Adverbs of Place: Here and There

Portuguese has several advérbios de lugar paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio adverbs of place to indicate the relative position of a person or object. Five of these adverbs are particularly useful to learn: paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio aqui paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio ali paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio acolá paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio . In short, and aqui both mean here. Aí, lá, ali, and acolá mean there. Below we’ll explore the finer differences between each of these words.

Here and There

In Portuguese, here and there are a bit more complicated because different words are used to make a distinction between how close things are in relation to the speaker and listener:

  • Here – Close to the speaker: aqui or
  • There – Close to the listener:
  • There/Over there – Far from both the speaker and listener: , ali, or acolá

Let’s take a look at each group in more detail.

Aqui vs. Cá

Aqui paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Here(exact) and paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio here(general) are used when talking about things close to the speaker. While aqui is commonly used in both Portugal and Brazil, is, for the most part, specific to European Portuguese. Some people will use them interchangeably, but in theory, is less specific than aqui. While they’re both equivalent to the English word here, there is a subtle difference in the intended meanings of each word. Take these sentences, for example:

  • A minha família está . paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio My family is here. – When you use to talk about people, you might simply be saying that your family is in the same country or town as you are (e.g. cá em Portugal paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio here in Portugal)
  • A minha família está aqui. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio My family is here. – In contrast, if you use aqui, it can imply that your family is much closer to you — in the same room or building, or even right next to you (e.g. aqui ao meu lado paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio here by my side)

Let’s explore a few more examples with each word individually:

Aqui

Aqui designates the exact spot where the speaker is, regardless of the listener’s location, so you could think of it as “in this place” or “right here”.

Other examples:
Fico aqui à tua espera. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I’ll be waiting for you here.
Ele deixou aqui o chapéu. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio He left his hat here.

, meanwhile, conveys a more general location, rather than a single, precise spot. It is similar to saying, “over here”.
 

Other examples:
janta-se às oito em ponto. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Here we have dinner at 8pm, sharp.
Está a mãe da Carolina. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Carolina’s mum is over here.
In these examples, the speaker is referring to something inside a larger, yet well-defined, area – in both these instances, a house.

Expressions Using Aqui and Cá

Setting aside the guidelines mentioned above, it’s also important to mention some common expressions using each of these adverbs:
Anda paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Come here
Chega aqui paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Come here, Come closer
estamos nós! paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Here we are!
Aqui vou ser feliz paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I'm going to be happy here

Aí vs. Lá

paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio There and paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio There, over there both translate to “there”, but similarly to aqui and , they different in specificity.
When it’s in a location far from you, but close to your listener, you use paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio there(close to listener)
When it’s very far from both of you (i.e. out of sight or reach), you use paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio there(very far from both)

means “there”, but is limited to the exact location of the listener.

Other examples:
Bela mochila que tens . paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Nice rucksack you’ve got there.
Ela deixou o livro dela . paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She left her book there.

refers to a more general area, larger than a single spot. Like acolá, it can be interpreted as “over there”. However, lá usually refers to an area out of sight.
 

Other examples:
neva muito. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio It snows a lot over there.
Deixei as minhas malas . paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I left my bags over there.
Once again, in these examples, we’re referring to something in a larger area – in the first example, a country or region, and in the second example, a building or place.

Ali vs. Acolá

Ali paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio There and acolá paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio there, over there are used when talking about things far away from both the speaker and listener. They are similar to saying, “there” and “over there”.
Ali refers to a distant location, and acolá refers to a second spot, even farther away than ali.
 

Other examples:
Elas esperaram ali por eles. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio They waited over there for them.
Podes montar o cavalete ali e meter os pincéis acolá. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio You can set up your easel there and your brushes over there.
Acolá can also work with aqui, in the exact same way. For example:
Aqui temos café, acolá temos sumo de laranja. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Here we have coffee, and over there we have orange juice.

Review

Whew! That was a lot. Let’s go over how to say here and there in Portuguese one more time before we practice in the lessons.

  • Here
    • aqui = here in the exact location of the speaker
    • = here in general
  • There
    • = there in the exact location of the listener
  • There/Over There
    • ali = there/over there, a location far away from both, but still visible/accessible
    • = there in general, far away from both, not visible/accessible
    • acolá = over there, a location far away from both, implies being further away than the other location just referenced
    • It’s definitely a tricky topic! Let me know if we can answer any questions. For the most part, it just takes time to get used to all these variations. You’ll see them come up in the Shorties a lot, so that will give you an idea of how they are used in context.

  • For the saying “Aqui vou ser feliz” can you say “Vou ser feliz aqui”?

    Noticed a few times you place the adverb before the sentence and others at the end.

    Thanks

  • Olá Rui & Joël
    Some asked a similar question but I need confirmation:
    Aqui temos café, acolá temos sumo de laranja.
    Temos café aqui, temos sumo de laranja acolá.
    What’s the most natural order in Portuguese. Or are both orders used normally?

    • Olá, Amadou. Both orders would be fine to use and would sound natural. However, ‘acolá’ is not commonly used in everyday conversation. We’re more likely to just say “ali” instead of “acolá” 🙂

What Did You Think? Leave Us a Comment Below:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The subject is used only for admin purposes and won't be displayed in your comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.