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Portuguese Expressions About Time

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Learning a new language opens a window to understanding not just grammar and vocabulary, but also the nuances of culture reflected in colloquial expressions. If you’re learning Portuguese, getting to know some common expressions about time can provide insight into how native speakers perceive and talk about time. Here are some well-used Portuguese expressions that relate to time, complete with definitions and example sentences.

Agora mesmo
This expression translates to “right now” or “just now,” and it’s used when referring to something that has just happened or is about to happen immediately.

Vou começar a minha lição de casa agora mesmo.

De vez em quando
Meaning “from time to time” or “now and then,” this phrase is used when talking about an action or an event that happens occasionally.

De vez em quando, gosto de ir à praia para relaxar.

Em cima da hora
This expression translates as “at the last minute,” and it’s often used to describe doing something with barely any time to spare.

Ele sempre faz os trabalhos em cima da hora.

The word “já” translates to “already” or “now” depending on its position in the sentence. It indicates something that has taken place in the past or is demanded to happen in the immediate future.

Já terminei o meu trabalho, podemos ir.

Meaning “soon” or “shortly,” this word indicates that something is expected to happen in the near future, though not immediately.

Ele disse que chegaria logo.

Mais cedo ou mais tarde
This phrase translates to “sooner or later,” suggesting that something is bound to happen at some point in time, though the exact moment is uncertain.

Mais cedo ou mais tarde, você terá que tomar uma decisão.

Na hora H
“Na hora H” is akin to saying “at the eleventh hour” or “at the critical moment.” It refers to a decisive or important moment in time.

Ele sempre aparece na hora H para ajudar.

Por um fio
This expression, which literally translates to “by a thread,” is often used to describe a situation that was a close call, especially in relation to time.

Consegui pegar o ônibus por um fio!

Quando antes, melhor
Translating to “the sooner, the better,” this phrase expresses the idea that it’s best to do something as early as possible to achieve a good outcome.

Devemos pagar as contas quando antes, melhor.

Sem hora marcada
Literally meaning “without a set time,” this expression is used when an exact time for an event or action has not been scheduled or decided.

A festa começa à tarde sem hora marcada.

Tempo é dinheiro
A direct translation of the English phrase “time is money,” it emphasizes the value of time and its equivalence to money, underscoring the importance of not wasting it.

Você precisa ser mais eficiente, lembre-se de que tempo é dinheiro.

Uma eternidade
Used to exaggerate the length of time something takes or has taken, it translates to “an eternity.”

Estou esperando por essa entrega há uma eternidade!

Understanding these expressions will not only help you communicate more effectively in Portuguese, but it will also provide a deeper appreciation for the cultural aspects of time in Portuguese-speaking countries. As with any language, practice makes perfect. Try using these expressions in your conversations and watch as your fluency in Portuguese improves over time.

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