Discover The Difference Between Tudo and Todo In Portuguese
One of my Spanish-speaking friends always had trouble understanding the difference between “tudo” and “todo” in Portuguese. In a conversation with him, a sentence like “eu vejo tudas as novelas” (I see all the soap operas) was likely to pop up.
It seemed to be a problem exclusive to Spanish-speaking learners of Portuguese… But I was mistaken.
One of my students struggled with that for about two months. At the time, we had about one lesson every two weeks — in between, he would strike up conversations with friends in Portuguese.
Sometimes he got it right — yay — but sometimes he got extremely frustrated about it. Why the heck do you guys have such similar words with so many meanings?
Fair enough. But then, when I noticed he hadn’t grasped this teeny-weeny part of the puzzle, I could finally help.
And here’s what I did.
The Pronunciation of Tudo and Todo
This is the first thing we have to get out of the way.
Especially to English-speaking ears, “tudo” and “todo” sound almost the same. To Brazilians, the difference means a world (and I mean it, more and that in a second).
You should pronounce “tudo” with round, protruded lips, the same use for booing bad performers on stage.
The first “o” in “todo” is closer to “oh, he didn’t!” You shouldn’t protrude your lips when pronouncing this word.
Below, you’ll find my reading of the examples. Listen for the difference, and practice it yourself.
Tudo — Nuts and Bolts
Even if you are not grammatically inclined, you will understand that “tudo” means ” everything” and that it’s an indefinite pronoun (like alguém, nenhum etc).
As such, you can’t say things like “tudas as novelas.”
But there is one more thing: “tudo” is the only form and shape you’ll find this word in. There is no feminine, no plural, no anything…
And whenever you use it, you should bear in mind that it is a third-person “pronoun.”
And as such, you can’t say “tudo estão bem” — although I can see the logic.
Let’s take a look at some examples to deepen your knowledge.
- Ela já sabe de tudo — não adianta esconder nada mais. She knows everything — there is no point in hiding it anymore.
- Tudo o que eu faço, faço por você. Everything I do, I do for you.
- Eu comprei tudo de que precisava naquela loja. I bought everything that I needed from that shop.
- Eu vi tudo: o filme, a resenha, o livro… e não gostei de nada. I saw everything: the movie, the review, the book… And I didn’t like anything.
- Tudo bem com você? Is everything okay with you?
As you can see in the fourth example, “tudo” is the opposite of “nada.”
(And hey, don’t quit yet — down below you’ll find a section that details some interesting and informal uses of “TUDO.”)
Todo — a No-nonsense Guide
You don’t really want to get caught up in grammatical explanations and translations, do you? We need them to some extent. But let’s not complicate things.
“Todo” is an adjective. You may have learned that an adjective modifies a noun. It’s a modifier. And as such, it needs to be paired up with another word… Or else, it won’t make sense.
Also, bear in mind that “todo” can also be modified — it has to agree with the noun it follows. Thus:
- Toda novela que assisto…
- Todos os amigos que tenho…
- Todo livro que leio…
Swell, isn’t it?
Now, “todo” has three basic meanings: every, any, entire.
Todo as Every, All
- Eu gosto de todos os filmes do Francis Ford Coppola. I like every movie by Francis Ford Coppola.
- Todos os alunos sabem falar muito bem. All the students knew how to speak very well.
- Todas as pessoas dessa sala estão aqui para estudar português. All people in this room are here to study Portuguese.
- Todas as mulheres que trabalham aqui recebem um salário muito bom. Every woman who works here receives a very good salary.
You’ll see that some of the translations aren’t idiomatic. I did so to draw your attention to the difference between singular and plural when we use the word “todo” in the sense of all, every.
And you see that I need to include the article (o, a, os, as) after the word “todo, toda, etc.” (this is important!)
You’ll see in a moment that it’s not always mandatory with the singular, but it’s obligatory with the plural.
Todo o Mundo, Todo Mundo
At first blush, you might imagine that both sentences mean “all the world.” Unfortunately, that may not be the case (but it may, attention).
Both expressions mean “everybody” and both are acceptable… Though some grammarians prefer the first one in writing. In speaking, there isn’t any difference. And you will actually have a hard time trying to pronounce “todo o mundo” fast and making the article “O” sound clearly.
But, if what you mean is the whole world, you can either use:
- O mundo todo
- Todo o mundo
The article is mandatory here.
Todo as Any
- Eu leio todo livro que pego. I read any book that I get.
- Ele compra toda roupa que vê, por mais inútil que seja. He buys every piece of clothing he sees no matter how useless it is.
You’ll see that in my translation I used “every” for the second example. When the implied meaning is “no matter what thing,” “indiscriminately,” then “todo” can be used.
You’ll notice that it’s in the singular form it doesn’t take the article.
Todo as Entire, Whole
- Eu li todo o livro. I read the whole book.
- Trabalho o dia todo… não tenho tempo para essas coisas. I work the whole day… I don’t have time for these things.
The difference between Todo as Entire, Whole and Todo as Every, All is very slight. But it’s there.
When you say:
- Todas as pessoas dessa sala estão aqui para estudar português.
We understand that you are not excluding any individual.
But, when you say:
- Trabalho o dia todo… não tenho tempo para essas coisas.
It’s clear to us that you mean the duration of something.
It’s like the difference between:
- Eu vejo o filme todo / todo o filme. I see the whole movie.
- Eu vejo todo filme. I see every movie.
The really astute student — and by that I mean you — asks:
But isn’t that similar to “cada filme”?
You can’t begin to understand how happy you make me.
In the Media, Daily Life, and Conversations
You’ll like specially the word “tudo.”
You can sound more Brazilian with it and don’t have to work much for that.
How? It’s because “tudo” can also be used in the construction “é tudo, são tudo + adjective” (everybody, they all are + adjective.)
A good example is what Rubens Ricupero said of the politicians in Brazil in 1994.
- É tudo bandido. They’re all bandits.
Again, “tudo” doesn’t change — even if you use it in the plural.
- Ali naquele lugar, são tudo malandro. Over that place, they’re all good-for-nothings.
This second usage is considered bad Portuguese. But, that’s how people talk every day. Don’t pay attention to people who say otherwise.
You also can use “tudinho” for “tudo” when you want to be more emphatic.
A parent might say “você tem que comer tudinho” (You’ve got to eat everything) to a child. And the child would know she couldn’t leave a single pea.
Well, and for you to practice a little bit more — and if you’re feeling pretty advanced today — you can listen to the song “Como Nossos Pais”. Elis Regina emphasizes the TUDO here, and you’ll never forget.
Every day, you can increase your confidence in your Portuguese speaking (and reading) skills and, someday, you’ll simply come up with words you didn’t know you could say before. Just imagine… the exhilaration of speaking Portuguese naturally and authentically!