Portuguese verb DAR – 7 ways to use it

dar in portuguese

We've gotten several requests to explain and show how the portuguese verb dar can be used. This is one of those verbs like ficar or, pegar that can change their meaning depending on the context. I remember feeling "deceived" and a bit mad when it dawned on me that people were using verbs that I had worked so hard at studying in ways that never were presented in the textbooks. And that's a real shame because every language has these, and I'm not even talking about slang or idiomatic expressions.

Dar in Portuguese can really mean several different things!

Here are the versions of dar that you will hear every day in Brazil. Though there are hundreds of others, they are rare and not ones that you need to learn. In order of importance:

(1) dar certo/errado

No doubt you've heard this already. To "dar certo" is to work out. the opposite is the "não dar certo" OU, "dar errado". The verb dar can be in any tense!

  • Tudo vai dar certo. > It's all going to work out.
  • O projeto está dando certo? > Is the project working out?
  • Seu plano não teria dado certo. > Your plan wouldn't have worked out.
(2) Dá para xxx? = Is it possible to do xxx?

In this sense the meaning is: is it possible to..? Dar can be in any tense.

  • Dá para entender? > Is it possible to understand?
  • Dá para fazer? > Is it possible to do?
  • Não deu para ir ao show ontem. > It wasn't possible to go to the show yesterday.

Lots more examples of this one here.

(3) dar um jeito

The famous "jeitinho Brasilerio" is in action here. The meaning is: make it happen.

  • Eu vou dar um jeito. > I'm going to make it happen (work).
  • Dá um jeito de chegar aqui logo! > Do something to get over here soon!
  • Ele deu um jeito para arrumar um ingresso para o show. > He somehow managed to get a ticket to the show.
(4) dar sorte

To get lucky is to dar sorte. You can use dar in any tense.

  • Deu muita sorte. > That was really lucky.
  • Você vai dar sorte. > You're going to get lucky.
  • Se estivesse tido sorte eu teria ganhado. > With luck I would have won.
(5) dar conta (take account of)

When you dar conta of something you are giving account of it or, taking responsibility for it.

  • Ela deu conta do serviço. > She took charge of the business (service).
  • Eu vou dar conta da minha família. > I'm going to look after my family.
  • Você pode dar conta das crianças? > Can you look after the kids?
(6) dar um passeio / rolé

A "rolé" is slang for passeio - a short trip. Brazilians use rolei all the time when talking about a stroll around the park, a walk in the hood etc.

  • Vou dar um rolé na rua. > I'm going to take a walk.
  • Você deu um passeio lá no nordeste? > Did you take a trip in the northeast?
  • Vamos dar um passeio na lagoa. > Let's take a stroll around the lake.
(7) dar em cima (hit on)

Dar em cima is what happens all the time in Brazil.

  • Ele deu em cima de você? > Did he hit on you?
  • Vou dar em cima dele hoje à noite. > I'm going to flirt with (hit on) him tonight.
  • Eu estava dando em cima dela quando o namorado (dela) apareceu. > I was hitting on her when her boyfriend showed up.