• Virginia Langhammer

Brazilians don't say NO!




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Have you ever noticed that Brazilians don't know how to say “no”?

A peculiar characteristic of Brazilians is that we find it difficult to say “no” because we want to please and are afraid of offending or disappointing the other person when we say “no”.

Instead, we find several ways to get around the subject without giving a clearly negative answer.

Of course, each person is different, and some people find it much easier to say “no” than other people, but I think many Brazilians will agree with me on this subject.

I would like to clarify that when I say that Brazilians don’t say “no”, I’m not referring to the use of the word NÃO. We use the word NÃO all the time. I'm referring to saying “no” to invitations, offers, negotiations, or giving a negative opinion on an issue.

I'll give you some examples of when we use the word “não” and when we don't.

In matters that don't involve refusing anything to the other person, we say “não” easily. For example:

- Você está com fome? (Are you hungry?)

- Não, eu já comi há pouco tempo. (No, I ate a little while ago.)

- Você já assistiu a esse filme? (Have you watched this movie?)

- Ainda não. (Not yet.)

- Você viu a Maria na festa? (Did you see Maria at the party?)

- Não vi. Quando cheguei, ela já tinha saído. (I didn’t. When I arrived, she had already left.)

Now, I'm going to talk about a very common situation where we don't say “não”.

For example, you meet a friend on the street, and he invites you to do something on the weekend.

In this situation, we don't say “não”. Let's look at some common answers:

Você quer fazer algo no fim de semana? (Do you want to do something on the weekend?)

- Pode ser. Vou ver e te aviso. (Sure. I'll see and let you know.)

- Vamos nos falando. (Let's keep talking.)

- Vamos combinar. (Let's talk about it.)

Vou dar uma festa no sábado. Você quer vir? (I'm having a party on Saturday. Do you want to come?)

- Se der, eu vou. (If I can, I'll go.)

- Se der, eu apareço lá. (If I can, I'll stop by.)

- Vou tentar ir. (I'll try to go.)

- Vou ver se posso, e te mando uma mensagem. (I'll see if I can, and I'll text you.)

Usually, when a Brazilian says, “Vamos nos falando” (let's keep talking),” “Se der, eu vou” (if I can, I'll go),” it means that the answer is “no”.

That's what I wanted to share with you today. I would love to hear your opinion on this subject. Do you find it easy to say “no”? Write a comment below with your answer.


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Até a próxima!


Your teacher,


Virginia