Digging Deeper into Prepositions

You have learned that prepositions are usually small, but important, words that usually come before a noun to show how it relates to other elements in the sentence.
An important part of mastering European Portuguese is not only learning the meaning of each of these prepositions, but also the nuances of when each one should be used.

Prepositions can be used to establish a time or a location…

Vou partir antes do amanhecer. I will leave before dawn.
A carta está sob o livro. The letter is under the book.

To describe movement…

Vou viajar de Boston para Lisboa. I will travel from Boston to Lisbon.

To express a purpose…

Estes sapatos são para dançar. These shoes are for dancing.
…and more!
The same preposition can often have a completely different meaning depending on the context, as you may have noticed in the above examples with the word, “para“.

Do Prepositions Have a Gender or Quantity?

On their own, basic prepositions do not have a gender or quantity, but they are very often combined (contracted) with words that do, such as articles and pronouns.

The following shows some examples using the preposition, de from, of, by

de + o/a = do/da
de + este/esta = deste/desta
de + isto/aquilo = disto/daquilo

Prepositions are also sometimes contracted with other invariable words, (that don’t change depending on gender or quantity).

Em in is another common preposition that forms the following contractions. We’ll combine it with the same articles and pronouns from the previous example:

em + o/a = no/na
em + este/esta = neste/nesta
em + isto/aquilo = nisto/naquilo

There are so many prepositions and they can be used in such diverse ways that it might take quite a bit of time to master them.

Don’t worry: this unit will continue introducing them to you gradually, pouco a pouco little by little !

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