First Look at Portuguese Adjectives

Adjetivos Adjectives are words that describe a noun, assigning it a quality, state, appearance, etc.
These are the words that let us distinguish between um bom carro a good car and uma carrinha avariada a broken van

… or uma criança pequena a small child and um adulto crescido a grown adult
Many different types of words like colours, shapes, materials, and nationalities can be used as adjectives.

Stop – It’s Grammar Time! 👖🕺

Adjectives are usually variable, meaning that they change according to whether they describe something that is masculine or feminine and singular or plural. Contrary to English, you have to consider the noun’s gender and quantity when assigning it an adjective.
In Portuguese, adjectives can appear right before or right after a noun, but usually they appear after. Sometimes the position affects the meaning, but we’ll learn more about this in a later unit. Adjectives can also appear after a linking verb like “ser” (to be).
Este é um bom romance. Vou levá-lo comigo. This is a good novel. I'll take it with me.
Nem todas as ideias são boas. Not all ideas are good.

Below are some common adjectives in Portuguese. Notice that most have both masculine and feminine forms, while the last few are invariable:

bom, boa good
mau, má bad
bonito, bonita beautiful
feio, feia ugly
pequeno, pequena small
grande big
feliz happy
triste sad


  • I find the hardest is when Portuguese is being spoken to pick up whether o a um or uma is used as they slur their words. I suppose it is just practice but 90% of my mistakes are with them and I am not sure how to fix unless it is just a matter of listening more. Any suggestions?

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