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Indefinite Articles in Portuguese

May 8, 2019

How to Say A, An, & Some In Portuguese

We just learned how to say “the car” using definite articles, but what if you want to talk about “a car” in general? This is called an artigo indefinidoindefinite article, because we’re talking about an undefined car, rather than a specific instance of a car.

In English, we use a, an, and the plural form some.

In Portuguese, there are 4 indefinite articles: um a, an uma a, an uns some umas some

Once again, the specific form used depends on the gender and number of the noun:

  • Masculine, singular: um carro a car
  • Feminine, singular: uma mesa a table
  • Masculine, plural: uns carros some cars
  • Feminine, plural: umas mesas some tables

When to use Indefinite Articles

We use indefinite articles when we want to talk about a subject or an object without specifying a particular one. For example:

Determiners vs. Pronouns

April 22, 2019

To master Portuguese, it is essential that we tackle determiners. As you may recall, we have already learned about a few types of determiners in previous units, such as articles, possessives, and demonstratives. So this will be a good opportunity to review, as well as to be introduced to some new types. In this unit, we will focus primarily on:

  • definite articles (such as o and a)
  • indefinite articles (such as um and uma)
  • demonstrative determiners (such as este and estes)
  • indefinite determiners (such as outro and certo)
  • interrogative determiners (such as que and qual)

Before we dive in, let’s quickly review how to differentiate between determiners and pronouns.

Demonstrative Determiners

April 20, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll review a topic we’ve covered before, which is Portuguese demonstratives – este, esta, esse, essa, aquele, and aquela – as well as their plural forms. In Portuguese, demonstrative determiners indicate where something is in relation to to the speaker and listener in terms of place or time, and must agree in gender and number with the noun they define.

Este(s) & Esta(s)

Este (masculine) and esta (feminine) are the singular form equivalents of “this” in English. These determiners are used to refer to specific things or persons that are close to the speaker. Examples:

Este chocolate é demasiado doce! This chocolate is too sweet!

Esta sanduíche é o meu almoço. This sandwich is my lunch.

Interrogative Determiners

April 5, 2019

In this lesson we’ll learn about determinantes interrogativos interrogative determiners

Interrogative determiners are words we use to formulate questions or exclamations. There are only two of them, but they are quite important!


Que is equivalent to the English “what”. Example:

Que livro procuras? What book are you looking for?

Qual / Quais

Qual is the singular form equivalent to “which” in English. The same form is used for both masculine and feminine nouns. For example:

Ela visitou qual museu? Which museum did she visit?

Indefinite Determiners

April 5, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll have a look at determinantes indefinidos indefinite determiners

Indefinite determiners are words that express an undefined quality about the noun they’re referencing, similar to “other people”, “another beer”, or “certain things” in English. In Portuguese, indefinite determiners always agree in gender and number with the noun.

Other & Another

The singular forms of “other” or “another” are outro othermasc. and outra otherfem.

Dá-me outro destes bolos, por favor. Give me another one of these cakes, please.

Temos de pôr aqui outra mesa. We have to place another table here.

The plural forms are outros othermasc. and outras otherfem.

Definite and Indefinite Articles

March 29, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll compare Portuguese definite articles and indefinite articles. Artigos Articles are small words that precede and define a noun. In Portuguese, articles take on different forms to agree in gender and number with the noun they define. In English, we just have the definite article the and the indefinite articles a, an, and some.

Definite Articles

Artigos definidos Definite articles are determiners used to indicate that we are referring to a specific, well-defined thing or person. There are four types, which all correspond to “the” in English. We use o and os for masculine nouns, plus a and as for feminine nouns.

O, Os

The article o the is used for masculine nouns in the singular, while os the is used for masculine nouns in the plural. Examples:

When to Use Dele/Dela vs. Seu/Sua

March 30, 2018

How do we decide when to use dele, dela, deles, delas  vs.  seu, sua, seus, suas?

Possessives formed with de are less ambiguous: they agree strictly with the subject, not with the object. In contrast, seu and its derivatives agree with the object, so we are not able to differentiate between the several possible 3rd person subjects without extra context.

Dele, dela, deles, delas

  • dele his – When the subject is ele (him).
  • dela her – When the subject is ela (her).
  • deles their – When the subject is eles (them, a group with at least one male).
  • delas their – When the subject is elas (them, an all-female group).

Seu, sua, seus, suas

These are also used for the same 3rd person subjects, but the specific form used must match the gender and number of the object/noun being

3rd Person Possessives: De + Pronoun

March 30, 2018

The Ambiguity of Seu, Sua, Seus, and Suas

To review, the possessive pronouns/determiners for the third-person forms are the following:

Subject Possessive Pronoun/Determiner English Equivalent
Ele, Ela, Você Seu Sua Seus Suas His, Her/Hers, Your/Yours(formal)
Eles, Elas Seu Sua Seus Suas Their, Theirs

As you can see, ele he, him, ela she, her, você youformal, eles they, themmasc., and elas they, themfem. all share the same exact possessive determiners! Since the determiners agree with both the number and the gender of the noun that is being possessed (rather than the subject), knowing precisely who we’re talking about is a bit tricky. Let’s see some examples:

Introduction to Possessives

March 30, 2018

Possessive Determiners vs. Possessive Pronouns

In this unit, we’re going to learn about possessive determiners and possessive pronouns in Portuguese, which both serve the function of expressing possession or ownership of something.

In English, we use my, your, his, her, their, and our as possessive determiners and mine, yours, his, hers, theirs, and ours as possessive pronouns.

