Determiners – Definite and Indefinite Articles

In this lesson, we’ll explore Portuguese definite and indefinite articles. Articles (artigos) are small words that precede and define a noun. In Portuguese, articles always agree in gender and number with the noun they’re defining.

Definite Articles

Definite articles (artigos definidos) are determiners used to indicate that we are referring to a specific, well-defined thing or person. Therefore, they always correspond to the English “the”. There are four definite articles: o for masculine, a for feminine, and their plural versions, os and as respectively.

O, Os

The article o is used for masculine things or persons in the singular, and os is used for masculine things or persons in the plural. Examples:
O casaco azul é novo. The blue jacket is new.
Os bosques de Sintra são fantásticos. The woods of Sintra are fantastic.

A, As

The article a is used for feminine things or persons in the singular, and as is used for feminine things or persons in the plural. Examples:
A casa da esquina é nova? Is the house on the corner new?
As garrafas ficam arrumadas ali. The bottles are stored over there.

Indefinite Articles

Indefinite articles (artigos indefinidos) are determiners used to refer to something in a more general way, like the words a, an, or some in English. These words are used when a thing being referenced is non-specific. There are four indefinite articles as well: um for masculine, uma for feminine, and their plural versions, uns and umas respectively. Um and uma correspond to “a” in English, while uns and umas correspond to “some”.

Um, Uns

The article um is used for masculine things or persons in the singular, and uns is used for masculine things or persons in the plural. Examples:
Um chapéu voou para a mesa. A hat flew onto the table.
Uns doces iam bem a calhar agora. Some sweets wouldn’t go amiss right now.
Notice that, unlike all other plurals in this lesson, uns isn’t formed by simply adding –s to the singular form of the article. This is because Portuguese doesn’t allow an –ms ending for words.

Uma, Umas

The article uma is used for feminine things or persons in the singular, and umas is used for feminine things or persons in the plural. Examples:
Quanto custa uma bebida? How much for a drink?
Só precisamos de água e umas sementes. We only need water and some seeds.

Comments:

  • little mistake (one = on): not “Is the house one the corner new?, but “Is the house on the corner new?”

    • To quote a certain Sherlock Holmes: Gut erkannt, Dieter, gut erkannt! And duly corrected, of course 🙂

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