domingo, 21 de junio de 2015

Sei lá

One of the most interesting phrases I learned recently is sei lá.  But before we talk about sei lá, let's cover a bit of background information.

Sei comes from the verb saber, meaning to know.  Lucky for me Spanish also has the verb saber and means the exact same thing so that learning curve just got a little shorter. 

By the way, Brazilian Portuguese also uses the verb conhecer (conocer in Spanish) with the same distinction between saber and conhecer as Spanish.  For you Spanish speakers this is yet another win if you've already mastered this.  To learn more about saber and how it differs from conhecer, you may find this article helpful.  In the meantime, we're only going to talk about saber in this post.

So how do we use saber?  Saber is used to talk about knowing facts, or how to do something.  

Let's take a look at a few examples.

Portuguese:  Eu sei nadar
Spanish: Yo sé nadar
English: I know how to swim

Portuguese: Eu não sei nada sobre a história
Spanish: Yo no sé nada de historia
English:  I don't know anything about history

By the way, if you need help with your verb conjugations in Portuguese, Conjuga-Me is a great site and for Spanish you can use the Reverso Spanish Verb conjugation page.

Now it's time to get back to sei lá.

Sei lá is used to place emphasis on the fact that you don't know something.  Think of it as "how would I know?", "I wouldn't know", "how the heck would I know" or a very emphatic "I have no idea" while shaking your head.   I wouldn't call those an exact translation, but that's idea.

- O Marcelo vai vir para a festa?
- Sei lá... Faz mais de dois meses que não tenho notícias do Marcelo

- ¿Marcelo va a ir para la fiesta?
- ¿Qué sé yo?  Hace más de dos meses que no tengo noticias de Marcelo

- Is Marcelo going to the party?
- I wouldn't know, it's been more than 2 months since I heard from Marcelo

Of course, you could just keep it simple and reply with a simple "I don't know", but where's the fun in that?

Portuguese:  Não se
Spanish: No sé

And finally, here's  another way to express the same idea.

Portuguese:  Não faço ideia
Spanish: No tengo idea
English:  I have no idea

That's it for today! 

Tomara que te sirva!  E pronto! 

domingo, 1 de marzo de 2015

Portuguese phrases every beginner should know

When I first started learning Spanish the biggest problem I had was trying to figure out what people were saying to me, not to mention how to say things to them.  It didn't take me long to realize there were several phrases I just had to memorize and have handy when the time came.   Well, now I'm learning Portuguese and I'm getting that feeling of deja vu.  It's time to relearn those phrases all over, but this time in Portuguese.

Let's take a look at what I consider to be phrases you just have to know to help you get by as you start your journey with Portuguese. 

The first thing you're going to realize is that you won't be able to understand a word of what people are saying to you, either because they speak too fast or you just don't have enough vocabulary under your belt.  Let's start with asking people to slow down.

Pode falar mais devagar, por favor?
Can you speak slow please?

For newbie, that's mouthful.  You can shorten that to:

Mais devagar, por favor
Slower please

That's better.  Probably easier to remember too. 

Sometimes you simply just didn't hear what was said, maybe it's just too noisy.   Whatever the reason is, you need to hear what was said again.

Fala de novo por favor
Say it again please

Fale mais uma vez, por favor
Say it one more time, please?

Você pode repetir por favor?
Can you repeat that, please?

O que você falou? 
What did you say? 
If you're thinking, "I'll never remember all that", you may be right.  Just pick one of those options to start with.  Which one?  The one that's easiest for you to remember and pronounce. You've got plenty of time to master the rest later.

Those are some really good phrases, but wouldn't it be great if you didn't need them at all?  A good strategy for making communication easier when you barely speak a language is to let people know in advance.  If you tell them upfront you don't speak their language well they'll probably slow down without you having to ask. 

Falo  um pouco de  português
I speak a little Portuguese

Falo  muito pouco de  português
I speak very little Portuguese

Eu não  falo  bem português
I don't speak Portuguese well

Estou aprendendo português
I'm learning Portuguese

Sometimes despite our best efforts, we just can't catch on to what's being said. 

Eu não entendo
I don't understand

I hate it when that happens, but such is life.  I try to struggle through those situations and stay the course, but sometimes you have no other option but to ask:

Você fala inglês?
Do you speak English?

Alguém Fala  inglês?
Does anyone speak English?

 The next set of phrases are actually going to empower you and help you learn even more Portuguese.

Como se diz em português?
How do you say it in Portuguese? 

O que significa?
What does that mean?

Como se escreve?
How do you spell it? 

Technically, escreve means write, but figuratively it has the same meaning.

Como se pronuncia essa palavra?How do you pronounce this word?

Poderia escrever?
Could you write it down?

There you have it, a nice collection of phrases you need to memorize that will help take away some of your Portuguese language headaches.  Check out this great lesson:

Useful phrases for learning Portuguese

The lesson is free to download (well, at the time of this posting it is).   You may have to create an account (also free), but that's it.  It's worth the trouble.  The lesson is hosted on on a site called PortuguesePod101 and they release at least one free lesson every week.  So definitely check the site out.  They also have a number of podcasts for beginning Portuguese learners. 

For those of you learning Spanish click here for the list of Spanish phrases every beginner should know.

Well, that's it for today, espero que sirva!