The Portuguese calendar has several holidays and holiday periods throughout the year. Holiday can have two meanings in Portuguese:
feriadoholiday – A public holiday, or day to celebrate something of specific cultural or religious importance at a local or national level.
fériasholiday, holidays, vacation – A planned period of time off work or school. Férias are often scheduled around important feriados.
Some of the Main Holidays in Portugal
Date / Time of Year
1 de janeiroJanuary 1st
Ano NovoNew Year’s
CarnavalCarnival, Mardi Gras
Friday before Easter
Sexta-feira SantaGood Friday
marçoMarch or abrilApril
25 de abrilApril 25th
Dia da LiberdadeNational Freedom Day
1 de maioMay 1st
Dia do TrabalhadorLabor Day
60 days after Easter
Corpo de DeusCorpus Christi
10 de junhoJune 10th
Dia de PortugalPortugal Day
5 de outubroOctober 5th
Implantação da RepúblicaRepublic Day
1 de novembroNovember 1st
Dia de Todos-os-SantosAll Saints’ Day
1 de dezembroDecember 1st
Restauração da IndependênciaRestoration of Independence
25 de dezembroDecember 25th
In Portuguese, the structure of dates is dia de mês de ano (day of month of year), and the numbers are typically cardinal, not ordinal. That means that you say um de janeiroJanuary one instead of primeiro de janeiroJanuary first. You may have also noticed that the names of the months and days of the week are not capitalized in Portuguese, as they are in English.
As you saw in previous lessons, the days of the week are very different from other languages. But as luck would have it, the names of os meses do anothe months of the year in Portuguese are quite similar to other languages, since we all use the same Gregorian calendar. All the names share common roots in Roman culture.
The Portuguese use the verb haverto be, to have to express the past, whether it be minutes, hours, days, months, or years. In these contexts, haver is an impersonal verb, meaning that it doesn’t take a particular subject and is always used in the present tense form of the third-person conjugation: há
Normally há means there is or there are. However, when há is used before words that express an amount of time, you can think of it more like the word ago (which in English is placed after a time-related phrase).
The phrase construction is pretty straightforward:
Há + Amount of Time Passed
Comprei esta caneta há uma semana.I bought this pen a week ago.
While many countries favour the 12-hour clock system, Portuguese-speaking countries usually use the 24-hour clock, especially in more formal contexts.
Portuguese Time in Words
vinte e uma horas
vinte e duas horas
vinte e três horas
Telling Time Formally vs. Informally
In formal situations, you should apply the 24-hour clock system, and use the exact minutes shown on the clock, rather than more informal expressions of subdivisions of time (as you will learn about further below).
In Portuguese, the naming of os dias da semanathe days of the week does not take inspiration from the planets and gods, as is the case for many other languages. Instead, they are simply numbered.
The origin of the names of the days of the week in Portuguese
The numbering of each weekday in Portuguese might have to do with ancient Easter celebrations, in which people were granted seven days of rest, starting from Sunday. Sunday would then be called, in Latin, feria prima (first free day), while the day after would be feria secunda (second free day) and so on. These Latin roots are evident today in the Portuguese words for the days of the week.
Day in Portuguese
Latin: dies Dominicus (day of the Lord)
Latin: feria secunda
Latin: feria tertia
Latin: feria quarta
Latin: feria quinta
Latin: feria sexta
Domingo and sábado didn’t remain numbered. DomingoSunday would never be referred to as primeira-feira! But they still mark the
A is a very important and versatile preposition. It can correspond to many different English words, depending on the context. For example:
Vou a Espanha no próximo anoI will go to Spain in the next year
Ela foi para lá a péShe went there on foot
Isto sabe a morangoThis tastes like strawberry
A… or A?
It’s easy to mistake the preposition a with the definite article a. They both look the same, but they serve different functions in the sentence. As you hear or read a Portuguese sentence, think about whether “a” would make more sense as:
In the previous lessons of this unit, you learned about variable demonstratives, which change depending on the gender and number of the objects(s) they describe.
Here’s some good news for you: invariabledemonstrative pronouns are much easier to learn, because as you can see below, there are only 3 of them. You still have to consider the position of the object(s), but not the number or gender.
Invariable Demonstrative Pronoun
Near the speaker:
Near the listener:
Far from both:
Even though these pronouns also translate to this and that in English, their meaning and usage is slightly different.
You can think of these invariable pronouns as being more impersonal than their variable counterparts.
How Do You Know When to Use Invariable vs. Variable?
Although we’re usually told to avoid thinking in English, here’s a trick:
As you’ll recall, variable demonstratives have to agree not only in gender and location, but also in number.
For every variable demonstrative covered in the previous lesson (which were all singular), there is also a plural counterpart.
It might sound scary, but you’re in luck: all you have to do is take the singular form and add an “s“!
