Contrações Contractions are simply the result of merging two words into one. In English, this includes words like I’m (I + am), you’re (you + are), we’ll (we + will), etc. With Portuguese contractions, however, it typically happens when certain prepositions are combined with certain other types of words.
Which Words Form Contractions in Portuguese?
When these words…
- definite articles (o, a, os, as);
- indefinite articles (um, uma, uns, umas);
- demonstratives (este, esse, isto, aquele, etc.);
- certain pronouns (eles, elas, vocês, mim, ti, si, nós, algum, etc.);
- certain adverbs (aqui, aí, ali, etc.).
…are preceded by the prepositions below, sometimes a contraction is formed. Here are the general rules for contracting with each preposition:
- em – Add the letter n to the other word;
- de – Add the letter d to the other word;
- a – The words are merged into one (a + os = aos) with no deletions, or, if it’s merged with a word beginning with a, it simply gets a grave accent (à);
- por – To contract with definite articles, add pel- before the article;
- para – To contract with articles, add pr- before the article. Contractions with para are more informal and are generally only used in spoken language. You may see them in informal written communication such as texts or emails, though;
- com – Forms contractions with certain pronouns (see below).
We’ve covered some of these Portuguese contractions within other units, but here you can see them all together in this handy chart. This may seem like an overwhelming list at first, but it’s really just applying the same simple patterns to different words.
Chart of Portuguese Contractions
The prepositions are shown along the top (x-axis) and the words they combine with are found along the side (y-axis).
*The contractions formed with para are informal and generally not found in written form
In addition: the preposition com with sometimes combines with certain tonic pronouns to form a different word:
|mim||comigo with me|
|ti||contigo with you informal|
|si||consigo with him, with her, with you formal|
|nós||connosco with us|
|vocês||convosco with you plural|
|consigo with them|
There are also contractions formed when combining direct and indirect object pronouns, which we’ll cover separately here: Merging Clitic Object Pronouns
Other Colloquial Contractions
In addition to the informal contractions using para mentioned above, there are some other common ways Portuguese speakers like to shorten their words when speaking.
estar → ‘tar
The verb estar often become ‘tar in spoken language. For example:
With the Simple Past, by removing the ‘es’ from the verb, the slang version of the verb estar essentially becomes the same as the verb ter to have. This might cause some confusion for non-native speakers, but luckily you can usually get the meaning from the context of the sentence. For example:
não é → né
This phrase is often used at the end of a statement to turn it into a question that serves as a confirmation of what was just said.
Contractions Within Sentences
Let’s see how some of these Portuguese contractions are used in sentence form. Remember that, while some of these prepositions can translate smoothly between Portuguese and English, most of the time you have to step back and focus on the construction and meaning of the entire phrase. Don’t get too caught up in the exact word-to-word translation, as you’ll discover that they are wildly inconsistent.
A família passa o dia na praia The family spends the day at the beach
Ela está no carro She is in the car
Está em cima da televisão It's on top of the TV
Eu não conheço nenhum dos meus avós I don't know any of my grandparents
Deve estar numa prateleira It must be on a shelf
Eu não faria as coisas dessa forma I wouldn't do things in that way
Concordo contigo I agree with youinf.
Obrigada pelo presente Thank you for the present
Ela vai à festa She goes to the party
You can read and practice contractions throughout the other units, especially these: