Adverbs of degree (advérbios de grau), also called adverbs of intensity (advérbios de intensidade), tell us about how intensely something occurs. For the most part, Portuguese adverbs of degree operate just like English adverbs.
Placing Adverbs of Degree
Portuguese adverbs of degree are usually placed before the word they’re modifying if it’s an adjective or adverb, and immediately after the word they’re modifying if it’s a verb.
We’ll look at 5 of the most frequent adverbs of degree, which can be sequenced from the lowest to the highest degree, as such:
Nada – Pouco – Bastante – Muito – Demasiado
Nada translates to “nothing” when it is the object of a sentence: O João não deu nada. John gave nothing.. But as an adverb of degree (when modifying verbs that don’t require an object), nada more closely corresponds to “at all”. You will notice in the examples below that this double negative formulation is allowed (não…nada), whereas in English we would use “not…at all”:
Eu não corro nada.I don't run at all.
Eu não gosto nada disso. I don't like that at all.
Pouco is the equivalent to the English “few” or “little”, or roughly “not much”.
Hoje treinei pouco. Today I didn’t train much.
Ela estudou pouco para o teste. She studied little for her test.
Bastante is the equivalent to the English “enough” or “sufficiently”.
Já comemos bastante. We’ve eaten enough already.
Curiously enough, nowadays you can also come across bastante being used to signify “very”. Bastante is odd like that. Example:
Estou bastante cansado. I’m very tired.
We will talk more about bastante later on.
Muito is the equivalent to, depending on context or emphasis, the English words “really” or “lots”, or the adverbial phrases “a lot” or “quite a few”.
Parabéns, fico muito feliz por vocês! Congratulations, I’m really happy for you!
Gostei muito deste bolo. I enjoyed this cake a lot.
Demasiado and demais are synonyms and they are the equivalent to the English adverbial phrases “too much”. Demasiado is more used in Portugal, while “demais” is the variation used in Brazil. However, certain sentences in European Portuguese sound more natural with “demais”.
Isto é demasiado. This is too much .
Bons amigos nunca são demais. Good friends are never too much.