Possessive determiners precede the noun they are modifying. They tell you to whom a specific item belongs. For example, in the sentence “It is my cat”, you can tell that the word “my” is a determiner because it needs to be followed by a noun (“cat”). “It is my” would not be a complete sentence.

Possessive pronouns replace the noun they are modifying. They convey ownership without telling what exactly is being owned. For example, in the sentence “It is mine”, you can tell that the word “mine” is a possessive pronoun because it can stand on its own in place of a noun.

Possessives in Portuguese

In Portuguese, possessive pronouns and possessive determiners make use of the same words: meu, teu, seu, nosso, vosso, as well as their feminine and plural forms. As you will see below, this means that there are multiple possible translations of a single English word. For both possessive determiners and possessive pronouns, you start by choosing the form that goes with the person possessing something, and then modify that word to match the gender and number of the noun being possessed.

1st and 2nd Person Possessives

March 10, 2018

Mine, Yours, and Ours

Let’s take a closer look at this first group of possessives: meu, teu, nosso and vosso, plus their feminine and plural forms.

Subject Possessive Pronoun/Determiner

(for masculine nouns)

Possessive Pronoun/Determiner

(for feminine nouns)

Eu meu my, mine

meus my, mine

minha my, mine

minhas my, mine

Tu teu your, yours

teus your, yours

tua your, yours

tuas your, yours

Nós nosso our, ours

nossos our, ours

nossa our, ours

nossas our, ours

Vós, Vocês vosso your, yours

vossos your, yours

vossa your, yours

vossas your, yours

Gender and Number Agreement

Remember that the pronoun/determiner has to agree in gender and number with the noun it refers to, rather than the person/subject.

For example, if we’re talking about single objects, such as um jornal a newspaper (a masculine noun) or uma revista magazine (a feminine noun), we’d get:

3rd Person Possessives: Seu and Sua

June 18, 2017

His, Hers, Yours, and Theirs

There are just a few more possessives to learn:

Subject Possessive Pronoun/Determiner English Equivalent
Ele, Ela, Você Seu Sua Seus Suas His, Her/Hers, Your/Yours (formal)
Eles, Elas Seu Sua Seus Suas Their, Theirs

See what happens there? The pronouns/determiners for the third-person singular (+ você) and the third-person plural are all the same!

Gender and Number Agreement

Once again, the pronouns or determiners must agree with the respective noun, not with the subject!

If we’re talking about single objects such as um carro a car (masc. noun) and uma mota a motorcycle (fem. noun), here’s what we get:

Variable Demonstratives: Plural

February 27, 2017

As you’ll recall, variable demonstratives have to agree not only in gender and location, but also in number.

For every variable demonstrative covered in the previous lesson (which were all singular), there is also a plural counterpart.

It might sound scary, but you’re in luck: all you have to do is take the singular form and add an “s“!

Singular Demonstratives

Relative Position Masculine Feminine
Near the speaker: este this esta this
Near the listener: esse that essa that
Far from both: aquele that aquela that

Plural Demonstratives

Relative Position Masculine Feminine
Near the speaker: estes these estas these
Near the listener: esses those essas those
Far from both: aqueles those aquelas those

As you can see, this is to these as este/esta is to estes/estas, and so on. Once you master the singular demonstratives from the last lesson, you can easily come up with its plural, and all the same rules about gender and location apply. Let’s look at a few examples…

Variable Demonstratives: Singular

February 23, 2017

Variable demonstratives are used to indicate all of the following at once:

  • a person or object’s gender
  • the number (one or more)
  • the position in space or time

The “demonstrative” part of this fancy name refers to the last point above, the item’s position. We must choose which demonstrative to use, according to which one of the following fits best:

  • a) The object is near the speaker,
  • b) The object is far from the speaker, but near the listener, OR
  • c) The object is far away from both speaker and listener

As you may have realized, this doesn’t happen in English. You just have to choose between this and thatThat’s it! In English, the position of the object relative to the speaker is the only thing that counts. In Portuguese, we have to choose which “that” to use according to where the object is in relation to the listener.

This lesson will cover singular variable demonstratives, all of which you can see in the table below:

Introduction to Demonstratives

February 20, 2017

Demonstrativos Demonstratives help to identify a particular person or object and establish its location in relation to the speaker, the listener, or simply within the general context. They can tell us, for example, whether something is close or distant in space or time.

In English, we generally use the words this and these to refer to things that are close to the speaker or things that are happening at the present time, and we use that or those to refer to objects that are further from the speaker or things that happened in the past.

In Portuguese, you must also take into account the proximity to the listener and whether something happened in the recent or distant past. The Portuguese demonstratives are este(s), esta(s), esse(s), essa(s), aquele(s), aquela(s), isto, isso, and aquilo. This learning note will serve as just an overview, so don’t overwhelm yourself with memorizing all of these just yet. We’ll focus on one group at a time in the lessons to follow.

Pronouns vs. Determiners

You may recall what we learned in the Possessives unit about the difference between

Definite Articles in Portuguese

July 11, 2016

How to Say “The” in Portuguese

In English, we only have 1 definite article: the, which is used to refer to a specific instance of an object, as opposed to referring to objects more generally using the indefinite articles a or an.

In Portuguese, we have 4 artigos definidos definite articles that serve the same function as the: o the a the os the as the

Why 4 different words with one meaning? In Portuguese, many words take on different forms, depending on the following two properties:

  • Gender: The masculine forms of “the” are o and os. The feminine forms are a and as.
  • Number: A singular object is referred to with o or a, whereas plurals use os or as.

Here are some examples: