External Resources Edit
BASICS 1 Edit
How to use definite articles o, os, a, as Edit
Definite articles are the equivalent to the English word the, however, in Portuguese they can vary depending on gender and number.
Every single object, idea or person in Portuguese is either masculine or feminine, except for very particular cases. The definite article helps you then to determine if the noun is:
- feminine = a
- masculine = o
- plural feminine = as
- plural masculine = os.
- o travesseiro = the pillow (masculine singular)
- os travesseiros = the pillows (masculine plural)
- a cama = the bed (feminine singular)
- as camas = the beds (feminine plural)
And the indefinite articles? Edit
They also have genders, matching the English words "a" and "an":
- masculine = um
- feminine = uma
- um carro = a car
- um ovo = an egg
- uma casa = a house
- uma hora = an hour
Note: Portuguese doesn't have different words depending on the next word's beginning, so both "a" and "an" translate to the same word (um or uma depending only on gender).
Do you feel like getting advanced?
The indefinite articles also have plural forms: uns and umas (masculine and feminine). Their meaning, however, is "some":
- Uns livros = some books
- Umas palavras = some words
BASICS 2 Edit
Persons and verb conjugations Edit
Verbs in Portuguese change depending on who is doing the action. This happens in English when, for instance, "to write" gets conjugated to "he writes."
In Portuguese, however, verbs have a different conjugation for each grammatical person.
Let's take verb "to be", for instance. "To be" can translate to "ser" or "estar", but let's keep just "ser" for the basic lessons.
Plural you?? Edit
Portuguese has differences between the singular and the plural forms of "you". If you address one person only, use the singular form. If you address two or more people, use the plural form. See table below.
Simple present conjugations: Edit
|Eng. Person||To be||Port. Person||Ser||*|
(1) The good news is that you don't have to memorize all of them. The "tu" and "vós" versions can be left aside.
"Vós" is mostly obsolete and is hardly ever used except in very formal or old texts. "Tu" is quite common in some places (including Portugal,Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa and Asia and the south of Brazil), but it can be replaced by "você". See (2) below.
(2) Both "tu" and "vós" can be safely replaced by "você" (singular) and "vocês" (plural). Their conjugations match the respective conjugations for "ele/ela" and "eles/elas".
- Tu és = você é (you are - singular)
- Vós sois = vocês são (you are - plural)
COMMON PHRASES Edit
Common Phrases!! Edit
One of the most important things about different languages is that they also have different expressions.
You will notice sometimes that "word by word" translations can result in sentences that simply don't make any sense.
Remember: different languages think different!
In this skill, you will find some of those differences.
Just a grammar tip before you start:
Portuguese does not invert word order or add auxiliary verbs for asking questions, just add the question mark and you are ready to go!
- Você fala português! = You speak Portuguese!
- Você fala português? = Do you speak Portuguese?
Thanking people: Edit
- Thank you = obrigado (if you are a man)
- Thank you = obrigada (if you are a woman)
We don't really translate the "you" in that expression, we see it as a whole thing.
- You are welcome! = De nada! - This is what you answer when someone thanks you.
Welcoming people: Edit
To welcome people, we use "bem-vindo". As an adjective, it inflects according to gender and number.
Translations of "Welcome!":
|Gender||Number||Imperative "to be" (optional) (1)||Welcome|
(1) Don't worry too much about the imperative conjugations now, there will be lessons for it later :)
- You are welcome! = Você é bem-vindo(a) - this is the literal translation when you say someone is welcome somewhere. It's not an answer to "thank you".
Plural or singular? Edit
In many cases, English does not allow countable nouns to be in singular form without articles. That is not the case in Portuguese. Singular countable nouns with no articles in Portuguese will have a general meaning, similar to an English plural or an English singular with an indefinite article, depending on the context.
So, both Portuguese sentences below are just ok:
- Ele é cozinheiro = He is a cook
- Ele não come ovo = He does not eat eggs
Their versions with articles or in plural forms are valid as well:
- Ele é cozinheiro = Ele é um cozinheiro
- Ele não come ovo = Ele não come ovos
Verb for eating Edit
Aside from idiomatic expressions, the only verb for eating in Portuguese is "comer".
The verb "ter" is translated as "to have", but only in the sense of "possess/own/contain":
- Nós comemos o almoço = We eat lunch
- Nós temos almoço = We have got lunch
Here you can start to know a few exceptions on the usage of articles, as in the example above.
"Lunch" in English is a noun that doesn't need an article, even in singular. (That is not the normal behavior of most singular countable nouns in English)
In these cases, the Portuguese translation normally keeps the article for specific meanings.
Verbs for drinking Edit
For drinking, there is the verb "beber".
It's possible in less formal contexts to also use "tomar". But tomar only means "to drink" if used with actual drinks. Sentences without the objects will sound strange with "tomar".
Amargo or azedo? Edit
- Amargo means bitter: coffee, beer.
- Azedo means sour: strawberries, grapes, vinegar
- Ingredients cannot be adjectives in Portuguese
In Portguese, ingredients are not adjectives like in English.
To say "orange juice", for instance, it's necessary to add the preposition "de" and then the ingredient:
- Orange juice = suco de laranja
- Tuna sandwich = sanduíche de atum
- Chocolate cake = bolo de chocolate
Plurals - Basic rules Edit
Portuguese plurals have one thing in common: virtually they all end in -s. Sounds easy, right? Not quite.
With words ending in vowels or a diphthong, you really just need to add -s to the singular:
- O menino > Os meninos
- A menina > As meninas
- Uma menina > Umas meninas
- O pneu (tire/tyre) > Os pneus
An important thing about plurals is that all adjectives, articles, possessives and determiners pointing to the noun must be changed by adding the plural ending to them as well, and in accordance to the rules stated here.
One example with adjectives, articles and possessives:
- As tuas maçãs são vermelhas = Your apples are red
Word endings Edit
When a word ends with a consonant, there are a few different rules for changing its ending in plural:
1) If the word ends in -m, replace it with -ns:
- A imagem (image, picture) > As imagens
- A viagem (trip, voyage) > As viagens
- Uma margem (margin), > Umas margens
- Um jardim (garden) > Uns jardins
2) If the word ends in -al, -el, -ol and -ul, replace the -l with -is (in a few cases, you may need to add an acute accent - to the right - to the preceding vowel):
- O casal (couple) > Os casais
- O anel (ring) > Os anéis
- O farol (lighthouse) > Os faróis
3) If the word ends in -il, replace the -l with -s (if the word is monosyllabic or has its stress on the last syllable) or -eis (if the word has its stress somewhere else):
- O funil (funnel) > Os funis
- O fóssil (fossil) > Os fósseis
- O canil (kennel) > Os canis
- O réptil (reptile) > Os répteis
4) If the word ends in -s, -z, or -r, form the plural by adding -es to the singular (if the word ends with -s and has an accent in the last syllable, it will lose the accent in the plural):
- A voz (voice) > As vozes
- O valor (value) > Os valores
- O ananás (pineapple, EP) > Os ananases
- O francês (Frenchman) > Os franceses
4.1. Some nouns ending in -s (and all words ending in -x) have the same form in the singular and plural - the change can be inferred by the articles/adjectives/possessives that accompany them:
- O lápis (pencil) > Os lápis
- O oásis (oasis) > Os oásis
- O ourives (goldsmith) > Os ourives
- O tórax (thorax) > Os tórax
- grátis (free) > grátis
5) The trickiest part of learning the plurals comes from words ending in -ão. Sometimes they form plurals just by adding -s (-ãos), but most of them change to -ões and a small minority to -ães. You’ll need to memorize the pairs to make sure you’re using the correct plural (but don’t worry - that’s an issue that troubles many native speakers as well):
ÃO > ÕES (the majority)
- A ação (action, stock) > As ações
- O balão (balloon) > Os balões
- A prisão (prison) > As prisões
- O coração (heart) > Os corações
- O leão (lion) > Os leões
ÃO > ÃOS
- A mão (hand) > As mãos
- O irmão (brother) > Os irmãos
- O cidadão (citizen) > Os cidadãos
- O órgão (organ) > Os órgãos
ÃO > ÃES
- O alemão (German man) > Os alemães
- O cão (dog) > Os cães
- O capitão (captain) > Os capitães
Finally, there are also a few words ending in -ão that accept two or three of these endings, with the changes being caused by regional influences or by analogy with other words:
- O verão (summer) > Os verões/verãos
- O aldeão (villager) > Os aldeões/aldeãos/aldeães
For example, the word “corrimão” (banister, handrail) saw its etymological correct plural form corrimãos (since it’s a compound word that ends in “mão”, hand, and therefore should have a similar ending) mainly replaced in daily usage by corrimões (by analogy with the majority of words ending in -ão, which form the plural with -ões).
P.S. In words like “cidadão” or “capitão” where only one form is established (see above), it’s considered incorrect and in bad taste to use any other plural ending.
Portuguese regular possessive adjectives and pronouns are somewhat similar to English, but there are some differences. In Portuguese, they follow a few rules.
English-like rules: Edit
- Their stem/base form gives information about the possessor (the person/thing who owns it).
- Adjective possessives usually show up before the noun (while placing them afterwards is not strictly wrong, it’s very rare – usually a style choice in books and poems).
- The base form needs to be declined according to the gender and number of the noun it’s qualifying. (Just like adjectives and articles)
- Possessive adjectives and pronouns in Portuguese are exactly the same. There is no extra "s" like in "your x yours"; the –s endings you may encounter are plural markers.
- The regular possessive adjectives can be preceded by the corresponding definite article ("o meu", "a minha"...), but in Brazilian Portuguese using the article is mostly optional.
These are the regular pronouns and their inflections:
|Owner||Masc. sing.||Fem. sing.||Masc. plural||Fem. plural|
|Eu||(o) meu||(a) minha||(os) meus||(as) minhas|
|Tu||(o) teu||(a) tua||(os) teus||(as) tuas|
|Você/Ele/Ela||(o) seu||(a) sua||(os) seus||(as) suas|
|Nós||(o) nosso||(a) nossa||(os) nossos||(as) nossas|
|Vós||(o) vosso||(a) vossa||(os) vossos||(as) vossas|
|Vocês/Eles/Elas||(o) seu||(a) sua||(os) seus||(as) suas|
- O meu carro é vermelho = My car is red
- Minha casa é azul = My house is blue
- Meus gatos são brancos = My cats are white
- As minhas meias são pretas = My socks are black
Alternative pronouns: Edit
As you may have noticed, without context it’s impossible to discern which third person pronoun (você/ele/ela/vocês/eles/elas) the regular possessive is referring to. (Normally in these cases Duolingo accepts all possible translations if they make sense):
- Seu cão = Your / His / Her / Their dog
In Brazil, using "seu" in simple sentences most of the times means "your(s)", but in sentences with some context, it tends to refer to the previously stated subject:
- Eu não vi o seu casaco = I didn't see your coat
- A menina vestiu seu casaco e saiu = The girl put on her coat and left
To avoid that confusion, there are other possessive pronouns whose declinations refer to the owner instead and do not decline according to the owned noun:
|Owner||Poss. pronoun||Owner||Poss. pronoun|
* - The form "de você" (singular) is not seen as a possessive form!
** - A popular informal one referring to "nós" is "da gente". It's not used in disambiguation, because "nosso(as)" is not ambiguous, but it's common in popular language due to "a gente" meaning "nós".
These are nothing but the personal pronoun preceded by a "de" preposition, creating an effect similar to "of him", "of her", "of them", "of yours". But unlike English, they are very natural in Portuguese.
