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Plurals in Portuguese

October 27, 2018

A challenging part of learning Portuguese is realizing that many words need to be adjusted to agree with the gender and number of the people or objects we are talking about. Let’s see a quick overview of which types of words change, and which ones stay the same to help us understand the rules for making words plural in Portuguese.

Invariable Words

The invariable classes of words (that don’t change to match gender and number) are:

  • advérbios adverbs  Adverbs generally modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs, clarifying or intensifying their meaning.
  • preposições prepositions – Prepositions connect different words in a sentence.
  • conjunções conjunctions – Conjunctions connect different clauses of a sentence.
  • interjeições interjections – Interjections are filler words or words that express a strong, abrupt feeling

Variable Words

The variable classes of words (that do change to match gender and number) are:

Dining Out In Portugal

October 27, 2018

Whether you’re just visiting or planning to live in Portugal, learning some food vocabulary is going to be pretty important! 😆  As part of our Cooking and Eating unit, this guide should give you a good introduction to dining out in Portugal, or, in other words: comer fora going out to eat

Breakfast & Coffee

There are cafés cafés, coffee shops and pastelarias bakeries, which are often part of the same establishment, for snacks and light meals. This is where you’ll go for um pequeno-almoço a breakfast or um lanche a snack

Perhaps you’ll ask for um café a coffee and the world-famous pastel de nata custard tart. A pastel is usually a small tart or cake, which can be sweet, like the pastel de nata, or savoury, like the pastel de bacalhau codfish cake. You’ll find a wide variety of delicious options to order at the pastelaria.

Unfortunately for those who like protein-rich breakfasts, it’s less common to find ovos eggs on the traditional Portuguese breakfast menu, though they do appear in a number of dishes served later in the day.

There are many different typical coffee beverages in Portugal. If you just order um café a coffee you will receive an espresso, unless you specify otherwise. Some of the other most common options are:

Essential Portuguese Conjunctions

October 27, 2018

There are 3 essential conjunctions that you’ll need to start connecting your thoughts and forming more complex sentences in Portuguese:

e and

mas but

ou or

These 3 are called conjunções coordenativas coordinating 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 e and is an additive, or copulative, coordinating conjunction. It is used simply to add two ideas together.

A menina e o menino andam The 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

Good/Bad vs. Well/Badly

July 26, 2018

What’s the difference between mau and mal? What about bom and bem? These pairs of Portuguese words are very similar in meaning, but they’re not interchangeable. It comes down to understanding the difference between adjectives and adverbs and how they are used in Portuguese.


Good and bad are adjectives, which modify nouns (people / places / things). In Portuguese, adjectives must agree with the noun in gender and number:

bom good masc. sing. bons good masc. plur.

boa good fem. sing. boas good fem. plur.

mau bad masc. sing. maus bad masc. plur.

bad fem. sing. más bad fem. plur.


Well and badly are adverbs, which modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Adverbs are invariable, so the same words are used regardless of the gender and number of the noun.

bem well

mal badly, poorly

Which One Do I Use?

Bom / Boa vs. Bem

Let’s look at these examples to illustrate the difference between bom/boa (adjectives) and bem (adverb).

Present Continuous in Portuguese

June 1, 2018

This Learning Note will cover the present continuous in Portuguese. When we talk about actions that are happening right at the time of speaking, we use the present continuous, also known as the present progressive. Let’s start by taking a look at how this works in English.

Present continuous in the first person:

I am + verb ending in -ing

Example: I am driving

“I am” comes from the verb “to be” and is followed by the gerund form of the main verb (ending with -ing).

The Brazilian form is actually the most similar to English, so hopefully you’ll forgive us for mentioning it first! (We know you’re trying to focus on European and not Brazilian Portuguese, but it can be helpful and interesting to explore these differences sometimes. Plus, this gives you an easy way to spot if

Regular -AR Verbs in the Simple Past

May 16, 2018

The English simple past tense (e.g. “I went”, “We ate”, “You finished”) corresponds to the Portuguese pretérito perfeito simple past.

