Simple Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

Simple Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

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
atéuntil / by / up todesdesince / from
comwithemin / at / into / onto
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.
Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Correu bem apesar da chuva It went well despite the rain

The prepositional phrase above has 2 words: apesar and da (de+a).

Não como mais carne a partir de hoje I'm not eating any more meat as of today

The prepositional phrase above has 3 words: 2 prepositions (a and de) and a verb (partir).

This chart shows some of the most common and simple prepositional phrases you’ll come across in Portuguese, but there are many more as well.

Portuguese termEnglish translationPortuguese termEnglish translation
longe deaway/far frompor causa debecause of / due to
graças athanks toantes debefore / ahead of
perto denear / arounddepois deafter
debaixo deunderem cima deon / above
além debesides / beyond / aside fromao lado denext to / beside / alongside
a par debesidesquanto aabout / in terms of
atrás debehindacerca deabout / on / regarding
em frente ain front ofatravés dethrough
por baixo debelowpor cima deon top of / above

Other Prepositions

Sometimes words associated with a different category can also be used as prepositions.

Portuguese wordEnglish Translation
conformeaccording to / in accordance with
consoanteaccording to / as per
duranteduring / for / over
segundoaccording to

Here are a few sentences you could find yourself saying:
É feito consoante as normas It is done according to the norms
Ele corre durante horas! He runs for hours!
Não tive hipótese senão voltar para trás I had no choice but to turn back

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