Learning Notes

Clitic Pronouns – The Position of Clitics

March 21, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll have a look at all the clitic (object) pronouns in Portuguese*. Clitic pronouns are sort of like mini-words that go along with a verb to show to whom or to what the action refers.

Subject pronounDirect object pronounIndirect object pronoun
Eu (Me)me
Tu (You)te
Ele/Você (You, male)o (lo, no)lhe
Ela/Você (You, female)a (la, na)
Nós (Us)nos
Vocês (You)vos
Eles (They)os (los, nos)lhes
Elas (They)as (las, nas)

 *Not including reflexive pronouns, which we’ll deal with separately later on.
But before we can study them, we must learn about where they can be placed regarding the verb.
There are three possible positions for clitic pronouns:

  • Before the verb – Proclitic
  • In the middle of the verb – Mesoclitic
  • After the verb – Enclitic

For each example that we’ll use, we will also show you the version of the sentence without the clitic. This is only so that you can better understand the logic and origin, but remember that you should not use that second construction, or you will sound like Tarzan! For example, while in English it’s correct to say something like “If they give the books to me“, the Portuguese equivalent using “a mim” will not sound right.

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Comprido, Longo & Curto

March 12, 2019

When it comes to qualifying something according to length, you might come across these three adjectives:
longo, comprido e curto
long, long and short

You can see that longo and comprido both mean long, but they are used in different contexts. Let’s take a better look at each of the three adjectives below.

Longo

Due to the similarity to the English word long, you might be tempted to always use this one, so you have to be careful. We mainly use longo when qualifying distances or periods of time.
Não faço planos a longo-prazo
I don’t make long-term plans

Foi uma longa reunião
It was a lengthy meeting

A distância é longa até Madrid
It’s a long distance to Madrid

An exception would be, for example, when talking about sentences/texts: Eu escrevo textos longos
I write long texts

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Adverbs of Manner – Bem/Melhor, Mal/Pior, Através

March 11, 2019

Adverbs of manner (advérbios de modo), sometimes called adverbs of mode, tell us how an action happened or the way in which it was carried out. Easy, right?
Adverbs of manner can sometimes be mistaken for adjectives, but the trick to distinguishing an adverb of manner (or any adverb) is to remember that they are always invariable. In other respects, Portuguese adverbs of manner are used quite similarly to their English counterparts, so you’ll have little trouble learning them.
In this lesson we’ll start with some of the most frequent adverbs of manner in Portuguese, which are:

Bem

Bem is the equivalent to the English “well”. Example:
Muito bem, essa camisola está bem lavada.
Well done, that jumper is well washed.

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Degrees of Adjectives

March 8, 2019

In Portuguese, adjectives can change depending on the gender and number and, similarly to English, they also have different graus (degrees). They are: the grau normal
positive degree
; the grau comparativo
comparative degree
; and the grau superlativo
superlative degree
.

Grau Normal – Positive Degree

This is the basic form of each adjective. We use it to qualify a noun without making any abstract or concrete comparisons.

A Joana é uma rapariga feliz.
Joana is a happy girl.

O teste foi fácil.
The test was easy.

Grau Comparativo – Comparative Degree

You use the comparativo when you want to compare attributes between two beings/objects or different attributes of the same being/object.
Examples:

A Joana é mais feliz que o Pedro.
Joana is happier than Pedro.

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Simple Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

March 8, 2019

You’ve learned what prepositions are, and you’ve been introduced to quite a few of them in the first two Prepositions units.
Similar to English, there are dozens of prepositions in Portuguese grammar. There are simple prepositions (preposições simples) – some of which can be combined with pronouns and articles – and prepositional phrases (locuções prepositivas), which are a bit different from their English counterpart.

Simple preposition (“de”): Eu gosto de jogar futebol
I like to play soccer

Prepositional phrase (“perto de”): Eu jogo futebol perto de minha casa.
I play soccer near my house.

Let’s look at some of the most common of each type.

Simple Prepositions

Some of these you may remember from previous units. Keep in mind that the words often have more than one translation, depending on the context they’re used.

Portuguese wordEnglish translationPortuguese wordEnglish translation
ato / at / on / (…)contraagainst
apósupondefrom/of
atéuntil / by / up todesdesince / from
comwithemin / at / into / onto
entrebetween/amongparafor
perantein front of / beforeporby / for
semwithoutsobunder / underneath
sobreon / about / over/ abovetrásbehind / after

Estou com os meus amigos
I’m with my friends

Estou aqui até ao Natal
I’m here until Christmas

Não como desde o pequeno-almoço
I haven’t eaten since breakfast

Remember also that a, de, em and por can be contracted with determiners and pronouns, giving you even more prepositions to work with.

