I am trying to figure out the literal meaning of "dar-se" in idioms such as "Dar-se conta de", «dar-se pressa”, ”dar-se tom” pr “dar-se ares". I realise the idiomatic meanings are "realise", "hurry" etc but what does "dar-se" mean in these cases literally.

I came across a post by ciberduvidas stating the different definitions of "dar-se", but unfortunately as a foreigner I can't apply these:

'Dá-se é a forma pronominal da 3.ª pessoa do singular do verbo dar-se, que significa «sentir-se; estar de acordo; realizar-se; acontecer; ocorrer; render-se; entregar-se; dedicar-se; procurar passar por; prestar-se», in Dicionário Aurélio – Século XXI. Não creio que haja outra explicação para a existência desta forma que não seja a forma de terceira pessoa do presente do indicativo do verbo dar + pronome pessoal de caso oblíquo, com função de complemento do verbo pronominal bitransitivo: se.'

in Ciberdúvidas da Língua Portuguesa, https://ciberduvidas.iscte-iul.pt/consultorio/perguntas/dar-se--da-se/10757 [consultado em 10-12-2021]

The only thing I could find was for «dar-se ao luxo»

Sobre esta matéria pronuncia-se o ilustre filólogo Napoleão Mendes de Almeida, no seu Dicionário de Questões Vernáculas, entrada «dar-se ao luxo»: «É construção normal, em que o verbo dar está pronominalmente empregado com a significação de render-se, entregar-se


1 Answer 1


In a language, a verb may function one way and so produce a lot of idioms and not work that way at all in another.

dar-se plus [noun] means the verb is reflexive. They are all reflexive.

  • Eu me dei conta de que ele era muito rico. (I realized)

There is no verb except for realizar which also means to realize in Portuguese. You could argue that if you give yourself an account of something, you realize it. Right?

  • Dei-me pressa para [fazer algo]. Here, there is a verb, apressar-se but it is quite literary and not used in everyday conversation. So, if you give yourself haste, you hurry. That is also slightly formal because there is also: ter pressa para [verb].

  • dar-se o luxo= to give oneself the luxury of [something]. That one also works in English. And here, in English, we could ask the same question: Why do we say give oneself the luxury of something? This also works for dar-se ares. To give oneself airs. Again, there is no verb. In English or Portuguese, in fact.

dá-se as the third person singular of dar-se has a number of meanings. If you want to say that in northeast Brazil, there are a lot of droughts, you can use it: Se dá muitas secas no nordeste brasileiro. Because it means to occur. Most of the uses for it are pretty formal. However, here, it has nothing to do with the word give except for the fact that give in Portuguese mean to occur.

In short, some of these can be explained by virtue of the fact there is no noun for the action described after the verb form dar-se (or dar). Others are just the way it is. dar is very flexible and is almost like "get" in English.

Each one of the idioms has to be viewed individually, and I don't think there is one single explanation about why "dar" or "dar-se [noun]" is so flexible.

  • 1
    Thank you very much! Especially the explanation with "dar-se conta" makes sense. It's a little bit unintuitive but put that way it seems reasonable. The "dar-se (a)o luxo" I guess is a bit more up for debate if the Dicionário de Questões Vernáculas suggests the "dar-se" there refers to render-se/entregar-se
    – Bigbadant
    Dec 10, 2021 at 19:49
  • @Bigbadant dar-se o luxo, entregar-se: to give oneself up to luxury, literally. Idiomatically though: to give oneself the luxury of.
    – Lambie
    Dec 11, 2021 at 16:13

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