How To Say Thank You In Portuguese
By Ivy do Carmo
You receive a gift from a dear friend. A relative does you a favor. A coworker helps you with a task. Your spouse compliments your look. A stranger somehow shows you kindness. What do all of these situations have in common?
They make you feel gratitude and the need to express it. That is why all languages have specific words or expressions to thank others.
But, how can you say thank you in Portuguese?
In this article, we’ll see different ways to thank people and the appropriate usage of each one of them. Let’s begin with the most common one:
This is the standard word in Portuguese for “thank you”. It comes from the latin ‘obligare’ and it literally means “obligated”, so it is like the person were saying: “I feel obligated to return the favor” or “I feel obligated to show you my gratitude”.
But there’s something you must understand about the Portuguese language: a lot of words slightly differ depending on the gender of the speaker.
“Thank you” in Portuguese vs. Gender
That’s something a little difficult for an English speaker to understand, due to the fact that the English language doesn’t make this kind of differentiation (one of the reasons why I love English so much, I must add).
For example, the pronoun IT is used to all objects because their gender is consider to be neutral, whereas in Portuguese the objects are masculine or feminine and there is a pronoun for each one of them.
If you are thinking that this doesn’t make much sense, I can’t disagree with you. But it is what it is, and other romance languages, such as French, Spanish and Italian, also make this differentiation.
Well, the word obrigado is no exception: only men use it. If you are a woman, you must say obrigada, with the letter A replacing the letter O at the end. By the way, that is a good tip for Portuguese students: In most cases, the letter A is feminine and the letter O is masculine. Just pay attention to the pronunciation of Portuguese vowels!
If you are a man, say obrigado.
If you are a woman, say obrigada.
How to say that you are really thankful in Portuguese
What if you want to say “thank you very much”? Then you add the work muito, that can mean not only “very much”, but also “many” and “a lot”. So it would be like this:
If you are a man, say muito obrigado.
If you are a woman, say muito obrigada.
You can add the words por or pelo/pela if you want to specify the reason for your gratitude. They mean “for”. You can see some examples below. Notice two things: first, the sentences are all in the masculine form. Second, the words pelo and pela mean the same thing. What determines which you’re going to use is the gender of the following word.
Obrigado por tudo! – Thank you for everything!
Obrigado por me convidar. – Thank you for inviting me.
Obrigado pelo elogio. – Thank you for the compliment.
Muito obrigado pelo presente. – Thank you very much for the gift.
Muito obrigado pela presença. – Thank you very much for coming.
Muito obrigado pela conversa. – Thank you very much for the talk.
A very common expression in English to show gratitude for something is “thank God”. In this case, the corresponding expression in Portuguese would be graças a Deus. This is because one of the meanings of the word graças is “thanks to”. So:
Thank God – Graças a Deus
Another common way to say “thank you”: grato/grata
Specially in the written language, there is another common word in Portuguese: grato. It means “thankful” or “grateful”. This word is commonly used at the end of business e-mails, along with the person’s signature. And here, we must apply the same genders rule. So:
If you’re a man, say grato.
If you’re a woman, say grata.
Thank You In Portuguese: informal situations
Regardless of the country, young people have a unique way of expressing themselves. So even though they also say obrigado, it will be much more common hearing them use another word: valeu.
Valeu can be used for both men and women. We can say that valeu corresponds to “thanks”, also used in informal situations. It can also be accompanied by the words por or pelo/pela to specify the reason for being thankful:
Valeu, cara! – Thanks, dude!
Valeu por entender. – Thanks for understanding.
Valeu por tentar. – Thanks for trying.
Valeu pelo incentivo. – Thanks for the incentive.
Valeu pelo dinheiro. – Thanks for the money.
Valeu pela viagem. – Thanks for the trip.
Valeu pela amizade. – Thanks for the friendship.
Always remember that the intonation is crucial to convey your gratitude correctly.
How to say “You are welcome” in Portuguese?
Now that you’ve learned several words to say “thank you” in Portuguese, how about also learning to say “you’re welcome”?
The standard way is saying de nada, which comes from the latin ‘rem natam’ and means “it’s nothing”. It is like the person were saying: “No, you are not in any obligation to return me the favor.” Other ways of saying “you’re welcome” are: não há de quê e imagina. So:
You’re welcome – de nada / não há de quê / imagina.
Say obrigado if you’re a man and obrigada if you’re a woman. Add muito to say “very much” and por or pelo/pela to explain what are you thanking. Use grato to finish emails and valeu to informal situations.
You can see some of these rules in the following typical conversation:
Paula – Muito obrigada pelo jantar e pela noite, Mariana!
Paula – Thank you very much for dinner and for the evening, Mariana!
Fernando – Sim, valeu por tudo, Mariana.
Fernando – Yes, thanks for everything, Mariana.
Mariana – De nada.
Mariana – You’re welcome.
There is no doubt that learning how to say “thank you” in Portuguese is important, because it is a word we use many times in our daily lives. As an exercise, count how many times the man says obrigado on the video Português ao Vivo – No restaurante.
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