Portuguese is particularly rich in idioms and fun phrases; here’s a few to get you started! If you’d like to get learning Portuguese our tutors Ana and Eulália will be able to teach you all you need to know.
Some Portuguese phrases seem similar to English, others are completely different, but they’re fun to use and add depth to your conversations in Portuguese.
“A galinha do vizinho sempre é sempre melhor que a minha” – Your neighbour’s chicken is always better.
Similar to the English phrase “the grass is always greener on the other side”, it makes the same point – that there is no point envying what others have.
“Procurando pêlo em ovo” – Searching for a hair in an egg
This one is fun, but it is not the same as the English phrase “looking for a needle in a haystack”. Instead it means to look for something that isn’t there at all.
“Acordar com os pés de fora” – Wake up with your feet outside
The English equivalent is getting out of bed on the wrong side – and spending the day in a bad mood.
“João sem braço” – John without arms
There’s no equivalant for this in English, but like many English phrases it has a military origin. A “John without arms” is someone pretending to be helpless to avoid doing something. Tradition holds that this phrase comes from a time when a man missing limbs did not have to fight in Portugal’s wars. It may not be true, but it’s quite a powerful mental picture.
“À sombra da bananeira” – Under the shade of a banana tree
This means “No worries!” Well, if you were in the shade on a hot day, you’d be feeling pretty chilled.
“Com uma perna às costas” – With a leg on the back
Another great phrase – if you say “I can do it with a leg on my back” it means you can easily do it. English people would probably say “I can do it with one hand tied behind my back”.
“Burro velho não aprende línguas” – An old donkey doesn’t learn languages
This phrase resembles the English saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. However, la Academia would dispute that age has anything to do with learning Portuguese or any other language. Many of our students are no longer in the first flush of youth but they are learning languages with no difficulties.
So, don’t take this last phrase too seriously when learning Portuguese – come and chat to us, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 0161 491 1444, and Eulália and Ana will show you that students of any age can learn this amazing and entertaining language!