I am curious what the common unit of time is in a salary listing.

A qualified answer

An answer to this question would not be a quick comment. It would have a reference to sample(s) of language illustrating the point. It would qualify the answer contextually with phrases such as this is how people talk about salary, or the census uses mensual statistics, but this is not the norm. A correct answer need not reference my example text in any way, but is welcome to.

An Example

note: this example is, and has always been, anonymized so as to prevent any semblance of off-topic advertising.

For example, in this posting:

Detalhes da vaga

Web designer

... São Paulo


Web designer

  • Atuará na criação de layout e desenvolvimento de Websites responsivos, Hotsites, Banners, Emkt.
  • Beneficios: Vale Transporte; Vale Refeição; Assistência Médica;
  • Formação Acadêmica: Ensino médio completo.
  • Curso técnico ou superior completos.
  • Experiência: Experiência como web designer.
  • Conhecimento em HTML e HTML5, CSS e CSS3, Design e Website, Responsivo, PHP, J-Query, Javascript, SEO, Google Analytics, Adwords, Wordpress.
  • Salário: De R$ 1.501,00 a R$ 2.000,00
  • ...

The typical US translation would be about ~$500/year if you use the typical US time unit. The costs of their benefits could exceed the salary by 40 times.

  • $500/yr is absurd.
  • $500/mo ($6k/yr) is vaguely plausible, but again really absurd when you consider the city it is in and that there are jobs in the same page of search results that offer $30k-$60k for the same work in the same city.
  • $500/wk ($30k/yr) makes sense in terms of the pay scale, but the benefits are still more in line with a $60k+ job.

The point of this is to note that you can't tell by the context. It was chosen because you often see things from the government in monthly, and occassionally weekly numbers. On the contrary, job listings that I see are mostly yearly, and others are inspecific. So you'd have to have more than a cursory exposure to know really, how it is talked about, and how people read and expect to interpret numbers that they see. So, from your knowledge of actual Brazilian portuguese, how is salary listed and discussed?

I know that often the government uses monthly terms. Corporations and individuals probably typically use yearly and weekly terms.

Is this really a language question

To be succinct, this is a language question. It asks how a coordinated mapping of time and money units are commonly used in portuguese, specifically in brazil.

Sadly, I have to add this. Questions about portuguese language that are specific to one country can evoke concerns that the discussion is off topic. I have three counter examples to this sort of view:

  1. Consider how we tell time in the USA (12 hours, then 12 more) versus Brazil and most other nations (24 hours). The fact that there are 2 different ways to tell time means that languages handle the units differently. voting to censure a question like this is like voting to censure a question about the clock in Brazil, or in Portgual, on the grounds that it is not really about language but about a country's view of time.
  2. This is not simply a cultural phenomenon. All cultures have salaries and use different measures of both money and time to talk about them. Even if that were not valid, language about cultural phenomenon is still language. Should people not be allowed to ask questions about american football in the equivalent english language stackexchange, just because it is culturally relevant?
  3. Consider parallel questions in Spanish — spanish language has, in a way, 3 main varieties: Iberic, Latino, and Argentine. There are many questions specific to argentina that the spanish language stackexchange has to face. Even when from time to time mods tire of reading questions specific to Argentina, and so they delete a post, it does not matter. The same questions keep coming up, and will always come up, because the mods in that case are essentially misbehaving.
  • 2
    It's per month. Not sure whether you get paid 13 or 14 months per year. But this question is not about Portuguese language, so voting to close.
    – Jacinto
    Mar 12, 2016 at 0:50
  • 1
    He. It's not about the language; at most it's about culture. And I think half the confusion is just that the salary is low. When I talk around here about salaries in Portugal, people also wonder whether the per month figures I quote are per day.
    – Artefacto
    Mar 12, 2016 at 2:46
  • 1
    I just extrapolated from Portugal. In Lisbon, a junior programmer wouldn't make less 1000 EUR/month (so more than double the listed salary); the legal food subsidy (not catering...) is around 5 EUR/day, monthly public transportation 50-100 and private insurance less than 50 EUR/month.
    – Artefacto
    Mar 12, 2016 at 12:46
  • 3
    I created a meta post about this question. I'm going to delete some of my comments here to remove clutter. I think some of the issues brought up in these comments should either be in Meta or chat.
    – Dan Getz
    Mar 12, 2016 at 17:03
  • 3
    @robertotomás you should write your ideas (if this questions is on-topic, etc.) in a meta answer, please. I have to edit your question to remove that.
    – Jorge B.
    Mar 14, 2016 at 9:51

2 Answers 2


In Brazil, the legal number of hours that a person can work is 44 hours per week. In general, the business uses 200 hours/month to calculate a salary.

In Portuguese, decimal separators are , and thousands separator are ..

Salário: De R$ 1.501,00 a R$ 2.000,00

This is the amount paid every month to a worker. Let's consider a salary of R$ 1.750,00. Such a worker will probably receive 40% of it on day 15 each month (R$ 700,00) which is called "vale" here. It is a partial advance of his salary. The rest of the salary will be received at end of the month. There will be some mandatory taxes deduction (about 11% of the salary), and his net salary should be something like R$ 857,50 (without the discounted benefits).

Vale transporte (transportation vouchers): can be discounted up to 6% of the salary. (or R$ 103,50)

R$ 1.750,00 here, is not a bad salary. But is little bit low for the job in a big city like São Paulo (smaller towns do pay much less). At the same time this is not uncommon.

A reasonable salary for a single person living in São Paulo, for example, would be around R$ 4.000,00+.

  • 1
    I've taken the liberty to edit your answer. If you disagree you can always undo it.
    – Centaurus
    Mar 13, 2016 at 16:08

I think you could have phrased your question in a way a single paragraph; it would say it all.

In a nutshell, salaries in Brazil are referred to as "per month". This is the rule, though a few exceptions do exist.

Measurements of time

In your question and comments, you mention that Brazilians use time in 24 hours. That is not correct.

We use both 24h and am/pm formats: we might say 6.00 p.m. or 18 h, depending on the context.

In an informal context we usually say "São quase onze horas, vou dormir". We don't use a.m. or p.m.. We simply say "São quinze para as sete" and the listener obviously knows whether we mean morning or evening.

Radio stations and TV channels tend to use the 0-24 hour scale, though.

  • I don't think "how we tell the time" is relevant for this question. I think it was an example added by the asker to clarify his question, or his approach to the question, and that he already knows how time is used/told.
    – ANeves
    Mar 13, 2016 at 23:45
  • @ANeves I agree it should have been a comment. The OP says that, unlike Americans, Brazilians use a 24 hour scale to tell the time, which is not true. Hence the explanation.
    – Centaurus
    Mar 13, 2016 at 23:56
  • Ah, @Jacinto, I get it. It's an important correction, you are right. (As usual. :) I tried to improve the answer, take a look and change it back to how you prefer.
    – ANeves
    Mar 14, 2016 at 0:12

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