September 12, 2008

Brazilian Writer: Machado de Assis

This may be especially interesting for Portuguese learners and Brazilian culture appreciators in New York City: from Sept. 15th-19th, there will a centennial celebration of Machado de Assis, a Brazilian author regarded as one of the most important writers of Brazilian literature. This will include the screening of two movies at the Latinbeat 2008 film festival, discussion panels and a book exhibit.

Wheather you are in NYC or not, it may be fun to practice reading in Portuguese by learning a little about Machado de Asiss (if you are not there yet, you can read about him in English here or here).

A lot of Brazilians have read some of his books as part of their high school education, but the language is older and quite different from colloquial Portuguese, so it can be tough to read, even for advanced students. If you are up to it, his original work, in Portuguese, can be downloaded for free from Domínio Público... Or you can get an English translation, just in case :-).

Expressions with dar: 'Dar para' em Portuguese

Today's tip will show you how to use the expression dar para in Portuguese. This is a very natural and common way to say that something is possible/ doable. Here are a couple of examples:

Dá para ver a cidade inteira do topo da Sears towers!
One can see the whole city from the top of the Sears towers.

Não dá para dirigir de Los Angeles até Nova Iorque em um dia: é muito longe!
One cannot/ It is not possible to drive from L.A. to NY in one day: it is too far!

Com a nova ponte, vai dar para chegar em casa bem rápido.
With the new bridge, it will be possible to arrive home very quickly.


(Ananda:) Eu fui no MoMA ontem ver a exposição do Dali, mas não deu pra ver nada: estava muito cheio!
I went to MoMA yesterday to see the Dali exhibition, but one could not see anything: it was too full!

(Dju-Dju:)É, quinta-feira é muito cheio... Amanhã vai estar menos cheio e vai dar para ver melhor.
Yeah, Thursday it is very full... Tomorrow it will be less full and it will be possible to see better.

Deu para entender os exemplos?
Was it possible to understand the examples?

So the structure is:

DAR PARA + VERB(infinitive)
to roughly mean: It is possible to VERB

1. Exercise: Answer however many questions you can:
1. Dá para dirjir de Nova Iorque até Los Angeles em um dia?
2. Dá para dirjir de Nova Iorque até Los Angeles em cinco dias?
3. Dá pra ver o mar da sua janela?
4. Dá para pegar (pick up) a Internet dos vizinhos na sua casa?

Have a look at the verb dar in the examples. Did you notice they are always the verb form (conjugation) for ele (dá, deu, vai dar). That is how you always use the verb in this expression (with the third person singular form of the verb).

That is not to say that you can't 'personalize' them a little bit by saying that an action is possible/doable for specific people, as in the following examples:

vai dar para ela chegar em Nova Iorque em três dias.
It will only be possible for me to arrive in New York in three days.

Não deu para eu ir no seu aniversário: eu estava muito ocupada.*
It was not possible for me to go to your birthday: I was very busy.

Não dá para eu ler o cardápio: eu esqueci os meus óculos.
It is not possible for me to read the menu, I have forgotten my glasses.

Dá para você abaixar o volume do seu som, por favor?
Is it possible for you to lower the volume of your stereo, please?

In this case, the structure is like this:

It is possible for me/you/Maria... to VERB

Notice that the verb dar is still the form for ele (dá, deu, vai dar...).**

Now let's practice again:

1. Exercise: Answer whichever questions you can:
1. Dá para você ver o mar da janela do seu quarto?
2. Vai dar para você ir no Brasil este ano?
3. Dá para você pegar a Internet dos vizinhos na sua casa?
4. Deu para entender esta dica (=tip)?
5. Dá para alguém dirjir de Nova Iorque até Los Angeles em um dia?

Espero que dê para você usar esta expressão agora!

Até a próxima!

*Advanced speakers only: Brazilians have a lot of trouble deciding what form of the pronoun to use over there. I've used the form considered correct in written Portuguese, but colloquially many people may use mim instead of eu.
**The second verb changes for eles and nós... but this will be the tópic for another tip...

September 6, 2008

Famous People Trying to Speak Portuguese

Quick motivational post :-)... Want to boost your confidence levels? Watch these celebrities trying to speak Portuguese. (some or them are pretty good, others, not so much... (don't worry if you don't understand). If some of them could learn in front of the cameras, you can do it in the privacy of your home (or the vicinity of your iPhone :-)).