In order to know how to say hello in Brazilian Portuguese, it’s important to distinguish first the three different ways the word ‘hello’ can be translated.
Check out my the video on my YouTube channel ‘How to say hello in Brazilian Portuguese’ and then read the post below it for more detailed information.
Let’s start with alô. Brazilians mainly use it when answering the phone, therefore you shouldn’t worry too much about it. We are more interested here in ways to say hello in Brazilian Portuguese in person.
One of the ways to say hello in Brazilian Portuguese is olá. The emphasis is on the second syllable o-lá, indicated by the accent on top of the a. The accent also tells you that the a is pronounced like an ‘open’ ah sound, as in casa. It’s important here not to be confused with the Spanish hola (emphasis on the first syllable).
The third and most common equivalent of ‘hello’ in Brazilian Portuguese is oi. Don’t confuse it with the English oi. According to the Oxford Dictionary is an expression people use to attract someone’s attention, especially in a rough or angry way!
Make sure you say oi with a happy and upbeat intonation!
Ok, so we established that oi is the greeting you’re most likely to hear Brazilians say. However, there’s also something else that they will almost always add after – the question Tudo bem? which literally translates as ‘All well?’. There are several alternatives to Tudo bem? as well, and you can check them out in my other post 6 Ways of Saying How are You in Brazilian Portuguese.
If someone says Oi, tudo bem? to you first, all you need to do to answer it is to say Tudo bem back, but with the intonation of a statement, not a question. And to be polite you can say straight after E você? (And you?).
So a normal dialogue would be:
– Oi, tudo bem?
– Tudo bem, e você?
– Tudo bem!
Now that you know how to say hello in Brazilian Portuguese, let’s have a quick look at some pronunciation tips.
There are two things you need to look out for when saying Tudo bem:
- The first thing you need to pay attention to is the o at the end of the word tudo.
You should try and pronounce it as a short ooh sound, like the u in the English word rule. This is normally the case when the o is the last letter in a word (that’s if the o doesn’t have any accents above it, if it’s just a plain o). Other examples: oito (eight), muito (much).
- The second word you need to be careful when pronouncing is bem.
A common mistake is to pronounce the m (by closing your lips) at the end. Try and avoid that! When a word ends in m and it’s preceded by an i or an e, the sound you’re aiming at here is a very nasal ng. Other examples: sim (yes), ninguém (nobody).