Portuguese has several advérbios de lugar adverbs of place to indicate the relative position of a person or object. Five of these adverbs are particularly useful to learn: cá aqui aí ali lá acolá . In short, cá and aqui both mean here. Aí, lá, ali, and acolá mean there. Below we’ll explore the finer differences between each of these words.
Here and There
In Portuguese, here and there are a bit more complicated because different words are used to make a distinction between how close things are in relation to the speaker and listener:
- Here – Close to the speaker: aqui or cá
- There – Close to the listener: aí
- There/Over there – Far from both the speaker and listener: lá, ali, or acolá
Let’s take a look at each group in more detail.
Aqui vs. Cá
Aqui Hereexact and cá heregeneral are used when talking about things close to the speaker. While aqui is commonly used in both Portugal and Brazil, cá is, for the most part, specific to European Portuguese. Some people will use them interchangeably, but in theory, cá is less specific than aqui. While they’re both equivalent to the English word here, there is a subtle difference in the intended meanings of each word. Take these sentences, for example:
- A minha família está cá. My family is here. – When you use cá to talk about people, you might simply be saying that your family is in the same country or town as you are (e.g. cá em Portugal here in Portugal)
- A minha família está aqui. My family is here. – In contrast, if you use aqui, it can imply that your family is much closer to you — in the same room or building, or even right next to you (e.g. aqui ao meu lado here by my side)
Let’s explore a few more examples with each word individually:
Aqui designates the exact spot where the speaker is, regardless of the listener’s location, so you could think of it as “in this place” or “right here”.
Cá, meanwhile, conveys a more general location, rather than a single, precise spot. It is similar to saying, “over here”.