- O coelho dela come cenoura = Her rabbit eats carrots
- As moedas dele estão brilhando = His coins are shining
- A casa deles é grande = Their house is big
- Gosto do cachorro de vocês = I like your dog (you plural)
- Isto vai mudar a vida da gente = This will change our life
Articles with possessive pronouns Edit
While the possessive adjectives (coming before nouns) can have optional articles, the possessive pronouns (that don't precede nouns) must use the articles consistently.
One way of checking whether the article should be used is inverting the English sentence to the unusual "of him" form.
Then the article should behave in a similar way in both languages. (Please consider that this unusual English form is not commonly accepted as English translations in the system)
- O cachorro dele quer água = His dog wants water (checking: the dog of him wants water - necessary article)
Sometimes, the article is optional, but meaning is changed:
- Esses carros são meus = These cars are mine (checking: these cars are cars of mine)
- Result: These cars belong to me
- Esses carros são os meus = These cars are mine (checking: these cars are the cars of mine)
- Result: These cars are the ones that belong to me
Using the article in these cases talks about "extra specific" things, suggesting there are probably other possibilities.
TU OR VOCÊ Edit
Tu and você, what is the difference? Edit
In Portuguese, there are two very common ways to refer to "you (singular)": tu and você.
Both words mean you, but only "tu" is truly a second person pronoun according to grammar. (Você is a treatment pronoun that uses third person conjugations)
Is one more formal than the other?
That will depend a lot on what region we are talking about. Some people see "tu" as an informal thing, others don't.
With time, several regions of Brazil chose "você" as the standard way of saying you. Other regions, however, kept "tu" as the most common form.
Examples of places that use "tu" very often are Portugal, Portuguese speaking countries in Asia and Africa and the south of Brazil.
The verb conjugations for each one are different. While "tu" uses true second person conjugations (the ones you see in tables), "você" uses third person conjugations (the ones for "ele/ela"):
In speech, it is very common to see people using "tu" with "você conjugations", but that is not grammatically correct.
Plural or singular?? Edit
The noun "roupa" (clothes) in Portuguese can be either countable or uncountable.
You can say "roupa" as "clothes in general" as well as "roupas".
One "roupa" can be the entire set of clothes:
- Gosto da tua roupa = I like your clothes
- Gosto das tuas roupas = I like your clothes
But "roupa" is not "cloth". For that, there is "pano" or "tecido".
Clothes coming in pairs Edit
For clothes that come in pairs, such as shoes, gloves, boots, it's also possible to use the singular form in Portuguese when referring to the pair:
- Ela gosta do meu sapato novo = She likes my new shoes
Why possessive?? Edit
One interesting feature in Portuguese is the possibility of using definite articles (o/a/os/as) instead of possessives when it's obvious who something's owner is:
- Ele tira os sapatos = He takes his shoes off
This is common with clothes and body parts, and it's also more natural than using actual possessives.
Verbs for clothes Edit
In Portuguese, there are a few different verbs we use for clothes.
- Usar - This is the main verb for "wearing" clothes.
- Pôr/Colocar/Botar - These three have the same meaning: "to put" in general cases and "to put on" for clothes.
- Vestir - "Vestir" is flexible and can mean either "to wear" or "to put on". But it's more common as "to put on". --- Notice that "vestir" is an irregular verb for "eu", where it's conjugated as "eu visto".
- Calçar - This one is exclusive for footwear (socks, shoes, slippers, etc.). It also means either "to put on" or "to wear".
- Tirar - "Tirar" is the opposite of "botar", it means "to take off". (In other contexts, it can mean "take away, remove", etc.)
So, be careful when you see a sentence with "usar + clothes". Although it might mean "to use", it's much more likely to mean "wear" in English:
- She is wearing a blue shirt = Ela está usando/vestindo uma camisa azul
- Put these pants on = Coloque/Vista estas calças
Funny thing about clothes in Portuguese.