As with the present tense, conjugating regular Portuguese verbs in this tense is easier once you learn the patterns for each verb group.

Examples of some regular verbs in the -AR group include falar to speak, gostar to like, and andar to walk.

Let’s see the conjugations for the latter:

Talking About the Future in Portuguese

May 15, 2018

Below we will discuss the three main methods to talk about a future fact or inevitability in Portuguese:

1. Using Ir + Infinitive

Similar to the English construction, to discuss the future, Portuguese uses the verb ir to go, followed by a verb in its infinitive form.

Aside from very formal or literary contexts, this method is the most common. It’s also the easiest, because as long as you can conjugate ir in the present tense, you just need to know the next verb’s infinitive form. Let’s see how this works with the verbs correr and chegar in the examples below.

The Verb “Pôr”: In a Group of Its Own?

May 1, 2018

You may be surprised to learn that all verbs ending in -OR are actually part of the same group as verbs that end in –ER. 🤔 These “-por” verbs are considered part of the -ER group because of their Latin origins: pôr used to be written as poer (i.e. with an -ER ending), which comes from the Latin word ponere. Let’s look at the present tense conjugations, which are irregular:

Talking about Quantity

May 1, 2018

These are three of the simplest, most common words used to talk about quantity in Portuguese:

muito many, much, a lot

pouco few, a little

algum some, a few

When talking about countable quantities (which usually end in “-s” in English as well as Portuguese), muito, pouco and algum all change according to gender and number:

Eu tenho muitos amigos. I have many friends.

Poucas pessoas sabem o segredo. Few people know the secret.

Eles compraram algumas prendas. They bought some gifts.

With uncountable nouns (such as virtues, qualities, or time, which usually don’t end is “-s” in either language), muito, pouco and algum stay in their singular form, while maintaining gender agreement:

Regular -ER Verbs in the Present Tense

May 1, 2018

As mentioned, Portuguese verbs are split into three groups:

Now we’ll deal with the 2nd group: -ER verbs!

Regular -ER Verb Endings

Below are some examples of regular -ER verbs in the present tense. Notice the endings (-o, -es, -e, -emos, -em) which are added after each verb’s stem (beb, vend, and viv).

Regular -AR Verbs in the Present Tense

May 1, 2018

In Portuguese, verbs are split into three groups:

In this article, we’ll cover the first group: -AR Verbs!

Common regular verbs ending in -AR include falar to speak, pensar to think and amar to love

When the conjugation is regular, the endings of conjugated -AR verbs follow the same pattern. Below, we’ll use the Portuguese regular verb falar to speak in the present tense as an example:


to speak


Falar – Indicativo – Presente

Eu falo com ela todos os dias.
I speak with her everyday.

  • eu falo
  • I speak
  • tu falas
  • you speak
  • ele / ela fala
  • he / she speaks
  • você fala
  • you formal speak
  • nós falamos
  • we speak
  • eles / elas falam
  • they masc. / they fem. speak
  • vocês falam
  • you pl. speak


Once you memorize the endings for one regular -AR verb conjugation (-o, -as, -a, -amos, -am), you can follow the same pattern to conjugate all the other -AR verbs… (unless they’re irregular 🙈).

Introduction to Portuguese Adjectives

May 1, 2018

Adjetivos Adjectives are words that describe a noun, assigning it a quality, state, appearance, or other property. (Adverbs are also used to describe, but instead of nouns, they modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.) In Portuguese, using adjectives requires that you consider the gender and number of the word being modified, as well as the word order of the sentence.

Many different types of words can fall into the category of adjectives, including colours, shapes, materials, and nationalities. They are the words that let us distinguish between concepts such as:

When to Use Dele/Dela vs. Seu/Sua

March 30, 2018

Dele vs seu? When forming 3rd person possessives in European Portuguese, how do we decide when to use dele, dela, deles, delas  vs.  seu, sua, seus, suas?

