There are 3 essential conjunctions that you’ll need to start forming more complex sentences:
These 3 are called coordinating conjunctions (conjunções coordenativas), because they combine multiple independent phrases into one.
You’ll learn more conjunctions later, but for now, we’ll start with these 3 essentials.
1) “E” = “And”
The conjunction e is an additive, or copulative, conjunction. It is used to simply add two ideas together, so it has an additive effect.
Comprei comida e também trouxe bebidas. I bought food and I also brought drinks.
You could also write: Comprei comida. Também trouxe bebidas., but the conjunction helps things flow better.
Just like in English, when combining more than two ideas or pieces of information together, it’s usually better to use commas and only use a conjunction at the last linking point:
Comprei frutas, vegetais, carne e peixe. I bought fruits, vegetables, meat and fish.
2) “Mas” = “But”
Mas is a contrastive, or adversative, conjunction because it establishes a contrast, or opposition, between two ideas.
Eu queria comprar leite, mas não tinha dinheiro suficiente. I wanted to buy milk, but I didn't have enough money.
Eu telefonei, mas tu não atendeste. I called on the phone, but you didn't answer.
3) “Ou” = “Or”
Ou is an alternative, or disjunctive, conjunction because it presents two different alternatives.
Não ouviste o telefone ou simplesmente ignoraste? Did you not hear the phone or did you simply ignore it?
Atende da próxima vez ou paro de comprar comida para ti. Pick up next time or I'll stop buying food for you.