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Reflexivity with Tonic Pronouns

May 5, 2020

Reflexive pronouns tell you that an action is done to oneself (i.e. the object is the same as the subject). In English, we use words like myself, herself, and ourselves to express this idea. If you want to read more about Portuguese reflexive pronouns, we also cover them in the Clitic Pronouns unit here. In order to make it easier to spot and understand the differences, we’ll be using the same examples throughout this Learning Note.

As you’ll see below, clitic pronouns (such as -me) are often used along with tonic pronouns (such as mim) to emphasize the object in reference: Desenhei-me a mim.I drew myself.

In some cases, it is also helpful to add the words próprioself or mesmosame to emphasize the reflexive nature of the verb even more and make the meaning less ambiguous: Ela desenhou-se a si própria.She drew herself.

…but this is optional if you’ve already used a clitic pronoun, as in this example: Desenhaste-te a ti (mesmo).You drew yourself.

Explore the examples in each category below to help clarify these concepts…

The Pronouns Si & Consigo

May 5, 2020

The Pronoun Si: Then and Now

Grammatically speaking, the pronouns si and consigo belong to the 3rd person subjects: ele(s)/ela(s). This is because they were initially only used as reflexive pronouns*, which are pronouns that refer to the same subject or thing as the verb. For example:

Ele levou a mala consigoHe took the suitcase with him

*We’ll talk more about reflexive tonic pronouns in an upcoming Learning Note, but you can read more about reflexive clitic pronouns here.

The sentence above is still correct and wouldn’t be confusing because the context makes it clear who consigo refers to. Nowadays, however, it’s more common to see si and consigo used with 2nd person formal subjects. Si and consigo can replace você, as using você in European Portuguese can sometimes be seen as disrespectful or too intense. For example:

Using Tonic Pronouns with Prepositions

May 5, 2020

In this Learning Note, we’ll explore each tonic pronoun and see some examples of how it is used along with different prepositions.

Me and You(Informal)

The tonic pronouns that correspond to eu I, me and tu youinf. are mim and ti . Let’s see how they are used in sentences:

Tens medo de mim?Are you scared of me?

Faço isso por mimI do that for me

Não é bom para tiIt’s not good for you

Agora vivo mais perto de ti Now I live closer to you

When mim or ti go along with com with, the pronouns become comigo with me and contigo with youinf..

Introduction to Tonic Pronouns

May 5, 2020

Personal pronouns can be classified according to how they are used within a sentence. There are pronomes clíticos clitic pronouns, which are unstressed, and pronomes tónicostonic pronouns, which are stressed.

This learning note will serve as an introduction to tonic pronouns, however, let’s first see a recap of all the personal pronouns in order to compare them.

Subject Pronouns Clitic Pronouns Tonic Pronouns Tonic Pronouns + “Com”
eu me mim comigo with me
tu te ti contigo with you informal
ele/ela lhe, se ele



com ele with him

com ela with her

consigo with him, with her, with you formal

nós nos nós connosco with us
vocês* vos vocês convosco with you plural
eles/elas lhes, se eles


com eleswith them masc.

com elaswith them fem.

consigo with them

Clitic Pronouns: Nos & Vos

March 30, 2019

In this lesson we’ll explore the last two clitic pronouns in Portuguese, nos and vos.

A few quick reminders:

  • No hyphens are required if they’re proclitics (placed before the verb)
  • 2 hyphens are required if they’re mesoclitic (placed between two parts of verb)
  • 1 hyphen is required if they’re enclitics (placed after the verb).
  • With 1st person plural verbs that end in s, such as vamos, the s is dropped before adding the pronoun nos or vos
    • For example: vamos + nos = vamo-nos, as in Vamo-nos embora Let’s get out of here


Nos corresponds to us or to/for us, as it is used for both direct and indirect objects. Examples:

Reflexive Pronouns

March 30, 2019

When the direct object or indirect object represents the same person or thing as the subject of the verb, it’s expressed by a reflexive pronoun.

In other words, we use reflexive pronouns when the action is something one does to oneself. In English, this would be words like myself, yourself, himself, ourselves, themselves, etc. For example, in the sentence “She convinced herself”, she is both the subject and the object, so we use herself as the reflexive pronoun.

We’re including reflexive pronouns in this unit because, despite technically belonging to a different category, they share most of the same pronouns. The only difference is in the 3rd person, both singular and plural, which uses se, si, and consigo.

Since we’re learning about clitic pronouns, which are unstressed pronouns, for now we’re going to disregard si and consigo, which are stressed pronouns, and talk about those in another unit.

Reflexive Pronouns in Portuguese

Subject pronouns Reflexive pronouns
Eu me
Tu te
Ele / Ela / Você se
Nós nos
Eles / Elas / Vocês se

When it comes to placing these pronouns within a sentence, you can follow the same rules as the rest of the clitics.

