How The Word You Is Used In Portuguese

In Brazilian Portuguese, the word you is expressed in four different ways:  two informal and two formal. Below, you’re going to find examples using verb to be.  

The Informal You


Você is the most popular way used to refer to you in Brazil. That’s the term everyone uses with their brothers and sisters and close friends. Even though você means you, it is conjugated with the verb form in the 3 rd person singular. Você can be used to refer to both male and female people without any spelling changes. So, if we wanted to say – You are a great teacher! – you could express yourself in the following manner taking into consideration each situation:


  • When talking to a male:  Você é um ótimo professor!
  • When talking to a female:  Você é uma ótima professora!

Tu is the true you form. However, I have noticed that tu has become very unpopular with many Portuguese language courses. Most of them have totally eliminated this person from their programs and books. They say that it’s only used in Portugal, and that it’s not used at all in Brazil. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. It is used a lot in the very South of Brazil, specifically in Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. It is also extensively used in the Northeast, namely in the states of Paraíba and Pernambuco.


  • When talking to a male:  Tu és um ótimo professor!
  • When talking to a female:  Tu és uma ótima professora!

Note: It’s very common to hear people using tu with the grammatically incorrect verb form.  So, instead of saying tu és, they say tu é.

The Formal You

O senhor is used when speaking to a male, and a senhora when speaking to a female. And of course, that’s the way we would talk to older people, teachers, bosses, acquaintances, people we not very close to, and people you casually meet in a store, in the street, on a bus.


  • When talking to a male:  O senhor é um ótimo professor!
  • When talking to a female:  A senhora é uma ótima professora!

 If you’re just starting on your journey of Portuguese learning, be sure to check out our Starter Guide.

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