One of the uses of the verb dar in Portuguese seems to be "to find" as per the definition in Priberam:

28. Achar, descobrir, encontrar (ex.: deu com a fotografia escondida no livro).

However, I've found some people online suggest that using it this way sounds like broken Portuguese outside of fixed expressions like "Dar um jeito" and properly it should only be used in the phrase ""deu de cara com" outside of some fixed expressions.

So, I was wondering if using dar/deu to say "find" actually sounds broken if it isn't in "deu de cara com" or fixed expressions like "dar um jeito"

  • Could you please, please provide an example of what you call broken Portuguese? You just give the verb but no sentence. Do you mean: Isso não dá, não? Which means: That doesn't work. [as in a solution] but it doesn't mean broken. There are tons of expressions in Portuguese, by the way, with dar. That Priberam entry is very, very long: A televisão não dá. means: it isn't working. It is not broken per se.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 19:52
  • @Lambie The example is in the definition "deu com a fotografia escondida no livro". And I didn't call it broken Portuguese, I said some people online considered it broken Portuguese, I am asking whether it is or not.
    – Bigbadant
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 19:57
  • 1
    @Big, I heavily edited your question. Just the presentation; the substance is the same. Hope you like it. If not, you can it roll it back or change in way you like; it is your question.
    – Jacinto
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 21:42
  • 1
    Dar de cara com and dar com are not exactly the same thing. My problem with those answers is this: those people are saying things in English that are not accurate, thereby negating much of what they say. These are not regional differences. Dar de cara com means: come face to face with someone. Dar com is come across, find by chance, run into, run across; it depends on context. Also, that dar com a língua nos dentes means: to run your tongue over your teeth.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 14:17
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    @Bigbadant Definitely not. Dar-se com can mean a few things, but not to find. Ele não deu com o caminho (couldn't find it), ele não se deu (bem) com o caminho (it caused him problems).
    – Artefacto
    Commented Dec 9, 2021 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


I am from Portugal, and I am perfectly familiar with that usage. There’s nothing broken about it. I reckon people who said it are just not familiar with it. Maybe younger folk don’t use it. Anyway, the way you put it, which is the way Priberam puts it, is confusing. It is dar com, not just dar, that means ’to find’. In my experience it is especially used when you find things in unexpected places, or people doing unexpected things, or hiding, or doing things they were not supposed to do. Examples from the Dicionário da Academia das Ciências de Lisboa (2001; dar II.5):

Deu com as crianças na despensa a comerem as bolachas
Demos com a porta da casa arrombada
Demos com ele a mexer na minha carteira

It can be a good surprise:

Acordei a meio da noite, fui beber água, e dei com o João a arrumar a cozinha; ele que nunca faz nada em casa!

It’s also used when you can’t find something:

Ando aqui às voltas há montes de tempo, e não consigo dar com a tal loja

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    No, they say it because they say it in English and don't really know what they are saying. Dar com x is perfectly normal in Brazil, too. It can mean, as in your example, to run into someone, in the sense unexpectedly. It can be found, too. Dei com meus amigos quando saí à rua. I ran into my friends when I went out.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 22:12
  • @Lambie, great, I wasn't sure of that. I can only speak from my experience.
    – Jacinto
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 22:18
  • Jacinto, 90 percent of these idioms are the same. Especially, this kind of thing. This comes up in English all the time with people saying is this AmE or BrE? When in fact it is merely English. This is merely Portuguese.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 22:19
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    @Lambie, yes, 90% the same; but the 10% that are different stand out. I was writing this answer and thinking of this question about ir ter a and ir ter com, and people said, oh in Brazil we get it, but it's not much used... you can read the comments.
    – Jacinto
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 22:45
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    "dar com" is perfectly understood in Brazil but sounds dated, especially to the younger generations. Exceptions are "dar com" in fixed phrases such as "dar de cara com", "dar com os burros n'água".
    – Centaurus
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 14:47

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