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Relative Pronouns

February 12, 2021

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:

  • O professor ensina francês Play normal audio The teacher teaches French
  • O professor é muito velho Play normal audio The teacher is very old

Now, if we use a relative pronoun to put them together:

O professor que ensina francês é muito velho Play normal audio The teacher who teaches French is very old

The word professor has been replaced by the relative pronoun que.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:

How to Talk About Likes and Dislikes in Portuguese

November 9, 2020

I like…

The most important verb to learn when talking about likes and dislikes in Portuguese is gostar paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to like. Let’s start with a simple example:

Eu gosto de café paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I like coffee

It’s important to remember that the preposition de paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio of, from, by goes along with the verb gostar. Adding de may seem strange at first to English speakers because we don’t use a preposition in this context. If it helps you remember to add de, you could also think of it as “I’m fond of“.

So to form this sentence, I just conjugated the verb gostar…

Using Prepositions in Portuguese Questions

June 24, 2020

We’ll cover prepositions in more detail in later units, but for now, let’s go over a few prepositional phrases that come up frequently within Portuguese questions. You’ll notice that the preposition always comes right before the question word:

Para

Para onde é que vais? Play normal audio Where are you headed to?

Para quem é este bolo? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Who is this cake for?

Por

The Pronouns Si & Consigo

May 5, 2020

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 consigo Play normal audio He took the suitcase with him

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:

Using Tonic Pronouns with Prepositions

May 5, 2020

In this Learning Note, we’ll explore each tonic pronoun and see some examples of how it is used along with different prepositions.

Me and You(Informal)

The tonic pronouns that correspond to eu paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I, me and tu paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio you(inf.) are mim paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio and ti paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio . Let’s see how they are used in sentences:

Tens medo de mim? Play normal audio Are you scared of me?

Faço isso por mim Play normal audio I do that for me

Não é bom para ti Play normal audio It’s not good for you

Agora vivo mais perto de ti paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Now I live closer to you

When mim or ti go along with com paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio with, the pronouns become comigo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio with me and contigo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio with you(inf.).

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

Simple Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

March 8, 2019

So far, you’ve learned what prepositions are and you’ve been introduced to quite a few of them.

Similar to English, there are dozens of prepositions in Portuguese grammar. There are simple prepositions (single words, some of which form contractions with pronouns and articles) and there are prepositional phrases. For example:

  • Simple preposition (de): Eu gosto de jogar futebol paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I like to play soccer
  • Prepositional phrase (perto de): Eu jogo futebol perto de minha casa. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I play soccer near my house.

Let’s look at some of the most common examples of each type.

The Preposition “Com”

February 23, 2019

One very common Portuguese preposition is com paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio with

Like all prepositions, it’s an invariable word placed before a noun (or pronoun) to indicate the noun’s relationship to other words.

When to Use “Com”

Just like the English use of “with”, the preposition com is used to…

  • Indicate people or things that are together:

Vamos viajar com os nossos amigos. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio We will travel with our friends.

A refeição vem com uma bebida. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The meal comes with a drink.

  • Say what something has or includes:

É um quadro com flores. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio It’s a painting with flowers.

  • Say what someone or something uses to perform an action:

Desenho com este lápis. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I draw with this pencil.

  • Describe an emotion or state:

O atleta competiu com confiança. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The athlete competed with confidence.

Unique Uses of “Com”

Com is also used in some contexts that are quite different from English, particularly when talking about

Combining "A" With Demonstratives

February 27, 2017

As previously mentioned, the preposition a paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to, at can be combined with the articles o, a, os, and as to become ao, à, aos, and às.

As far as demonstratives are concerned, a can only form contractions with aquele(s), aquela(s), and aquilo.

