Top Gestures used by Portuguese People

No, this has nothing to do with Portuguese sign language. 🙂 But linguists argue that only about 30% or so of our real communication is directly through words. The rest is a combination of other linguistic elements such as intonation, pitch, volume, facial and body language.

So a few months back we started gathering what we think are the most commonly used gestures by the Portuguese.


PS: Captioning is available.


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  1. Сarla, I have been learning Spanish, English and German watching free video lessons of Alexander. His method of teaching is really effective!!! All his subscribers and followers begin to speak a foreign language from the first lesson! Unfortunately, he doesn’t speak European Portuguese, only Spanish! I’d be very grateful if you start recording video lessons similar to his approach (method) (German)

  2. Obrigada! Conheço todos os gestos mas uso pouco porque na minha cultura não é tão habitualmente! Gostei de forma de lição

    1. I once saw a guy in Portugal pull a dude out of his car yelling that he was a tourist and throttle him after he cut him off or something so that’s gonna be a pretty intense video.

    1. Olá 👋🏽 if you mean the written text of what we say, you just need to turn them on (if on the phone or tablet on the 3 little vertical dots) 👍🏽

  3. Eu comecei a ouvir os podcasts recentemente e, desculpe Marlon, mas imaginei tu com uma cabeça cheia de cabelos soltos!

  4. Anyone on here want to help me learn European portugese. I’m a native English speaker so I can help you with English.

  5. Hey does anyone know the origin of “estou nas tintas” ? Alguem sabe que significado ? E tambem nao entendo “ canos “ ? Does anyone know?

    1. I don’t know the origin of “estou-me nas tintas” but it means to not give a damn about something. “canos” are pipes in portuguese, but what Carla said was “Q’anos” short for “que anos” as in “Há que anos” which translates to “how many years (ago)”

    1. You can learn our gestures if you visit our country.
      Some good teachers like Carla teaches you some common portuguese gestures.
      1:31 my Grandmother makes this gesture often.

    2. Theyoutuberpolyglot i live in Portugal now and I’m learning Portuguese. I like your videos a lot

    3. Guo Yunjie Muito obrigado. Fico muito feliz/ contente de ler a tua mensagem. O meu nome é José.

  6. Tenho estudado português por 5 anos em Portugal, e este vídeo ajuda-me muito no meu dia a dia. Também me ajudar na minha apresentação na aula. Haha! muito obrigada! Curiosamente, vivo em Portugal há 5 anos, mas não vi e não sei estes gestos

    1. Hello. Let me help you and show you how your post would look like if posted by a portuguese native from Portugal.
      “Estudo portuguès há cinco anos em Portugal e este video ajudou-me muito no dia a dia. Também ajuda-me na minha apresentação nas aulas. Curiosamente vivo em Portugal há já cincos anos mas nunca vi esses gestos.”
      Mind you, your post is not incorrect in a gramatical sense but it’s very stiff in the choice of words, it doesn’t flow as a romance language would naturally fow from a native speaker.
      Like all romance languages, portuguese is centered aroud the verbs, it’s an action language. also, portugues efrom Poetugal doesn’t rely on gerunds a much as brazilian portuguese.
      All that said, your portuguese is really very good and that’s no mean feat for a foreigners. Congratulations, really. Well done and thank you so much for showing such an interest in my natuve language, espacially the Portugal variant of portuguese whichbis by far the lesser learned version. Be well and welcome to my small country.

  7. HA being Portuguese, this is 👌 I do have to say, my avós do some pretty amazing facial expressions as well 😂

  8. If you could add some text for what Carla is saying, it would be great! Also, what does it mean when another person is being discussed and the speaker crooks their index finger and pulls a face, like “you know what he is”. But I don’t! Can you explain?

    1. It means they’re petty, malicious or just plain difficult/stubborn. “Ele é torcido.” (Aka twisted) At least if I’m understanding what you mean.

  9. The one about being scared is the same in Italian haha! From where I come from we say “te si cagat sott” when we do that, which means “you sh*t your pants”, so the gesture refers to the excrements in your underwear

    1. Indeed, it is the same gesture, and it has the same meaning, but I believe the gesture itself represents a sphincter contracting… 🙂

  10. Being Portuguese, having been so since 62 actually, I’d like to leave a comment. Dor de cotovelo: not realy used that way, maybe a little overdone; Snob, full of it: nariz empinado, ok, but not very used; I’ve had it: that looks American, never saw it, normally that would be on the top of the head; Eat a nice dish (é de trás da orelha): an old one, I’m not sure anybody knows it; Full of it, garganta: well, kind of; Time to go: possible, yes; I don’t care: ok; Excuse me, please (at the restaurant) – yes, possible; Hurry up: more or less, possible; Stealing: ok; Namorisco: ok, in a jokingly manner; That was long ago: possible (never heard of canos, but I can see where it’s coming from – há que anos!); Fearful: ok; Drunk, tipsy: ok; Esperto, smart (de olhão): ok; Este é irmão deste (I can see through you): never saw that.