Prepositional Phrases

While prepositional phrases in the English grammar consist, at least, of a preposition and an object, locuções prepositivas, on the other hand, are just prepositions (simple and/or contracted) paired with another word (usually an adverb). These expressions must always end with a preposition.

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Bastante, Quase & Realmente

March 4, 2019

Bastante, quase, and realmente: 3 tricky Portuguese words that can mean very different things depending on their placement in a sentence or the type of word they are modifying. We’ve talked about some of these words before, but let’s take a closer look to get more comfortable with their different uses.

The Many Lives of Bastante – Adverb, Adjective, Pronoun, Noun?

Bastante as an Adverb

In the beginning of this unit, we saw how bastante works as an adverb of degree, and how it can mean both “sufficient” or, sometimes, “very”. Bastante modifies the verb of the sentence, and it is always invariable.
Examples:
Elas comem bastante.
They eat sufficiently.

Isso é bastante interessante!
That’s very interesting!

Bastante is used to express the degree (“a lot”) to which the action (“to eat”) is carried out. But you can also come across bastante in three other ways: as an adjective, as a quantifier, and as a pronoun.

Bastante as an Adjective

As an adjective, bastante is similar to “sufficient” or “satisfactory”. In this case, bastante comes after the noun it is modifying and has to agree with in in number (but not gender; bastante is a two-gendered adjective). The plural of bastante, which is a fairly uncommon adjective, is bastantes.

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Adverbs of Time – The Adverb “Já”

March 1, 2019

One of the most common adverbs of time is , which at its core means “in this moment”. Like all other adverbs of time, is always invariable. This is an adverb used very frequently in a lot of different situations. You’ll notice that the meaning can change quite a bit depending on the context, so try to focus more on the general influence it has on a phrase, rather than memorizing an exact translation. Let’s have a look at some of the various uses of :

Já as Already

Perhaps the main use of , and the most straightforward one, is when it is equivalent to the English “already”.
Examples:
Ufa, estou cansado.
Phew, I’m already tired.

comeste?
Have you already eaten?

estamos na estação.
We’re at the station already.

Já as Now

can also be used as “now”, especially when used with que, in which case it means “now that”.
Example:
que a chuva parou, podemos ir passear.
Now that it’s stopped raining, we can go for a walk.

Já as Right Away

is also commonly used to express something you’re just about to do in a few seconds, the equivalent to “right away”, “in a moment”, or “momentarily”.

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Adverbs of Place – Aqui/Cá, Aí/Lá, Ali/Acolá

March 1, 2019

If you thought that we’d left out the most basic adverbs of place, worry not! After all, we wouldn’t get very far without the Portuguese equivalents to “here”, “there”, and “over there”. In Portuguese, there’s a three-way distinction between things or persons close to the speaker (aqui, cá), things or persons close to the listener (), and things or persons far from both (lá, ali, acolá) – but the way to express these distances is not always straightforward. Let’s have a look at how these adverbs work:

Aqui & Cá

Aqui andare used when talking about things close to the speaker. While they’re both equivalent to the English “here”, there is a subtle difference between them.
Aqui designates the exact spot where the speaker is, regardless of the listener’s location, and so it means, “in this place”.
Examples:
Fico aqui à tua espera.
I’ll be waiting for you here.

Ele deixou aqui o chapéu.
He left his hat here.


, meanwhile, conveys a more general location, rather than a single, precise spot. It is similar to saying, “over here”.

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Adverbs of Place – Debaixo, Acima, Abaixo

March 1, 2019

No one’s above a little studying! In this lesson, we’ll be looking at some more adverbs of place. Remember: Unlike other adverbs, adverbs of place only modify verbs.

Acima

Acima is the equivalent of “above”, and as such it is rather straightforward.
Examples:
Ninguém está acima da lei.
No one is above the law.

Veja a ilustração no exemplo acima.
Look at the illustration in the example above.

Abaixo

Abaixo means “below” (the opposite of acima). Abaixo describes a thing or person that is in an inferior position in relation to another thing or person.
Examples:
Hoje esperam-se temperaturas abaixo de zero.
Today we’re expecting temperatures below zero.

A solução do problema está descrita abaixo.
The solution to the problem is described below.

