The Preposition "A"

A is a very important and versatile Portuguese preposition. It can correspond to many different English words, depending on the context. For example:
Vou a Espanha no próximo ano I will go to Spain in the next year
Ela foi para lá a She went there on foot
Isto sabe a morango This 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:

  • the word the (in which case it’s serving as a definite article for a feminine noun), or
  • something else! (in which case it is likely working as a preposition).


Let’s see how we combine the preposition a with definite articles (o, a, os, as) to form contractions:

o the a the os the as the
a to ao à aos às

Here are a couple examples of these contractions in context:

Vou a + a cidade = Vou à cidade I'm going to the city

Eles vão a + os Jogos Olímpicos = Eles vão aos Jogos Olímpicos They're going to the Olympic Games



  • It seems to me there’s a whole lot to “a” that could be covered here… In the grammar text I’m using, “Gramática Ativa”, there’s a lot about using “preposiçoes de tempo” that distinguishes between the use of “a”, “de”, and “em”. I would love it if you could provide more (information and quizzes) about using “a” as a preposition, since I’m finding it rather tricky! Thank you!

    • Thanks, that’s a good idea! We focused on just providing an overview of the prepositions in this unit, but we could work on creating more resources to help distinguish between when each is used. Ultimately, mastering these relies heavily on getting lots of exposure to different examples. So in the meantime, try to pay special attention to some of the different contexts where “a” is used as you work through the Units and also the Shorties.

    • Olá, Brian. Yes, provar can refer to the action of tasting something, but when you want to describe what something tastes like, then we use the verb saber. So, saber not only means to know, but also to taste [like]. Here are some examples:
      – Eu sei o teu nome (I know your name).
      – Isto sabe bem, sabe a morango! Queres provar? (This tastes good, tastes like strawberry! Do you want to taste it?)

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