“Hello” in Portuguese: “Olá!” & Beyond

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Written By Jessica Knight

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Being able to say hello in Portuguese is an everyday essential. Learning to introduce yourself is a must if you are planning a trip to a Portuguese-speaking country.

As with any language, there are lots of other ways to greet someone aside from an obvious “hello”. We are going to take you through a few of your options and explain the use to make sure you’re not left in the dark when it comes to the formalities of European Grammar.

When we are done you’ll be able to confidently say “hi” to a Portuguese friend or greet a Brazilian colleague with the appropriate level of respect for the workplace.

We’ll try to get a little more local so you can exchange casual basic pleasantries as well.

Saying Hello in Portuguese – An Overview

Olá“Hello” 
Oi “Hi”
Bom dia“Good morning”
Boa tarde “Good afternoon” 
Boa noite“Good night” 
Alô“Hello” (On the Phone)
Tchau and Adeus“Goodbye”
Como vai? / Como estás?“How are you?”/ “How’s it going?”
Tudo bem? / Tudo bom? “Everything good?”
Licença “Excuse me”
Moço/Moça“Sir”/”Madam”
Bem-vindo“Welcome”
Me chamo…“My name is”
Prazer “Nice to meet you” 

How to Say “Hello” in Portuguese

Olá – “Hello” in Portuguese

The simplest greeting that everyone should make an effort to learn is “Olá”. It is the literal way to say “hello” and the formality is suitable for any occasion.

It sounds a lot like a Spanish “hola” but the stress falls on the second part of the word not the first. Do you see the accent? “Olá”.

Oi – “Hi” in Portuguese

THe far more casual way to say “hello” is “Oi” which you could compare to “hi” or “hey”. 

An important thing to know about this word is that it hasn’t caught on in Portugal itself and is more of a Brazilian thing!

They understand it is used for “hi” in Portugal and so long as you are with “very familiar company” an “oi” is probably still okay. The youths have certainly adopted it but you should know it’s informal in Brazil and incredibly informal in Portugal.

If you are in doubt about whether you can use it our advice is to listen out for it. If you are greeted with an “oi” then feel free to throw it back!

Read  Ways To Say 2 In Portuguese

“Oi” is pronounced “oee” and should be said flatly if you raise your intonation it becomes interrogative and means “what?” in the way you would say “pardon”  when asking someone to repeat something.

Bom dia – “Good morning” in Portuguese

If you want to say good morning in Portuguese you use the phrase bom dia. It literally means “good day”. The Brazilian pronunciation sounds more like “ bom JEE-ah” as the “d” sound is more like a “g” over there.

Boa tarde – “Good afternoon” in Portuguese

After midday you have to change the phrase to “boa tarde” which means “good afternoon” in Portuguese. 

In English, the next time-of-day specific greeting we would use would be “good evening.”  The Portuguese don’t distinguish this part of the day in the same way we do. Instead, they skip evening greetings opting for a “goodnight” which you will learn next.

Boa noite – “Good night” in Portuguese

When we say “goodnight” it is generally to draw an evening to a close we say it as a “goodbye” but in Portuguese, it functions as a greeting. A way of saying “hello” after 7pm or sunset.

If you meet a friend for drinks at 8 pm then “boa noite” is the way to greet them. The literal translation is “good night” and it can be used when you meet, in place of “good evening” and when you leave as “bye” as well. 

Alô – “Hello” in Portuguese (On the Phone)

“Alô” is the Portuguese spelling for an English “Hello” it is in fact borrowed from our language. However, you will only hear it during telephone exchanges.

Like a lot of European countries, they answer the phone in English. The word can also mean “are you there?” or “do you hear me?” as they will use it if the signal cuts in and out too.

Tchau and Adeus – “Goodbye” in Portuguese

You need the correct way to greet someone to make a good impression but you can’t leave a good impression without saying “goodbye”. It would be considered very rude!

Your Google Translate and your handbooks are probably going to tell you “adeus” is the word for the job. While they aren’t wrong they aren’t exactly right either…

“Adeus” is similar to the French “adieu” and both mean “to god” and are therefore a very “final” way to say “bye”. 

In Portugal, where there are still many devout people you will hear “adeus” used.

But in Brazil, unless you are setting sail never to be seen again it is probably overkill to use in the majority of situations!

Instead, the most common way to say “bye” is with the word “tchau” , a word borrowed from Italian. 

In Italian the word “ciao” (pronounced the same way) functions as both “hello” and “goodbye” but in Brazil, Portugal, Angola, etc it is solely used to part ways.

Read  Ways To Say Happy Birthday In Portuguese

Como vai? or Como estás? – “How’s it going?” or “How are you?” in Portuguese

With friends we quite often skip the formality of saying “hello” and ask how they are doing instead.

So you’ve met someone and you’ve successfully greeted them. Social convention dictates that the next step is to ask them how they are.

The common way to do this in Portuguese is with the phrase “como estás?” which is a word-for-word translation and if you have any Spanish you’ll notice it is the same.