Possessives formed with de are less ambiguous: they agree strictly with the subject, not with the object. In contrast, seu and its derivatives agree with the object, so we are not able to differentiate between the several possible 3rd person subjects without extra context.

In other words, when using dele, etc. you match it to the gender and number of the subject/person who possesses something. When using seu, etc. you match it to the gender and number of the object/thing being possessed.

Dele, dela, deles, delas

  • dele his – When the subject is ele (him).
  • dela her – When the subject is ela (her).
  • deles their – When the subject is eles (them, a group with at least one male).
  • delas their – When the subject is elas (them, an all-female group).

Seu, sua, seus, suas

These are also used for the same 3rd person subjects, but the specific form used must match the gender and number of the object/noun being

3rd Person Possessives: De + Pronoun

March 30, 2018

The Ambiguity of Seu, Sua, Seus, and Suas

To review, the Portuguese possessive pronouns/determiners for the third-person forms are the following:

Subject Possessive Pronoun/Determiner English Equivalent
Ele, Ela, Você Seu Sua Seus Suas His, Her/Hers, Your/Yours(formal)
Eles, Elas Seu Sua Seus Suas Their, Theirs

As you can see, ele he, him, ela she, her, você youformal, eles they, themmasc., and elas they, themfem. all share the same exact possessive determiners! Since the determiners agree with both the number and the gender of the noun that is being possessed (rather than the subject), knowing precisely who we’re talking about is a bit tricky. Let’s see some examples:

Introduction to Possessives

March 30, 2018

Possessive Determiners vs. Possessive Pronouns

In this unit, we’re going to learn about possessive determiners and possessive pronouns in Portuguese, which both serve the function of expressing possession or ownership of something.

In English, we use my, your, his, her, their, and our as possessive determiners and mine, yours, his, hers, theirs, and ours as possessive pronouns.

Possessive determiners precede the noun they are modifying. They tell you to whom a specific item belongs. For example, in the sentence “It is my cat”, you can tell that the word “my” is a determiner because it needs to be followed by a noun (“cat”). “It is my” would not be a complete sentence.

Possessive pronouns replace the noun they are modifying. They convey ownership without telling what exactly is being owned. For example, in the sentence “It is mine”, you can tell that the word “mine” is a possessive pronoun because it can stand on its own in place of a noun.

Portuguese Possessives

In Portuguese, possessive pronouns and possessive determiners make use of the same words: meu, teu, seu, nosso, vosso, plus their associated feminine and plural forms. As you will see below, this means that there are multiple possible translations of each English possessive word. For both possessive determiners and possessive pronouns in Portuguese, you start by choosing the form that goes with the person possessing something, and then modify that word to match the gender and number of the noun being possessed.

1st and 2nd Person Possessives

March 10, 2018

Mine, Yours, and Ours

Let’s take a closer look at this first group of possessives: meu, teu, nosso and vosso, plus their feminine and plural forms.

Subject Possessive Pronoun/Determiner

(for masculine nouns)

Possessive Pronoun/Determiner

(for feminine nouns)

Eu meu my, mine

meus my, mine

minha my, mine

minhas my, mine

Tu teu your, yours

teus your, yours

tua your, yours

tuas your, yours

Nós nosso our, ours

nossos our, ours

nossa our, ours

nossas our, ours

Vós, Vocês vosso your, yours

vossos your, yours

vossa your, yours

vossas your, yours

Gender and Number Agreement

Remember that the pronoun/determiner has to agree in gender and number with the noun it refers to, rather than the person/subject.

For example, if we’re talking about single objects, such as um jornal a newspaper (a masculine noun) or uma revista magazine (a feminine noun), we’d get:

Ser vs. Estar: Two Ways of Being

March 10, 2018

At this point, you’re probably starting to get familiar with the verbs ser to be permanent state and estar to be temporary state. Yet, even with a lot of practice, they are still easy to mix up! Don’t worry: in this unit you’ll learn more about when to use one versus the other.