Let’s have a look at each pronoun individually, using one of the simplest Portuguese reflexive verbs, vestir-se to dress oneself

Clitic Pronouns: Me & Te

March 29, 2019

In this lesson we’ll explore the first two clitic pronouns in Portuguese, me and te.

A few quick reminders:

  • No hyphens are required if they’re proclitics (placed before the verb)
  • 2 hyphens are required if they’re mesoclitic (placed between two parts of verb)
  • 1 hyphen is required if they’re enclitics (placed after the verb)


Me corresponds to me or to/for me in English, as it is used for both direct and indirect objects. Examples:

Ela chamou-me ao gabinete. She called me to the office.

Não me parece boa, esta maçã. This apple doesn’t look good to me.


Te, on the other hand, is used in informal contexts and is equivalent to the English you or to/for you. It is also valid for both direct and indirect objects. Examples:

Merging Clitic Pronouns

March 22, 2019

In Portuguese, when we use a verb that asks for both a direct and indirect object (and the objects are known, i.e. we’re aware of what/who they are), we can create a contraction by combining the third person direct object pronoun with the indirect object pronoun. Sounds complicated, we know.

Let’s see a practical example…

Dei uma prenda à Joana. I gave Joana a gift.

In the sentence above, neither the direct object (uma prenda) nor the indirect object (a Joana) have been replaced by a clitic.

Dei-lhe uma prenda. I gave her a gift.

Now, we’ve replaced the indirect object (a Joana) with the clitic lhe, while the direct object remains in place.

Dei-lha. I gave it to her.

Clitic Pronouns: 3rd Person

March 22, 2019

In this lesson we’ll explore 3rd-person clitic pronouns. Both the singular and plural forms work in the exact same way. Let’s look at the direct pronouns first, followed by the indirect pronouns.

3rd Person Direct Object Clitic Pronouns

The following clitic pronouns stand in for him, her, it, or them as the direct object. We have the default forms: o/a/os/as, plus two variants:

  • lo/la/los/las (used after a consonant) and
  • no/na/nos/nas (used after a nasal sound)

O/A, Os/As

Third person direct pronouns are replaced by o or a (corresponding to him or her, respectively) in singular form and os or as (standing for them, masculine and feminine) in plural form.


Clitic Pronouns: Direct & Indirect Objects

March 22, 2019

Pronomes clíticos Clitic pronouns are one of the trickiest subjects to learn and master in Portuguese. But don’t despair — we’re here to help! Throughout these lessons you’ll learn how to use clitic pronouns correctly, but first you should understand more about the difference between direct and indirect objects.

The objects of a sentence can be represented in various ways, the most common being nouns and pronouns. Some verbs don’t need objects for the sentence to make sense, while others demand them. These are called transitive verbs.

For example, take the English phrase “She wants”. That sounds incomplete, right? In English, want is a transitive verb, so you need more information. What does she want? “She wants that car.” Now it’s a complete sentence, with “that car” as the direct object.

Direct Objects

A complemento direto direct object answers the questions what? or whom?, and therefore shows a direct connection with the main verb, complementing it.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Introduction to Clitic Pronouns

March 21, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll have a look at all the pronomes clíticos clitic pronouns in Portuguese (not including reflexive pronouns, which we’ll deal with separately later on).

Clitic pronouns are basically unstressed morphemes (sort of like mini-words) that go along with a verb to show to whom or to what the action refers. They take the place of the people or objects represented by the direct and indirect objects.

Chart of Clitic Pronouns

Subject Pronoun Direct Object Pronoun Indirect Object Pronoun
Eu me
Tu te
Ele, Você (male) o (lo, no) lhe
Ela, Você (female) a (la, na)
Nós nos
Vocês vos
Eles os (los, nos) lhes
Elas as (las, nas)

We can see in the table that the pronouns o, a, os and as are only used in place of direct objects. The opposite goes for lhe/lhes, as these are only used to represent an indirect object. Me, te, nos, and vos can be used for both.

Position of Clitic Pronouns

Before we study these further, we should learn about where these pronouns can be placed in relation to the verb.

There are three possible positions for clitics:

The Imperative

January 27, 2019

When someone yells Sai! Leave! or a doctor says Pare de fumar Stop smoking, there’s one thing they’re doing in common: using the imperativo imperative mood!

There are 2 types of imperatives, the affirmative and the negative, shown below respectively. In these examples, the speaker is talking to multiple people, i.e. using the vocês form.

Parem de fazer barulho. Stop making noise.

Não parem de correr. Don’t stop running.

Regular Verbs in the Imperative

The imperativo imperative can be thought of as the verb conjugation used for giving commands or telling someone to do something (or not to do something). These “commands” could take the form of orders, advice, requests, or pleas. Since the speaker is always talking directly to another person (or group of people), the imperative is only used with the following forms: