How Do You Say Take Care in Portuguese? And Why You Should Care
Did you know that, depending on how you say “take care” in Portuguese, it might mean “I hate you”?
But that’s not the only meaning of this phrase.
If you have a fledgling Portuguese vocabulary, knowing how to use the following expressions will give a confidence boost.
“Can You Take Care of My Babies?”
Alice is a single mother of two. But her babies are a bit different. They’re furry, four-legged babies, so cute but oh so noisy. Alice needs to visit her mother in the hospital but doesn’t know what to do with the “babies”.
She turns to Maria, a good friend, and asks:
- Você pode tomar conta dos meus cachorros neste final de semana? É que vou fazer uma viagem para visitar a minha mãe. Can you take care of my dogs this weekend? It’s just that I need to visit my mother.
Maria accepts it. She likes dogs. But then she makes this remark about babies:
- Eu não gosto de tomar conta de crianças, porque não tenho paciência. I don’t like taking care of children. I am not patient.
So, as you could see from the examples above, “tomar conta” equals to “look after, take care of”.
But you can use that very same expression to describe the forest fires in California:
- O fogo tomou conta de boa parte das florestas da Califórnia. The fire spread over a big part of the forests in California.
And in this case, “tomar conta de” also means to “spread over” or “to dominate.” Like in the following example, about the overbearing Patricia.
- Não gosto de conversar com a Patrícia, porque ela sempre toma conta das conversas. I don’t like talking with Patricia. She always takes over the conversations.
“Can You Take Care of This Job?”
The question above might be both polite and impolite all at once
It’s polite because it’s considerate. Whoever asks it wants to know whether you can do it or not.
It’s impolite because it reveals a lack of confidence in what you can do.
So, when you say you’re able to do something — because you’ve been tasked with it — the expression then is “dar conta de algo”.
- Será que você pode dar conta do trabalho hoje? Eu estou muito cansada e preciso de sua ajuda. I wonder if you can take care of this job today. I’m so tired and need your help.
- Não se preocupe, eu posso dar conta desse problema. Don’t worry, I can take care of this problem.
“Taking Care of My Plants Helps Me Relax My Mind.”
When I was younger, I didn’t see the value of taking care of plants for relaxation. Now, as I grow older, I crave that.
And you’ll see that “tomar conta de” (look after, take care of) that we studied above has the same meaning as “cuidar de.”
- Para mim, a melhor forma de relaxar é cuidar das minhas plantinhas. To me, the best way to relax is by taking care of my little plants.
- Eu vou cuidar da minha pele. Estou envelhecendo muito rápido. I’m going to take care of my skin. I’m growing old very fast.
The difference between “tomar conta de” and “cuidar de” is that the latter is univocal. That’s the verb you use if you need to care for an injured family member, for example.
“Always Take Good Care!”
This is how one of my students always ends his email messages. And I find it very nice.
That’s how you will express “Take Care!” in Brazil:
- Se cuide!
- Te cuida!
- Se cuide e boa sorte! Take care and good luck!
The important thing to notice is that the second example uses the command form for “tu”.
Does this make a big difference? Not much… unless you are preparing for CELPE-Bras.
And to go a little further:
“Se cuide” might be kind of a warning.
Imagine you’ve been working for the same company for 20+ years. You. Are. Tired. You don’t want to take part in the training that the management wants you to be in. Seeing that, your friend warns you:
- Fulano, se cuide. Com os novos funcionários na empresa, é muito importante ter um bom desempenho para não perder o emprego. You had better be careful. With the new employees in the company, having a good performance is very important for us not to lose our jobs.
And you probably know this situation:
You’re talking to someone on the phone. You get angry. You want to tell this person to “stick it.” But you’re too polite. So, you say furiously, “take good care!” But actually, anyone hearing that would know you didn’t mean that.
- Passar bem! Take good care. (Angrily)
Literally, it’s “to pass well”. But whoever hears it knows instantly it’s not what you mean.
“Be Careful with Your Words, Bubba”
And “careful”, a word that derives from “care”, is also part of our short lesson.
- Quando estiver nas ruas de Salvador, tenha cuidado. O trânsito é bastante intenso. When you are on the streets of Salvador, be careful. The traffic is rather intense.
- É melhor você tomar cuidado com esses fios. Você não vai querer morrer eletrocutado. You had better be careful with these wires. You don’t want to die electrocuted.
- Seja mais cuidadoso com suas palavras. Não se pode sair por aí insultando as pessoas assim. Be more careful with your words. You can’t go around insulting people like that.
“Raise Your Hand to Heaven — Everything Will Take Care of Itself”
I don’t quite believe everything takes care of itself. I don’t know, the English phrase gives me the sensation that “everything” — whatever it is — is taking action.
In my humble opinion, the Portuguese expression… Well… It expresses the concept in a better way. Because the verb “resolve” has this “unwinding” meaning to it, as if whatever was the case just disappeared and dissolved like that.
But that’s just me 🙂
- Não se meta nesse problema. Isso vai se resolver sozinho. Don’t get involved in this problem. It’s going to take care of itself.
- Para esse tipo de situação, o melhor é esperar. Tudo se resolve no final. In this kind of situation, waiting is the best thing to do. Everything takes care of itself in the end.
- Se você não se envolver, tudo se resolve por si só. If you don’t meddle with it, everything takes care of itself.
I hope that with this short vocabulary lesson you’ve been able to see the power of using words properly. Even with the smallest of the vocabularies, you’re able to express yourself clearly.
Not only does this give you a boost in your confidence… It also helps you be yourself in Portuguese and get rid of that frustration we usually feel when we want to say something but we’re not sure how to say it.
Take care! In Portuguese, you can always count on my help 🙂
And if you want to practice this and have me help you take care of your Portuguese needs, contact me. I might even have a free spot for you for a trial lesson.