Jorge tells Soraia about meeting up with an old “friend” over the weekend. Notice the use of many regular and irregular verbs in the simple past tense.
Today we’re going to look at diminutives. But what exactly are they?
Diminutivos Play normal audio Diminutives are usually used to describe an object or a person as small or cute. They can also be used to express affection or pity towards someone/ something. Depending on the tone, they can also be used sarcastically.
We often use diminutives when we refer to children, but adults also use them to express love and tenderness, or simply to give a word a “smaller” connotation.
The diminutive is, in fact, one of the three degrees nouns can have. The other two are: normal (the noun itself) and the augmentative.
Although, grammatically, they are exclusive to nouns, in spoken language, diminutives can be used with adjectives as well, which often happens in informal situations.
Diminutives in English
In the English language, the most common diminutives are formed by adding the prefix mini- or by adding suffixes such as –let, -ling, -ette, and –y/-ie.
- Doggy, mommy, daddy (terms of familiarity and warmth);
- Darling (terms of endearment);
- Booklet, piglet (emphasizing the smallness);
- Miniskirt, minibus (showing that something is smaller or shorter than usual).
Diminutives in Portuguese
We learned a bit about diminutives earlier, so now it’s time to look at their opposites: augmentatives. Augmentatives in Portuguese are usually used to add emphasis when describing a person or object as strong, large, or ugly. Sometimes they can be quite pejorative (and funny)!
In the Diminutives’ Learning Note we mentioned that the augmentative is one of the three degrees a noun can have and that, technically, adjectives don’t have it. Despite that, they’re used anyway, in informal contexts. Adjectives in the augmentative are rarer, mostly because they don’t sound good. The superlative degree is preferred instead, which uses the suffix –íssimo (among others). You can also make use of the adverbs tão Play slow audio Play normal audio so and muito Play slow audio Play normal audio much, a lot, very to express a similar idea.
Augmentatives in English
First, let’s look at some augmentative forms in the English language, just to give you an initial idea of what we mean when we refer to augmentatives.
Some are created by adding the prefixes: mega-, ultra-, super-, over- and grand-.
- mega: megastore, megahits
- ultra: ultra-bright
- super: superman, supersize
- over: overdrive, overqualified, overconfident
- grand: grandparents
Most of these are emphasizing the greatness, superiority, or larger size of the object / thing.
Augmentatives in Portuguese
Portuguese augmentatives follow more consistent rules. We’ll cover the general guidelines below, but just be aware that there are exceptions.
This unit will cover relative pronouns in Portuguese. Relative pronouns are used to connect a dependent clause to the main clause of a sentence. A dependent clause refers to someone or something mentioned previously. The relative pronoun establishes a relationship with an antecedent and it’s that relation that allows us to understand who or what one is referencing.
Simply put, relative pronouns make sentences clearer and help us to avoid repetition. For example, let’s look at these 2 separate phrases used to describe a teacher:
Now, if we use a relative pronoun to put them together:
The word professor has been replaced by the relative pronoun que. Much more concise, right?
Classifying Relative Pronouns in Portuguese
In the past, some other words were also considered relative pronouns in Portuguese, but are now officially classified as something else. For example:
In Portuguese, verb phrases are known as locuções verbais. The definition of verb phrases varies in English, but in the Portuguese language, it refers to the use of an auxiliary verb + a main verb. More specifically, the formula “auxiliary verb + the main verb in the infinitive, past participle or gerund”. In such situations, the placement of the clitic pronoun is a bit more lax compared to the rules we’ve discussed in the past.
When the main verb is in the infinitive or gerund
In the first example below, the pronoun comes after the main verb (mostrar) and this would be the most common way to place it. This is because there’s not a so-called “attractive” word that requires you to place it before the verb (such as an adverb or negative word). This usually happens in affirmative sentences.
What’s the difference between European Portuguese vs Brazilian Portuguese? For starters, European Portuguese is the variant spoken in Portugal and is more similar to the dialects spoken in Africa and Asia. (It is sometimes called Continental Portuguese, or even Portuguese Portuguese! 😄 ) Given the size and population of Brazil, however, the Brazilian Portuguese set of dialects are the most famous across the world, including online and in the entertainment industry.
Some compare the distinction between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese to that between American and British English, or between Latin American and European/Castilian Spanish. Practice Portuguese only teaches European Portuguese, so if you are arriving here with a background in Brazilian Portuguese, it can be helpful to understand the differences.
For native Portuguese speakers, the various dialects are mutually intelligible. As a non-native, hearing multiple versions can sometimes add extra confusion and complexity to the learning process, particularly when it comes to the pronunciation differences. If you’re planning to spend time in Portugal, or you just want to learn more about the Portuguese language as a whole, it’s important to understand the many unique characteristics of European Portuguese. We’ll take a look at some of the primary differences in spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.
As previously mentioned, the futuro do conjuntivo Play normal audio future subjunctive allows us to talk about the conditions that must be met in order for a potential future action to occur, (i.e. “If this goes well, I will do that” or “When we get home, I will do that”). This tense appears in subordinate adverbial clauses (i.e. clauses which function like an adverb), as well as in relative clauses. It often goes along with the conjunction se Play slow audio Play normal audio if or others such as:
- assim que Play slow audio Play normal audio as soon as, once
- sempre que Play slow audio Play normal audio whenever
- quando Play slow audio Play normal audio when
- enquanto Play slow audio Play normal audio while, as long as
- como Play slow audio Play normal audio how
- o que Play normal audio what
With regular verbs, the futuro do conjuntivo is conjugated exactly the same as the
Another tense that makes up part of the conjuntivo is the imperfeito do conjuntivo Play normal audio imperfect subjunctive. You learned about the pretérito imperfeito do indicativo, which references past events that were ongoing. In the conjuntivo, however, the imperfect refers to:
- past or future wishes and desires;
- something purely hypothetical in the past or future:
- i.e. imagining “what could have been” or “what could be” if things were or had been different;
- something that is or was unlikely to take place.
Presente do Conjuntivo
As one of the tenses that makes up part of the conjuntivo (subjunctive) mood, the presente do conjuntivo Play normal audio present subjunctive lets you talk about something that may or may not happen, but that is within the realm of possibility. This includes hopes, fears, doubts, and other hypotheticals. It tends to be paired with the presente do indicativo, such as in clauses beginning with:
- Espero que… Play normal audio I hope that…
- É importante que… Play normal audio It’s important that…
- É bom que… Play normal audio It would be good if…, Literal – It is good that…
- Receio que… Play normal audio I’m afraid that…
- Duvido que… Play normal audio I doubt that…
- Desejo que… Play normal audio I wish that…
- Quer que eu…? Play normal audio Do you want me to…?
In the next lessons, we’ll focus on the presente do conjuntivo, but you
Conjuntivo: What is it?
What in English is called the subjunctive mood, in European Portuguese is named modo conjuntivo Play normal audio subjunctive mode. While the indicativo Play normal audio indicative mood refers to actions that are certain or real, the conjuntivo, in contrast, indicates something possible, desired, hypothetical, or even unreal. It conveys the idea of uncertainty, doubt, or hope.
It is often found in sentences that contain the word se Play slow audio Play normal audio if or after a verb + que Play slow audio Play normal audio that, as you will notice in many (but not all) of the examples.
The conjuntivo can appear in
You may have come across é que in a variety of Portuguese 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.
Where to add é que
É que appears after the interrogative pronouns and adverbs you learned about previously, for example:
- O que é que…? Play normal audio What is…?
- Como é que…? Play normal audio How is…?, What is…?
- Onde é que…? Play normal audio Where is…?
- Quando é que…? Play normal audio When is…?
The rest of the question stays the same, continuing in subject, verb, object order, just like in English. É que basically translates to
Yes/No Questions in Portuguese
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.
1. Add a question mark to the end of a statement
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.
2. Add a phrase like “não é?” to the end of a statement
This type of question is used when
The Basics: No & Not This is how to say no in Portuguese: 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 […]
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 here. In order to make it easier to spot and understand the differences, we’ll be using the same examples throughout this Learning Note.
In some cases, it is also helpful to add the words próprio Play normal audio self or mesmo Play normal audio same to emphasize the reflexive nature of the verb even more and make the meaning less ambiguous: Ela desenhou-se a si própria. Play normal audio She drew herself.
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:
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:
Me and You(Informal)
The tonic pronouns that correspond to eu Play slow audio Play normal audio I, me and tu Play slow audio Play normal audio you(inf.) are mim Play slow audio Play normal audio and ti Play slow audio Play normal audio . Let’s see how they are used in sentences:
When mim or ti go along with com Play slow audio Play normal audio with, the pronouns become comigo Play slow audio Play normal audio with me and contigo Play slow audio Play normal audio with you(inf.).
Personal pronouns can be classified according to how they are used within a sentence. There are clitic pronouns (pronomes clíticos 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 Play slow audio Play normal audio||comigo Play slow audio Play normal audio with me|
|tu||te||ti Play slow audio Play normal audio||contigo Play slow audio Play normal audio with you (informal)|
|ele/ela||lhe, se||ele Play slow audio Play normal audio||com ele Play slow audio Play normal audio with him|
|nós||nos||nós Play slow audio Play normal audio||connosco Play slow audio Play normal audio with us|
|vocês*||vos||vocês Play slow audio Play normal audio||convosco Play slow audio Play normal audio with you (plural)|
|eles/elas||lhes, se||eles Play slow audio Play normal audio||com eles Play normal audio with them (masc.)|
What is a past participle? A past participle is a verb form that functions similarly to an adjective (e.g. “I am interested in that”), or that goes 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 to use past participles 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 Play slow audio Play normal audio 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 Play slow audio Play normal audio to win, to earn, gastar Play slow audio Play normal audio to spend, and pagar Play slow audio Play normal audio 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 Play slow audio Play normal audio irregular past participles in Portuguese, i.e. past participles which behave in a unique and unpredictable way, instead of following the typical rules. Let’s see an example:
If you are fresh off the previous lesson, perhaps you expected the past participle of abrir Play slow audio Play normal audio 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 Play slow audio Play normal audio to do, to make we get:
In Portuguese, there are three types of past participles:
- Particípios passados regulares Play slow audio Play normal audio Regular past participles,
- Particípios passados irregulares Play slow audio Play normal audio Irregular past participles, and
- Duplos particípios passados Play slow audio Play normal audio Double 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 specific ending depending on whether they’re the past participle of an -AR, -ER or -IR verb.
For -AR verbs – andar Play slow audio Play normal audio to walk, falar Play slow audio Play normal audio to speak, amar Play slow audio Play normal audio to love, for instance – the regular ending of the past participle is ‘-ado’, which is added to the root of the verb. Examples:
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.)
Irregular -AR Verbs
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”.