Answering questions: sim ou não?

When you ask someone a question you expect to hear something like “yes” or “no” as a reply, but in Portuguese that’s not what always happens. Well, if the answer is a negative answer, you can expect a “não” (“no”) as a clear and understandable answer, but if the answer is “yes” you can have something different from a simple “sim” (“yes”).  What happens is that in Portuguese, a very common way to answer affirmatively is to answer using a verb, many times the word “sim” is not even used. Confused? So, let’s have a look at some examples:

If I ask, “Are you a teacher”, you may answer, “Yes, I am a teacher” or “Yes, I am” or just “Yes”, but you would never answer, “I am”. In Portuguese, if someone asks you “Você é professor?” you may answer “Sou” (I am).  So, answering with the verb is possible and very common. Let’s see more examples:

  • Você é casado? (Are you married?)
  • Sou. (meaning “yes, I am married.)
  • Você mora em Portugal? (Do you live in Portugal)
  • Moro. (meaning “yes, I do live in Portugal)
  • Você fala inglês? (Do you speak English?)
  • Falo. (meaning “yes, I do speak English)

Just to make it more clear, if it’s a negative answer, you just have to say “não”, but if it’s an affirmative answer you can say “sim” or you can use the verb of the question, as we’ve just seen.

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