Como falo em inglês: Pra que? – Inglês Online

Como falo em inglês: Pra que?

By Ana Luiza | Podcast Inglês Online

May 18
Como falo em inglês Pra que

Hi, everybody. Hoje eu falo pra você sobre mais duas expressões idiomáticas do inglês que estão na boca de todo americano: How come?What for? A segunda é o nosso famoso “Pra que..?” Quanto à primeira, ouça e descubra, caso não conheça, ou acostume-se mais com ela. Nunca é demais! E mais uma observação para hoje: como eu geralmente faço nos episódios, they, themtheir são usados para falar de alguém com gênero indefinido – já reparou nisso? Preste atenção no exemplo onde eu falo sobre a/o spouse.


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Inglês: how come?Have you ever heard this phrase: How come? How come I have to do this? How come the sky is blue? How come it’s raining when the weather forecast said it was going to be sunny? Well, even if you haven’t heard “How come?” before, it’s a very common phrase and once you get familiar with it, you’ll start noticing it all the time in movies and TV shows.

In short, the most common explanation to “How come?” is that it means Why? I’m talking about the meaning of “how come” here – it’s similar to why. However, we say Why do I have to go to bed now?, and we say How come I have to go to bed now? We never say “How come do I have to go to bed now? “- no! Again, we say “How come I have to go to bed now?” What is the reason I have to go to bed now? How come I have to go to bed now?

And before I give you more examples of How come?, let me clarify one thing: “how come?” is informal, which means you should use it when speaking to friends, family and other people you’re close to. We don’t use it in writing for a general audience, or in speaking to someone you don’t know, for example… Or when you’re addressing an important person, like the President or a judge. If you used informal speech such as “How come? ” with someone like that, it could be considered impolite or even arrogant.

OK. Now that that’s taken care of, here’s another example: How come you’re not attending the conference? You signed up for the conference. You were supposed to come. You told me you were coming. And now my assistant tells me you’re not going any more. How come? You’re not attending the conference? How come? How come no one told me we were having the meeting at a different building? I’d like to know the reason for that. How come no one told me?

You changed your mind about buying a new car? How come? Well, I decided to put the money in a savings account instead.
How come you missed our final exam? Well, I felt so sick that day that I couldn’t get out of bed.
How come you didn’t see us? We were sitting right behind you!

Can you remember a good example with “How come?” Maybe something you heard in a movie, or read somewhere. Let me know in the comments!

Now here’s the second expression for today’s episode: What for? It’s very simple: when we ask “What for?”, we’re asking “for what purpose”. Let’s say you move to a new neighborhood with your family, and your spouse, who has never had a car in their life, says “I need a car.” You look at your spouse and say “What for? Your office is just around the corner, our kids’ school is three blocks away and we have everything we need within walking distance. What do you need a car for? You think you need a car… What for?

What would be the purpose of a car? What do you need a car for? And your spouse might answer, “Well, I just signed up for yoga classes in our old neighborhood, so I definitely will need a car to get to my yoga classes.” I need a car to drive to my yoga classes. I need a car for the purpose of driving to yoga.

You, however, are not convinced. You tell your spouse “There are several bus lines that go to our old neighborhood. There’s a bus stop just across the street, and you can take bus 432 to your yoga classes.” So you don’t think your spouse needs a car for the purpose of getting to yoga. And they finally agree with you: “You’re right, I don’t need a car for that. I can take the bus – it’s actually much easier.”

You tell your mother you’re going somewhere and she says “Please take the umbrella with you.” You say “What for? There’s no sign of rain.” And your mother says “You never know. Better safe than sorry.” So you end up taking an umbrella with you, for the purpose of being prepared in case it rains.

You tell your friend Mark that you’re going to study Geography next year. He says “What for? You said you wanted to be an engineer! You should study Physics and Maths!” And you say “Well, there isn’t really a good reason other than, I love Geography and I wanna have a great time studying it.” So what do you wanna study Geography for? Well, you enjoy geography, that’s pretty much it! There isn’t a practical reason. It’s not for professional reasons. You want to study Geography for the reason that you enjoy it, that’s all.

When someone tells you they’re going to buy something you consider useless or unnecessary, it’s very common to react with the question “What for?” Can you think of an example in your life? Someone told you they were going to buy something that you thought was completely unnecessary, and you thought, or said “What for?”

Let me know in the comments, and talk to you next time!


Key terms

  • How come?
  • What for?


that’s taken care of = a gente já cuidou disso

other than = a não ser (a razão que)

  • Val says:

    a)Someone buys new gadgets every year, although he doesn’t have time to use them.
    So I ask to him. What for?

    b)How come everyone needs to vote, if the most don’t like any of these politicians?

  • jonata fontela says:

    Hey Ana!! Once I was watching big bang theory and then Penny said to Sheldon: “how come you didn’t go into work today ? “Haha.. really cool !I’ll try to use this phrase next time I talk to someone in English !

  • nne says:

    Great podcast. Great tips as usual.

    My friend and I were planning a vacation trip to Florida. We saved
    some money and organized everything we needed to do that. A few days before the
    trip, my friend came to me and said: Oh! I am sorry, fulana, but I can’t go with you anymore. I can’t make it!
    -How come? what happened?
    -Well, I think I won’t be able to afford it, I saved some money but I am afraid I still don’t have enough.
    -ok, well. Get ready we are going to the bank.
    -Bank? right now? what for?
    -I will lend you some money, I have enough for both of us. We are gonna make it to Miami.
    -I love you to death! she said. :D

    I made it out hehe.

    I love you, Luiza!!! I have been listening to your podcasts for a while now, before coming to the usa I
    used to come here everyday. You taught me english and you don’t even know that. Thank you for the
    amazing job that you do, you are by far the best teacher I’ve ever met.



    • Ana Luiza says:

      Hi Anne :-) Thank you for stopping by – lovely to hear that Inglês Online has helped you with English!!
      Loved your story – great example.

  • Al says:

    When my spouse annoyed me to change of house, “What for” was what I more used to say, because I don’t saw a good reason for that. Some time after, is not necessary to say that we change.

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