Essential Conjunctions – E, Mas, Ou

There are 3 essential conjunctions that you’ll need to start forming more complex sentences:
e and
mas but
ou or
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.


  • although these connectors are fairly easy the not yet learned tense that are in these sentences might have been better if learned earlier??

    • Good idea, we could add the turtle audio for these words defined within the Learning Notes, as well as the normal speed. I’ll add it to the list 🙂

  • I very much like to explanations you give.
    However, I find the example sentences a bit too advanced. I was mainly focused on figuring out the tenses/persons (as I only studied verbs in present tense so far) and in the end forgot that this section was meant to pay attention to e/mas/ou.

  • If you put the turtle logo on some it makes sense to put it everywhere. Personally, I almost never use the turtle pronunciation because of my ancient Brazilian experience. FYI, I was so busy preparing to move out of our house, I was unable to work on Practice Portuguese for several months. I am now starting over from the beginning and hope it will go quickly..

What did you think? Leave a Comment for Rui & Joel:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.