There are a few different ways to say “thank you” in Portuguese, and I’m going to show you them.
In this article, I'll cover everything you need to know on the topic of thanking people in Portuguese. We'll start with the most important and common word you should know, explain its exact usage and teach you some subtleties and intricacies that many learners miss. We'll also cover some less-charted corners, including both colloquialisms and formalities.
Are you ready? Obrigado for your attention:
“Thank You” in Portuguese: Obrigado/Obrigada
The simplest way to say “thank you” in Portuguese is obrigado. You must change the ending to match your own gender; men say obrigado and women say obrigada.
Beginners sometimes miss this point, so let me repeat that the choice of obrigado or obrigada depends on your gender, not the gender of the person you're speaking to. It's like saying “much obliged” in English – you're the one who's obliged, not them.
In casual speech, obrigado and obrigada are often shortened to a simple ‘brigado or ‘brigada, respectively.
Note that obrigado is also an adjective meaning “obliged”, as in “to be obliged to do something.” For example: vocês são obrigados a me compensar – “you (plural) are obliged to compensate me.” This is derived from the verb obrigar, which can mean “to oblige”, “to force”, “to impose” or “to compel”.
Note that the plural forms obrigados and obrigadas are never used in the sense of “thank you”. If you want to thank someone on behalf of a group, you can't do it one word; instead you could say something like te agredecemos.
“Thanks” in Portuguese: ‘Brigado, viu?
When I lived in São Paulo I heard the expression ‘brigado, viu? all the time.
Viu? is a contraction of ouviu? – “did you hear?”, and when you translate it directly it seems like a strange thing to say after thanking someone.
But in Brazil, ending your sentences with viu? is a very common colloquialism; it doesn't really mean anything but it can make the sentence sound more friendly.
Note that the question mark after viu? is no accident; you pronounce it as if it were a question, going up at the end.
In northeastern Brazil, people say obrigado, visse?, which has the same meaning. Visse comes from ouviste, an alternative form of ouviu, but the conjugation ouviste itself isn't used anymore in Brazil. (Brazilians don't use the “tu” forms of verbs, although they remain common in European and African Portuguese.)
“Thank you very much” in Portuguese: Muito obrigado
What if a simple “thanks” isn't enough? If you want to say something like “many thanks” in Portuguese, you can say something like muito obrigado. (Muito means “very”, “many”, or “much”.)
Note that muito is one of the very few Portuguese words that isn't pronounced like it's spelled. The “i” is pronounced nasally, as if it were muinto or muĩto. (Portuguese contains lots of nasal vowel sounds; they're not the very first thing that a beginner should worry about it, but they do need to be learned and understood.)
If you're really thankful, you could take things up a notch with muitíssimo obrigado or obrigadíssimo. However, note that these sound extremely strong – you'd only say this if someone has done something huge for you – for example, given you a thousand dollars for free.
As you can imagine, obrigadíssimo and muitíssimo obrigado aren't said very often.
“Thanks a lot” in Portuguese: Brigadão and Brigadino
“Diminutive” words are very common in Portuguese speech. For example, while casa means “house”, casinha means “little house”. However, the -inho/inha suffix doesn't always have to mean a literal difference in size; it's often just a way of making a word sound cuter or more colloquial.
Similarly, the opposite of a diminutive is an “augmentative”, which implies bigness (casarão = “big house”) but can also imply friendliness or casualness. For example, if someone calls you amigão (“big friend”), they're not calling you fat; it's just another way of saying amigo.
So with that in mind, allow me to introduce the words ‘brigadão and ‘brigadinho/brigadinha. They're the augmentative and diminutive forms of ‘brigado, and are both a super-casual and affectionate alternative. So to say “thanks friend!” in Portuguese, try ‘brigadão, amigão!
Note that women tend to use brigadinha more than men say brigadinha; it's a somewhat girly word.
“Thank you for…” in Portuguese – Obrigada por
To thank someone for a specific thing in Portuguese, use the word por. Just remember that por becomes pelo or pela when followed by o/a (“the”). It's best explained by example:
- Obrigada por cozinhar – “thanks for cooking”
- Obrigada pela ajuda – “thanks for the help”
- Obrigada pelo dinheiro – “thanks for the money”
“Cheers” in Portuguese: Valeu
Another colloquial alternative to obrigado is valeu. This is extremely common in Brazil, and it just means “thanks”, or as we British people might say, “cheers”.
Note that valeu is not used in Portugal.
“To Thank” in Portuguese: Agradecer
You may be wondering how to say “thanks” or “to thank” in a more complex Portuguese sentence, like “I'd like to thank you all for coming” or “he thanked me for my help”. Obigrado can't fit in here.
Look no further than the verb agradecer which means – you guessed it – “to thank”.
- Quero agradecer a todos por estarem aqui essa noite – “I'd like to thank you all for being here tonight.”
- Me agradeceu porque fiz mais que o necessário – “He thanked me because I did more than necessary”
- Você não vai me agradecer? – “Aren't you going to thank me?”
“Thanks to…” in Portuguese: Graças a…
Graça means “grace”, in the general sense of “gratitude”, and also in the sense of the prayer you say before eating a meal. (“To say grace” is Dar graças.) It can also be used to mean “thanks”, especially in an aside that gives thanks to a specific person or entity.
Perhaps the most common of use of graças is in graças a Deus – “thanks to God”! But you don't have to be religious to use this word:
- Encontrei o libro, graças ao bibliotecário – “I found the book, thanks to the librarian”
- Vamos chegar tarde, graças ao João – “We're going to arrive late, thanks to João”
“Thankful” in Portuguese: Grato
One last word worth knowing about is grato.
Grato/grata is an adjective meaning “grateful” or “thankful”. As with obrigado, whether you use grato or grata depends on your gender.
Grato is quite formal and rarely used in speech. It's the kind of word you'd use to sign off a formal letter (“grato/a, [YOUR NAME]“), or see in corporate communication.
“No, thanks” in Portuguese: Obrigado
Here's an interesting subtlety about the word obrigado. In certain situations, it can mean “no”.
Picture the scene: your friend is over to visit, and as you sit around the living room, you take a drink out of its case and offer it to them. If they say “obrigado”, they're telling you they don't want the drink.
It's like saying “no thanks”, except without the “no”. In English we might also say “I'm good” in the same situation. Typically if you say obrigado in this context you'd make a dismissive hand gesture as you say it.
What if you do want the drink? Simply say sim, por favor – “yes please!”
“You're Welcome” in Portuguese: De nada
So when someone says obrigado or valeu to you, gives you their graças, or tells you that they want to agradecer you, what should your reply be?
The most common way to say “you're welcome” is de nada; literally “of nothing”. You can also say por nada. There's no real difference; de nada is more common.
Another way to politely respond to a “thank you” is não há de quê. This literally means something like “there's nothing of it”.
Obrigado Por Reading!
I'd like to agradecer you for reading this article, and also say graças to my Brazilian wife, who helped me with the details.
Is there anything I've missed? Any other pleasantries or phatics which every Portuguese speaker should know? Obrigado in advance for your thoughts – we'd love to hear them in the comments.
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.