Three mistakes the President of Brazil made when thanking the Queen for her message

(Para português, clique aqui)

The Queen of England has recently issued a statement to the President of Brazil expressing her condolence safter a tragic event affected hundreds of people in a small town:

The President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, then wrote a tweet to thank her. Although it was nice of him to try, he did face three problems with the language he used in the message:


Problem number one: it’s a formal diplomacy situation

According to etiquette rules, in FORMAL situations (such as diplomacy), it is NOT correct to call her "QUEEN". Here's what to do:

1. If you are writing or talking to her, call her 'Your Majesty' and subsequently 'Ma'am,'

2. Her Majesty/Her Majesty the Queen/Queen Elizabeth/The Queen when mentioning her to someone else.

In Brazil, we have a very informal culture, so understanding how titles work can be quite a challenge for us. My advice is to always look up levels of formality before interacting with people, especially if you are doing this in writing. In the case of the royal family, for example, you have an official webpage dedicated to that.

Problem number two. When we thank someone for a message we need to use the possessive adjective.

Therefore, he should have said: thank you FOR your (kind) words. It is not obligatory to use the word kind, but it sounds polite and gentle.

Problem number three: the expression “God bless” is not applicable to condolences

The direct translation “God bless Brazil and the United Kingdom” was a poor choice. “God bless” is used when celebrating joyful events. Instead, it would have been better if he’d said “God have mercy on Brazil and the United Kingdom”, which is what we may use for negative situations.

Alternatively, he could have also said:

  • We deeply appreciate your expression of sympathy.

  • Thank you for your support at this difficult time.

  • Thank you for your prayers and thoughts.

  • Thank you for your sympathy and kindness.

And here’s what his tweet should have looked like:

correcao erros bolsonaro mensagem rainha elizabeth twitter.png