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The word professor has been replaced by the relative pronoun que.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

Verb Phrases & Clitic Pronouns

August 25, 2020

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.

Let’s take a look at how to place clitic object pronouns when the main verb in is the infinitive or gerund form compared to how to place them when the main verb is in its past participle form.

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.

Asking Questions in Portuguese

June 18, 2020

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

Tu estás em Portugal Play normal audio You are in Portugal

Tu estás em Portugal? Play normal audio 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.

2. Add a phrase like “não é?” to the end of a statement

Ela é portuguesa Play normal audio She is Portuguese

Ela é portuguesa, não é? Play normal audio She is Portuguese, isn’t she?, She is Portuguese, right?

This type of question is used when

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

Determiners vs. Pronouns

April 22, 2019

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:

  • definite articles (such as o and a)
  • indefinite articles (such as um and uma)
  • demonstrative determiners (such as este and estes)
  • indefinite determiners (such as outro and certo)
  • interrogative determiners (such as que and qual)

Before we dive in, let’s quickly review how to differentiate between determiners and pronouns.

Clitic Pronouns: Nos & Vos

March 30, 2019

In this lesson we’ll explore two more clitic object pronouns in Portuguese, nos and vos.

A quick reminder: With 1st person plural verbs that end in s, such as vamos, the s is dropped before adding the pronoun nos or vos. For example:

  • vamos + nos = vamo-nos, as in Vamo-nos embora paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Let’s get out of here

Nos

Nos corresponds to us or to/for us, as it is used for both direct and indirect objects. Examples:

Reflexive Pronouns

March 30, 2019

Portuguese reflexive verbs are formed by adding the reflexive pronouns me, te, se, or nos. When the direct object or indirect object represents the same person or thing as the subject of the verb, it’s expressed by a reflexive pronoun.

In other words, we use reflexive pronouns when the action is something one does to oneself. In English, this would be words like myself, yourself, himself, ourselves, themselves, etc. For example, in the sentence “She convinced herself”, she is both the subject and the object, so we use herself as the reflexive pronoun.

You’ve probably come across some of these in earlier units and wondered how they work. For example:

  • Como te chamas? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio What’s your name? (sing.,inf.) – Literally, “What do you call yourself?”
  • Chamo-me Joel paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio My name is Joel – Literally, “I call myself Joel”

Reflexive pronouns are clitic pronouns. A clitic is similar to an affix because it goes along with the verb rather than standing on its own. You’ll learn about the other clitics in more detail in a later unit. Luckily, they are mostly the same. Portuguese reflexive pronouns share most of the same pronouns as the Portuguese clitic direct and indirect object pronouns. The only difference is in the 3rd person, both singular and plural: se.

One last thing to note is that clitic pronouns are unstressed. (In another learning note, we’ll cover si and consigo, which are stressed pronouns.)

Reflexive Pronouns in Portuguese

Here are the reflexive pronouns that correspond to each subject pronoun.

Subject pronouns Reflexive pronouns
Eu me
Tu te
Ele / Ela / Você se
Nós nos
Eles / Elas / Vocês se

Let’s have a look at each pronoun individually, using one of the simplest Portuguese reflexive verbs, vestir-se paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to dress oneself, to get dressed

Clitic Pronouns: Me & Te

March 29, 2019

In this lesson we’ll explore the first two clitic object pronouns in Portuguese, me and te.

A few quick reminders:

  • No hyphens are required if they’re proclitics (placed before the verb)
  • 2 hyphens are required if they’re mesoclitic (placed between two parts of verb)
  • 1 hyphen is required if they’re enclitics (placed after the verb)

Me

Me corresponds to me or to/for me in English, as it is used for both direct and indirect objects. Examples:

Ela chamou-me ao gabinete. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She called me to the office.

Não me parece boa, esta maçã. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio This apple doesn’t look good to me.

Te

Te, on the other hand, is used in informal contexts and is equivalent to the English you or to/for you. It is also valid for both direct and indirect objects. Examples:

Merging Clitic Object Pronouns

March 22, 2019

In Portuguese, when we use a verb that asks for both a direct and indirect object (and the objects are known, i.e. we’re aware of what/who they are), we can create a contraction by combining the third person direct object pronoun with the indirect object pronoun. Sounds complicated, we know.

Let’s see a practical example…

Dei uma prenda à Joana. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I gave Joana a gift.

