Adverbs of Degree: A Little, A Lot, etc.

Advérbios de grau paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Adverbs of degree, also called advérbios de intensidade paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio adverbs of intensity, tell us about how intensely something occurs. For the most part, Portuguese adverbs of degree operate just like English adverbs in terms of their placement and usage.

Word Order

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.

Degree

We’ll look at 5 of the most frequent adverbs of degree, which are ordered below from the lowest to the highest degree:

  • Nada paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Nothing, at all
  • Pouco paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Few, little
  • Bastante paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Enough, very
  • Muito paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Really, a lot
  • Demasiado paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Too much

Nada

Nada translates to nothing when it is the object of a sentence, as in O João não deu nada. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio John gave nothing.. But as an adverb of degree (when modifying verbs that don’t require an object), nada more closely corresponds to the phrase “at all”.
You will notice in the examples below that this double negative formulation (nãonada) is allowed in Portuguese, whereas in English we would use “notat all”.
Eu não corro nada. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I don't run at all.
Eu não gosto nada disso. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I don't like that at all.

Pouco

Pouco is the equivalent to few or little in English. As an adverb, it refers to doing the action at a low level, so it could roughly translate to “not much”.
Hoje treinei pouco. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Today I didn’t train much.
Ela estudou pouco para o teste. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She studied little for her test.

Bastante

Bastante means enough or sufficiently.
Já comemos bastante. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio We’ve eaten enough already.
Curiously, nowadays you will also come across contexts in which bastante is used to mean “very” or “quite”. For example:
Estou bastante cansado. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I’m very tired.
We will talk more about bastante later on.

Suficiente

Suficiente functions as a synonym of bastante.
Não tenho coragem suficiente. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I don't have enough courage.

Muito

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”. In general, it means that the action is done to a high degree.
Parabéns, fico muito feliz por vocês! paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Congratulations, I’m really happy for you!
Gostei muito deste bolo. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I enjoyed this cake a lot.

Demasiado/Demais

Demasiado and demais are synonyms and they are equivalent to the English adverbial phrase “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 paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio too much.
Isto é demasiado. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio This is too much .
Bons amigos nunca são demais. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Good friends are never too much.

Comments

  • Hey Guys,

    I just completed the lesson following this page and you state here in the notes about adverbs that they are invariable but then one of the questions in the lessons that folow this page is ‘eu tenho muitA paciência’, should it not be muito?

    • Hey Cameron! This can get confusing, because the same words can have different grammatical functions from sentence to sentence. In this particular Learning Note, we were discussing ‘muito’ when used as an adverb, in which case it is indeed invariable. On the other hand, in the example you gave, ‘eu tenho muita paciência’, you don’t have an adverb, but a quantifier, which is variable, like all adjectives in general. You can read about ‘muito’ as a quantifier here: Quantifiers – Existential Quantifiers

  • You didn’t mention it as a possible translation above, but I’ve always thought of muito as meaning very, for example,
    Eu estou muito feliz
    I guess in many cases like this “really” and “very” are a close match in English.

    • Yes it can translate to “very” sometimes too. Just depends on the context. And yes you’re right — I think in most cases where it could mean “really”, replacing it with “very” would work just as well.

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