Brazil Culture: When Yes Means No!

By Prof. Luiz
Stereotypes can be good and bad. They are useful sometimes to learn about a broad range of habits or characteristics found in a group of people. However they should not be applied indiscriminately to individuals, as they will often be incorrect. So, let’s analyze one component of the Brazilian stereotype:
Brazilians never refuse invitations.
Have you ever invited a Brazilian to a party at your place? If yes, then you probably heard some of the following replies.

Sim, claro que vou. (Yes, of course I will go to your party!)
Pode contar comigo. (You can count on it!)
Irei se Deus quiser. (I will go God willing)
A gente se v l. (See you there!)

Try to remember if a Brazilian has ever refused your invitation? Probably Never. So try to understand why.

Because the concern for human feelings and human relations makes the refusing of invitations difficult, some Brazilians accept the invitations even when they are completely busy on the day of the event. On the other hand, Americans, for instance, in this kind of situation, say: – I would like to go to your party but… I can not. It is easier to say NO” and so the person does not feel bad refusing the invitation. These contrasting perceptions and values show clearly the differences between Americans and Brazilians.

Some other tips about Brazilian culture and language with liberal translations:

“amanhs” que nunca chegam; (tomorrow, than never comes)

“aparea l em casa” (Drop by!), it is not an invitation but a polite way to say bye bye.

“p, voc sumiu!” (You disappeared!) means “eu me esqueci de voc” (I forgot about you!) or “não tive tempo para me preocupar com voc, agora que o vi que lembrei que voc existe” (I did not have time to think about you, but now that I see you, I remember you exist).

If you would like further information about the Brazilian “jeitinho” (the Brazilian knack of getting around things), you should read the following books:

How to be a carioca: The Alternative Guide for the Tourist in Rio
Autora: Priscilla Ann Goslin
Dando um jeito no jeitinho Como ser tico sem deixar de ser brasileiro
Autor: Loureno Stelio Rega, Editora Mundo Cristão

Prof. LUIZ is available for individual or group lessons in Rio de Janeiro and can be contacted by e-mail at

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