In the sentence above, neither the direct object (uma prenda) nor the indirect object (a Joana) have been replaced by a clitic.

Dei-lhe uma prenda. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I gave her a gift.

Now, we’ve replaced the indirect object (a Joana) with the clitic lhe, while the direct object remains in place.

Dei-lha. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I gave it to her.

Clitic Pronouns: 3rd Person

March 22, 2019

In this lesson we’ll explore 3rd-person clitic object pronouns in Portuguese. We saved these for last because they are a little bit more complicated. Unlike the others we’ve practiced so far in the Clitic Pronouns unit, there are different forms depending on whether it’s a direct or indirect object pronoun. (Visit the introduction learning note if you want to review the chart of all the clitic object pronouns.)

Let’s look at the direct pronouns first, followed by the indirect pronouns. (Both the singular and plural forms work in the exact same way.)

3rd Person Direct Object Clitic Pronouns

The following clitic pronouns stand in for him, her, it, or them as the direct object. We have the default forms: o/a/os/as, plus two variants:

  • lo/la/los/las (used after a consonant) and
  • no/na/nos/nas (used after a nasal sound)

O/A, Os/As

Third person direct pronouns are replaced by o or a (corresponding to him or her, respectively) in singular form and os or as (standing for them, masculine and feminine) in plural form.

Examples:

Clitic Pronouns: Direct & Indirect Objects

March 22, 2019

Pronomes clíticos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Clitic pronouns are one of the trickiest subjects to learn and master in Portuguese. But don’t despair — we’re here to help! Throughout these lessons you’ll learn how to use clitic object pronouns correctly, but first you should understand more about the difference between direct and indirect objects.

The objects of a sentence can be represented in various ways, the most common being nouns and pronouns. Some verbs don’t need objects for the sentence to make sense, while others demand them. These are called transitive verbs.

For example, take the English phrase “She wants”. That sounds incomplete, right? In English, want is a transitive verb, so you need more information. What does she want? “She wants that car.” Now it’s a complete sentence, with “that car” as the direct object.

Direct Objects

A complemento direto paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio direct object answers the questions what? or who?, and therefore shows a direct connection with the main verb, complementing it.

Let’s look at a few examples in Portuguese:

Object Pronouns in Portuguese

March 21, 2019

In this lesson, we’ll have a look at direct and indirect object pronouns in Portuguese. These fall into the category of pronomes clíticos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio clitic pronouns, along with reflexive pronouns, which we will cover separately, but which follow many of the same rules.

Keep in mind that we focusing on how to use object pronouns in European Portuguese, as there are some differences in the Brazilian dialect.

So What IS a Clitic Object Pronoun?

You may recall from the Reflexive Verbs unit that a clitic pronoun is an unstressed morpheme (sort of like a mini-word) that goes along with a verb. A clitic object pronoun shows to whom or to what the action refers. In other words, it takes the place of the people or objects represented by the direct or indirect objects.

For example, the direct object pronouns -me and -os:

Ele disse-me Play normal audio He told me

Ela viu-os na televisão paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She saw them on TV

Chart of Object Pronouns in Portuguese

Here are the direct and indirect object pronouns (“clitics”) associated with each subject pronoun:

The Imperative

January 27, 2019

When someone yells Sai! paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Leave! or a doctor says Pare de fumar paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Stop smoking, there’s one thing they’re doing in common: using the imperativo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio imperative mood!

There are 2 types of imperatives, the affirmative and the negative, shown below respectively. In these examples, the speaker is talking to multiple people, i.e. using the vocês (you – plural) form.

Parem de fazer barulho. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Stop making noise.

Não parem de correr. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Don’t stop running.

Regular Verbs in the Imperative in Portuguese

The imperativo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio imperative can be thought of as the verb conjugation used for giving commands or telling someone to do something (or not to do something). These “commands” could take the form of orders, advice, requests, or pleas. Since the speaker is always talking directly to another person (or group of people), the imperative is only used with the following forms:

When to Use Dele/Dela vs. Seu/Sua

March 30, 2018

Dele vs seu? When forming 3rd person possessives in European Portuguese, how do we decide when to use dele, dela, deles, delas  vs.  seu, sua, seus, suas?

Possessives formed with de are less ambiguous: they agree strictly with the subject, not with the object. In contrast, seu and its derivatives agree with the object, so we are not able to differentiate between the several possible 3rd person subjects without extra context.

