Confusing Terms – Differences/2 for 1

I’m going to combine a Differences post with a 2 for 1 post (both under the Portuguese category). While understanding the difference between the Portuguese words might be no sweat for Brazilians, I’ve been forced to throw them in the ‘confusing words’ pile (where the ‘camisa vs camiseta‘  and ‘troco vs trocado‘ pairs sometimes reside) for far too long. It’s time to stop confusing the terms (at least personally).

Series vs Sitcom

Série (f) – TV series

Seriado (m) – TV series/Sitcom/Serial

As in the US, a sitcom has no defined ending. An easy-ish way to remember the difference is ‘série’ looks like ‘series’ and ‘seriado’ looks like ‘serial’ (even though the last term isn’t used that much anymore).

Shirt vs T-shirt

Camisa (f) – Shirt/Dress shirt (buttons)

Camiseta (f) – T-shirt/Undershirt (casual)

I swore I already wrote about the difference but upon double-checking, I guess not. To not confuse these two, try to remember that t-shirt is a longer word than shirt, just as camiseta is longer than camisa. Also, one should note that jersey (used for sports) can be defined with either word or even jérsei, but it’s more likely you’ll see camisa used for jersey.

Of course, if you look at the comments, you’ll start to understand why some of these terms are confusing…

Torpedo & Zapping – 2 for 1

There are two strange terms in Portuguese that are used in the media. One is torpedo which means ‘text message’ and the other is zapping which means ‘something that creates a lot of interest’ (although it is pretty much strictly used for entertainment news).

I’ve never seen ‘zapping’ used in a sentence, rather just as a header on news sites. I think it should be called penugem (fluff), or perhaps besteira (absurdity) fits best. ; ) Let’s see if I can make a sentence…

“Recebi um torpedo sobre um zapping que mencionou um outdoor que mostrou um smoking que posso comprar num shopping.”

And some people say anglicisms are not hurting the Portuguese language…but just for fun, I’ll do that in English while using German words in place of the anglicisms (although ‘smoking’ for ‘tuxedo’ seems to be more universal). Given the sentence below, I would assume the speaker and the listener were bilingual and code-switched with regularity.

“I got a Kurzmitteilung about a Promi-News that mentioned a Reklametafel that showed a Smoking which I can buy at the Einkaufszentrum.”

Being Present – 2 for 1

There are two verbs that generally mean ‘to witness’ or “to make an appearance”, which are used when one wishes to be formal or simply sound smart. Other possibilities to get the same point across are to use “assistir (a)” or “estar presente“.

Presenciar – To witness, to be present during.

Ex. Ele presenciou o assalto ontem.
Ex. He witnessed the assault yesterday.

Comparecer (can be followed by a/em/com) – To be present, to attend, to make an appearance.

Used a lot for appearing in court.

Ex. Eu não vou comparecer na próxima reunião.
Ex. I am not going to attend the next meeting.

Filas & Faixas – 2 for 1

Fila (f)

Fila (line, row) is the term for a queue or line, not linha, even though that seems like a perfect fit. Be careful not to write or say filha (daughter) because if someone thinks you cut their daughter, they might cortar something of yours. In English, there are many words or phrases that can precede ‘line’, such as ‘jump the’ or ‘butt in’. And if you get really mixed up and end up saying “I jumped your daughter” (Eu tive relações com a sua filha), well, that might also provoke violence.

Cutting in line – Furar a fila or cortar a fila. The verb furar means to pierce or puncture something.

Faixa (f)

Faixa means lane, strip, sash, martial arts belt (faixa preta) music track, zone or crosswalk (faixa de pedestres). When trying to stay within your lane on the road, that lane is a faixa. Faixa can also be used to express a range such as faixa etária (age range) or faixa salarial (salary range).

Another way to express ‘approximate range’, but informally, is to use estar na casa de (to be in the house of) such as “ele está na casa de 20 anos” (he’s around 20 years old) or even estar no campo de…visão (to be in the field of…vision), for example. In English, we might say someone is “in the ballpark”, ballpark being the field where baseball is played.

By chance & By the way – 2 for 1

By chance – Por acaso

I found your site by chance.
Eu achei o seu site por acaso.

Over at WR, they explain that ‘por acaso‘ has a few other meanings, such as ‘in fact’ and ‘as a matter of fact’. Learn more here.

By the way – A propósito

– You are leaving, right?
– Yeah, I am.
– Oh ok. Are you going to the city, by the way?

– Você está saindo, não está?
– Sim, estou.
– Ah tá. A propósito, você está indo à cidade?

Use ‘a propósito‘ when you wish to say “in addition, but of less importance”.

Afterthoughts & a new category – 2fers (2 for 1)

I think I like the idea of a new category teaching two new phrases per post, which you can see I’ve done in a few of my posts already. By the way, if you don’t know what twofers/2fers means, it’s slang for two-for-one when you get two things for the ‘price’ of one.

For today, I’ll let Fábio at English This Way do the teaching! Click the links below to find the following phrases in Portuguese!

Come to think of it

On Second thought

Very Common Phrases in Brazil – 2 for 1

Back when I was living in Brazil in 2005, I heard two phrases all the time, several times a day, it seemed. At first, I had to catch on to what the phrases were and then I tried to understand the situations in which they were used. Not too long after that, I got sick of hearing them. Fast forward a good amount of time, and now I use them! lol.

So what are they?

Faz o seguinte…” (Do the following…)


O que acontece, é…” (What happens is…)

then there’s the double whammy, “o que acontece é o seguinte…” (What happens is the following…)

One may wonder why I would get sick of these phrases so allow me to explain. Americans are a pretty ‘do-it-yourself’ kind of people, very individualistic, independent, etc…so when I found myself in tough situations and even average everyday situations, I wanted to deal with them myself. Everytime I tried to insert my American ways into the situation, I would get blindsided by everyone around trying to help me out of a jam, and like clockwork, they would spout out these phrases while doing so. Once I understood the cultural context of these phrases, that’s when I stopped getting annoyed.

If there’s one lesson I can instill in anyone traveling to Brazil (or any other country), it’s ‘don’t get mad when things don’t go your way, it doesn’t mean things are worse off than they are in your own country, it just means it’s different.’

Fica a dica & Vira e mexe – 2 for 1

Here’s two random, but useful phrases for you.

Fica a dica – The closest I can think of would be like “remember this tip”, as “dica” means tip.

Ex. No sabado, tem entrada franca. Fica a dica.
Ex. On Saturday, there’s no cover. Remember that.

Vira e mexe – Although technically it means “twist and turn”, this phrase is understood as “often” or “frequently”.

Ex. Vira e mexe eu esqueço as chaves da minha casa na mesa.
Ex. I often forget my house keys on the table.