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Did you know there are more than a couple of ways to say thank you in Portuguese? And also a couple more ways to say you’re welcome? Or that the words vary according to the gender of the speaker?
Whether you’re attempting to learn Portuguese or simply reached us out of curiosity, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll be teaching you all the different ways to show gratitude and which are more appropriate for each situation.
Shall we get started?
It comes without saying that we are taught from a very young age to be polite. Words like please, thanks, sir, and madam are added to our vocabulary while we’re still toddlers. Thank you might not be the first word we say but it sure is one of the first our parents teach us.
Regardless of the language you speak, there will always be a way to express gratitude. More than that, using it is always appreciated. And we often have different ways to communicate it, depending on our situational context or the parties involved in the conversation.
Does saying thank you in Portuguese matter more? No, not really. No more than in any other language. But it can give you certain perks.
If you’re visiting a Portuguese speaking country, just the mere attempt of speaking the native tongue will get you brownie points. For example, say you’re at a restaurant in Faro and you say obrigado/a instead of thank you when the waiter brings you the menu. I’m not saying service would be bad, to begin with, but it will certainly improve. Or a local has shown you kindness when you got lost on your way to a landmark… You won’t only show gratitude verbally but also better their mood by thanking them in their own language.
Hopefully, by the end of this post, you’ll be able to score some brownie points of your own with Portuguese speakers. If not for that, you’ll at least be better enlightened on all the different manners to say thank you in Portuguese and when each should be employed.
Gender… also matters
Like all Latin languages, Portuguese is a language of the nominal agreement. What is that, you might ask? Nominal agreement is essentially the harmony that must occur between article, number, pronoun, and adjective, according to the noun in the sentence.
Still confused? I’ll clarify it for you… This is what happens in relation to gender (female and male) and number (singular and plural). Though the number part is probably a given, you should also know that all nouns have a gender in Portuguese. The tree becomes ‘a árvore’ (female noun) and the notebook becomes ‘o caderno’ (male noun). But that’s me getting off-topic.
What matters to know here is that the main word for thank you in Portuguese will vary according to the gender you identify with. The male word is obrigado and its female counterpart is obrigada. To make sure you understood this, I’ll give you a short example:
José gave a bar of chocolate each to Maria and Tomás. Maria said ‘Obrigada!’ while Tomás said ‘Obrigado!’.
Easy enough, right? Let’s move on then.
Obrigado is the same as Obliged?
You probably wouldn’t realize it unless you’re way past learning basic greetings, but obrigado is actually an adjective. Its English equivalent would be obliged, which usually means to be indebted. Obviously, the debt, in this case, isn’t always monetary, but rather a legal or moral bind to someone or something.
You wouldn’t be the first to question the etymology of the word. As a matter of fact, it’s something that even Portuguese speakers seem to wonder about. And isn’t it actually weird, when we stop to think about it? It’s almost rude, as it would suggest a person would only be grateful out of obligation.
The odd word choice actually derived from a more complex expression. It was customary to close letters with ‘Muito Venerador e Obrigado a Vossa Mercê‘, which roughly translates to ‘Much Revered and Obliged to Your Grace‘. Over time that ‘obrigado‘ with the original sense of obligation started to be used as a fixed saying. Unlike what happened in so many languages, it became the code for gratefulness. However, the original meaning (as in ‘to be obliged‘) did not disappear and may still be used. It simply doubled in connotation.
The 3 verbs used to say “thank you” in Portuguese
There are three verbs used for saying thank you in Portuguese. Funnily enough, none of these are ‘to obligate’ or ‘to be obliged’.
This verb agradecer literally means to thank. It isn’t the main form of thanking in Portuguese but it’s definitely a regularly used one. For this reason, it’s good to know it. It may be used as a conjugated verb, as a basis for the past participle, as an adjective, or as a noun.
As a conjugated verb, it’s mostly used in the first person, both singular and plural. Though it’s possible to conjugate it in all persons.
- Agradeço-lhe a sua ajuda. / Lhe agradeço a sua ajuda. – I thank you for your help.
- Elas agradeceram à professora. – They thanked the teacher.
It may be used as an adjective in the expression estar agradecido/a, meaning to be thankful. Here, we’ve got to ensure nominal agreement, hence adapting the expression in gender and number to the subject of the sentence. Remember, agradecido when the subject is male, agradecida is female.
- Estou muito agradecido/a pela sua ajuda. – I thank you for your help.
- Estamos muito agradecidos/as pela sua ajuda. – We are very thankful for your help.
The noun agradecimento isn’t often used in everyday situations, but in formal ones instead. It’s often combined with the verbs demonstrar (demonstrate) or prestar (provide/pay). Therefore, demonstrar agradecimento means ‘to show gratitude’. Also, it may be used in the expression forma de agradecimento which roughly translates to ‘token of gratitude’.