Debaixo

Debaixo is the equivalent of “under” in English. It is used when a thing or person is immediately under a certain other thing or person, in close physical proximity.

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Adverbs of Place – Dentro, Fora, Atrás, Defronte, Adiante

March 1, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll be looking at some more adverbs of place. Remember: Unlike other adverbs, adverbs of place only modify verbs.

Dentro

Dentro is the equivalent to the English “in” or “inside”.
Examples:
Dentro da caixa está um presente.
Inside the box, there’s a present.

Ela está dentro da sala.
She’s in the room.

Fora

Fora is the equivalent to “outside” in English.
Examples:
O meu gato ficou fora de casa ontem.
My cat was left outside yesterday.

A bola caiu fora do campo.
The ball fell outside the pitch.

Atrás

Atrás is the equivalent of “behind” in English.

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Adverbs of Place – Onde, Longe, Perto, Adiante, Antes, Depois

March 1, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll be looking at adverbs of place (advérbios de lugar). These adverbs tell us where something happens, or where something is, so they’re pretty essential for building up your Portuguese sentences. Most Portuguese adverbs of place are quite straightforward for English speakers.

Placing Adverbs of Place

Portuguese adverbs of place are quite versatile: they can be placed before or after the verb they’re modifying. Unlike other adverbs, adverbs of place don’t modify adjectives or other adverbs; they only modify verbs. Sounds simple, right? Let’s see a few of them in action:

Onde

Onde is the equivalent to the English “where”.
Examples:
Onde está a minha camisola?
Where’s my jumper?

Está onde a deixaste.
It’s where you left it.

Longe

Longe is the equivalent to “far” in English.

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Storage, Tools And Cooking

February 28, 2019

Food Storage

There are many different places and containers you can use to store or preserve food. 

  • Food that can be stored at room temperature can be placed in the despensa
    pantry
    , in the armário de cozinha
    kitchen cabinet
    , or right on the bancada
    counter
    or mesa
    table
    . Fruit, in particular, can be put in a fruteira
    fruit holder
    , which might be a bowl, basket, or a whole multi-tiered stand.

  • Food that needs to be preserved at lower temperatures could be placed in the frigorífico
    fridge
    , others in the congelador
    freezer
    . Some people might have a arca frigorífica
    freezer cabinet
    , which is a bigger freezer, separate from the fridge.

Cooking Tools and Appliances

To prepare food on the kitchen counter or table, we often use a tábua de cortar
cutting board
.

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Food Vocabulary – Main Food Groups

February 27, 2019

Food groups are convenient to help us learn food-related vocabulary in a more organized way.

Dairy Products – Laticínios

Portuguese TermEnglish Translation
leitemilk
iogurteyogurt
queijocheese
manteigabutter
geladoice cream
natacream

Leite, iogurte and queijo are a part of many Portuguese people’s breakfasts and snacks. Queijo, in particular, is very important and there are several tasty varieties. As for leite, there are at least three types:

  • Leite magro
    Skimmed milk
    – Very low-fat content

  • Leite meio-gordo
    Semi-skimmed milk
    – Medium fat content

  • Leite gordo
    Whole milk
    – High-fat content

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Describing Food

February 23, 2019

Being the food lovers that we are, we use lots of different expressions in Portuguese to describe the food we eat or how we feel about eating it.

Hunger and Satisfaction

For starters, in Portugal we start thinking about food when we have hunger or when we are with hunger. In Portuguese, this translates to ter fome
feeling hungry
, or estar com fome
being hungry
.
If you’re really feeling quite peckish, you can say estou esfomeado
I’m famished.
, or even estou a morrer de fome
I’m dying to eat.
(we take our hunger very seriously).
Examples:
Tenho fome. O que há para comer?
I’m hungry. What’s there to eat?

Vamos depressa, eu estou a morrer de fome!
Let’s go quickly, I’m dying to eat!

Once we’re full, we say Estou cheio
I’m full
or the more elegant alternatives Estou satisfeito
I’m satisfied
and the rare Estou saciado
I’m satiated
.

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Portuguese Prepositions – Com

February 23, 2019

One very common Portuguese preposition is com
with
.
Like all prepositions, it’s an invariable word placed before a noun (or pronoun) to indicate the noun’s relationship to other words.

Com is used to:

  • Indicate people or things that are currently together:

Vamos viajar com os nossos amigos.
We will travel with our friends.

A refeição vem com uma bebida.
The meal comes with a drink.

  • Say what someone or something has:

É um quadro com flores.
It’s a painting with flowers.

