How do I say “para inglês ver” in English?

Tempo de leitura: menos de 1 minuto

Jack Scholes

[just for show, just for the sake of appearances]

  • Os sinais positivos da economia brasileira não são apenas para inglês ver. São avanços reais e verificáveis.
  • The positive signs from the Brazilian economy are not just for show. They are real and verifiable improvements.


This odd expression dates back to the nineteenth century, when Brazil and England mutually agreed to combat the illegal black slave trade from Africa. This created a real dilemma for Brazil. On the one hand, Brazil owed Britain many favours and a lot of money, but on the other hand the entire economy of the country was based on slave labour, particularly on the coffee plantations, crucial to the Brazilian economy at the time. The solution was for Brazil to pass laws, but not to enforce them. A good example of this practice was a law passed in 1831 to end the slave trade into Brazil. This actually only took effect in 1852. In other words it was ‘just for the English to see’.

Referência: “Break the Branch? Quebrar o Galho – Common, Everyday Words and Phrases in Brazilian Portuguese” de Jack Scholes, Disal Editora, 2008. Leia a resenha.