How’s it going? Nesse episódio do podcast Inglês Online eu falo sobre uma das maneiras mais populares de se dizer “Você se incomoda?” em inglês.
Hi, everybody. Today we have a new episode of the inglesonline podcast. Please subscribe to this podcast using the Podcasts app for iPhone and iPad, or listen to the episodes using the Inglesonline Android app.
So today I’d like to focus on a very useful expression with the word “mind”. You know, mind, m-i-n-d. This is a very nice term because it’s a very popular way to ask permission to do something. Here’s what I’m talking about: Do you mind if I open the window? Simple question, huh? That’s kinda like our “Tudo bem se eu abrir a janela”, or, more literally, “Você se importa se eu abrir a janela?”. This is a more natural way to ask permission to do stuff like, opening a window, shutting the door, sitting down, than… let’s say, “Can I open the window?” Just say “Do you mind if I open the window?” or “Is it ok if I open the window?” Or even “Is it ok to open the window?”
So let’s say you’re in a restaurant, any restaurant, in São Paulo. Nowadays, if you ask the waiter “Is it ok if I smoke?” the answer will be “No”. People can’t smoke in closed spaces anymore. If you’re at the US Consulate to get your Visa, for example, and you ask the officer “Do you mind if I take a picture?” his answer will be “You can’t take a picture”. Well, actually you might have your camera temporarily confiscated. On the other hand, though, if you were at a friend’s house and asked them “Do you mind if sit down?” they would probably say “Sure, of course!”.
And that doesn’t mean “Sure, of course I do mind if you sit down” meaning “I don’t want you to sit down”. Usually when you ask someone “Do you mind if I do this or that?” and that person answers “Sure” or “Of course”, what they’re saying is “Go ahead, I don’t mind”. Do you mind if I shut the door? Sure, go ahead and shut the door. Do you mind if I sit on the floor? No problem, sit on the floor if you want to.
Now here’s a way to say all that that would be considered just a bit more polite… It’s a bit more gentle: Would you mind if…? Would you mind if I shut the door? Would you mind if I smoke? Would you mind if I open the window? Did you notice that all the verbs look like they’re in the present form? Shut (although the past tense of shut is also shut); smoke; open. Would you mind if I take notes while you speak? Would you mind if I post this on Facebook?
So here a way that’s a bit more formal: Would you mind if I opened the window? That’s the same word as the past tense, right? It’s actually a Subjunctive form. Would you mind if I opened the window? In Portuguese, we’d say that as ‘Você se importaria se eu abrisse a janela?’ That’s a very literal translation. Would you mind if I opened the window? Would you mind if I smoked? Would you mind if I posted this on Facebook? Would you mind if I took notes while you speak?
Many natives can’t really tell the difference, though.. Many people say that they can’t tell the difference between “Would you mind if I take notes….?” and “Would you mind if I took notes…?”. But we can still say that the more informal way is “Do you mind if I take notes?” or “Is it ok if I take notes?”; then we can turn that into a more polite version and say “Would you mind if I take notes?”; and we can even turn that into what would be generally considered the most polite version, which is “Would you mind if I took notes?”
So think of your own examples. Were you in a more formal setting or were you with friends, for example? When was the last time you said something like “Would you mind if I make a phone call?” Would you mind if take a photo? Would you mind if I take a bite? Would you mind if I call a cab?
Let us know your examples, and when they happened in the comments. Talk to you next time!
if I take a bite = se eu der uma mordida
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