A Basic Distinction: Ser vs Estar

  • Ser is typically used to describe permanent states or conditions. It refers to an immutable or long-lasting attribute of the person or object being described. Here’s the verb conjugated in the present tense:

Common Household Items

August 14, 2017

The average home is full of all kinds of objects, pieces of furniture, and appliances. In this unit, we’ll explore the most common objects you’ll find in each room of your house.

The Living Room – Sala de Estar

The room where you’ll likely spend lots of time relaxing with your family and friends is known as a sala de estar the living room. You may invite them to sit on the sofá sofa and enjoy a nice conversation, or perhaps share a meal at the mesa de jantar dining table.

You might watch the televisão television, or perhaps grab a book from the estante bookcase to do some reading.

Ele senta-se no sofá da sala (de estar) a ler um romance. He sits on the living room sofa reading a novel.

Note that it’s common to omit “de estar” and refer to the living room as simply a sala, since it’s usually implied.

The Kitchen – A Cozinha

While preparing your meal in a cozinha the kitchen, you’ll grab some food from o frigorífico the refrigerator to cook on o fogão the stove or in o micro-ondas the microwave.

In the kitchen you might also find

Types of Homes and Rooms

July 11, 2017

If you plan to comprar to buy or arrendar to rent property a home in Portugal, here are some of the main types of housing you have to choose from:

Types of Housing

  • um quarto A single room – A private bedroom for yourself in a house shared with other people.
  • um apartamento a flat, apartment – A complete, unshared home, but in um prédio a building shared with others.
    • You could also categorize this as um estúdio a studio apartment which has fewer divisions, or perhaps an apartment with two floors, which, just like in English, is called um duplex a duplex.
  • uma vivenda A detached house – A house that is not connected to any other others, which might even contain um quintal a garden.
  • casas geminadas semi-detached houses – Somewhere in between a detached house and an apartment, which share a single common wall to form a two-unit building.
  • uma quinta farm – A larger property in which the residential function of the building is combined with agricultural work.

Aquele casal comprou um apartamento no sétimo andar. That couple bought an apartment on the seventh floor.

A minha família tem uma quinta no campo. My family has a farm on the countryside.

Types of Rooms

Now that you’ve described the type of home, let’s take a look inside:

3rd Person Possessives: Seu and Sua

June 18, 2017

His, Hers, Yours, and Theirs

There are just a few more Portuguese possessives to learn:

Subject Possessive Pronoun/Determiner English Equivalent
Ele, Ela, Você Seu Sua Seus Suas His, Her/Hers, Your/Yours (formal)
Eles, Elas Seu Sua Seus Suas Their, Theirs

See what happens there? The pronouns/determiners for the third-person singular (+ você) and the third-person plural are all the same!

Gender and Number Agreement

Once again, the pronouns or determiners must agree with the respective noun, not with the subject!

If we’re talking about single objects such as um carro a car (masc. noun) and uma mota a motorcycle (fem. noun), here’s what we get:

The Verb “Ser”

June 18, 2017

Ser To be is one of the most fundamental and important Portuguese verbs. It also happens to be an irregular verb, which helps explain why the conjugations below look quite different from the verb’s infinitive form. For now, we’ll focus on ser in the presente do indicativo present tense:

Intro to Subordinating Conjunctions

June 12, 2017

Conjunções subordinativas Subordinating conjunctions join an oração subordinante independent clause to a oração subordinada dependent clause

The conjunction is always found in the dependent part of the sentence, or dependent clause. This is the part that could not stand on its own as a complete sentence.

The independent clause is the part of the sentence that does not contain the conjunction and would still be a complete idea if the dependent part of the sentence were removed.

Subordinating conjunctions can be divided into the following main categories: