”. So it sounds more like “bom GEE-a”.

Needless to say, this one is for morning use.

Boa trade (Good afternoon)

Once you get past lunchtime you are going to want to pull out “good afternoon” instead.

For us this again is a very formal phrase you might use if you are addressing a room full of students or employees but although a formal phrase it is used frequently in Portuguese. 

When the clock passes the noon mark “boa tarde#” is the correct greeting until sunset. 

Angolan, Cape Verdean, and Guinean pronunciations don’t differ much from the Portuguese but once again the Brazilian expression “g” sound, making it something more akin to “boa TAHR-g”.

Read  41 Portuguese Phrases You Should Know & Learn Today

Boa noite (Good evening / Good night)

Some European languages distinguish between the evening and the night when they use time-specific greetings but Portuguese considers the two one and the same.

So it is perfectly acceptable to say goodnight at the start of an evening interaction in place of “hello” which to use might seem odd as we would save “goodnight” for parting ways!

But post-sunset, “boa noite” is a common way to greet someone. It is pronounced  “boa NOEE-t” everywhere except for Brazil where it sounds like “boa NOEE-tsh”.

Bem-vindo (Welcome)

The phrase “welcome” is not just to welcome someone to a place it is again used as a common greeting but as it isn’t a general salutation like “good day” or “good night” it is going to need conjugation. 

Like most European languages Portuguese verbs nouns and adjectives have to be adapted to gender rules and pluralization formation.

This is where the language becomes a little more challenging but we will use Bem vindo as a demonstration.

You will see it has several forms and you need to be aware that when you address a group of people the masculine form is used unless the group is totally female. 

Even if there is only one man present in the group! Portuguese-1, Feminism-0, eh?

Conjugation Who is it used to address?
Bem-vindoA man
Bem-vinda  A woman
Bem-vindasTwo or more women
Bem-vindosTwo or more men, and groups which include a man despite a female majority!

Tudo bem? (How are you, lit. “Everything well?”)

You might skip “hello” altogether when you greet someone instead opting for a “how are you?”.

The easiest way to ask is with “tudo bem?” or “tudo bom?” which funnily enough is also the response if everything is fine! 

Just remember to use the other phrase if you are asked one way to respond, like this;

Person A “Ttudo bem?”

Person B “tudo bom!”


Person A “tudo bom?”

Person B “tudo bem!”

The only difference between the two is the inflection that makes it sound interrogative in a question form, so practice raising your voice to ask and lowering it to answer!

Although it appears pretty casual with its literal translation which is “everything well?” comparable with “all okay?” It is used both formally and informally across Portuguese-speaking countries.

The pronunciation differs in Brazil but it is so subtle you will get by and amazingly you may not even be able to hear the difference if you haven’t been exposed to both accents from an early enough age!

Adeus (Goodbye)

On the subject of basic greetings we also have to include “goodbyes”, now many of the school books are going to list “Adeus”. 

It is correctly speaking the way to say “goodbye” but culturally it isn’t as appropriate to use as you might think. More often than not a “good night” or “see ya” is more acceptable.

“Adeus” is actually a little final! As it means “to god” when literally translated. So unless you are leaving the country for good or very unlikely to hear from someone again it is probably a little too intense of a “goodbye”! 

So what could you use instead?…

Até logo  / Até amanhã  (See you later/tomorrow, lit. “Until later” / “Until tomorrow”)

For a less permanent separation where the finality of “adeus” is going to be simply too much  a “see you later” or a “see you tomorrow” is probably a safer bet!

If you leave a group of friends or colleagues in the day then “até logo” is ideal to use as a casual “bye” especially if you know you will see them later in the day!

The phrase “até amanhã” is used with a vaguer meaning than we might use it. You don’t necessarily have to have plans to hook up the following day to say “see you tomorrow”. Much like their Spanish neighbors, the Portuguese use the word tomorrow as a “some point soon in the future” place marker!

It may take a while to master the “nh” and “ã” sounds but it will be well worth it seeing as amanhã is used all the time!

The “nh” is almost like our English “ng” sound and paired with the ã you get a “ngyuh” sound. It might feel odd, but they are very common sounds in Portuguese and important to master- practice will make perfect.

Formal Portuguese Greetings

When you don’t know someone all that well or need to put a little distance between yourself and someone else as a mark of respect then you will need to follow Portuguese etiquette and use formal phrasing.

So if you want to greet the elderly, or a professional coworker (especially upper management) then you will likely need the following expressions so as not to embarrass yourself.

Read  Ways To Say Let's Go In Portuguese

Como está?  / Como vai?  (How are you? / How do you do?, lit. “How do you go?”)

Although we said earlier that “tudo bem” is acceptable for formal and informal use, when you really want to keep it formal you should say “how are you?” in a more grammatically structured manner. 

“Como está” is the “more-proper” way to say it or you could say “como vai” which is more like “how is it going”? This might sound casual to our ears but there are far more casual options that we will explore further down this page.

Again these verbs will need conjugating depending on who you are speaking to. 

Another pronunciation note that will have you sounding like the locals is that in European territory the “e” of “está” is lost in the middle So while In Brazil you’ll hear “komoo eeSTAH” or even “komoo eeSHTAH,” in Portugal it is “komoo SHTAH” instead.

Tem passado bem? (Lit. “Have you been well?”)

Another classier option to replace your common “tudo bem” with is “tem passado bem”. It means “Is everything well?”  or quite literally “Have you been passing well?”. 

If you find yourself somewhere where airs and graces should be put on it might be the best choice of greeting.

Cumprimentos (Greetings)

What if you need to open a letter or email with a greeting? 

For formal writing, it is customary to use the phrase “cumprimentos” ; it can be placed at the start or finish but never both!

It is ambiguous and ideal for use with total strangers, so if you are applying for a job it should be a go-to greeting. 

The word actually means “compliments” but you can think of it as similar to the word “regards”. 

Estimado…  / Caro…  / Prezado…  (Dear…)

If “cumprimentos”  which means “greetings” seems too distant for the letter addressee and you know them by name in English you would put “Dear” followed by the name.

The word for “dear in Portuguese is actually reserved for loved ones” and we will look at it under our informal greetings section later. 

But there are various ways to say the same in Portuguese and still need to maintain a certain level of formality. 

If you need to say “dear” but not get your wires crossed some of the following synonyms will definitely be of use to you.

In place of “Dear Mr./Mrs.” or “Dear Sir/Madam,” the Portuguese tend to use words such as “esteemed” or “prized” to let the reader know you respect and think highly of them!

We might start a business email with “esteemed client/customer” so it’s not too strange a concept.

Again remember these titular-sounding words need to reflect gender and number. Take a look below at “estimado” and how it changes to refresh your memory:

Estimado  — singular male

Estimada  — singular female

Estimados  — plural male or mixed group

Estimadas  — plural female

Remember to do the same for the other synonyms.

Atenciosamente / Cordialmente (Sincerely, Best regards / Cordially)

Although you can end  a formal written message with “cumprimentos” if you haven’t started with it there are many more ways to sign off that you might want to have up your sleeve!

“Atenciosamente” and “cordialmente” are two friendly yet professional ways to do exactly that. 

The best thing is they are cognates. “Cordialmente” sounds exactly like “cordially” in its root and if you think of “atenciosamente” as “with attention” you’ll remember them very easily.

They also don’t need conjugating (hooray!)

  /  These are the friendliest expressions one could use to finish a formal written message, whether that be an email, a text message or a letter.

Since these do not need to be adapted to number or gender, they are practical and universal, as well as understood throughout the Portuguese-speaking world!

In Brazil the “mente” part sounds more like “mentsh”.

Informal Portuguese Greetings

So what about when you are among friends and all formality can be dropped?

The following greetings are for casual gatherings and laid-back interactions. Among the younger demographic, you will rarely hear a formal greeting.

So here’s how to say “hi” rather than “hello”!

Oi! (Hi)

This first one is far more common throughout Brazil and southern American territories.

Portugal itself is still a little resistant. Instead, clinging to its “olá” which let’s face isn’t all that formal anyhow.

“Oi” is obviously far quicker to type and for that reason it is often used in texts on Whatsapp, and throughout social media.

It is said “Oee,” sometimes with a very long “ee” if you haven’t seen the person for a while or they are a very dear friend!

Read  Ways To Say Nice To Meet You In Portuguese

Alô?  / Está?  / Estou sim?  (Hello?)

BEing as it’s so widely spoken English is infiltrating the informal speech of many languages worldwide. Portuguese is no exception you will likely encounter an “alô” but it is typically interrogatively over the phone!

Much like in France, the Portuguese use “alô” as a greeting when they answer the phone, 

Another interrogative phone greeting is “Está?” which means “you there?”.

If you beat the other person to it you might answer the phone with “I’m here” or “it’s me” in English, the Portuguese casual-telephone equivalent is “estou sim” which literally translates as “I am, yes?”. But all are loosely considered “hello” when talking over the phone!

E aí? (What’s up?)

This next one is pretty much a Brazilian-only expression. 

The phrase “e aí?” means “And over there?” referring to where the other person is, It;s used super casually all the time in Brazil to say “what’s up?” or “how’s it going” and is a common substitution for both “Hi”.

It would be understood quite literally in Portugal but the “trendy” equivalent that the youths are using on the European coasts is “Como é que é?” which means “How is it?”.

Como você está?  / Como vai você?  (How are you? / How are you doing?)

This one is a little confusing in terms of formality as it totally depends on where in the world you find yourself speaking Portuguese!

When in Brazil the word “você” is placed with the word está (“you”) to infer familiarity it is the informal way to say “you”. It is the second person, singular, informal form if you want to get specific.

This makes “como você está?” a more casual Brazilian way to sy “como está” or “how are you?” .

However, in Portugal it is quite the opposite…

“Você” is almost never used in Portugal as it is considered incredibly formal!

Querido (Dear…)

We spoke of “dear” previously as a way to start a formal letter and made mention of the informality surrounding the true translation. Here it is “querido” is more like “loved one” it literally means “wanted”.

It is used daily among people who are close like family, best friends, and people who are dating!

The “u” is silent, the word sounds more like “kayrido” and remember it needs conjugating for the genders “querido” becomes “querida” if you are speaking to a woman!

It is a common term of endearment and can be used to start informal letters or emails or to say “hi” to someone you care about like this; “Olá querido!”

Abraço (Hug)

An informal way to end a letter started with “querido” would be with “abraços” which literally means “hugs”! 

Many online chats and messages end this way between friends and family.

Beijinho (Lit. “Little kiss”)

On a similar note you may want hugs and kisses…

The Portuguese go one step further by adding the suffix -inho or -inha to nouns and names that make them a little more cutesy!

Turning the word “beijo” which means kiss into “beijinho” makes it mean a “little kiss” this makes the kiss sweeter and more innocent in a way.

It can also be pluralized and is a great way to sign off a text with someone you love “beijinhos querido”!

Tchau!  / Xau!  (Bye!)

So we have taught you to be wary of the word “adeus” for “goodbye” but if you need a casual “bye” but “hugs and kisses” is inappropriate then a quick “tchau” is what you need!

It comes as you may have deduced from the Italian word “ciao” and is pronounced that way. The two spellings above are regional spellings for the same word. It is an easy-to-remember option but be sure not to use it in a formal situation.

Regional Variations in Portuguese Greetings

Before we say “tchau” ourselves we will leave you with a few notes on regional differences.

Portuguese is the official language of seven countries: 

  • Portugal
  • Brazil
  • Cape Verde
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Mozambique
  • Angola
  • São Tomé & Príncipe. 

It is also a recognized second language in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, and Macau (in China)!

Because of this, the pronunciation can differ wildly depending on which part of the world you are in.

As you can probably imagine, being able to present it all phonetically in one article is a near-impossible task and we hope you are content with our Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese comparisons.

The main differences which we have tried to point out along the way are the consonants at the ends of words.

Words ending -te or -de sound much more like a -gee or a -tsh in Brazil.

The pronunciation in African countries is far closer to the pronunciation in Portugal itself. It is sometimes easier for English speakers to understand as the Africanization has open vowels and the words are spoken far less quickly!

To really get to grips with the variations you need to listen to the language, immerse, and expose yourself to it.

Our advice would be to utilize resources such as YouTube videos that demonstrate the differences between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese. 

Listen to Portuguese music videos, or Brazilian movies and try watching the news. We live in exciting times, the resources are abundant, so make the most of it!

Portuguese Greetings – Final Thoughts 

So now you have all the Portuguese greetings you need to get out and about without any apprehension towards your first encounters!

Working out where you stand formality-wise can make a foreigner feel a little out of place but if in doubt stick to the formal so as not to offend. 

But with the greetings we have taught you and a friendly smile, you will be making connections with people in no time. 

We are certain that soon enough you will be able to throw in some of the more chilled-out slang phrases we have included in our roundup.

Portuguese greetings are a great place to start when you learn the language and we hope today’s article has given you plenty to take away whether you are off to Brazil or even Africa!

Good luck with the rest of your Portuguese-learning journey and “Tchau” for now!

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