August 28, 2008 at 1:49 am 1 comment

Já is a great word in Portuguese and gets thrown in all over the place. Although it’s often translated as “already” It does the work of various words in English. These are some of the main words it covers…


A: “Eles estão perto daqui”/”They’re nearly here!” B: “Já?”/”Already?”. The present perfect tense (have + past particple) is used a lot in English but less so in Portuguese. And, in English it’s often used with already as in this example: “I’ve already eaten”. Brazilians would simply say in Portuguese “Eu já comi” lit. “I already ate”.


Just is a bizarre word in English and has probably over 10 meaings. See here for a decent list of the English meanings with translations of the Brazilian equivelent words. Já can be used to mean “just” in the sense of a small space of time. “We’re just arriving” – “Estamos chegando já já”. Often, as in the example given, já is repeated to emphasise how little the time is. Or, if the doorbell rings, often people in the house will say “Já vai!” which is when we would say in English “Just coming!”. But, “já” doesn’t necessarily mean a small space of time after an event – as in “He’s just finished playing football”. Brazilians would more likely say “Ele acaba de jogar futebol” lit. He finish of to play football.


My brother-in-law said this just the other week when we were eating out for Sunday lunch.”Esse o Restaurante mais nordestino que eu já vi”. In English we would say, “This is the most northeastern restaurant that I’ve ever been to”.

No equivelent in English.

And, quite simply, já is used in Portuguese when in English we probably wouldn’t use “already” or “just” or “ever”. For example, as in the picture above, “Eu já sabia” (lit. I already knew) maps to “I knew it!” in English. And when somebody suddenly has a eureka moment – a good idea or a solution to a problem they will declare in Portuguese “Já sei!” (lit. already I know) where we would say (usually accompanied by a light-bulb going on above our heads) “I know!”…


Entry filed under: Essential words, Grammar. Tags: , , , , , , .

Gender issues Friends with Brazilian Portuguese subtitles

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jerry Paul Igoe  |  October 19, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Hello, Dave ! Glad to hear you’re enjoying Natal just as much ) or maybe even more !!! ) than I did when I lived there from 1988-1990. I’ve still got my house in Cidade Jardim, but unfortunately haven’t actually seen it or even been in it since 2000, my last trip to Brazil. But it looks like 2009 I’ll be there !!!


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