Replying in Portuguese

My friend Luciana at Street Smart Brazil in San Francisco made the following video on an important but often skipped-over nuance of Portuguese, answering a question by duplicating the verb.

More examples and then some


8 thoughts on “Replying in Portuguese

  1. At this rate, I’ll be learning Portuguese for the rest of my life! I would wonder why I would not here the words ‘sim’ and ‘nao’ actually spoken to much by my Brazilian friends.

    At least Luciana’s explanation was straight forward, easy to learn and to the point. And I Have no problem increasing my vocabulary, but that 501 Portuguese Verbs book, is kicking my ass.

    • I just sold my 501 since it was gathering dust for a few years. I used to play a game with it, flipping open a random page and seeing if I knew the verb and conjugations. After a few years, the game isn’t as fun, lol, but I still come across new words and verbs and I like that because it humbles me ; ) But seriously, it can take some skill to start to recognize which words you can skip over and which ones you should learn because people actually use them. At first, always best to go slow and steady and keep an ear out for the Portuguese of the street, of the day to day.

  2. My experience has been when I go into a lunchonette and ask, “Voce tem agua de coco?” the response is not “Sim.” and not “Tenho.” The response is often “Tem.” Anybody else have this same experience and can anybody explain why the response is “Tem.” and not “Tenho.”?

    • I would explain it as her saying she doesn’t have it personally but rather the establishment has it. There are thin lines between Ter, Haver and Existir so when Ter takes the place of Existir (to exist), the result when applied to your question is that she is in effect saying ‘the coconut water exists in our store’ (or more simply, ‘we have coconut water’)

      • Tudo beleza, (Have you yourself heard the response “Tem”?) Thank you for your comment but (respectfully): If the correct structure of the answer is, “Tem” (as in “ELE [it, the luncheonette] tem”) then the correct structure of the question should be “ELE (“it’) tem agua de coco?” or simply “tem agua de coco?” but NEVER Voce (or “Ce”) tem agua de coco?”
        My inclination is that the “tem” response is ungrammatical and is accepted as “common usage”.
        (Food for thought: Have you heard the response “Temos.”?

      • Sure, I’ve heard ‘tem’ used many times by Brazilians. I understand the confusion between trying to learn the correct way and the actual way, which is best explained as there being a right way that’s right (structured, formal Portuguese) and a wrong way that’s right (informal, everyday Portuguese)…then of course there’s a wrong way that’s wrong (just plain incorrect Portuguese).

        You are correct, though. If you are asking someone specifically (one-on-one), then you should use ‘você’ and they should respond with ‘tenho’ but when dealing with establishments of any sort, you are better off using ‘tem’ in your question which will elicit ‘tem’ in the response. Sometimes people when at work won’t pay attention to exactly how they were asked (‘você tem’ or just ‘tem’) as they will automatically respond with what they nromally respond with (‘tem’). In my experience, I’ve very rarely, if ever, heard ‘temos’ as a response.

        Let’s see if my teacher friend Fábio can chime in tomorrow morning.

  3. Yes, you are correct. When we go to a establishment we ask “tem agua de coco?” because it’s like “aqui tem água de coco?”. We never ask “você” when we step into a store. But when we ask for something that belongs to the person we are asking to, we use “você”: “cê tem uma caneta pra me emprestar?” The answer is “tenho” or “tenho sim”. So I think the answer “tem” regarding establishments is grammatically correct.

  4. Oi pessoal,

    It is wonderful to see my video here on Eyes on Brazil! Obrigada, Adam. Your intellectual production never ceases to amaze me.

    I would like to say a word about the use of “tem” as mentioned in the comments. As Fabio said, the use of “tem” is correct in the shopping situations. The question is, “Aqui tem água de coco?” or, “Esta loja tem água de coco?”. The answer uses the verb and omits the rest. The entire answer would be, “Sim, a loja tem água de coco”. You will never hear it like this, of course. Just, “Tem”.

    You can also get to the store and ask, “Você tem água de coco?”. In this case the person will say, “Tenho” or, “Tenho, sim”.

    Or you can ask, “Vocês têm água de coco?” And the other person will say, “Temos, sim”.

    Even though spoken Brazilian Portuguese often does not follow our grammar, in this particular case it does.

    In spoken Brazilian Portuguese, the verb “ter” is also used in the third person singular (tem) with the meaning of “there is” or “there are”. We rarely use the verb “haver” to say “There is água de coco in that restaurant”. We would say “Tem água de coco naquele restaurante.”

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