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O Feminino e o Masculino

Feminine and Masculine

February 9, 2021

Explore the basics of using gender in Portuguese. Listen for the feminine and masculine words within these back to back introductions. The meaning of each introduction is the same, except for one important difference: the first is spoken by a female and the second is spoken by a male. Notice how the words used are […]

Colours in Portuguese

December 12, 2020

Let’s explore some useful vocabulary: colours in Portuguese! Even if you’re not an artist, it helps to know as cores Play normal audio the colours. How else will you talk about all the beautiful tiles and buildings around you in Portugal? Plus, next time you’re shopping, you’ll have an easier time asking for what you need. You can even use colours to help you describe something when you forget a word.

The Gender of Portuguese Words

January 11, 2020

Unlike English, most Portuguese words have a gender: ♂ masculine or ♀ feminine.

Sometimes you’ll notice patterns, such as the -o ending in many masculine words and the -a ending in many feminine words. There are many, many exceptions, however, so you can’t always rely on that rule. You can start by using the patterns below as a guide and then you’ll pick up the exceptions over time as you hear them in context.

The masculine form is usually considered the “default” form in Portuguese. This even applies to pronouns: we have both eles paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio they(masc.) for male groups and elas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio they(fem) for female groups, but if it’s a group of both males and females, you have to use eles, even if there’s only one man!

eles: 👨🏻👨🏾‍🦱🧔🏼👨🏽‍🦲👨🏻‍🦰 or 👩🏻‍🦰👵🏽👱🏼‍♀️👨🏻👩🏾👩🏻‍🦱

elas: 👩🏻‍🦰👵🏽👱🏼‍♀️👩🏾👩🏻‍🦱

Variability

Because of this grammatical concept of gender, most Portuguese words are variable, which just means they change form depending on the gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural).

For example, most adjectives are variable, so they must match the gender (and number) of the noun they modify:

  • O homem é alto paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The man is tall | A mulher é altaThe woman is tall
  • We’ll see some exceptions in the 3rd group below*

Portuguese adverbs, on the other hand, are one class that is always invariable. They only have one form, so they stay the same regardless of the gender (or number) of the noun they modify. For example:

  • Eles ainda estão aquiThey(masc.) are still here | Elas ainda estão aquiThey(fem.) are still here

Let’s explore more examples of how to indicate gender, by categorizing Portuguese words into the following 4 groups.

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 indefinido Play normal audio indefinite 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 paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio a, an uma paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio a, an uns paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio some umas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio some

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

  • Masculine, singular: um carro paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio a car
  • Feminine, singular: uma mesa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio a table
  • Masculine, plural: uns carros paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio some cars
  • Feminine, plural: umas mesas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio 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:

Cardinal Numbers

May 7, 2019

What are cardinal numbers?

Cardinal numbers are basically regular ol’ numbers. They simply indicate the number of people, animals, or things.

Eu tenho três irmãos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I have three brothers

Ela tem dez pássaros paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She has ten birds

Vocês compram vinte laranjas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio You buy twenty oranges

They are invariable, except…

The majority of cardinal numbers are invariable, meaning they only have one form. There are a few important exceptions, however: um paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio one, dois paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio two and the centenas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio hundreds, starting at 200, do change form depending on the gender of the noun. For example:

Existential Quantifiers: Many, Few, Some

May 2, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll learn about quantificadores existenciais paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio existential quantifiers. Existential quantifiers provide information about quantity without specifying an exact quantity or amount. In English, we would use words like many, few, some, so much, another, several, and plenty. Let’s take a look at how to express these concepts in Portuguese.

Muito, Muita, Muitos, Muitas

Muito and muita are the singular form equivalents to many, very, much, or a lot. Examples:

muito paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio very, a lot (masc.)

Tenho muito medo! paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I’m very afraid!

muita paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio a lot (fem.)

Isto ainda é muita coisa para levar. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio This is still a lot to carry.

Universal Quantifiers: All or None

May 1, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll learn about quantificadores universais paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio universal quantifiers. Universal quantifiers are quantifiers that apply to every element of a given group. In English, this would include words like all, none, any, both, and every. Let’s learn about each of the words used to express these concepts in Portuguese.

Todo, Toda, Todos, Todas

Todo and toda are the singular form equivalents to all, whole, every, or entire in English.

todo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio all, entire (masculine)

Limpei este quarto todo. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I cleaned this entire room.

toda paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio all, entire (feminine)

Passei a manhã toda a estudar. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I spent the whole morning studying.

Todos and todas are the plural forms of todo and toda.

Interrogative Quantifiers: How Much? How Many?

April 23, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll take a look at quantificadores interrogativos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio interrogative quantifiers. Interrogative quantifiers introduce questions related to quantities. These types of questions are invariably answered using another quantifier. The interrogative quantifiers include:

Quanto? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio How much?(masc.)

Quanta? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio How much?(fem.)

Quantos? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio How many?(masc.)

Quantas? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio How many?(fem.)

How much?

When used to question a quantity, quanto and quanta are the singular form equivalents to “how much” in English. (In an upcoming lesson, you’ll also learn about how quanto functions as a relative quantifier.)

Examples:

Quanto gastaste ontem? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio How much did you spend yesterday?

Relative Quantifiers: As Much As

April 23, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll learn about quantificadores relativos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio relative quantifiers. Relative quantifiers don’t specify an exact quantity, but instead tell us about how a quantity compares in relation to an unspecified whole. As expected, the determiner used matches the gender and number of the item(s) it refers to.

Quanto, Quanta, Quantos, Quantas

Quanto and quanta are the singular form equivalents to “as much as” in English.

Examples:

quanto paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio as much as (masc.)

Tenho tanto de comer quanto necessito. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I have as much to eat as I need.

quanta paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio as much as (fem.)

Ela aprendeu tanta matéria quanta havia no manual. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She learned as much as there was to learn in the textbook.

Quantos and quantas are the plural forms of quanto and quanta, and they’re equivalent to “as many as” in English.

Examples:

quantos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio as many as (masc.)

Vou deitar a mão a tantos bombons quantos conseguir! paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I’ll have as many chocolates as I can get my hands on!

quantas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio as many as (fem.)

Levo tantas maçãs quantas tiveres. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I’ll take as many apples as you have.

Definite and Indefinite Articles

March 29, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll compare Portuguese definite articles and indefinite articles. Artigos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio 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 paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio 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 paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio the is used for masculine nouns in the singular, while os paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio the is used for masculine nouns in the plural. Examples:

Simple and Compound Adjectives

February 4, 2019

Adjectives are words that describe or qualify nouns. They can be adjetivos simples paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio simple adjectives if they’re just one word, or adjetivos compostos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio compound adjectives if formed by two or more elements, usually (but not always) connected by a hyphen (-).

Simple Portuguese Adjectives

O carro vermelho paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The red car
Um carro bonito paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio A beautiful car

Compound Portuguese Adjectives

Camisola rosa-choque paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Bright pink sweatshirt
Homem surdo-mudo Play normal audio Deaf-mute man

More compound adjectives:

Talking about Quantity

May 1, 2018

These are three of the simplest, most common words used to talk about quantity in Portuguese:

muito paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio many, much, a lot

pouco paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio few, a little

algum paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio some, a few

When talking about countable quantities (which usually end in “-s” in English as well as Portuguese), muito, pouco and algum all change according to gender and number:

Eu tenho muitos amigos. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I have many friends.

Poucas pessoas sabem o segredo. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Few people know the secret.

Eles compraram algumas prendas. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio They bought some gifts.

With uncountable nouns (such as virtues, qualities, or time, which usually don’t end is “-s” in either language), muito, pouco and algum stay in their singular form, while maintaining gender agreement:

Introduction to Portuguese Adjectives

May 1, 2018

Adjetivos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Adjectives are words that describe a noun, assigning it a quality, state, appearance, or other property. (Adverbs are also used to describe, but instead of nouns, they modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.) In Portuguese, using adjectives requires that you consider the gender and number of the word being modified, as well as the word order of the sentence.

Many different types of words can fall into the category of adjectives, including colours, shapes, materials, and nationalities. They are the words that let us distinguish between concepts such as:

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, these are words like my, your, his, her, their, and our (possessive determiners) and mine, yours, his, hers, theirs, and ours (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.

Portuguese Possessives

In Portuguese, possessive pronouns and possessive determiners make use of the same words: meu, teu, seu, nosso, vosso, plus their associated feminine and plural forms. As you will see below, this means that there are multiple possible translations for each possessive word.

To choose the correct possessive determiners and possessive pronouns in Portuguese, you can start by

(1) choosing the form that goes with the person possessing something, and then

(2) modifying that word to match the gender and number of the noun being possessed.

Combining "Em" with Demonstratives

February 27, 2017

The preposition em paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio in can be combined with variable and invariable demonstratives to form a number of very useful contractions.

Remember that all the same rules for demonstratives remain valid when they appear in the following contractions.

Em + Variable Demonstratives

Relative Position Demonstrative Contraction
Near the speaker: este paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio this

esta paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio this

estes paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio these

estas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio these

neste paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

nesta paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

nestes paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

nestas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

Near the listener: esse paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio that

essa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio that

esses paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio those

essas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio those

nesse paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

nessa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

nesses paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

nessas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

Away from both: aquele paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio that

aquela paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio that

aqueles paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio those

aquelas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio those

naquele paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

naquela paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

naqueles paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

naquelas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

These contractions can be used to indicate positions, movement or time, to identify something more clearly, and

Combining "De" with Demonstratives

February 27, 2017

You learned in The Preposition “De” (from the first Prepositions unit) that de has several different meanings and can be joined together (contracted) with:

  • articles (do, da, dos, das), and
  • pronouns (dele, dela, deles, delas)

De + Variable Demonstratives

Another very common combination is with demonstratives. Let’s look at the contractions formed by combining de paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio from, of with variable demonstratives:

Relative Position Demonstrative Contraction
Near the speaker: este paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio this

esta paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio this

estes paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio these

estas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio these

deste paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

desta paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

destes paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

destas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

Near the listener: esse paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio that

essa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio that

esses paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio those

essas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio those

desse paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

dessa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

desses paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

dessas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

Away from both: aquele paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio that

aquela paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio that

aqueles paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio those

aquelas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio those

daquele paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

daquela paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

daqueles paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

daquelas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

As you can see, they are all formed by simply adding a “d” to the beginning of the demonstrative. These contractions can express possession, origin, direction, and more. Here are some examples:

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 paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio this esta paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio this
Near the listener: esse paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio that essa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio that
Far from both: aquele paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio that aquela paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio that

Plural Demonstratives

Relative Position Masculine Feminine
Near the speaker: estes paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio these estas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio these
Near the listener: esses paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio those essas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio those
Far from both: aqueles paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio those aquelas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio 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 below:

Definite Articles in Portuguese

July 11, 2016

How to Say “The” in Portuguese

Definite articles introduce a specific instance of a noun, whereas indefinite articles introduce a non-specific instance of a noun. In English, there is only 1 definite article: the. Then to refer to objects more generally, English uses the indefinite articles a or an.

In Portuguese, we have 4 artigos definidos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio definite articles that serve the same function as the: 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

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: