The Preposition "De"

De paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio  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:

About

falar de paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to talk about
Eu falo de ti paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I talk about you

By

ir de paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to go by
Eu vou de carro paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I go by car
Vou viajar de comboio. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I will travel by train.

On


Estás de férias em Agosto paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio You are on vacation in August

Of

tomar conta de paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to take care of
A camisa é feita de algodão paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The shirt is made of cotton

From

Tu vens de Lisboa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio You come from Lisbon
Venho de Inglaterra paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I've come from England

No English Preposition

Certain verbs, such as those shown below, are often followed by de, even in places where you would not use a word at all in English.
Preciso de dinheiro paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I need money
O médico trata de ti paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The doctor treats you
Eu gosto de laranjas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I like oranges

Contractions

Let’s see how de is combined with the definite articles o, a, os, or as to form contractions:

o paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio the a paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio the os paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio the as paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio the
de paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio of, by, from do paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio da paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio dos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio das Play normal audio

Ela gosta do vestido, apesar da cor paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She likes the dress despite the colour
Os chapéus dos homens paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The hats of the men, The men's hats
As we learned in the Possessives unit, de can also be combined with the 3rd person pronouns ele, ela, eles, or elas to indicate possession:

ele paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio he, him ela paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio she, her eles paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio they, them (masc.) elas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio they, them (fem.)
de paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio of, by, from dele paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio dela paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio deles paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio delas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

A caneta é dele paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The pen is his
O projeto é delas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The project is theirs (feminine)

Comments

  • I have noticed that, in this unit, all of the tables for contractions (dos, dele, no, numa, etc.) aren’t formatting properly – only like one line of text shows up and I have to scroll around back and forth in the little box to see the rest of the cells. I’m on mobile and using Firefox internet so maybe this is just a problem for me…? Anyway, I thought you would want to know. Thanks!

  • Sorry, another question: does ‘tomar conta de’ have the same meaning as ‘cuidar de’? If so, how do you say ‘to take care of the bill’?

    • Yes, “tomar conta de” and “cuidar de” can generally be used interchangeably. But it doesn’t sound very natural to use either of them for a bill. I’d rather say something like “tratar da conta” (to take care of the bill) 🙂

  • This was a very helpful lesson! I have always been confused about the use of de, especially with the verb gostar. This cleared it up a lot! Thanks!

  • I am still confused about the use of “de” with gostar. There are two sentences, where it is used with and without the definite article: Eu gosto de laranjas. Ela gosta do vestido,… Which is used when? Thanks

    • The definite article is typically used when you are referring to a specific instance of something. So she likes the dress, rather than dresses in general. But I like oranges in general, not just the specific orange, so there is no definite article in that sentence. In lesson 1 the question is “Do you like the oranges?”, so the definite article is used there because they are referring to a specific set of oranges. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but most of the time it’s the same as English in terms of whether a definite article is used or not. I hope that helps!

    • Hi Jutta,

      Here’s a quick explanation for the use of “das” before the noun “laranjas”.

      das – which is used as “the” before “laranjas” because the noun “laranjas” is a feminine word in its plural version.

      Hope this helps (:

  • Thanks for the explanation.. But I am still a bit confused about this one: Ela gosta do vestido, apesar da cor.

    I understand the use of “da” here “despite of the colour” but what is the function of the de? Why isn’t it just: Ela gosta o vestido??

    • hi,

      i think it’s because the person really like (love) the dress here, so it’s “gostar de” and not just “gostar”.

      • Whoops, sorry we missed this question previously. It’s actually just that de is required when using gostar. You’ll notice this a lot with prepositions — they are not always used the same as they are in English. Sometimes there is a preposition in Portuguese where there is none in English, and vice versa. So you just have to remember that whenever you are talking about something you like, make sure to use gostar de. If it helps you remember, you could think of it like saying “I am fond of” rather than “I like”.

        The only time you don’t use the de is if you were replying to a question without mentioning the “thing” you like again. For example, if someone said: Gosta de café? – Do you like coffee? you could reply either Sim, gosto de café – Yes, I like coffee or just Sim, gosto – Yes, I like (it). How to Talk About Likes and Dislikes in Portuguese

    • Hi Jonathan,

      Let me explain (:

      do for “the”. It is the contraction of “de + o” and used here because the noun which always comes after “vestido” is a masculine word and in its singular form.

      da – used for “the” because “cor” is a feminine word in its singular form.
      da – contraction of “de + a”

      Hope this helped to clarify you

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