In this lesson, we’ll learn about relative quantifiers. Relative quantifiers (quantificadores relativos) don’t tell us an actual quantity, but instead tell us about a relative quantity in relation to an unspecified whole. Sounds complicated? Our examples will make everything clear.
Quanto, Quanta, Quantos, Quantas
Quanto (masculine) and quanta (feminine) are singular forms equivalents to “as much as” in English. Examples:
Ela aprendeu tanta matéria quanta havia no manual.She learnt as much as there was to learn in the textbook.
Tenho tanto de comer quanto necessito.I have as much to eat as I need.
Quantos and quantas are the plural forms of quanto and quanta, and they’re equivalent to “as many as” in English. Examples:
Vou deitar a mão a tantos bonbons quantos conseguir!I’ll have as many bonbons as I can get my hands on!
Levo tantas maçãs quantas tiveres.I’ll take as many apples as you have.
You’ll notice that these quantifiers are paired with the words tanto, tanta, tantos, tantas. We’ll talk about this word at length in other lessons, but here tanto refers to a great amount or quantity of something – the “unspecified whole”. When paired with tanto, relative quantifiers are always placed after the noun they’re referring to. In Portuguese, it’s common to do away with tanto, tanta, tantos, tantas. If that happens, the relative quantifier always precedes the name. Examples:
Ela aprendeu quanta matéria havia no manual.She learnt as much as there was to learn in the textbook.
Levo quantas maçãs tiveres.I’ll take as many apples as you have.