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Introduction to Tonic Pronouns

May 5, 2020

Personal pronouns can be classified according to how they are used within a sentence. There are clitic pronouns (pronomes clíticos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio ), which are unstressed, and tonic pronouns (pronomes tónicos Play normal audio ), which are stressed. This learning note will serve as an introduction to tonic pronouns in Portuguese, however, let’s first see an overview of all the personal pronouns in order to compare them.

Subject Pronouns Clitic Object Pronouns Tonic Pronouns Tonic Pronouns + “Com
eu me mim paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio comigo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio with me
tu te ti paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio contigo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio with you (informal)
ele/ela lhe, se ele paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

ela paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

si paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

com ele paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio with him

com ela paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio with her

consigo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio with him, with her, with you (formal)

nós nos nós paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio connosco paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio with us
vocês* vos vocês paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio convosco paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio with you (plural)
eles/elas lhes, se eles paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

elas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

com eles Play normal audio with them (masc.)

com elas Play normal audio with them (fem.)

consigo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio with them

Clitic Pronouns: Nos & Vos

March 30, 2019

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

A quick reminder: 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 paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Let’s get out of here

Nos

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

Reflexive Pronouns

March 30, 2019

Portuguese reflexive verbs are formed by adding the reflexive pronouns me, te, se, or nos. 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.

You’ve probably come across some of these in earlier units and wondered how they work. For example:

  • Como te chamas? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio What’s your name? (sing.,inf.) – Literally, “What do you call yourself?”
  • Chamo-me Joel paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio My name is Joel – Literally, “I call myself Joel”

Reflexive pronouns are clitic pronouns. A clitic is similar to an affix because it goes along with the verb rather than standing on its own. You’ll learn about the other clitics in more detail in a later unit. Luckily, they are mostly the same. Portuguese reflexive pronouns share most of the same pronouns as the Portuguese clitic direct and indirect object pronouns. The only difference is in the 3rd person, both singular and plural: se.

One last thing to note is that clitic pronouns are unstressed. (In another learning note, we’ll cover si and consigo, which are stressed pronouns.)

Reflexive Pronouns in Portuguese

Here are the reflexive pronouns that correspond to each subject pronoun.

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

Let’s have a look at each pronoun individually, using one of the simplest Portuguese reflexive verbs, vestir-se paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to dress oneself, to get dressed

Clitic Pronouns: Me & Te

March 29, 2019

In this lesson we’ll explore the first two clitic object 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

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. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She called me to the office.

Não me parece boa, esta maçã. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio This apple doesn’t look good to me.

Te

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 Object 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. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio 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. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio 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. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I gave it to her.

Clitic Pronouns: 3rd Person

March 22, 2019

In this lesson we’ll explore 3rd-person clitic object pronouns in Portuguese. We saved these for last because they are a little bit more complicated. Unlike the others we’ve practiced so far in the Clitic Pronouns unit, there are different forms depending on whether it’s a direct or indirect object pronoun. (Visit the introduction learning note if you want to review the chart of all the clitic object pronouns.)

Let’s look at the direct pronouns first, followed by the indirect pronouns. (Both the singular and plural forms work in the exact same way.)

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.

Examples:

Clitic Pronouns: Direct & Indirect Objects

March 22, 2019

Pronomes clíticos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio 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 object 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 paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio direct object answers the questions what? or who?, and therefore shows a direct connection with the main verb, complementing it.

Let’s look at a few examples in Portuguese:

Object Pronouns in Portuguese

March 21, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll have a look at direct and indirect object pronouns in Portuguese. These fall into the category of pronomes clíticos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio clitic pronouns, along with reflexive pronouns, which we will cover separately, but which follow many of the same rules.

Keep in mind that we focusing on how to use object pronouns in European Portuguese, as there are some differences in the Brazilian dialect.

So What IS a Clitic Object Pronoun?

You may recall from the Reflexive Verbs unit that a clitic pronoun is an unstressed morpheme (sort of like a mini-word) that goes along with a verb. A clitic object pronoun shows to whom or to what the action refers. In other words, it takes the place of the people or objects represented by the direct or indirect objects.

For example, the direct object pronouns -me and -os:

Ele disse-me Play normal audio He told me

Ela viu-os na televisão paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She saw them on TV

Chart of Object Pronouns in Portuguese

Here are the direct and indirect object pronouns (“clitics”) associated with each subject pronoun: