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Essential Portuguese Conjunctions

There are 3 essential conjunctions that you’ll need when you want to start connecting your thoughts and forming more complex sentences in Portuguese:
These 3 are called conjunções coordenativascoordinating conjunctions , because they combine multiple independent phrases into one.
You’ll learn much more about conjunctions in later units, but for now, we’ll focus on these 3 essentials.

1) “E” = “And”

The conjunction eand lets you add two ideas together.
A menina e o menino andamThe girl and the boy walk
You could also say “A menina anda. O menino anda.”, but adding e helps the sentence flow better.
Just like in English, when combining more than two ideas together, or when listing items, it’s usually better to separate the words with 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”

The conjunction masbut presents a contrast.
Eles têm pão, mas não têm queijoThey (masc.) have bread, but they do not have cheese
A menina tem uma caneta, mas não escreve uma cartaThe girl has a pen, but she does not write a letter

3) “Ou” = “Or”

The conjunction ouor  presents two different possibilities.
mais ou menosmore or less
Fresca ou natural?Cold or room temperature?
This question is often asked when you order águawater at a Portuguese restaurant. The literal translation is “Cool or natural?”


To avoid confusion, note the difference in pronunciation between these words:


  • 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 love this website! its so fun! But two minor things… 1.) i feel that it would be more beginner level with simpler sentences. 2.) The quizzes that follow these lessons have words we haven’t been introduced to as yet. How are we to understand? I see that there are other sections to the website but to break a pace and flow going to pause and search for extra videos and practices makes it feel out of order.

    • Hi Jessi, glad you’re enjoying the site! Good point – the quizzes are meant to be a challenge, but we don’t want it to be so challenging that it’s breaking up the learning flow. We’ll work on updating some of the quizzes to be simpler, especially for these earlier units. We do like to throw in some more challenging grammar and vocabulary at an early stage just to give users some exposure to what they will hear in real life, so don’t be concerned if you don’t understand every example in a learning note or every line of a Shorty. But we don’t want to make it too overwhelming, so we will work on modifying the difficulty level where we can. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

  • Sorry for the confusion! If you click the “Mark as Completed” button at the bottom of a learning note, it brings up the “Continue” button to move on to the next lesson.

  • I like the fact that you are exposing us to verb tenses we’ve not yet learned! I think it’s excellent to see them and be exposed to more advanced words/conjugations peripherally while still focusing on simple concepts. thanks for including these. I’ve gotten more value from your platform than other tools like duolingo which never actually challenged me or exposed me to things I’d actually hear in real life. I appreciate the semi-immersive learning environment. Obrigada por tudo!

    • Obrigada Louisa! That’s really nice of you to say. We do strive to find the right balance between keeping our content simple and focused, while also including more challenging, realistic language to push you out of your comfort zone a bit. We think that approach helps with making the jump from learning online to using the language in real life. Glad to hear it’s working so well for you!

  • ‘Fresca ou natural?’ I was asked this last night when ordering a glass of red wine or ‘um copo vinho tinto’

    • Hmm, that’s unusual for wine, but I’m not a connoisseur 🙂 It’s usually asked for water. “Fresca ou natural” = “cold or room temperature”

  • HI. I am learning português from a few sources at once.
    I learned elsewhere that “ei”, is always pronounced like “ay”, so “peixe” would be pronounced “paysh”. The way it is said here is “pishe” (the “ei” sounds like “eye” or the “i’ in “ice”).
    Is the pronunciation different by region or is the other source just wrong? Thanks.

    • There is some regional variation, so you may hear both pronunciations in Portugal, but I’d say that the one in this audio example is perhaps the most common. I suspect the other source was describing Brazilian Portuguese, where the “ei” is predominantly pronounced as you described.

  • Finding this all so interesting especially after 3 months of first attempting Portuguese on Dualingo. I just wasn’t progressing very well and must commend you for putting so much effort into giving us all so much variety during our learning experience.

  • Os sigo hace poco tiempo pero he aprendido mucho gracias a vosotros. Soy gallega con raíces portuguesas y con ganas de vivir en portugal. Gracias por todo lo que hacéis. Cuando estaba en una etapa sin salida vosotros me disteis mucho Animo.Pizza na hora e maravilhosa..obrigada de tudo coracao. 🤗

    • Olá, Ruth. Muito obrigado pela mensagem. Que bom saber que, de alguma forma, o Practice Portuguese ajudou-te numa fase menos boa – espero que possamos continuar a contribuir para o teu bem estar e para a tua aprendizagem do português 🙂 Serás muito bem-vinda em Portugal!

  • Hi, could you please help me understand the sound of “tem”, beacuse I’m hearing something between [em] (nasal m) and [am] (nasal m). Maybe you have a link to where you explain this. Thank you! 🙂

    • Olá, Juri. “Tem” ends in a nasal diphthong , sounding like ‘taim’. In some regions, it can sound more like ‘teim’. It’s the same sound you find in words with ‘-ãe’, such as mãe (mother), cães (dogs) or pães (bread). You can check this Learning Note about -ER verbs (or the Verbs section) to listen to clear audio examples of each form of the verb ter in the present tense: Irregular -ER Verbs

  • I find the pronunciation very interesting but difficult. However the turtle is comforting and a great help

  • I appreciate the explanation for the pronunciation of tem without the circumflex. But the pronunciation with the circumflex sounds like the syllable is repeated, almost like a reverb. Am I hearing things?
    Your site is great, much better than others.

    • That’s spot on! The word ‘têm’ is typically pronounced with the repetition of the vowel sound, linked by a ghost I vowel (sounds like the English ee). It’s something like ‘teiem’. That’s how we clearly distinguish it from the singular ‘tem’.

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