To Find Out – Phrases

There are a few ways to say you discovered or perhaps just realized something in Portuguese. One, is actually to use the verb descobrir (to discover) but there are also three phrases that combine two verbs each, which express a similar meaning. Another, perhaps more accurate, way to look at this lesson is by keeping the phrase ‘to come to one’s knowledge’ in mind, although all three examples below are used to convey the same thing.

Tomar Conhecimento (de) – lit. to take knowledge of…

Ex. Ele tomou conhecimento do que tinha acontecido só depois de uma hora.
Ex. He found out what had happened only an hour afterwards.

Ficar Sabendo (de/que) – lit. to remain knowing about…

Ex. Eu fiquei sabendo que você não presta.
Ex. I found out that you are useless.

Vir a Saber – lit. to come to know

Ex. Vim a saber que me ligou ontem.
Ex. I came to know that you called me yesterday.

Keep in mind you may also see ‘chegar a saber‘ (to arrive to know) which can mean to find out about something but it can also be used to convey a sense of something you used to know, or knew at one moment in time (ex. Eu já cheguei a saber, mas entretanto me esqueci)

Check it out! – Differences

There’s a lot of ways to say you’re going to check something out in Portuguese. The verb that immediately comes to mind is verificar (to verify) but let’s go over all of them, shall we? First, one should be sure not to confuse checking something out with checking a box on a list, for example (for which selecionar or marcar is used).

Verificar – To verify. A bit formal.

Ex. Eu verifiquei o meu email e não recebi nada.
Ex. I checked my email and didn’t receive anything.

Conferir – To confer. Less formal, used by advertisers.

Ex. É um lugar bacana, confira!
Ex. It’s a cool place, check it out!

Examinar – To examine. Also a bit formal.

Ex. Vou examinar a evidência.
Ex. I am going to examine the evidence.

There is also checar (to check) but it is an unnecessary Anglicism and since this blog is in favor of using Portuguese words when available, I suggest using the other options above. I consider checar to be a parasitic psuedo-Portuguese along the lines of mídia, deletar, etc. Perhaps this opinion is more in line with those who favor European Portuguese but whatever the case, I take an anti-anglicism stance, especially when a perfectly good Portuguese word probably already exists for the same concept. 

As an additional note, the verb despachar (to dispatch) also exists which is used for checking in your luggage at the counter.

Hinterlands – Vocabulary

When talking about the ‘hinterlands’ or ‘backlands’ in Brazilian Portuguese, which can be considered Brazil’s version of Australia’s outback, one can use the term sertão, but be sure not to confuse it with other related words. Thanks for a comment from Fábio (of English This Way, which I link to on my Links page), we see that sertão comes from desertão (big desert).

 (sertão, dry season)

Sertão – Semi-arid lands of the Northeast of Brazil. A person from there may be called a sertanejo, which means ‘peasant’ but is generally used to say ‘cowboy’. Another word for cowboy is vaqueiro.

Related Words

(caatinga, rainy season)

Caatinga -A type of shrub-like vegetation and an ecoregion of the Northeast characterized by said vegetation.

Cangaço – For a second, I thought cangaço (social banditry) was the same as sertão and cangaceiro (social bandit) the same as sertanejo but I was incorrect. Thanks to this post, I looked it up.

A Cerca De vs. Acerca De – Differences

A Cerca De – (around, about) should be used when there’s an idea of a ‘future time’ or ‘distance’.

Ex. Só nos veremos daqui a cerca de 60 dias.
Ex. We will only see each other in around 60 days.

Ex. Estamos a cerca de 20 quilômetros do lugarejo.
Ex. We are around 20 kilometers from the village.

Acerca De – (about) is the same as saying ‘in respect to’.

Ex. Falávamos acerca do jogo de ontem.
Ex. We were speaking about yesterday’s game.

A Random Subject – Vocabulary

This will be short. There have been many times when I wanted to say “random” in Portuguese but at first didn’t know the word then forgot the word. Random is, well, random. In fact, most of the time, I don’t even know how to explain it without saying the word so I end up saying something like sem ordem/desordem (without order/disorder). Anyways, here’s the right word…

Aleatório – Random

Using the Participle – Grammar

 The following was taken from the book “Português Do Dia-a-Dia” by Prof. Sérgio Nogueira Duarte da Silva. If you get a chance to purchase the book, I do recommend it. As for the participle and the lesson below, one will often see the past participle of pagar, aceitar and prender (pago, aceito, preso) while the rest of the examples are seen to a lesser extent. Keep in mind that you will hear the ‘wrong’ way used in informal Portuguese (ie. tinha entregue), but wrong and right, as you may find, are debatable. The participle lesson starts with the example below.

Ex. Ele tinha ENTREGUE or ENTREGADO os documentos?

The correct form is “tinha entregado“. When the verb has two participles (abundant verbs), the rule is the following: With the auxiliary verb ter (or haver), the regular form (with the ending of –ado or –ido) should be used.

Ex. Ele tinha entregado os documentos.

With the auxiliary verb ser (or estar), the irregular form should be used.

Ex. Os documentos foram entregues por ele.

Observe other examples:

Ter (or Haver)/ Ser (or Estar)


On principle, this rule applies itself to the verbs ganhar (ganho and ganhado); gastar (gasto and gastado); pagar (pago and pagado); pegar (pego and pegado);

Ex. Isso foi ganho, gasto, pago e pego.

The regular forms are rarely used in Brazil. Many scholars already accept the irregular forms, even with the verbs ter and haver.

Ex. Ele tinha ganho, tinha gasto, tinha pago and tinha pego.

The verbs trazer and chegar aren’t abundant. They use just one participle: trazido and chegado. The forms trago and chego are inacceptable:

Ex. Isso foi trago por mim; Ele tinha chego atrasado. 

The correct form is: Isso foi trazido por mim; Ele tinha chegado atrasado.

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.

The Hypothetical – Curiosities

My Brazilian ex girlfriend used to start her ‘what if’ (hypothetical) questions with ‘E se‘ (And if) and while that’s just fine as she was speaking correctly in her own language, she would translate it into English and ask a ‘what if’ by starting with “And if…” which slightly amused me but only because I understood where she was coming from when she constructed the sentence.

Usually an example would come up while watching a movie, where she’d say “e se ele morreu?” and I would respond, “I don’t know, let’s just watch it,” because I’m annoying like that when watching a good film. In any event, the Portuguese hypothetical started to make sense as a way to get to the point, otherwise one would have to say something like “E o que aconteceria se…

On a side note, my German ex-girlfriend used to say ‘oder‘ at the end of some sentences and from my basic German, I knew that meant ‘or’, which meant in my English-speaking brain that she was speaking strangely. I started then to add ‘or’ to the end of some of my sentences in English to bother her…but I failed because she thought it was normal. Go figure! Later, I found out that the ‘oder‘ tag means ‘right?’

Camelô – Etymology

Camelô – Traveling Merchant

The origin of the word is the Arabic khamlat, a name that was given to the rustic commercialized fabrics sold in open-air markets and touted loudly by the merchants, the camelôs of the previous century. At this point, the verb cameloter (to sell trinkets) was popularized in France by the street sellers who chose high-traffic areas to sell their wares. It is the street salesman that sells his kitsch to bemused audiences. With their power of persuasion, many times these true artists, when victorious in their craft, become rich and turn into the owners of their empires. The Brazilian media magnant Sílvio Santos has said he will never forget the teeming Largo da Carioca in Rio de Janeiro where he began his vivid career. – Source (translated by me)

It is important to note that camelôs differ from ambulantes in that the former has a fixed location while the latter is ambulatory.

Telling Someone They Smell

Sometimes there are words that aren’t necessarily in the dictionary but they form part of the culture, so it’s good to know them too…even if they stink! Below, you’ll see quite a few words that you can use to speak of someone’s (bad) smell, with a few extras added in for good measure. Remember that you should use estar (com) with these words to express temporary situations.

Tá fedendo/podre – You stink!
Chulé – Smelly feet (which you might remember from this)
Bafo (or Mau hálito) – Bad breath
Ce-cê (from CC or cheiro de corpo) – Body odor* (aka, BO)

* – You can also say axila, catinga, fedor de suor or even sovaco. Also, the English equivelent of telling someone they have ‘dog breath’ is expressed in Portuguese as ‘bafo de onça‘ (jaguar breath).

A few others as extras so that I don’t have to do another post on this sort of subject! lol

Arrotar – To burp
Peidar – To ‘pass gas’/fart
Remela – Crusties or Eye boogers
Muco – Phlegm
Meleca – Booger