The other way to ask the same thing is with “como vai?” this one literally means “how does it go?

The easy response, if you get asked, is to respond “estou bem” which means “I’m good”. If you know the person well you can drop the “I am” and respond with simply “bem”.

If you are traveling in Portugal they observe two ways of saying “you” in the singular form. One formal and one informal. Estás is the “tu” form of the verb estar for use with people that you know. If you don’t know them you use está which is the você form.

Brazillians are less formal in general and use the você form, solely. Some may even ask “como você está?”.

Tudo bem? and Tudo bom? – “Everything good?” in Portuguese

Another great casual way to ask how someone is is to say “tudo bem” or “tudo bom” they both mean the same thing; “everything good?”.

Technically “bem” is “well” and “bom” is “good” but they are interchangeable. 

However, it is proper etiquette to listen to how you are asked and respond with the ulterior.

If you speak first you can pick either or but if you are asked first, then be sure to listen and choose the other phrase!

Here’s a demonstration;

Person A “Tudo bem?”

Person B “tudo bom!”

Or

Person A “tudo bom?”

Person B “tudo bem!”

Again you can just shorten it to “bem” or “bom” or even just “tudo” if you miss what they have said is a safe bet!

The inflection between the two phrases differs if you pose it as a question the tone raises at the end of the phrasing and if it’s a response it sounds more flattened.

How to Get Someone’s Attention in Portuguese

You might want to get the attention of a stranger without saying “hello”. Certain situations might call for a “hey” or an “excuse me” or a “sir/madam”. So let’s take a look…

Licença 

A common way to get someone’s attention in the service industry is with the word licença  which is pronounced: “lee-SAYNG-suh”.

You may recognize a cognitive root in this one with the English word “license”. The word can mean license but it is often used for “excuse me?”. 

This can be to get a waiter’s attention as it would be considered more polite than saying “hello” or if someone is in your way and you need to get past.

Read  Ways To Say Good Evening Portuguese

Moço

Another way to get attention in Brazil is to say “moço” or “moça” the former for addressing a man and the latter for a woman.

It means young man or woman and is considered a polite way to say “sir/madam” or “excuse me” and is used as an alternative to licença throughout Brazil.

Bem-vindo – “Welcome” in Portuguese

“Bem-vindo” is the Portuguese for “welcome” and you will hear it in place of “hello” from the mouths of staff throughout the tourism, leisure, and hospitality sectors.

You may also want to use it if you are entertaining guests in your own home or hosting any sort of meeting.

But you need to be aware that the verb needs conjugating according to the gender of the guest and the number of people you are welcoming.

Take a look at the chart below for the gender agreement and pluralization and take note that when addressing a group any male presence takes precedence. It might seem antiquated by today’s standards but grammar is important. 

You could be speaking to 10 people, 9 of them women and you would still use the masculine form to acknowledge the single man present!

Verb formWho to say it to
Bem-vindoA man
Bem-vinda  A woman
Bem-vindasTwo or more women
Bem-vindosTwo or more men, and groups which include a man

Introductions In Portuguese

Before we draw the article to a close, we’ll leave you with a few extra phrases for introducing yourself once the all-important “olá, como vai” is over and done with!

It is no good being able to say “hello” if you can’t interact any further so let’s explore “what’s your name, “My name is” and “nice to meet you”.

How to Say “My Name Is” in Portuguese

People will likely ask for your name when you are traveling, making friends, or sitting a Portuguese language exam(why not?)

The phrase “Qual é o seu nome” means “what’s your name?” and the correct response is “Me chamo (your name)”. 

You might notice the word “nome” in the question is similar to our word for “name” but it is missing in the response.

This is because “me chamo” actually means “I call myself” or “you call me” rather than “my name is”.

You could also respond with “I’m (your name)” if you aren’t in a super serious setting. But remember that in Portuguese they actually use the definite article. So they would literally be saying “I’m THE (your name)”!

The definitive article changes for males and females in Portuguese.

So you could say “sou o John” which is “I’m the John” or “sou a Sarah”, strange to wrap your head around as an English speaker but necessary. When in Rome (Portugal) huh?

Prazer – “Nice to meet you” in Portuguese

Our final piece of parting vocabulary today is the easy-to-remember word “prazer” which communicates a tonne of pleasantry in one word.

It means “pleasure” and is used like we would use “nice to meet you”. You can add the word “muito” in front as a quantifier to say “very nice to meet you!”

If you are meeting someone for the first time it is considered a polite thing to say, so we couldn’t teach you “hello” without giving it to you.

Hello in Portuguese – Final Thoughts

Portuguese is a rich and beautiful language spoken in 7 different territories as the sole language and is a recognized second language in 3 more!

It is a great language to embark upon learning and not incredibly difficult to master either!

Learning to say “hello” in Portuguese is a fundamental starting point and from there the world really is your oyster.

We hope today’s concise article has given you the bug and that you’ll progress with your Portugues in due time.

For more Portuguese greetings you can check out this article, it covers most of today’s vocabulary but has a few extras you might want to take away if this one has left you hungry for more!

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