A + Variable Demonstratives

  • a + aquele = àquele paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio
  • a + aqueles = àqueles paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio
  • a + aquela = àquela Play normal audio
  • a + aquelas = àquelas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio

The Preposition "A"

February 27, 2017

A is a very important and versatile Portuguese preposition. It can correspond to many different English words, depending on the context. For example:

Vou a Espanha no próximo ano paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I will go to Spain in the next year

Ela foi para lá a paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She went there on foot

Isto sabe a morango paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio This tastes like strawberry

daqui a uma semana paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio in a week – i.e. “From here to a week” – Within the time frame from now until a week from now

More often than not, it means “to”, but it’s important not to get tied to an exact translation, especially when it comes to words that serve a grammatical function, like prepositions.

A… or A?

It’s easy to mistake the preposition a with the definite article a. They both look the same, but they serve different functions in the sentence. As you hear or read a Portuguese sentence, think about whether “a” would make more sense as:

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:

Digging Deeper into Prepositions

February 27, 2017

You have learned that prepositions are usually small, but important, words that usually come before a noun to show how it relates to other elements in the sentence.

An important part of mastering European Portuguese is not only learning the meaning of each of these prepositions, but also the nuances of when each one should be used.

Prepositions can be used to establish a time or a location…

Vou partir antes do amanhecer. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I will leave before dawn.
A carta está sob o livro. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The letter is under the book.

To describe movement…

Vou viajar de Boston para Lisboa. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I will travel from Boston to Lisbon.

To express a purpose…

Estes sapatos são para dançar. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio These shoes are for dancing.

…and more!

The same preposition can often have a completely different meaning depending on

The Preposition "Em"

January 21, 2017

In

The preposition em paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio in, on, at, about is usually a bit easier to understand compared to others. Although there are multiple uses, em most commonly refers to being “in” something, either physically or conceptually:

Estamos em Setembro paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio We are in September

Ela está em Lisboa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She is in Lisbon

Ela divide o quarto em dois paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She divides the room in two

Estar em dúvida paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio To be in doubt

Ele está em boa condição física. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio He is in good physical condition.

Ela está em choque paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She is in shock

Other Meanings

Em can also have other meanings, such as about, on, and at.

The Difference Between Por and Para

January 21, 2017

This difference between por and para in Portuguese is a topic that is tricky for English speakers. Although both of these words can translate to “for”, you have to choose the correct one depending on the context. As with the other prepositions, it’s best to think about how each word is used, rather than the translation, since this will vary quite a bit.

Para

Para paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio usually translates to for, to, in order to, or towards.

To refer to a destination or result, you would always choose para instead of por.

Nós vamos para casa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio We go home

Eu vou para Portugal paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I go to Portugal

A salada é para ele, o peixe é para mim paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The salad is for him, the fish is for me

A criança apontou para cima paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The child pointed up

Por

The Preposition "De"

January 21, 2017

De paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio  is one of the first Portuguese prepositions you should learn because it’s extremely common and used in a variety of different situations. De can correspond to many different English translations, depending on the context. Let’s explore some of its many uses:

About

falar de paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to talk about

Eu falo de ti paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I talk about you

By

ir de paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to go by

Eu vou de carro paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I go by car

Vou viajar de comboio. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I will travel by train.

On

Prepositions in Portuguese

January 21, 2017

What is a Preposition?

In this Learning Note, we’ll learn about Portuguese prepositions, but first let’s review: what exactly is a preposition? Preposições paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Prepositions are short words that usually occur before a noun (or pronoun). They show how the noun relates to another element in the sentence in terms of time, location, movement, or other parameters.

For example, the English prepositions in, at, on, and through could be used to create prepositional phrases such as in the morning, at the park, on the table, and through the rain.

To get us started, here are a few examples of Portuguese prepositions that translate somewhat easily into English:

Ir de carro paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio To go by car

Sou de Lisboa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I am from Lisbon

Eu espero por ti paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I wait for you

Eu vou para Portugal paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I go to Portugal

You may have noticed that the first two examples use the same word in different ways: de paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio by, from

Translating a preposition is often not very straightforward. There are many situations like this, in which a Portuguese preposition corresponds to multiple possibilities in English, or vice-versa.

Sometimes you’ll even come across Portuguese phrases that use a preposition, while the corresponding English translation does not. For example: