In this lesson we’ll explore 3rd-person clitic object pronouns in Portuguese. Both the singular and plural forms work in the exact same way. Let’s look at the direct pronouns first, followed by the indirect pronouns.
3rd Person Direct Object Clitic Pronouns
The following clitic pronouns stand in for him, her, it, or them as the direct object. We have the default forms: o/a/os/as, plus two variants:
- lo/la/los/las (used after a consonant) and
- no/na/nos/nas (used after a nasal sound)
Third person direct pronouns are replaced by o or a (corresponding to him or her, respectively) in singular form and os or as (standing for them, masculine and feminine) in plural form.
Ela detestava-o profundamente. She hated him deeply.
Ele amava-a do fundo do coração. He loved her from the bottom of his heart.
Adoro-as, mas só se estiverem maduras. I love them, but only when they’re ripe.
If the last sound before the direct object clitic pronoun is a consonant, that consonant is dropped and an L is placed at the beginning of the clitic. In all the examples below, the preceding verb would have ended with an s (conheces, amavas, afinavas), so the s was dropped and the l was added onto the default clitic form.
Conhece-lo há muito tempo? Have you known him for long?
Amava-la assim tanto? Did you love her that much?
Afinal, afinava-las desde que eras criança. After all, you have tuned them ever since you were a child.
These forms are used for verbs ending in a nasal sound, in other words, verbs that end in –am/-em/-êm/-ão. In this case, you keep the nasal sound and just add an n to the beginning of the default direct object clitic form.
Eles davam-no de graça. They gave it for free.
Apresentaram-na ontem na televisão. They introduced her yesterday on the television.
Eles idolatravam-nos, era uma loucura. They idolised them, it was insane.
3rd Person Indirect Object Clitic Pronouns
The two indirect pronouns for the third person singular and plural are lhe and lhes, respectively. (Lhe is also the pronoun used in place of você you formal). Keep in mind that the rules above about dropping the -s or adding an L or N do not apply to these indirect object clitic pronouns.
The clitic pronouns lhe (singular) and lhes (plural) stand in as the indirect object in place of:
- (to/for) him
- (to/for) her
- (to/for) it
- (to/for) you (singular, formal)
- (to/for) them