  • Say what someone or something uses:

Desenho com este lápis.
I draw with this pencil.

  • Describe an emotion or state:

O atleta competiu com confiança.
The athlete competed with confidence.

Though com is usually equivalent to the English with, it can sometimes be equivalent to have, particularly when talking about health and temporary ailments. Examples:
Não posso ir hoje, estou com gripe.
I can’t come today, I have the flu. Literally: “I am with flu.”

Estou com uma enxaqueca.
I have a migraine. Literally: “I am with a migraine.”

Contractions derived from com
Com can also form contractions when combined with some object pronouns:

  • Com + mim
    me
    = comigo
    with me
  • Com + ti
    me
    = contigo
    with you informal
  • Com + si
    me
    = consigo
    with you formal
  • Com + nós = connosco
    with us plural
  • Com + vocês = convosco
    with you plural

Note: In a very formal context consigo might be used with the meaning of with him/her. But Portuguese speakers will most often say com ele
with him
or com ela
with her
, which eliminates any possible confusion. In the plural, this becomes com eles~com elas
with them
.

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Adverbs of Degree – Nada, Pouco, Bastante, Muito e Demasiado

February 22, 2019

Adverbs of degree (advérbios de grau), also called adverbs of intensity (advérbios de intensidade), tell us about how intensely something occurs. For the most part, Portuguese adverbs of degree operate just like English adverbs.

Placing Adverbs of Degree

Portuguese adverbs of degree are usually placed before the word they’re modifying if it’s an adjective or adverb, and immediately after the word they’re modifying if it’s a verb.

Sequence

We’ll look at 5 of the most frequent adverbs of degree, which can be sequenced from the lowest to the highest degree, as such:

NadaPoucoBastanteMuitoDemasiado

Nada

Nada translates to “nothing” when it is the object of a sentence: O João não deu nada.
John gave nothing.
. But as an adverb of degree (when modifying verbs that don’t require an object), nada more closely corresponds to “at all”. You will notice in the examples below that this double negative formulation is allowed (nãonada), whereas in English we would use “notat all”:
Eu não corro nada.
I don’t run at all.

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Adverbs of Affirmation and Adverbs of Negation

February 21, 2019

Adverbs of affirmation (advérbios de afirmação) and adverbs of negation (advérbios de negação) are some of the most essential words in all of the Portuguese language (and, indeed, any language). They are always invariable, so no need to worry about different variations or uses. For English speakers, they are incredibly straightforward to learn and sometimes even to guess.

Affirmation

Adverbs of affirmation are, as the name implies, words which declare that a given statement or fact is true, or “positive”. They include:

Sim

Sim literally just means “yes”. Things don’t get any simpler than this.
Example:
Sim, eu vou contigo.
Yes, I’ll come with you.

Realmente

Realmente is the equivalent to “indeed” in English.
Example:
Realmente, este casaco é confortável.
Indeed, this jacket is comfortable.

Certamente

Certamente is the Portuguese equivalent to “certainly” or “for sure” in English.

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Adverbs of Time – Quase, Ainda, Enfim, Agora e Sempre

February 21, 2019

Adverbs of time (advérbios de tempo) can tell us when, how often, or for how long an action happens. As with most other adverbs, adverbs of time are always invariable.
In this lesson we’ll start with some of the most frequent adverbs of time in Portuguese, which are:

Quase

We’ve dealt with quase in the previous lesson, as an adverb of degree, remember? Well, as an adverb of time, quase expresses that something is about to happen or is almost starting/finishing. So the translation may be the same, but the meaning is a little different.
Example:
[define O João está quase a chegar./John is about to arrive.]

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Adverbs of Degree – Mais, Menos, Tão, Tanto e Quase

February 21, 2019

Let’s look at some more adverbs of degree. Remember: they are always invariable.

Mais

Mais is simply the equivalent to the English “more”, or “plus”.
Example:
Queres mais pão?
Would you like more bread?

Menos

Menos is the equivalent to the English “less”, or “minus”.
Example:
Este vestido custa menos do que aquele.
This dress costs less than the other.

Tão

Tão is the equivalent to the English “so” or “so much”.
Examples:
A casa dela é tão gira!
Her house is so cute!

É tão divertido andar numa montanha-russa!
Going on a rollercoaster is so much fun!

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Adverbs of Time – Cedo, Tarde, Antes, Depois, Ontem, Hoje e Amanhã

February 20, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll look at some more adverbs of time (advérbios de tempo).
The first group concerns things happening in relation to a specific point in time. And remember: adverbs of time are always invariable.

Cedo

Cedo is equivalent to the English “early”.
Examples:
Tenho uma consulta de manhã cedo.
I have an appointment early in the morning.

Chegaste muito cedo.
You’re very early.

Tarde

Tarde is equivalent to the English “late”.
Example:
O professor chegou tarde.
The professor arrived late.

Antes

Antes is equivalent to the English “before”.
Example:
Antes de entrares, tira os sapatos.
Before you step in, remove of your shoes.

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Adverbs

February 19, 2019

To have fun with Portuguese, it’s important to master adverbs (advérbios). But what are they? Simply put, adverbs are words which modify other words – verbs, adjectives, and sometimes even other adverbs – and add to their meaning or clarify the circumstances in which they’re being used.

Verbs

When an adverb modifies a verb, it tells us how the verb is being carried out. Example:
O João canta bem.
João sings well.

The adverb “bem/well” tells us that the manner in which João carries out the action (singing) is a good one.

Adjectives

When an adverb modifies an adjective, it modifies how, or to what degree, a certain adjective applies to its object.
Example:
A Maria é extremamente talentosa.
Maria is extremely talented.

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Aonde vs Onde

February 8, 2019

Onde

The adverb onde indicates a location.
Examples:
Onde fica a tua casa?
Where is your house?

Onde ouviste isso?
Where did you hear that?

Onde can be used to replace expressions such as «em que» and «na/no qual», shown below.
É a gaveta em que estão as chaves
It’s the drawer where the keys are

Lisboa é uma cidade na qual as casas são caras
Lisbon is a city where the houses are expensive

Aonde

This adverb is a contraction between the adverb onde and the preposition a. It can be used when the verb both expresses an idea of movement and requires the preposition a (to). It’s most commonly used with the verb ir (go) when asking a question. An example would be:
Aonde é que ele vai?
Where is he going?

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Simple and Compound Adjectives

February 4, 2019

Adjectives are words that describe or qualify nouns. They can be simple (simples) if they’re just one word, or compound (compostos) if formed by two or more elements, usually connected by a hyphen (-).

Simple adjectives (adjetivos simples):

O carro amarelo
The yellow car

Um carro bonito
A beautiful car

Compound adjectives (adjetivos compostos):

Camisola rosa-choque
bright pink sweatshirt

Homem surdo-mudo
deaf mute man

Other examples:

Portuguese adjectiveEnglish translationPortuguese adjectiveEnglish translation
bem-dispostocheerful / happymal-humoradoill-tempered / grumpy
bem-parecidogood-looking / elegantbem-vindowelcome / appreciated
bem-educadopolitemal-educadorude
castanho-escurodark brownmal-acabadobadly finished
bem-intencionadowell-intentionedverde-alfacelettuce green
vice-campeãorunner-upafro-americanoafrican american
anglo-americanoanglo-americanindo-europeuindo-european
greco-romanagreco-romanhispano-americanahispanic american

Gender and Number

Although there are some that only have one gender form, also called adjetivos uniformes, for the most part, simple adjectives (adjetivo simples) must match the gender and number of the noun they’re describing.

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Basic Courtesy Expressions

January 31, 2019

Just like its people, the Portuguese language is very courteous. Below are just some of the ways in which to express basic, everyday courtesy in Portuguese:

Please

In Portuguese, please can be por favor
or se faz favor. They’re both equally correct and used in the same situations. Example:
Poderia trazer-me água, por favor?
Could you bring me some water, please?

We Portuguese tend to shorten words whenever we can. So don’t be confused if instead of se faz favor you hear ´faz favor in fast, informal speech.

Thank You

The Portuguese expression is: Obrigado
Obliged

It’s said to be a leftover from an expression that went more or less like “I am obliged (obrigado) to return your favor”. In fact, the English expression “much obliged” has the exact same meaning and would be an accurate translation of muito obrigado.
Because you are the one who feels obliged to return the favour, the word obrigado must reflect your own gender, not that of the person you’re talking to. (Even native speakers sometimes mistakenly apply the listener’s gender to the word, perhaps due to not knowing its origin.) So remember: male speakers should always say obrigado and female speakers, obrigada.
Examples:
Obrigado pela tua ajuda.
Thank you for your help. male speaking

Obrigada pelos presentes.
Thank you for the gifts. female speaking

You’re Welcome

After hearing an obrigado/obrigada, you have a couple of different options for saying “you’re welcome” in Portuguese:

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