In other words, when using dele, etc. you match it to the gender and number of the subject/person who possesses something. When using seu, etc. you match it to the gender and number of the object/thing being possessed.

Dele, dela, deles, delas

  • dele paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio his – When the subject is ele (him).
  • dela paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio her – When the subject is ela (her).
  • deles paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio their – When the subject is eles (them, a group with at least one male).
  • delas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio their – When the subject is elas (them, an all-female group).

Seu, sua, seus, suas

These are also used for the same 3rd person subjects, but the specific form used must match the gender and number of the object/noun being

3rd Person Possessives: De + Pronoun

March 30, 2018

The Ambiguity of Seu, Sua, Seus, and Suas

To review, the Portuguese possessive pronouns/determiners for the third-person forms are the following:

Subject Possessive Pronoun/Determiner English Equivalent
Ele, Ela, Você Seu paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Sua paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Seus paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Suas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio His, Her/Hers, Your/Yours(formal)
Eles, Elas Seu paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Sua paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Seus paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Suas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Their, Theirs

As you can see, ele paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio he, him, ela paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio she, her, você paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio you(formal), eles paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio they, them(masc.), and elas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio they, them(fem.) all share the same exact possessive determiners! Since the determiners agree with both the number and the gender of the noun that is being possessed (rather than the subject), knowing precisely who we’re talking about is a bit tricky. Let’s see some examples:

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.

1st and 2nd Person Possessives

March 10, 2018

Mine, Yours, and Ours

Let’s take a closer look at this first group of possessives: meu, teu, nosso and vosso, plus their feminine and plural forms.

Subject Possessive Pronoun/Determiner

(for masculine nouns)

Possessive Pronoun/Determiner

(for feminine nouns)

Eu meu paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio my, mine

meus paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio my, mine

minha paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio my, mine

minhas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio my, mine

Tu teu paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio your, yours

teus paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio your, yours

tua paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio your, yours

tuas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio your, yours

Nós nosso paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio our, ours

nossos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio our, ours

nossa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio our, ours

nossas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio our, ours

Vós, Vocês vosso paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio your, yours

vossos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio your, yours

vossa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio your, yours

vossas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio your, yours

Gender and Number Agreement

Remember that the pronoun/determiner has to agree in gender and number with the noun it refers to, rather than the person/subject.

For example, if we’re talking about single objects, such as um jornal paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio a newspaper (a masculine noun) or uma revista paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio magazine (a feminine noun), we’d get:

3rd Person Possessives: Seu and Sua

June 18, 2017

His, Hers, Yours, and Theirs

There are just a few more Portuguese possessives to learn:

Subject Possessive Pronoun/Determiner English Equivalent
Ele, Ela, Você Seu paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Sua paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Seus paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Suas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio His, Her/Hers, Your/Yours (formal)
Eles, Elas Seu paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Sua paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Seus paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Suas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Their, Theirs

See what happens there? The pronouns/determiners for the third-person singular (+ você) and the third-person plural are all the same!

Gender and Number Agreement

Once again, the pronouns or determiners must agree with the respective noun, not with the subject!

If we’re talking about single objects such as um carro paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio a car (masc. noun) and uma mota paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio a motorcycle (fem. noun), here’s what we get:

Tu and Você in European Portuguese

May 31, 2017

This guide will cover how to address people formally vs. informally in Portugal, with a special focus on the difference between tu and você in European Portuguese.

Grammatically, it doesn’t take too long to learn the basics. The most challenging aspects for estrangeiros paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio foreigners, however, tend to be those that have to be made on a social level. For example, you must determine not only when it’s best to speak to someone formally, but also choose between the subtle variations of which formal language to use.

Even the natives (like Rui! 🇵🇹) have a hard time dissecting some of these unspoken social rules, but our aim is to make this the definitive European Portuguese resource for informal vs. formal language, and all the grey areas in between!

It’s important to be aware of the difference between tu and você from the beginning, but don’t worry if you don’t have it perfected right away. It goes without saying that it will take many months or even years of experience to get comfortable with all these social subtleties.

The Different Forms of “You”

You don’t have to worry about formality in the 1st person or 3rd person (yay!). But it gets a little trickier in the 2nd person, which has formal and informal variations.

As we mentioned, the two main pronouns used for speaking directly to someone are: tu paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio you (informal) and você paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio you (formal)