Near the speaker:
Near the listener:
Far from both:
Near the speaker:
Near the listener:
Far from both:
As you can see, this is to these as este/esta is to estes/estas, and so on. Once you master the singular demonstratives from the last lesson, you can easily come up with its plural, and all the same rules about gender and location apply. Let’s look at a few examples…
Variable demonstratives are used to indicate all of the following at once:
a person or object’s gender
the number (one or more)
the position in space or time
The “demonstrative” part of this fancy name refers to the last point above, the item’s position. We must choose which demonstrative to use, according to which one of the following fits best:
a) The object is near the speaker,
b) The object is far from the speaker, but near the listener, OR
c) The object is far away from both speaker and listener
As you may have realized, this doesn’t happen in English. You just have to choose between thisand that. That’s it! In English, the position of the object relative to the speaker is the only thing that counts. In Portuguese, we have to choose which “that” to use according to where the object is in relation to the listener.
This lesson will cover singular variable demonstratives, all of which you can see in the table below:
DemonstrativosDemonstratives help to identify a particular person or object and establish its location in relation to the speaker, the listener, or simply within the general context. They can tell us, for example, whether something is close or distant in space or time.
In English, we generally use the words this and these to refer to things that are close to the speaker or things that are happening at the present time, and we use that or those to refer to objects that are further from the speaker or things that happened in the past.
In Portuguese, you must also take into account the proximity to the listener and whether something happened in the recent or distant past. The Portuguese demonstratives are este(s), esta(s), esse(s), essa(s), aquele(s),aquela(s),isto, isso, and aquilo. This learning note will serve as just an overview, so don’t overwhelm yourself with memorizing all of these just yet. We’ll focus on one group at a time in the lessons to follow.
Pronouns vs. Determiners
You may recall what we learned in the Possessives unit about the difference between
The preposition emin, on, at, about is usually a bit easier to understand compared to others. Although there are multiple uses, em most commonly refers to being “in” something, either physically or conceptually:
Estamos em SetembroWe are in September
Ela está em LisboaShe is in Lisbon
Ela divide o quarto em doisShe divides the room in two
Estar em dúvidaTo be in doubt
Ele está em boa condição física.He is in good physical condition.
Ela está em choqueShe is in shock
Em can also have other meanings, such as about, on, and at.
De is one of the first Portuguese prepositions you should learn because it’s extremely common and used in a variety of different situations. De can correspond to many different English translations, depending on the context. Let’s explore some of its many uses:
In this Learning Note, we’ll learn about Portuguese prepositions, but first let’s review: what exactly is a preposition? PreposiçõesPrepositions are short words that usually occur before a noun (or pronoun). They show how the noun relates to another element in the sentence in terms of time, location, movement, or other parameters.
For example, the English prepositions in, at, on, and through could be used to create prepositional phrases such as in the morning, at the park, on the table, and through the rain.
To get us started, here are a few examples of Portuguese prepositions that translate somewhat easily into English:
Ir de carroTo go by car
Sou de LisboaI am from Lisbon
Eu espero por tiI wait for you
Eu vou para PortugalI go to Portugal
You may have noticed that the first two examples use the same word in different ways: deby, from
Translating a preposition is often not very straightforward. There are many situations like this, in which a Portuguese preposition corresponds to multiple possibilities in English, or vice-versa.
Sometimes you’ll even come across Portuguese phrases that use a preposition, while the corresponding English translation does not. For example:
Portugal has no official religion, but most of its population is Christian (81% Catholic). However, only about 19% attend mass and take the sacraments regularly. In Portugal, Church and State are formally separate, but the Catholic institution still has a strong influence, especially for the older population.
Like other parts of the world, holidays like o NatalChristmas have gradually transformed from being purely religious to being more commercialized, cultural holidays, especially for the younger generations. Despite the growing commercialization and consumerism of the holiday, it is still possible to find some old traditions, especially in as aldeiasthe small towns, villages of Portugal.
In more recent years, the Portuguese have incorporated as árvores do Natalthe Christmas trees and Santa Claus imagery in their homes. Parents tell their children that
Conclusive coordinating conjunctions (conjunções coordenativas conclusivas), as the name implies, express a consequence or conclusion. These are similar to explicative coordinating conjunctions, but they more specifically indicate a cause and effect relationship between parts of the sentence.
The most common simple conjunctions are portantotherefore and entãoso.
Não quero ir, portanto não vouI don’t want to go, therefore I won’t go
In the right context, pois and logo can also be included in this group (although as standalone words they don’t really have clear English translations).
Disjunctive coordinating conjunctions (conjunções coordenativas disjuntivas) express an idea of choice or alternative, i.e. that only one of the parts of the sentence can be true.
The most obvious example is ouor
Eu fico em casa, ou vou à ruaI’ll stay at home or I’ll go to the street
Here are some examples of disjunctive conjunction phrases: