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The “ai” in Portuguese Posted by on Apr 12, 2018 in Brazilian Profile, Culture, Customs, Idioms, Learning, Pronunciation, Slang, Vocabulary

Olá a todos! Hey to all!

Interjections are utterances that are used to show the emotions of the person who is saying it and are often exclamatory phrases. “Ah”, “oh” “ew”, “yeah”, “whoa”, “jeez” are all examples of interjeições (interjections) in English. However, the funny thing is that although they are spontaneous reactions, interjections vary immensely from language to language.

Therefore, interjections in Portuguese, even though they might refer to the same situations (eg. surprise, disgust), are different than in English. Learning them is a great way to increase your understanding of a different culture and improving your listening and speaking skills. Since it conveys how the speaker is feeling, it can assist you in better capturing the nuances of a certain language, in addition to making your speech sound more natural.

So today we are going to cover a common interjection in Portuguese: the ai. It may sound simple at first (and, indeed, it is), but it is still important to pay close attention. After all, knowing what Brazilians mean when they make those sounds will help you better communicate with us!

Ai is pronounced like the vowel I in English. It may have two possible meanings. The first one is our way of saying ouch!, that is, an expression of pain, the noise people make when they get hurt:

  • Ai! O café estava quente e queimei minha língua | Ouch! The coffee was hot and I burned my tongue

  • Ai, o cachorro mordeu meu dedo! | Ouch, the dog bit my finger!

  • Ai, você está pisando no meu pé! | Ouch, you’re stepping on my foot!

  • Ai, acho que pisei em um caco de vidro | Ouch, I think I stepped on broken glass

  • Ai, essas queimaduras de sol estão doendo muito | Ouch, these sunburns really hurt

The second meaning of ai is a more general, abstract one that is used to express a large range of emotions, and its equivalent in English would be like a oh! in the a more sorrowful, outraged way. Check these dialogues as examples:

  • – Às vezes eu perco a fé na humanidade | Sometimes I lose faith in humanity

  • – Ai, não diga essas coisas | Oh, don’t say these things


  • – Sabe me dizer como chegar na prefeitura? | Do you know how to get to the city hall?

  • – Ai, eu não sei. Me desculpa | Oh, I don’t. I’m sorry.


  • – Você lembrou de levar o cachorro para passear? | Did you remember to take the dog out for a walk?

  • – Ai, me distraí e acabei esquecendo | Oh, I got distracted and ended up forgetting it

  • – Agora ele fez cocô no tapete da sala! | Now he pooped in the living room carpet!

  • – Ai, que nojo | Oh, that’s gross


  • – Ficou sabendo que a Juliana perdeu o emprego? | Did you hear that Juliana lost her job?

  • – Ai, que pena | Oh, that’s too bad


  • – Preciso te contar um segredo | I need to tell you a secret

  • – Ai meu deus, o que é? | Oh my God, what is it?

  • – Me disseram que o Vítor está a fim de você | They told me Victor is into you

  • – Ai, até parece, né | Oh, as if, right?

*Note: remember to not confuse ai with the word (with the accent)

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Tenham uma boa semana! Have a great week!

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  1. carol:

    Olá, King!
    Obrigada pela sua participação!
    Um abraço