Introduction to Adjectives

Adjectives (adjetivos) are words that describe the attributes of a person or object (noun), including color, size, shape, relative age, and more.
Adjectives need to agree in gender and number with the noun they describe:
O carro é caro The car is expensive
A televisão é cara The television is expensive
Os carros são caros The cars are expensive

Position of Adjectives

Adjectives can appear both before and after the noun, although after the noun is more common.
There are some exceptions of adjectives where its placement before or after the noun can modify the meaning, like in the case of grande big and pobre poor:

  • Grande after the noun: Ela é uma mulher grande. She is a big woman. – describes her body size
  • Grande before the noun: Ela é uma grande mulher. She is a great woman. – refers to her qualities as a person
  • Pobre after the noun: Oh, que família pobre. Oh, what a poor family. – refers to the family’s lack of wealth
  • Pobre before the noun: Oh, que pobre família. Oh, what a poor family. – emphasizes the family’s bad luck or misfortune, (not necessarily related to wealth)

Ordering of Multiple Adjectives

In English, adjectives tend to follow a certain order, when there are several of them qualifying the same noun.
In Portuguese, adjectives are employed much more freely, since they’re not ordered by category. All you need to do when using several adjectives in a row is separate them with commas.

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