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Today’s post is written by André Barbosa who publishes the fantastic Brazilian Portuguese Podcast.
“Pois não” is an expression used by Brazilians as well as by the Portuguese and means “yes”, “of course”, “sure.” It’s curious, however, that this expression contains the adverb “não” (not) and means just the opposite.
“Pois não” comes from another expression: “Pois não haveria de (+ infinitive verb)”. Here’s an example on how to use it:
– João, você pode me emprestar o seu carro? (João, could you lend me your car?)
– Empresto Maria, pois não haveria de emprestar? (Yes Maria, for sure.)
“Pois não haveria de emprestar” (Wouldn’t I lend it? – literal meaning) means that João will lend his car to Pedro for sure. It’s like João assumed the obligation to do that and disapproved not doing it.
It is common in Brazil for salespeople to greet shoppers by saying “pois não?”
In the Portuguese language it is common for words and expressions to be shortened. It’s also notable that as words and expressions are shortened their original meaning tends to be lost.
So, the next time you hear or use the expression “pois não”, remember it means “yes, “of course”, “sure”.