    1. tbm sou portuguesa e o “i’ve had it” eu uso quase diariamente (num contexto escolar claro😅) e eu e os meus colegas usamos mais no sentido de “Vou-me matar se isto continua assim/ se isto não termina”, o nariz empinado tbm é muito comum na minha área, é de trás da orelha conhecia o gesto mas não a frase e por a caso tbm é comum entre os meus conhecidos, that was long ago tbm é usado diariamente no meu caso. O único que eu não tinha visto era o “este é irmão deste”
      mas pode ser por não ser da minha zona. Parece que não mas a parte do país tbm altera a frequência com que se vêm estes gestos

  11. Funny enough, in Brazilian Portuguese some of these gestures have different meanings. For instance: the gesture you showed for “I don’t care” actually means “I have no clue” in Brazil, in answer to a question; the one for “Hurry up!” means “This was long ago” or “It takes a long time”; the one for “You’re scared” means “It’s crowded” ; and the one for “Smart” means “I’m watching you! Beware!”

  12. The washing of hands is the one I noticed most in Portugal. When something goes wrong, nobody takes responsibility for anything.

  13. algumas expressões não estão bem explicadas até porque podem ter significados diferentes dependendo das situações. good entertaining vid tho

    1. O objetivo deste vídeo é dar aos estudantes da língua portuguesa uma ideia de alguns gestos e algumas situações em que estes podem ser usados. A intenção não era criar um vídeo que abrangesse todos os significados em todas as possíveis situações. De qualquer maneira, obrigada pelo seu comentário 🙂

  14. Uma pessoa faz tanto esses gestos no seu dia-a-dia que não pensa muito nisso, até ver esse vídeo! Muito divertido! 😂

  15. We have great host on Azores, he did earlobe gesture multiple times as he was explaining where to go, what to eat. I needed to know, if it means, what I thought 😀

    1. Fantastic 😄 touch your earlobe when speaking of food and you mean it’s delicious 😋

  16. At 3:35, that gesture, in French it’s the gesture equivalent of “mon oeil” which is used when we think the person we are speaking to is exaggerating or outright lying.

    1. That’s so interesting how the same gesture can mean different things in different languages/countries – thanks for sharing 😊

    1. Olá, Mark 👋🏽 a few years ago we went to São Miguel 😊 and last month we visited a few other islands in Azores – they’re all very beautiful 😍

  17. I speak a lot with my hands and i often don’t realise how much i do it. I tend to not do as much gesture speaking when i am abroad especially in a central euroepan, nordic country or in the UK. One never knows if one uses the wrong gesture that in the local culture has a very different, might even insulting meaning.

    1. That’s really nice and thoughtful of you, Carlos, that you refrain from using as many gestures and you’d normally do, so you don’t offend the locals 😊

    2. @Portuguese With Carla i try, i try. Of course it is hard to guess what others might think of us in other countries. But i feel the scottish people have a lot in common with us portuguese.

    3. @Carlos Saraiva I know a few Scottish people, but I’d be interested to know the commonalities you have spotted between the Scottish and the Portuguese 😊

  18. O gesto de roubar rodando os dedos da mão do mindinho para o polegar tem muito mais História e é tipicamente português. Esse gesto e os termos fanar e meter a unha têm haver com uma moeda de ouro indiana, o Fanão. O Fanão é uma moeda de ouro fraco muito pequenina que os portugueses para as contar usavam tábuas de 25 e 50 alvéolos. Metiam um monte numa das extremidades da tábua e com um movimento parecido com esse retiravam o excesso de fanões preenchendo todos os alvéolos e facilitando assim a contagem. O Fanão é tão pequenino, que quem os contava se tivesse as unhas grandes conseguia roubar moedas prendendo-as entre as unhas. Por isso esse movimento, meter a unha e fanar é tão português.

  19. Surpreendeu-me que praticamente todos são os mesmos que no Brasil. O “está com medo”, porém, é totalmente diferente. No Brasil, esse gesto significa “grande quantidade”.

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