Did you know that if you simply say ‘yes’ in Portuguese, meaning, you may not be understood?
I like to visit charity shops and one day I went into one of may favourites, only to find that there was some kind of dispute, between one of the customers and the volunteer working there.
It was getting kind of heated too.
The customer came to me and asked me to explain to the man that she wanted to take a photo of a pushchair to send to her husband and asked me to explain it to him but the Man interrupted straight away saying:
“I know what she wants. I told her, sim, sim, sim”.
Why didn’t she understand him?
So, here is where it gets interesting. Even thought the man was responding with ‘sim’, the lady in question didn’t understand him. Why is that?
Well, to start off, I would like to know how many of you say ‘sim’, when you can’t understand a thing. Yes, you know you do it. You nod your head and the word just comes out of your mouth, multiple times.
In Portuguese the way to respond affirmatively is not always with the word ‘sim’ (yes)
Often the verb is used and this is known by some as a ‘ping pong’ response.
The customer was asking:
“Posso tirar uma fotografia deste carrinho de bébé?” (May I take a photo of the push chair?)
The man in the shop understood, but when he responded with ‘sim’, the lady seemed to think he didn’t understand her. What he should have said was.
“Pode, pode”. (you may, you may = yes)
Does this work with all verbs?
Let’s take a look at a few more ways so that you can learn to respond like a Native Speaker!
Most of the verbs work like this and even some adverbs, therefore it is in your favour to learn your verbs.
Answering using the verb in the affirmative.
Quer café? (Do you want coffee?)
Quero ( Yes, I do)
Gosta de Portugal? ( Do you like Portugal?)
Gosto (yes, I do)
Answering using the verb in the negative.
Não quero ( I don’t want)
Não gosto ( I don’t like)
So now you know, don’t say ‘sim’ all the time. Practicing questions and answers using the verbs, it is a great for learning them.
Verbs are an essential part of the language and are not as scary as you think.
Click here to get your free Irregular Verb List
Até a próxima!