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!