10 Extraordinarily Useful Portuguese Phrases for Travelers
1. Ó, desculpe! Com licença! – “Excuse me”
You can strike the “com licença” and just say “ó, desculpe!” over and over again until someone hears you. It works everywhere, from asking for help in the streets to ordering food.
2. Pá – “Hey,” “So,” and other meaningless interjections
“Pá” is the Portuguese equivalent of “che” for Argentinians. You use it at the beginning or ending of a sentence. Or you can just say “Pá…” and scratch your head, while thinking about something.
During the Carnation Revolution, a French journalist came to Portugal (without knowing much Portuguese) and, after talking to a lot of people, made a note to see a guy named “Pá” since he was always being mentioned. That’s how much we use it.
3. E então? – “So what?”
If someone’s bothering you, or accusing you of doing something, you can say “E então?” like you just don’t give a damn about their problems, and move on with your life.
4. Vai mais uma? – “One more?”
This is what you should say when you’ve been at the bar a while, everyone’s getting tipsy, and you’re unsure whether or not to order another beer. Just call the waiter — “Ó, desculpe” — and look to your friends and ask, “Vai mais uma?”
5. Que se foda a Troika! – “Fuck Troika!”
This one will win you a lot of friends and a general look of approval. Portugal has been in deep financial crisis, and three global financial organizations — the IMF, European Commission, and the European Central Bank — aka, the “Troika,” have stepped in to help. Gladly, they’re almost gone, but most of the measures implemented by the Troika were deeply unpopular, and basically made everyone poorer.
6. Que seca… – “How boring”
Literally, it means “what a dry.” Use it when you can’t stand being in the same place much longer or are just absolutely fed up with whatever you’re doing.
7. Bora lá, pessoal! – “C’mon guys!”
Use this when you’re trying to motivate people and get them moving.
8. Vou-me baldar / Baldei-me – “I’m skipping / I skipped”
If you’re a student, this can be helpful when people wonder why you’re not in class. For more social occasions, the equivalent is “Vou-me cortar / Cortei-me” — “I’m cutting / I cut myself.” It’s used when you were supposed to go some place but then decided not to.
9. Eh, lá…! – “Oh, wow!”
This is usually used ironically, or as an exaggeration. If someone’s being cocky telling a story or bragging about something, say this to bring them back down to earth.
10. Vou ter saudades disto… – “I’m going to miss this…”
Finally, and because every list of Portuguese expressions has to include a “saudade,” say this when you’re feeling nostalgic about leaving Portugal, preferably when you’re sitting somewhere, watching the sunset, immersing yourself in the present, and just sigh, “Vou ter saudades disto…”