- Gostaria de lhe prestar o meu agradecimento pela sua colaboração. – I’d like to show my gratitude for your collaboration.
- Ela pagou-lhe o jantar em forma de agradecimento. – She paid for his dinner as a token of gratitude.
Dar graças is probably the most commonly used out of the three and it literally means to give thanks. It’s used in both formal and informal contexts. Much like English, it’s customary to mention what you’re thankful for. (And, just so you know, Thanksgiving doesn’t translate to DarGraças but to Ação de Graças.)
- Dou graças a Deus pela bênção de um novo dia. – I thank God for the blessing of a new day.
- Deves dar graças aos teus pais pela ajuda. – You ought to thank your parent for their help.
The verb apreciar literally means to appreciate and it isn’t very commonly used in everyday settings. It’s used when you want to say a little more than just thank you in Portuguese. And, much like the last one, you ought to explain why you’re thankful and what it is exactly that you’re thankful for.
- Aprecio que tenha(s) vindo falar comigo. – I appreciate you coming to talking to me.
- Aprecio bastante a sua honestidade. – I highly appreciate your honesty.
The 5 ways to say “thank you” in Portuguese
Besides the verbs we saw above, there are a few fixed expressions used to show gratitude. These are undoubtedly more widely used than the former three. Although the list doesn’t include all expressions, here are the 5 more common ways of saying thank you in Portuguese:
Obrigado/a – Thank You
We’ve been over the meaning of the word and its usage, so let’s just move on to the next one.
Muito obrigado/a – Thank You Very Much
Not a lot changes, except for the intensity with which we show we’re grateful. Muito obrigado/a is exactly the same as thank you very much, or rather much obliged.
Agradecido/a – Grateful
Like we’ve seen before, this adjective may also be used as a way to say thanks. Remember to use Agradecido/a in the correct form, according to gender and number.
Devo-te/Te devo uma – I owe you one
Devo-te or Te devo uma is obviously a more informal expression. It works just like it does in English. You’re thankful to the point that you wish to repay the favor/kindness. Or maybe you’re just saying it for the dramatics… Either way, it works!
Valeu – Thanks
The 5 ways to say “you’re welcome” in Portuguese
Just like with thank you, there are also a few fixed expressions to say you’re welcome in Portuguese. Again, here are the 5 more common ways of saying it:
De nada – You’re welcome
The expression de nada literally transl‹ates to of nothing. It’s the most widely used way of saying you’re welcome in Portuguese.
Não tem/tens de quê – You’re welcome
Não tem/tens de quê literally translates to there’s not of what, which I realize makes absolutely no sense in English. But I guess the intent would be similar to don’t mention it. Or, more simply, you’re welcome.
Sem problems – No problem
Again, a very self-explanatory and usual one. Sem problems is a more informal expression and it means no problem or without a problem.
Não se/te preocupe(s) – Don’t worry
Não se/te preocupe(s) literally means don’t worry, but it’s more used to say you’re welcome. It can be both formal and informal, depends on whether you use the se (formal) or the te (informal).*
O prazer é todo meu – It’s my pleasure
*Although it’s the same language, there are some differences between Portuguese from Portugal (also spoken in Africa) and from Brazil. You might have noticed a variation in some of the above expressions marked by a ‘/’. This is due to the different forms of treatment in the two variants of the language. Thus, in Portuguese Portuguese, the formal form is close to Brazilian Portuguese. In Brazil, you don’t use the informal form normally, it’s something you only learn in school. Now, this doesn’t mean a variation is more formal than the other! It’s just a result of the language evolution throughout time.
Best apps to learn Portuguese
Perhaps this post interested you enough to want to learn beyond how to say thank you and you’re welcome. If that’s the case, jump into a comprehensive list of best apps to learn Portuguese. Here are our favorites:
Babbel has a variety of expert-made courses, crafted to meet user’s individual needs. You can learn from the basics or focus on a single topic, such as travel, culture, or business.
There are also plenty of interactive dialogues on real-life topics that will push you to practice for everyday situations. Moreover, they’ve developed a speech recognition feature, which will give you immediate feedback on your pronunciation.
Availability: Brazilian Portuguese
LingQ has an impressively vast library with 1000+ hours of Portuguese audio lessons with matching transcripts. What sets it apart is the possibility to import your own content and convert it into interactive lessons!
You can easily track everything you’ve learned and measure your progress. You can also sign up for live conversations, have your writing corrected, or even interact with other learners. LingQ really is an online language learning community and you can engage with other users and tutors just like you would in real life.
Join the LingQ community here.
Availability: Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese
italki is a customized language learning platform in which you can choose your tutor for one-on-one lessons based on your goals and interests. You only pay for each lesson and you’ll be able to find prices to accommodate your budget.
You can study anytime, anywhere, as you’re free to book lessons at a time and date that suits your schedule best. Besides, you get to learn from real people and personalize every aspect of your learning experience. How many other platforms offer this service?
Availability: Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese