Clitic Pronouns: Nos & Vos

In this lesson we’ll explore the last two clitic object pronouns in Portuguese, nos and vos.
A few quick reminders:

  • No hyphens are required if they’re proclitics (placed before the verb)
  • 2 hyphens are required if they’re mesoclitic (placed between two parts of verb)
  • 1 hyphen is required if they’re enclitics (placed after the verb).
  • With 1st person plural verbs that end in s, such as vamos, the s is dropped before adding the pronoun nos or vos
    • For example: vamos + nos = vamo-nos, as in Vamo-nos embora paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Let's get out of here

Nos

Nos corresponds to us or to/for us, as it is used for both direct and indirect objects. Examples:
O professor chamou-nos no final da aula. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The professor called us at the end of class.
Não nos parece justa esta decisão. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio This decision doesn’t seem fair to us.
Bear in mind that you will also see nos used for third person plural when the preceding verb form ends in a nasal sound (-am/-em/-êm/-ão) and the reference is masculine, due to the need to add n to the default form of os. Refer back to this learning note for a more detailed explanation of this rule: 3rd Person Clitic Pronouns
For example, in the sentence Eles foram-nos buscar paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio They picked us up, They picked them up, nos could refer to either them or us. You would have to rely on context to know for sure. Sometimes, if we want to avoid confusion, we would say:

  • Eles foram-nos buscar a nós paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio They picked us up or Eles foram-nos buscar a eles paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio They picked them up

Vos

Vos corresponds to you or to/for you when talking to multiple people (vocês) and it is also valid for both direct and indirect objects. Examples:
Eu ia comprar maçãs, mas deram-vos laranjas. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I was going to buy apples, but you(plural) were given oranges.
Alguém vos deu uma cópia? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Has someone given you(plural) a copy?

Comments:

  • Hi guys,

    This example: Alguém vos deu uma cópia?

    Should ‘vos’ not be placed enclitically as it is not a negative question? I.e. Alguém deu vos uma cópia?

    Thanks

    • Olá, Cameron. Questions don’t have to be negative to promote proclitic placement of clitic pronouns. These pronouns are placed enclitically in most interrogative sentences, and that has a lot to do with the attractive force of interrogative pronouns (e.g. quem, quando, qual – who, when, which…). In the example you gave, there’s no interrogative pronoun, but there’s an indefinite pronoun, “alguém”, which also attracts pronouns to the proclitic position.

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