Clitic Pronouns – Merging Pronouns

In Portuguese, when we use a verb that asks for both a direct and indirect object (and they’re pointed out specifically — i.e. we’re aware of what/who they are), we can create a contraction by combining the third person direct object pronoun with the indirect object pronoun. Sounds complicated, we know. Let’s see a practical example:
Dei uma prenda à Joana. I gave Joana a gift.
In the sentence above, neither the direct object (uma prenda) nor the indirect object (a Joana) have been replaced by a clitic.
Dei-lhe uma prenda. I gave her a gift.
In this sentence, the indirect object (a Joana) has been replaced by the clitic lhe, while the direct object remains in place.
Dei-lha. I gave it to her.
Finally, both objects have been replaced by clitics – “a prenda” was replaced by the clitic a and “à Joana” was replaced by the clitic -lhe. Then, the two were merged: -lhe + -a = -lha.
This merger only works when the direct object is in the third person. If the direct object is in the first or second person, it’s not possible to merge the two.
The table below shows how to make these mergers between indirect object pronouns (me, te, lhe, nos, vos) and 3rd person direct object pronouns (o, a, os, as).

o a os  as
 me -mo -ma -mos -mas
 te -to -ta -tos -tas
 lhe -lho -lha -lhos -lhas
 nos -no-lo -no-la -no-los -no-las
 vos -vo-lo -vo-la -vo-los -vo-las

These mergers are not usually done with lhes. When -lhes is replacing your indirect object, we maintain the direct object in place after it.
Nós demos-lhes um computador.We gave them a computer.


  • Hello Rui & Joel, thank you for keep improving the site with new functions and features, gosto muito deles. One minor detail, when I press to continue on this and other explanations in this unit, I expect to see the next consecutive lesson, but the software links to the next explanation page. This is confusing, the navigation must be consistent across all units. Please review it and I hope you will fix it.

    Thank you again, and keep it up !!!

    • Thanks Manuel! It should be linking you to the next incomplete activity, so if you have already completed the following activity, it should skip to the first incomplete activity of the current Unit. Is that what is happening for you, or is it doing something else? (If you’d rather it not consider completed activities, that’s something we can consider too!)

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