prepositions in portuguese questions

Using Prepositions in Portuguese Questions

We’ll cover prepositions in more detail in later units, but for now, let’s go over a few prepositional phrases that come up frequently within Portuguese questions:

Para

Para onde é que vais? Where are you headed to?
Para quem é este bolo? Who is this cake for?

Por


Por que razão dizes isso? What makes you say that?, Why do you say that?
Por onde vais? Which way are you going?

De

De que estão a falar? What are youpl. talking about?
De quem estão a falar? Who are youpl. talking about?

Com

Com quem vais para casa? Whom are you going home with?
Com qual queres ficar? Which one do you want to keep?

Até

Até quando ficas em Coimbra? How long are you staying in Coimbra?, Until when are you staying in Coimbra?
Até onde foste? How far did you go?

A Few Others

Desde quando é que gostas de mostarda? Since when do you like mustard?
Em que lugar ficaram? Which place did they come in?
A que museu vais? Which museum are you going to?

Word Order

As you can see, the preposition in Portuguese questions always comes right before the interrogative adverb or interrogative pronoun. In contrast, in English we tend to separate the preposition from the question word (What are you talking about?), especially in spoken language.
It’s also important to note that the prepositional phrase as a whole can be found either at the beginning or at the end of the question. There are no rules and the meaning is the same either way. That said, you might hear certain phrases at the end of questions more often than others, such as com quem/qual, até quando, and para onde/quem, to name a few.
Com quem vais a Nova Iorque? Who are you going to New York with?
Vais a Nova Iorque com quem? You are going to New York with whom?
De que estão a falar? What are you talking about?
Estão a falar de quê?* You're talking about what?
*Note: When the word que is placed at the end of the question, it becomes quê.
Let’s give these a try in the next few lessons!

Comments:

  • Is the letter “Y” not used in Portuguese, ie Nova Lorque, New York! the reason i ask is my family name is Lynch, how would that translate when asked to spell my name for example to book a restaurant?

    • Hi Robert, the letter y is not used in Portuguese words, but it still appears in plenty of foreign “loan” words, so it’s familiar. You can still use a y to spell your name. We actually just launched a guide to the alphabet so that you can learn how to spell your name and other important info: Portuguese Alphabet

  • Hi Molly, thanks for that. I had a quick look at the spelling unit and found it very helpful. Often in the past I have been handed a pen by Portuguese speakers when they try to write my name down, and when I try to book a restaurant by telephone, I just use, “Roberto”, it’s much easier

What did you think? Leave a Comment for Rui & Joel:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.