What to Say after You Say Hi in Portuguese… And That Works for Non-Introverts, Too
You know that feeling.
It’s your first conversation lesson. It’s a new teacher. You introduce yourself, the teacher introduces herself, and that’s that.
Or, you’re talking to Brazilian friends the first time. You introduce yourself, ask a few amenities, clasp your hands behind you and break a sweat.
What to say?
Saying hi in Portuguese is easy enough (and other greetings, sure) — but what do you say after that?
Especially if you are an introvert like me, you probably have a hard time coming up with follow-up questions.
But you don’t want do-you-like-ice-cream type of questions. You want something that will hook into something else. You want to have a real Portuguese conversation.
And to give you that extra help, I’ve brought five of the most common conversation follow-ups we have in Portuguese. Those work especially well for casual conversations.
0. What’s Up?
First and foremost, you can always pair this up with “hi” in Portuguese.
As far as vowels are concerned, it’s a mouthful. And it’s good practice for your English-speaking mind to wrap itself around.
It will sound something like this.
This is a basic cluster, and you can use it with anybody in some formal and most of the informal situations.
But if you’re in a business meeting or talking with a high-level client who is completely uptight about close relationships, saying “oi, e aí?” might draw some funny looks.
1. Me conta as novidades.
“Tell me the news.”
It reminds me of some friends I have who always say “what’s new?” when they meet up with me.
- Oi, Maria. E aí? Me conta as novidades. Hi, Mary. What’s up? Tell me the news.
Sometimes I have nothing new to say. My life is pretty boring — work, study, write, sleep.
If your life is like mine, you might want to reply with this:
- Nenhuma novidade. Minha vida está parada. No news. My life is stagnant.
I know, I know. That might sound too serious. But that’s pretty common and perfectly socially acceptable.
2. Que você anda fazendo?
“What have you been doing?”
And here, we mean it. We want to know everything you’ve been up to since the last time we met.
And please notice that I’m using the verb “andar” (walk) here. When you pair it up with the gerund — the -ndo ending — it takes the meaning of “have been + ING”.
Like in Ando Meio Distraído (“I’ve been a bit distracted”), a song originally by Os Mutantes, here in the outstanding voice of Marisa Monte:
- Oi Maria. E aí? O que você anda fazendo? Hi Mary. What’s up? What have you been doing?
3. [person], eu nem te conto…
“Let me tell you a good one.”
Here, it’s an idiomatic expression that always precedes some kind of gossip.
The literal translation is “I don’t even tell you”. But of course, I’m telling you right now.
This is a good way to follow up a simple greeting in Portuguese with a story that makes connections.
And if you’re speaking partner is a bit like me — someone who doesn’t talk much about his or her life — this is a great conversation starter.
You can include something of real human interest. Some of my conversation classes tend to start this way and segued to a more structured conversation.
- Oi, Maria. E aí? O que você anda fazendo? Hi Mary. What’s up? What have you been doing?
- Paula, eu nem te conto. Lembra do Roberval? Paula, let me tell you a good one. Do you remember Roberval?
- Lembro sim. O que tem ele? Of course I do. What is it about him?
- Ganhou na loteria mês passado. Se casou com uma filipina e foi morar na Tailândia. He won the lottery last month. He married a Filipino woman and went to Thailand to live there.
4. Você está sabendo da última?
“Have you heard the latest?”
If you think Brazilians tend to gossip a lot just because you saw these follow-up questions usually deal with gossip, you’re dead right.
Most of the time, you can see that when two Brazilians gathered together there gossiping.
I don’t mean trash talk anybody or backstab anybody. I’m talking about good, old-fashioned gossip — that social glue that ties our society together.
And once I heard of a friend whose grandmother didn’t want to gossip for a month.
That was a promise she did to God.
Her family thought she was depressed and even set up an appointment with the psychiatrist for her (!). All she had done was a promise.
- Oi, Paula, você está sabendo da última? O Roberval ganhou na loteria e fugiu do país. Ele nem pagou o dinheiro que estava me devendo. Hi, Paula, have you heard the news? Roberval won the lottery and fled the country. He didn’t even pay me back my money he owed me.
5. Quer dar uma volta no shopping/centro/restaurante…?
“Do you want to drop by the shopping mall/downtown/restaurant…?”
It’s good etiquette to invite your friends to go with you somewhere.
And why not use that as a follow-up question?
- Oi Paula, tudo bem? Quer dar uma voltinha no shopping comigo hoje? Vou comprar umas coisinhas. A gente podia ir conversando no caminho. Hi, Paula. How are you? Do you want to drop by the shopping mall with me today? I’m going to buy a few things. We could talk on our way to the shopping mall.
So, these were the five most common follow-up questions to say after you say “hi” in Portuguese.
Do you know any other expression? Is it customary in your country to follow up on a hi with something?
Leave it in the comments below. 🙂