Para onde é que vais?Where are you headed to?
Para quem é este bolo?Who is this cake for?
Para onde é que vais?Where are you headed to?
Para quem é este bolo?Who is this cake for?
You may have come across é que in a variety of questions and wondered why these extra words are added. The pair of words is technically optional (the meaning stays the same with or without it), but including é que in Portuguese questions is so common that you should typically default to including it. This would be especially wise for beginners because there are not consistent rules for when it can be left out and excluding it can make certain sentences sound very strange.
É que appears after the interrogative pronouns and adverbs you learned about previously, for example:
The rest of the question stays the same, continuing in subject, verb, object order, just like in English. É que basically translates to
There are a number of different ways to form questions in Portuguese. We’ll start with those for which the answers are either affirmative or negative. These are the easiest Portuguese questions to ask because very few changes have to be made to turn a statement into a question.
Tu estás em PortugalYou are in Portugal
Tu estás em Portugal?Are you in Portugal?
By adding a ‘?’ to a statement, all we have to do is change the intonation of the sentence and it becomes a “yes or no” question.
Ela é portuguesaShe is Portuguese
Ela é portuguesa, não é?She is Portuguese, isn’t she?, She is Portuguese, right?
This type of question is used when
The Basics: No & Not The simplest way to make a sentence negative in Portuguese is just to place the word before the verb. This is the Portuguese equivalent of adding “no” or “not” to a sentence in English. Examples: Não is also used at the beginning of sentences, when replying “no” to a question:
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…
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:
In this Learning Note, we’ll explore each tonic pronoun and see some examples of how it is used along with different prepositions.
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
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|
|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.
What is a past participle? A past participle is a verb form that can be used similarly to an adjective (e.g. “I am interested in that”), or that can be used along with an auxiliary verb to form different verb tenses or use the passive voice (e.g. “The bill has been paid“, “The bill was paid“). Let’s look at a few examples to better understand how past participles are used in Portuguese:
Notice that, in the two examples above, you needed to use another verb before using the past participles “seen” and “written”.
In this lesson, we’ll have a look at particípios passados duplos double past participles. ‘Double’ here means that some verbs can take the form of either a regular or an irregular participle, depending on the auxiliary verb being used with them.
Remember those verbs we marked off with an asterisk in the Irregular Participles learning note? They were ganhar to win, to earn, gastar to spend, and pagar to pay. These are verbs that have double participles. Let’s see them in action:
In this lesson, we’ll have a look at particípios passados irregulares irregular past participles, i.e. past participles which behave in a unique and unpredictable way. What do we mean by “unique and unpredictable”? Let’s see an example:
If you are fresh off the previous lesson, perhaps you expected the past participle of abrir to open to follow the rule for -IR verbs, and be “abrida”. Right? But being a mischievous irregular verb, instead of “abrido”/”abrida”, the verb abrir becomes “aberto”/”aberta”! Similarly, if we look at the past participle of fazer to do, to make we get:
In Portuguese, there are three types of past participles:
In this lesson, we’ll have a look at regular past participles, that is to say, past participles which behave in a predictable way. These participles depend on the verb’s ending, i.e. they have a different ending depending on whether they’re the past participle of an -AR, -ER or -IR verb.
You’ve learned about irregular verbs and how to conjugate some of them in the present tense. If they’re irregular in the present, they’re usually irregular in other tenses too. There are no consistent rules to follow for this category, so the only way to learn the different conjugations is to study each one and practice, practice, practice! (Keep in mind, however, that there are some irregular verbs that follow the rules in most tenses, but are still called irregular due to the exceptions.)
In this episode, we once again analyze record audio clips from our brave listeners! We listen to the Shorty, “À Busca de Doces“, and explore how to make your Portuguese sound more native with pronunciation subtleties and word choice. We also clarify some other challenging concepts, such as the differences between “aí, ali, & lá”.
Interjections are words with an emotive function. They are used to express emotions, sensations, and moods. They can be just simple vowel sounds, like Ah! and Oh! , but most are either a free word or a phrase, in which case we call them locuções interjetivas.
The same interjeição interjection can have different meanings depending on the context in which it appears, its purpose, and the speaker’s attitude. Even with simple vowel sounds, sometimes changing the tone and extending the sound will give it another meaning.
Interjections can be used as a standalone reply / affirmation, or they can be followed by a sentence.
In this learning note, we’ll discuss the pretérito imperfeito do indicativo, which is the Portuguese equivalent to the past continuous tense in English grammar. For simplicity, we’ll refer to it as the Imperfeito Imperfect.
This tense is used to describe something that took place in the past that was ongoing or did not have a clear endpoint. It imparts this idea of continuity that the other pretéritos past tenses don’t have, which makes it ideal to narrate past events, as well as to describe past habits.
Conjugating regular verbs in the Imperfeito:
|-ar verb ending||-er/-ir verb ending|
Three examples of irregular verbs in the Imperfeito:
The infinitivo infinitive is one of the three formas nominais nominal forms verbs can have. These nominal forms do not express the verb tense, mode, and person by themselves, as they are dependent on the context in which they appear.
The infinitive expresses the idea of an action and it could be thought of as the base form of the verb.
The example above is not referring to anyone specific, just to the general idea of “washing”.
However, the infinitive can also appear as the subject of a sentence itself.
Again, the verbs refer to the general idea of the action, rather than to a specific person doing the action.
(Because the 2nd person plural vós is rarely used nowadays, we’ll focus our attention on the other three.)
The following table shows how the personal infinitive is conjugated with three different verbs.
Let’s start out with a regular -IR verb example, just to cleanse your palate 🍷:
And now, a very common and very irregular example:
Here’s another irregular (and perhaps less scary) example:
Let’s start out with a regular verb:
The verb stem escrev- is combined with the regular -ER present tense endings (-o, –es, –e, –emos, –em).
For an irregular example, let’s have a look at ser to be permanent, which you’ve likely seen by now. This verb is a mess! Not only does it have non-standard endings, but it doesn’t even have a fixed verb stem (that is, the beginning part of the conjugation is different).
The next irregular example is
As mentioned, verbs are split into three groups:
Now we’ll deal with the 3rd and final group: -IR verbs!
The regular -IR verb conjugations are very similar to the -ER verbs, except for one little difference… can you spot it? 🤔
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.
We use indefinite articles when we want to talk about a subject or an object without specifying a particular one. For example:
In this lesson, we’ll learn about quantificadores existenciais 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 and muita are the singular form equivalents to many, very, much, or a lot. Examples:
In this lesson, we’ll learn about quantificadores relativos 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. Sound complicated? The examples below will make everything more clear.
Quanto and quanta are the singular form equivalents to “as much as” in English.
Quantos and quantas are the plural forms of quanto and quanta, and they’re equivalent to “as many as” in English.
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:
Before we dive in, let’s quickly review how to differentiate between determiners and pronouns.