- "Calça", besides being a conjugation of the verb "calçar", also means "trousers/pants".
- "Bota", besides being a conjugation of "botar", also means "boot".
This leads to a common joke:
- Por que você calça a bota e bota a calça? = Why do you put on the boot and put on the pants
....well.... it's only funny in Portuguese, I guess XD.
Questions in Portuguese Edit
In Portuguese, asking questions is quite easy. Simply add a question mark and... that's it! =D
Wait! No change in the word order?
Right! No change in word order!
And no auxiliary verb? (do/does/did...)
Nope! No auxiliary verbs!
- They are here = Eles estão aqui
- Are they here? = Eles estão aqui? (instead of "estão eles")
- He likes apples = Ele gosta de maçã
- Does he like apples? = Ele gosta de maçã? (instead of "gosta ele")
- She has a cat = Ela tem um gato
- Does she have a cat? = Ela tem um gato? (instead of "tem ela")
Questions words Edit
There are two question words that might be confusing at first, but they are distinct: "que" and "qual".
Que - as pronoun
For "que", when a standalone pronoun, use "o que".
This one asks for definitions and explanations. It's used when you want to understand what something is, more than simply knowing.
- O que é isto? = What is this?
- Não sei o que é. = I don't know what it is.
- O que você quer? = What do you want?
Qual - as a pronoun Edit
This one is used to ask things that you do understand, but you don't know what/which they are. Sometimes it's "what", sometimes it's "which":
- Qual é o seu nome? = What is your name?
- Qual você quer? = Which one do you want?
- Não sei qual eu quero. = I don't know which one I want.
You don't ask "o que é o seu nome?", that would mean you don't understand what a name is. That would state something near "please explain what your name is".
Both as determiners - (coming before nouns) Edit
In this case, "que" and "qual" are exactly the same, meaning "what" or "which":
- Que/Qual comida você quer? = What/Which food do you want?
Word order for question words Edit
Question words are usually placed at the beginning of the sentence. But except for the verb "to be", the "subject - verb" order is kept the same as in affirmative sentences:
- What is that? = O que é aquilo?
- How many cats does she have? = Quantos gatos ela tem? (instead of "tem ela")
- How much sugar do you want? = Quanto açúcar você quer? (instead of "quer você")
The three sentences above are also right the other way around, although the first of the following may sound informal:
- Aquilo é o quê? ("Quê" at the end has "ê")
- Ela tem quantos gatos?
- Você quer quanto açúcar?
But could the word order change? Edit
Most of the times it can. But since the inversion is not standard, it may sound weird. The best thing to do is really to keep the same order as in affirmative sentences.
Plural or singular??? Edit
As adjectives, colors also change gender and number to follow the nouns they point to.
But some colors have a different behavior.
Standard behavior Edit
Colors that have their own name are used just like any ordinary adjective:
|Color||Masc. Sing.||Fem. Sing.||Masc. Pl.||Fem. Pl.|
(1) - Some adjectives, especially the ones ending in "e" have their masculine and feminine versions equal. That is normal and will happen to many other adjectives as well.
Invariant colors Edit
But... colors that got their names from other things don't have plural forms:
- Gray = Cinza ("cinza" comes from "ash")
- Orange = Laranja (comes from the fruit)
- Violet = Violeta (it's the name of a flower)
- Pink = Rosa ("rosa" comes from "rose")
- Carro vermelho = Red car
- Casas amarelas = Yellow houses
- Carro cinza = Gray car
- Casas cinza = Gray houses
Moreno and negro Edit
The standard color used for objects and animals is "preto" (black).
- Um carro preto, um gato preto = A black car, a black cat
- Uma caneta preta - A black pen
The word "negro" is often used with more abstract things, meaning "dark".
When referring to people's skin color, "negro" is the right choice, although many people prefer the term "afrodescendente" (descendent from Africans).
"Moreno" is only used for people. It may refer sometimes to the hair color, and in other cases to skin color. Black or dark hair is considered "moreno".
Skin that is neither white nor black or very dark is also "pele morena"
When you say "ela é morena", you may be talking either about hair or skin, or both.
VERBS: PRESENT 1 Edit
Present tense: Simple present or "Presente do indicativo" Edit
Let's start looking at the most basic verb tense: the simple present. In Portuguese, this is called "presente do indicativo."
Basically, there are three kinds of verbs in Portuguese:
- 1st: verbs ending in ar - Ex: ajudar = to help
- 2nd: verbs ending in er - Ex: beber = to drink
- 3rd: verbs ending in ir - Ex: abrir = to open
Each of these follow a conjugation pattern. So all the regular verbs just get a consistent ending in each case:
|Ele(a) / Você||ajuda||bebe||abre||(1)|
|Eles(as) / Vocês||ajudam||bebem||abrem||(1)|
(1) Never forget that although having 3rd person conjugations, "você" and "vocês" refer to the 2nd person.
Você = you (sing.) / Vocês = you (plural)
Irregular verbs Edit
Irregular verbs are those that don't follow the same conjugation pattern. Their conjugations might or not follow a pattern, and each verb must be learned individually in this case.
Some examples: ser (to be), fazer (to do/make), ir (to go), ouvir (to hear/listen) and others.
Prepositions can be a tough matter for many learners, but don't worry! In every language, prepositions cannot be directly translated.
The most important rule for prepositions is: They always depend on the rest of the expression to make sense!
So, if you intend to memorize preposition translations, remember this: this will only work for time and space, other cases must be seen as a whole.
Some cases Edit
- Some prepositions are demanded by the verbs. They might or not make sense, but the verbs simply ask for them. The best to do here is to just forget about the preposition itself and always remember the pair: verb + preposition.
- Prepositions for places have consistent translations
- Prepositions for time have different, but consistent translations too
- Prepositions for creating subordinate clauses before infinitive verbs have a different behavior
- Certain expressions simply are as they are. All we can do is to accept them.
All this might seem very complicated at first, but in time everything gets clearer.
In Portuguese, certain prepositions must be contracted with the following word. It happens to "em", "de", "a" and "por" before articles and pronouns.
The good news is: among so many different words, you will see that in fact they are just a few well known words forming many combinations.
Definite articles Edit
- Em + o/a/os/as = no/na/nos/nas
- De + o/a/os/as = do/da/dos/das
- A + o/a/os/as = ao/à/aos/às
- Por + o/a/os/as = pelo/pela/pelos/pelas
Personal pronouns Edit
- Em + ele/ela/eles/elas = Nele/Nela/Neles/Nelas
- De + ele/ela/eles/elas = Dele/Dela/Deles/Delas
Demonstrative pronouns Edit
- Em + isto/este(s)/esta(s) = nisto/neste(s)/nesta(s)
- De + isto/este(s)/esta(s) = disto/deste(s)/desta(s)
The same happens to "isso/esse(s)/essa(s)".
- Em + aquilo/aquele(s)/aquela(s) = naquilo/naquele(s)/naquela(s)
- De + aquilo/aquele(s)/aquela(s) = daquilo/daquele(s)/daquela(s)
- A + aquilo/aquele(s)/aquela(s) = àquilo/àquele(s)/àquela(s)
Objective pronouns Edit
- com + mim = comigo
- com + ti = contigo
- com + nós = conosco (BR) / connosco (PT)
- com + vós = convosco
Indefinite articles (mainly in speech or in European Portuguese)
All the previous contractions are mandatory.
The following however are considered informal in Brazil, but well accepted in European Portuguese:
- Em + um/uma/uns/umas = num/numa/nuns/numas
- De + um/uma/uns/umas = dum/duma/duns/dumas
Prepositions for time Edit
Prepositions used for time expressions have different translations from those used for places. Nevertheless, they too follow well behaved rules in most cases.
Periods of the day: Edit
This is one of the few exceptional cases, where both English and Portuguese have their particular usage:
- In the morning = de manhã
- At noon = ao meio-dia
- In the afternoon = à tarde / de tarde
- At night / In the evening = à noite / de noite
- Tonight = hoje à noite / esta noite
Numeric dates and named months:
Use "em" without articles.
- Aconteceu em 5 de abril = It happened on April 5th
- Ela nasceu em 1977 = She was born in 1977
- Ele volta em agosto = He returns in August
Numeric dates and months when using the nouns "dia, mês, ano":
Use "em + article". If the unit is "mês", it's necessary to add a "de" after it.
- O Natal é comemorado no dia 25 de dezembro = Christmas is celebrated on December 25th.
- As aulas começam no mês de agosto = The classes start in August.
- Estamos no ano 2015, quase em 2016 = We are in the year 2015, almost in 2016.
- Foi na primeira semana de janeiro = It was on the first week of January
Use "em + article":
- The show is on Friday = O show é na sexta-feira
- She travels on Sunday = Ela viaja no domingo
These prepositions can be omitted: "... é sexta-feira", "...viaja domingo".
Repeating week days:
If something happens regularly on certain week days, use the preposition "a" or "em" plus the plural article:
- Ele joga às/nas quartas-feiras = He plays on Wednesdays
- Ele não trabalha aos/nos domingos = De does not work on Sundays
Using "a" is more formal and better for written texts.
For terms, the preposition used is also "em", without articles:
- A encomenda chegará em 10 dias = The order will arrive in 10 days
- Te vejo em meia hora = I see you in half an hour
Another very common option is "dentro de" (within), which has the same meaning.
Clock time: Edit
Clock times will translate "at" as "a" and an article is needed.
If the following time is feminine, add the article "a" making it "à" (a+a)
If masculine, the article is "o", making it "ao" (a+o).
And if plural, add the respective "s".
- O filme começa às sete = The movie starts at seven
- Ela se levanta às oito horas = She gets up at eight o'clock
- Almoçamos ao meio-dia = We have lunch at noon
- Lobisomens aparecem à meia-noite = Werewolves appear at midnight
When telling the day period, use "de" before it:
- Vejo-te às cinco da tarde = See you at five in the afternoon
- São seis da manhã! = It's six in the morning!
Nouns that change genders Edit
You are probably getting used to Portuguese genders by now, but here, we will see some interesting distinctions between two kinds of nouns:
- Those that have the gender of the person/animal they refer to
- Those that have genders by themselves
Among family nouns, animals and professions, it's very common to find those that change genders according to the person they refer to:
- Tio / Tia = Uncle / Aunt
- Filho / Filha = Son / Daughter
- Avô / Avó = Grandfather / Grandmother
- Irmão / Irmã = Brother / Sister
- Gato / Gata = Male cat / Female cat
- Engenheiro / Engenheira = Male engineer / Female engineer
On the other hand, some of them have always the same gender regardless of the person they refer to:
- Criança = Child - Always feminine
- Pessoa = Person - Always feminine
Genders and plurals or general statementsEdit
Here we are going to see what to do when we don't know the gender of the people or when there is a group with mixed genders.
Portuguese takes the masculine gender as the standard gender for general cases.
This means that for nouns, adjectives and any other thing that can change genders, one chooses the masculine gender to talk about unknown or mixed genders.
Examples of unknown genders:
- There is a cat here = Há um gato aqui
- No one is perfect = Ninguém é perfeito
In these examples, the cat can be either male or female: a strange cat we don't know the gender. And the people we are talking about can be just anyone, men and women.
If we use the feminine genders, both examples get very specific:
- Há uma gata aqui (you know for sure the cat is a female, there is no other option)
- Ninguém é perfeita (despite being an awkward sentence, this refers to a group containing only women)
In plurals, the same rule applies. If you have a group with mixed genders, the chosen gender is masculine:
- (os) Irmãos = (the) Siblings (any gender)
- (os) Irmãos = (the) Brothers (boys only)
- (as) Irmãs = (the) Sisters (girls only)
- (os) Tios = (the) Uncles and aunts
- (os) Tios = (the) Uncles
- (as) Tias = (the) Aunts
- (os) Pais = (the) Parents (father and mother)
- (os) Pais = (the) Fathers (only men)
- (as) Mães = (the) Mothers (only women)
One particular spelling exception happens with "avós", which seems to be feminine, but is actually masculine (mixed group):
- Os avós = Grandparents
- Os avôs = Grandfathers
- As avós = Grandmothers
Note that the unchangeable nouns keep the same in plural:
- As crianças = The children
- As pessoas = The people
Tamanho x Medida Edit
"Tamanho" is a general word meaning "size".
It can be used either for exact measures or general sizes such as "pequeno (small), médio (mid-size)" and "grande (big)".
Clothes are often labeled with the letters "P, M, G" for their sizes. (PP is smaller than P and GG is bigger than G).
"Medida" is attached to numbers, exact measurements:
- Tirar medidas = To take measurements
Largo x Amplo x Grande Edit
In Portuguese, these words are used differently:
"Largo" is a false cognate, and it is not a synonym of big.
"Largo" is related to "largura" (width), so it's mostly "wide".
"Amplo" is used mostly for "rooms", "spaces" and "ranges", when it can mean "wide", but not as an actual width measurement.
"Grande" means "big" or "large" in the most common senses.
Justo x Apertado Edit
Sometimes both seem to mean the same (tight), but mostly they mean:
- Justo - Firm, tight, the exact size, with no clearance
- Apertado - Uncomfortably tight, too tight.
It's true their meanings can overlap a little, but "justo" is not used often for things that have a negative connotation.
For machine parts, though, "apertado" and "justo" would mean the same.
Nouns with two genders Edit
As it happens with nouns for people and animals, professions in Portuguese can also change genders depending on the professional's gender.
But here, it's very common to see nouns that do change genders, but without changing forms.
As well as with the other nouns that change genders, in sentences where genders are unknown or mixed, Portuguese adopts the masculine gender, which will only show in articles, adjectives and other determiners for this case.
Nouns changing forms:
- Engenheiro / Engenheira = Engineer
- Arquiteto / Arquiteta = Architect
- Diretor / Diretora = (school) Principal / Director
Nouns that don't change forms:
- O artista / A artista = The artist
- O profissional / A profissional = The professional
- O gerente / A gerente = The manager
- Os artistas em geral são mais sentimentais = Artists in general are more sentimental. (Mixed or unknown genders use masculine articles)
- A gerente quer mais qualidade = The manager (a woman) wants more quality
- O gerente deu as instruções = The manager (a man) gave the instructions.
To be or to have???Edit
In the sizes skill, an interesting difference in how languages view things shows up.
Just like it happens when telling people's ages, when telling things' sizes, Portuguese uses the verb "ter" instead of translating the verb "to be" directly.
So, whenever telling something's measurements, remember that:
- The bar is fifty centimeters (long) = A barra tem cinquenta centímetros (de comprimento)
- You must be two meters tall to enter the volleyball team = Você precisa ter dois metros de altura para entrar no time de vôlei.
Notice also the preposition "de" used when telling which dimension you are talking about.
Measurements without verbsEdit
When measurements appear directly attached to something without a verb, similar to an adjective, Portuguese sentences use the form "de + size", working the same way food flavors do:
- A chocolate cake = Um bolo de chocolate
- A 100 meters run = Uma corrida de 100 metros
- They have bought a 20 pound cake!!! = Eles compraram um bolo de 20 libras!!!
PS: Brazil uses mostly the International System of Units, being "kilograms", "kilometers", "meters" and "centimeters" the units Brazilians understand.
Gram or grass??Edit
A fun fact about these two words:
- A grama (feminine) = The grass
- O grama (masculine) = The gram