The Versatile E Aí in Portuguese, and How You Can Use it in Just About Every Situation
E aí is just that expression.
You’ve probably heard it on TV before. Especially if you watch Porta dos Fundos — the YouTube channel.
It’s versatile — from saying “hello” to drawing someone’s attention and then some, e aí remains one of the most commonly used expressions in Brazil nowadays.
In less than ten minutes I’m going to show you how you can speak Portuguese more fluently with one expression only.
But quickly — you don’t have that much time, and I’m not that smart (I’m taking it from my favorite writers).
John walks up to his friends and says, “E aí?”
That’s by far its most common use. You’ve probably heard that before. If you haven’t, perhaps you haven’t been in a very informal situation this far.
(And you should! Portuguese thrives in informality.)
And the best thing is, you can spice up just about any greeting by inserting “E aí?” before the greetings.
- E aí? Como vão as coisas? How is it going?
- Oi, Marcos? E aí? Hi, Marcos! What’s up?
- E aí, Samantha. Como vai? Hey, Samantha. How are you?
Pronunciation Master Tip
Words ending in “i” tend to change into a long, closed “ê” when you stretch their pronunciation — something Brazilians do all the time.
So, “E aí?” Becomes “E aê?”
And one of Banda Beijo’s most famous songs illustrates my point. (the chorus means, “wait a minute. What are you thinking?”)
If you say it quickly, “EE” is the pronunciation you want. But if you stretch your vowels a bit, it changes into “AY” (as in “day”, but shorter).
Everyone gathers around Pamela. She’s a master storyteller. She knows how to tell a story, spruce it up, include details that make you sit upright, pricking up your ears.
She’s just described how her mother escaped prison harmless… But then Pamela goes silent. Wanting to know what she has to say next, you say, “E aí?”
When you want to know what’s next — if someone is telling a story or something, you can use “E aí?”
- Então minha mãe ficou pensando um montão. Then my mother kept thinking a lot.
- E aí? O que aconteceu depois? And then? What happened next?
Drawing Someone’s Attention
Taylor is a good guy but a terrible coworker — projects get stalled in his hand. You can never count on him to finish things in time.
A bit angry, you approach him and ask:
E aí, como ‘tá o andamento do projeto?
Whenever you want to draw someone’s attention and introduce a topic right after, you can use “E aí?”
- E aí, como ‘tá o andamento do projeto? Hey, how’s the project going?
- ‘Tá indo bem. Vou ter tudo pronto na segunda. It’s going well. I will have it finished by Monday.
- E aí, o que me diz? Vai participar da festa? And then, what do you say? Are you going to take part in the party?
I still remember seeing this picture a Chinese friend sent me.
It was from an English textbook. In it, a kid and a mother talked in the kitchen. The mother was preparing some food. A speech balloon hovered above each one’s head. In the child’s speech balloon one read, “mom, I’m hungry.” The student should complete the mom’s speech balloon. I imagine there was an expected answer… but the pupil wrote, “so?”
In that situation, you would use, “E aí?”
- E aí? O que tenho a ver com isso? So? What do they have to do with it?
- E aí? O que espera que eu faça? So? What do you expect me to do?
- E aí? O que ‘cê acha que eu posso fazer? So? Would you think I can do?
You’ll probably hear another expression in its place, “e então?” But “e aí” sounds easier and “angrier” 🙂
If you want to say, “so what?” with the same intonation as in English, “e daí?” is what you want.
A Bit of Humor for You
Among the LGBTQI+, the pronunciation of “E aí” in Portuguese changes greatly. It becomes nasal — very nasal.
I got the following meme from the Internet. And it’s oh so funny — it illustrates how you could use “E aí??” to carry out an entire conversation.
E Aí in Portuguese — Closing Thoughts
Portuguese is a living language. It’s spoken in several countries and territories, but — IMHO — in Brazil, it has found a place to thrive and soar.
You’ll certainly see E aí being used in different contexts in Brazil, but I’m sure your friends can come up with other usages as well.
Before I leave you, I would like to ask:
Do you know any other Portuguese expression you find highly useful? Leave it in the comments section below. This is going to help not only me but your friends and fellow Portuguese learners as well.