Masculine vs. Feminine & Indefinite Articles + Plurals

Masculine vs. Feminine & Indefinite Articles + Plurals

Indefinite Articles – How to Say “a / an / some” In Portuguese

We just learned how to say “the car”, but what if you want to talk about “a car” in general? This is called an indefinite article (artigo indefinido), because we’re talking about an undefined car, rather than a specific instance of a car. In English, we use “a”, “an”, and the plural form “some”.
 
In Portuguese, there are 4 indefinite articles: um, umauns, umas. Once again, it depends on the gender and plurality:

  • Masculine, singular: um carro a car
  • Feminine, singular: uma mesa a table
  • Masculine, plural: uns carros some cars
  • Feminine, plural: umas mesas some tables

When to use Indefinite Articles

We use artigos indefinidos when we want to talk about a subject or an object without specifying it.
Here’s an example:
O João tem uns livros muito interessantes. John has some pretty interesting books.
There are also some other specific cases in which you’d use them, such as:

  • When you want to attribute to a single subject the representation of the whole species

O Border Collie é um cão que é extremamente inteligente. The Border Collie is a dog that is extremely intelligent.

  • When you want to indicate numeric proximity

Lisboa fica a uns 300km do Porto. Lisboa is about 300km away from Porto.

  • When talking about an artist’s work

Gostava de ter um Picasso em minha casa. I'd like to have a Picasso at my place.

“A” Tricky Trap (for English Speakers)

For English speakers, it will be tricky to get used to the fact that “a mesa”, does not mean “a table”, but “the table.”

More Examples:

a casa the house
uma casa a house
um livro a book
uns livros some books
 
 

10 Responses to Masculine vs. Feminine & Indefinite Articles + Plurals

  1. So very happy to find a source for Euro Portuguese. Now I understand why I hear so much of the ‘shh’ sound in Portugal. My previous app was Brazilian Portuguese.

    • One situation where you need to use “no/na” is when there is a definite article in front of “em”. If you think in English, it’s whenever you have “on the”, “at the” or “in the”, for example. Then, you choose between “no” and “na” based on the gender of the noun that it refers to. If the noun is plural, you also need to pluralize the contraction, to “nos” and “nas”. Here are some examples:

      The keys are on the table. = As chaves estão na mesa. (“mesa” is feminine and singular)
      The names are on the tickets. = Os nomes estão nos bilhetes. (“bilhetes” is masculine and plural)

      On the other hand, if no definite article is necessary, you’ll just use “em”:

      I’m at home. = Eu estou em casa. (no definite article needed in this context)
      You’re in Portugal. = Tu estás em Portugal.

      There’s more to be said, but this should be a good starting point!

    • haha and we welcome you with open arms to the enlightened land of European Portuguese! Thanks for your support, and please reach out any time you need us 🙂

    • Absolutely, you should be able to log in on any modern device you have, as we don’t place any limits on users logging in with multiple devices 🙂

    • As duas formas, “em minha casa” e “na minha casa” são usadas com frequência. O artigo definido “a” (que forma a palavra “na” -> em + a) não é obrigatório aqui 🙂

  2. After a month of Duolingo (which was a good learning experience) I feel fortunate to have found this European PT version. Obrigado

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