As the largest economy in Latin America and the eighth-largest economy in the world, Brazil puts Portuguese on the map as a top business language.
With abundant natural resources for exporting coffee, soy, and timber, and a recent focus on the textile, pharmaceutical, and automotive sectors, Brazil is asserting itself as a diversified economy with plenty of opportunities. Here are six helpful Brazilian Portuguese phrases for navigating and networking in Brazilian business culture.
1. “Bom dia. (bohm JEEah.)”— Good day. “Boatarde. (BOHah TAHRjee.)” — Good afternoon. “Boanoite. (BOHah NOYchee.)” — Good evening or good night.
These simple, friendly greetings can be used throughout the day — just make sure you remember the time difference! Also, take care to notice how bom [good] in bom dia becomes boa in boa tarde and boa noite. This is because in Portuguese all nouns (like dia, tarde, and noite) have a gender assigned to them, which must be reflected in the adjective (bom or boa) ending.
2. “Muito prazer! (MOOeeto prahZEHR!)” — Very nice to meet you!
3. “Como vai? (COHmoh vy?)” — How are you? “Vou bem. Obrigado/ Obrigada. E o senhor/ a senhora? (voh bayng. ohbreeGAHdoo/ohbreeGAHdah. Ee oh seenYOHR/ah seenYOHRA?)” — I'm well. Thank you. And you?
Small talk is very important when networking in Brazil, where personal relationships are valued first and foremost. When talking on the phone, this can take the form of some light chitchat before negotiations take place. In person, you may find yourself going out for a meal before getting down to business.
But remember, even though Brazilian culture is very warm, there are still ways to show respect and professionalism. While você (vohSAY) [you] is commonly used with peers and those younger than the speaker, o senhor [sir] and a senhora [ma’am] are polite and more formal ways to address someone. For more on Brazilian Portuguese language conventions, try our Portuguese (Brazilian) course — you’ll get access to both grammar and cultural tips crafted by expert linguists and native speakers.
4. “Talvez. (tahuVAYS.)” — Maybe.
Similarly to the Chinese and in the opposite fashion of Germany’s direct business culture, Brazilians avoid saying ‘no’ directly. Instead, you might hear talvez [maybe], which is actually just the polite way to say no during negotiations.
(Curious about more aspects of Brazilian culture? Find out what it’s really like to pick up and relocate to Brazil.)
5.“Não entendi. Pode falar mais devagar? (naum ehntehnJEE. PAWjee fahLAHR mice jeevahGAHR?)” — I didn't understand. Can you speak more slowly?
6. “Tchau! Tenha um bom dia/uma boa noite. (chow! TAYnyah oohm bohm JEEah/OOma BOah NOYchee.)”— Bye! Have a nice day/a nice evening.
What other phrases do you think are important for doing business in Brazilian Portuguese? Share them with us in the comments!