How to Use Swear Words in English

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    Learn English 2Nadal

    Are you scared of swear words? Are you unsure of when to use them? It’s good to be cautious, because it’s delicate issue.

    Swear words can be one of the most difficult parts of a language to master, as you have to be careful when practicing them. Some people may get really offended by their use.

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    But even if you don’t want to use swear words, you still need to understand them as they are quite common in the English language. You may not say them, but you still want to understand what’s going on during TV, a movie, a book, a conversation or any other type of English you may be trying to understand.

    Why Use Swear Words?

    Swear words, love them or hate them, are an integral part of a language. To master fluency, you must master swear words.

    But why do people use them? What’s the point?

    When you use swear words, they allow you to convey emotion that would otherwise not be as easy to communicate. Swear words increase your vocabulary and give you a wider range of emotions to invoke than if you didn’t use any.

    Some swear words are extremely versatile and can be used in many different ways. When you begin to overcome your negative gut-reaction, you may start to see the beauty in all of these amazing swear words.

    Of course, it’s important not to overuse swear words, just like you wouldn’t want to overuse any word. However, because some swear words are so interchangeable, it can become easy to just rely on a few swear words as the majority of your vocabulary.

    The most important lesson to take home from swear words is to just notice how they make you react and ask yourself why these feelings arise inside you.

    Below is a list of the nine most common swear words in English with the many different ways in which they are used.

    It’s important that when you practice swear words that you do it with close friends who can help guide you towards the proper time and place to use them. But when in doubt, use them with people who are near your age.

    NOTE: PG stands for Parental Guidance, meaning it’s appropriate for all ages. It’s used in movies as a rating of who should see the movie. The PG tag will help you convey the same meaning without vulgar.

    Translating Swear Words

    It’s almost impossible to translate swear words, because they are so colloquial and unique to the culture. However, we will do our best to help you understand the words in relation to Portuguese. If you have any suggestions or better translations please feel free to let us know in the comments!



    A light swear word, can be said on TV and radio. Damn means to condemn (a person) to suffer eternal punishment in hell, but is more commonly used when expressing surprise or disgust.

    Different Uses

    To express pain, sadness or anger.

    “God dammit / damn / dammit”

    (Que bosta)

    To express that you are upset with another person.

    “Hey man, I lost your phone.”

    “Damn you (to hell!)“

    Expression of awe or wonder.

    ‘Woah, check out the sunrise.”



    Expression of dismay or disappointment.

    “I can’t find my keys.”



    To express how little you care.

    “Hey, what do you want for dinner?”

    “I don’t give a damn.”

    (eu estou nem aí!)

    Expressing agreement and encouraging action.

    “I think I’m gonna call her today.”

    “You damn well (better)!”

    (e melhor você fazer)

    To add a feeling of stigma/negativity to a noun.

    “That damn teacher gave us a ton of homework.”



    Another light swear word, can be said on TV. Hell is a spiritual realm of evil and suffering, often described as a place of perpetual fire beneath the earth where the evil people go to be punished after death.

    Different Uses

    To express how unlikely it is for an event to occur.

    “Hey man, do you think Julia will go out with me?”

    “Yeah, when Hell freezes over.” or “You got a snowball’s chance in Hell.”

    Expression of anger.

    “I want to break up with you.”

    “Go to Hell!”

    (vai pro inferno)

    It’s not important.

    “I can’t find a condom”

    “To hell with it!”


    Used as emphasis for yes/no questions.

    “Do you want to come to the Real Life Yoga on Sunday at 2pm at Praça Floriano Peixoto?

    “Hell yeah!”



    Ass can be said on TV, but asshole cannot. Ass is another word for buttocks or anus, but is commonly used to describe someone who’s rude or mean. Can also be used to refer to a donkey or mule (burro) in a non-vulgar way.

    PG version – butt

    Different Uses

    To make oneself look foolish.

    “Did you see Johnny pick his nose on TV?

    “Yeah, he made an ass out of himself.”

    No way / yeah right / I don’t believe you.

    “Yeah so guess who I met yesterday.”


    “Josh, from Real Life English.”

    “My ass!”

    A stupid, mean, or despicable person.

    “That dude just knocked my papers out of my hands and didn’t stop to help or even apologize!”

    “What an ass(hole).”

    (que babaca)

    A lot / Quite a bit

    “There was an ass-load of people there last night.”

    A person who shows supreme confidence, nearly divine ability, and a frequent disregard for authority.

    “Damn, Chad is one tough, bad ass.”


    Another way to say cool.

    “That movie was bad ass!”

    (foi demais)

    A sarcastic insult to anyone who wants something from you.

    “Hey you! Get back here!”

    “Kiss my ass.”

    (beija minha bunda)

    Is also used as an adjective amplifier:

    “Dude, check out those hot ass bitches!” (Olha pras piriguetes gostosas)

    “Damn, look at those ugly ass teeth!” (Dentes feios pra caralho)

    “Get ready for this hard ass test!” (Esta prova é dificil pra caralho)



    Piss is a vulgar term for pee or urine.

    Different Uses

    Used to describe anger.

    “I’m pissed off!”

    (estou puto/a)

    Another word for drunk (used in British English, not American).

    “He was pissed last night.”

    (Ele chapou o melão ontem)

    To express you want to be left alone.

    “Hey, you want some help?”

    “Piss off.”

    (Sai fora)

    To show how hard it’s raining.

    “It’s pissing down rain” (Check out the video 5 ways to say it’s raining)

    (Está chuvendo pra calhalo)



    Bitch can mean someone who whines and complains a lot or someone who’s angry (usually in regards to a woman).

    Different Uses

    To whine or complain.

    “These pants are too big, mosquitos keep bitting me, I don’t like this place.”

    “Hey, stop your bitching.”

    (Para de reclamar)


    “You’re the boss’s little bitch aren’t you?”

    (Você é o peixe do chefe)

    To yell and criticize.

    “My wife just bitched me out over the phone.”

    (Minha esposa encheu meu saco)

    Cool / Fun

    “Dude, the party was bitching last night!

    (A festa foi do caralha)


    “Life’s a bitch.”

    (A vida e uma merda)

    As a response to a stupid comment.

    “Give me $20.”

    “Bitch please.”

    (porro que isso?)

    The middle seat in a car.

    “Hey Jim, you’ve got to ride bitch because you’re the smallest.”

    To slap someone with the back of your hand.

    “Did you see that?! She just got bitched slapped!”

    (um tapa)



    A vulgar word for fecal matter.

    Different Uses

    Can mean both horrible or great.

    “That movie was shit!” (uma bosta) and “that movie was the shit!” are opposites. When “the” is added into the front of “shit,” it becomes really good, the best of the best. Note that there is an emphasis on THE in “the shit.”

    To be in an extremely bad situation.

    “That sounds horrible!”

    “Yeah, I was walking up shit creek.“

    Expression of surprise, dismay.

    “(Holy) shit!”

    (nossa! / que porra)

    To be extremely drunk

    “You seemed pretty drunk last night…”

    “Yeah, I was totally shit-faced.”


    An insulting way to say no.

    “Excuse me sir, would you mind filling out a quick survey?

    “Eat shit!”

    (vai se fuder)

    To have no luck what-so-ever.

    “Oh no, my cell phone died!”

    “Damn, we’re shit out of luck!”

    (a gente ta fudido)

    Someone who’s not very smart.

    “Hey dumb shit / shit for brains!“

    Calm down, rise above your problems.

    “Stop crying, man. Get your shit together.”

    (vira homen / dar um jeito na sua vida)

    Used in place of stuff / thing(s).

    [Looking for an email, but all you see is spam]

    “I ain’t got time for this shit!

    (não tem tempo para essa merda)

    To express disbelief.

    “I have three girlfriends.”



    Small talk / not talking about anything important.

    “What were you guys talking about?”

    “Oh, we were just shooting the shit.”

    (falando merda)

    Big trouble.

    “The cops are coming!”

    “Damn, we’re in deep shit.”

    (a gente está fadido)


    “Have you tried my casserole?

    “Yeah, it tastes like shit.”

    (tem gosto de cu)

    To be very smart.

    “Damn, those Real Life guys really know their shit.”

    To emphasize ton.

    “I got a shit ton of work done today.”



    Vulgar words for vagina. Cunt is a derogatory term for a woman, considered by many Americans to be the most offensive word in the English language—not the case for Australians, they frequently use the term. Pussy can also be used when talking about a “pussy cat.”

    Different Uses

    “What a pussy.” – means you are afraid, “what a chicken” has the same meaning without being vulgar.

    “Shut up, you cunt.”



    Fuck is one of the most interesting a malleable words that there is. It can be used to describe almost anything.

    The Word Fuck that will tell you all you need to know about the word fuck. Below there is a semi-transcript of what is said in the video.

    Fuck is often used to add emphasis and is the only word that can be an adjective, adverb, adverb enhancing an adjective, a noun, as part of a word, and almost every word in a sentence.

    Fuck can be used to describe pain, pleasure, hate, or love.

    Different Uses

    Adjective: “Why am I doing all the fucking work?”

    Adverb: “That girl talks too fucking much.”

    Adverb enhancing adjective: “Those Real Life parties are fucking awesome.

    Noun: “I don’t give a fuck.” (I don’t care at all)

    As part of a word: “Abso-fucking-lutely.” or “In-fucking-credible.

    And, as almost every word in a sentence, “Fuck the fucking fuckers.”

    It can be used to describe…

    Fraud—”The car salesman fucked me over.” (me fudeu)

    Dismay—”Ahh fuck it.” (foda se)

    Trouble—”I guess I’m totally fucked now.” (estou fudido)

    Aggression, pain—”Don’t fuck with me dude or I’ll fuck you up.” (não fode comigo)

    Inquiry—Who the fuck was that? (Que porra que essa?)

    Dissatisfaction—I don’t like what the fuck is going on right now.

    Bewilderment—What the fuck? (que porra?)

    Sex—”Hey baby, you wanna fuck?” (quer transar)

    Stupidity—”What a dumb fuck” (que cara burro)

    Misfortune—”That’s fucked up.”

    Caring—”I don’t give a fuck about your problems.” (estou nem aí)

    Agitation—”Hey stop fucking with me, it’s annoying.”

    Dismissal—”Fuck off.” (vai se fuder)


    Swear words can be fun, and funny, when used in the right context. Just be sensitive to the people around you when you say these words. And remember to practice with your friends to find out exactly how to use the different words. Okay mother fucker?? Let us know what you think, and how we are doing with our Portuguese translation of these delicate, hard to translate words.


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