In this post we’ll have a look at a very common noun in Brazilian Portuguese. A versatile word that you can use to refer to anything you want. The word coisa.
But before I start, I just want to say that this is by no means an exhaustive list of of all the different meanings and expressions with the word coisa, but these are the ones that I consider to be the most common ones.
👉 The basic meaning of the word coisa is thing.
You can use it to refer to something you don’t know the name of, or even something you don’t know what it actually is. Let’s suppose you’re looking at something and you don’t know what it actually is. You could say:
Que coisa é essa?
What is this thing?
👉 You can also use the word coisa to ask what the name of something is:
Qual é o nome dessa coisa?
What is the name of this thing?
👉 Another usage of the word coisa is when we ask how someone is.
We’ve seen in other videos different ways of asking how someone is:
Tudo bem? or Como vai? or Como tá?
Now let’s see an example of how to use the word coisa when we want to ask how someone is:
This would be the equivalent of the English How are things going? or How’s things? As always with the verb estar, you can shorten it by omitting the ‘es’ part of it to sound more natural, more fluent.
Como tão as coisas?
👉 We can also use the word coisa to express surprise, normally of the negative kind.
For example, if someone tells you that something bad happened, you could say, to show empathy, to show that you are listening:
Que coisa!, which would be the equivalent of saying in English What a thing to happen!
👉 Now, for the next one we actually have to have a look at another word, the word alguma, which means some.
When you follow alguma with the word coisa, it means something, alguma coisa.
The word alguma is an indefinite pronoun, and it’s in the feminine form, because coisa is a feminine noun.
You can use alguma coisa in a question, for example.
If you want to offer someone something to drink, you could say:
Você quer alguma coisa pra beber?
Do you want something to drink?
As a side note here, there is actually one single word that means something, and that is algo – you might have already seen it in Brazilian Portuguese course books. However, if you say the word algo, when you mean something, you will sound quite formal.
Brazilians will almost never use algo in colloquial conversation, alguma coisa is much more common.
👉 The next one is a possible answer to the question that we saw:
Você quer alguma coisa pra beber? Do you want something to drink?
You could answer by saying:
Ah, qualquer coisa!
So, if alguma coisa means something, qualquer coisa means anything.
👉 Another meaning of the word coisa, the last one we’re going to be talking about today is situation.
Let’s see an example:
Let’s suppose you and you’re friends are talking about the current political and economical situation of Brazil, one of them might say at some point:
A coisa tá complicada!
The situation is complicated!
And, of course you can change the adjective here to something else, you could say for example,
A coisa tá difícil!
The situation is difficult!
A coisa tá feia!
The situation is ugly (tough).
The word coisa is one of the most used words in Brazilian Portuguese. I’ve put a list together of the 50 Most Used Words in Brazilian Portuguese. Check it out to find out what the other 49 are!