Relax! The Days of the Week in Portuguese and Why Every Day Is a Vacation
Did you know that every day of the week in Portuguese was named for a day of rest?
In this post, we’ll learn how to say the days of the week in Portuguese, how they got these names, how to use them in conversation and so much more!
- The Basics: The Portuguese Days of the Week
- Every Day Is for Resting: A Brief History of the Relaxing Portuguese Week
- Grammar and More: How to Use the Days of the Week in Portuguese
- How to Practice the Portuguese Days of the Week
- Bonus: A Fun Portuguese Day of the Week Idiom
The Basics: The Portuguese Days of the Week
Let’s begin with a basic list of all the days of the week, starting with what’s typically considered the first day, Sunday:
Sunday — Domingo
Monday — Segunda-feira
Tuesday — Terça-feira
Wednesday — Quarta-feira
Thursday — Quinta-feira
Friday — Sexta-feira
Saturday — Sábado
Every Day Is for Resting: A Brief History of the Relaxing Portuguese Week
In Portuguese—as well as several other Romance languages—the week begins with domingo.
The word domingo comes from the Latin Dies Dominica, which literally translates to “the day of the Lord.”
This name was incorporated into the week in 325 AD by the First Council of Nicaea and Roman Emperor Constantine I. This day was set apart as a day of rest from work, instead dedicated to God and the remembrance of Easter.
The Council of Nicaea also standardized the celebration of Easter, which would further influence the Portuguese week about two centuries later.
As Feiras (The Work Week)
Before the 6th century AD, weekdays in Portuguese were very similar to other Romance languages. They were named in pagan Latin after Roman Gods.
However, when Archbishop Martin of Braga rose to power in the middle of the 6th century, he changed Catholicism and the Portuguese language forever.
Martin of Braga (Martinho de Dume) emphasized the importance of Easter and the observation of the Semana Santa, or Holy Week.
This week was a week of rest before Easter Sunday, and the days of this week were named first through seventh feria , which in Liturgical Latin meant a day of rest.
Martin of Braga disagreed with referring to pagan Roman Gods for weekdays and decided to use the names for the days in the Holy week instead.
Saturday and Sunday were the only days that weren’t named after these Gods, and therefore kept their names.
Here’s a little cheat sheet of Monday through Friday showing the transition from archaic Portuguese through Liturgical Latin to Modern Portuguese:
|English||Ancient Portuguese||Liturgical Latin||Modern Portuguese|
Note: These days are almost all just the ordinal numbers in Portuguese, followed by -feira. The only exception is terça-feira, as the word for “third” in Portuguese isn’t terça, but terceira.
The final day of the week is sábado, or Saturday.
This day comes from the Latin Sabbatum, which originally comes from the Hebrew Sabbath.
What does it mean? You guessed it: Sabbath translates to day of rest.
So basically what we’ve learned is that domingo is a day off work, segunda-feira to sexta-feira are all feiras, or days of rest, and sábado is also a day of rest.
If you weren’t already convinced to learn Portuguese, you should be now. It gives you an excuse to relax on every day of the week!
Grammar and More: How to Use the Days of the Week in Portuguese
Dropping the -feira
While the days of the workweek in Portuguese may contain -feira, in everyday conversations most people drop this ending.
Take this English sentence for example:
I dance Samba on Fridays.
Formally, this would be translated into Portuguese like this:
Eu danço samba às sextas-feiras.
But in everyday speech, you’re more likely to hear:
Eu danço samba às sextas.
Abbreviations for the Days of the Week
In written Portuguese, the days of the week will often be abbreviated for convenience.
This is especially common during store hours or on flyers and announcements.
The most common abbreviations are:
Domingo — 1ª / dom.
Segunda-feira — 2ª / seg.
Terça-feira — 3ª / ter.
Quarta-feira — 4ª / qua.
Quinta-feira — 5ª / qui.
Sexta-feira — 6ª / sex.
Sábado — 7ª / sab.
Since Portuguese is a gendered language, you’ll need to learn which gender applies to which days of the week.
Sábado and domingo are masculine, while segunda-feira, terça-feira, quarta-feira, quinta-feira and sexta-feira are all feminine.
The easiest way to remember this is by looking at what letter each word ends in.
If a day ends in -o, it’s masculine; if it ends in -a, it’s feminine.
Prepositions and Determiners
Days of the week in Portuguese almost always require a determiner.
This determiner changes based on the context:
Às (feminine) or aos (masculine) are the most common determiners and are used when generally speaking about dates.
Às quartas-feiras eu como pão de queijo. — On Wednesdays I eat cheesy bread.
Aos sábados eu jogo futebol. — On Saturdays I play Soccer.
However, when referring to specific days, the preposition em (on) must be used.
And since em combines with the definite article o or a when it comes before, em becomes no or na.
Eu vou ver um filme na sexta-feira. — I’m going to watch a movie on Friday.
Ela vai cantar no domingo. — She’s going to sing on Sunday.
Note: In colloquial Portuguese, speakers often use Nos or Nas instead of Aos or As when speaking about days of the week.
Finally, em can be combined with demonstrative pronouns esse and essa to create nesse and nessa, or este and esta to create neste and nesta:
Nesta segunda-feira eu tenho uma aula de português. — This Monday, I have a Portuguese class
Eu vou pro Brasil neste sábado! — I am going to Brazil this Saturday!
It’s important to note that in Portuguese, the days of the week are never capitalized unless they come at the beginning of a sentence.
Talking About Last Week
To speak about last week, we use the words passado/passada.
Na quinta-feira passada eu comi pamonha. — Last Thursday I ate pamonha.
Nós fomos ao parque no domingo passado. — We went to the park last Sunday.
Talking About Next Week
On the other hand, to speak about next week, we use …que vem, or no próximo/na próxima.
Na próxima terça-feira vou visitar minha irmã. — Next Tuesday, I am going to visit my sister.
Eu tenho uma partida de vôlei no domingo que vem. — I have a volleyball game next Sunday.
More Vocabulary to Learn with the Days of the Week
Here are some other words that you’ll definitely want to know in conjunction with the days of the week:
Week — Semana
Month — Mês
Day — Dia
Today — Hoje
Tomorrow — Amanhã
Yesterday — Ontem
Weekend — Fim de semana / Final de semana
Note: In colloquial use, there’s no real difference between fim and final de semana. It’s also common among younger generations to refer to the weekend as fds, especially in text conversations.
How to Practice the Portuguese Days of the Week
If you’re relatively new to Portuguese—or haven’t gotten around to learning the days of the week yet—one excellent way to practice is to start planning your schedule in Portuguese.
Whether that means getting a daily planner in Portuguese (uma agenda diária) or simply writing out your schedule for the week, this convenient practice will keep you organized and familiarize you with the week’s days in no time.
Another way to practice the days of the week is by listening to native speakers use them.
Hearing these words used with context and a story around them can help you learn them quicker.
You can find videos that use them throughout conversations on the Easy Language YouTube channel in their Portuguese section.
Another place to find videos with native speakers using these is on FluentU. You can also use this program to practice these words through customized quizzes and flashcard decks.
Bonus: A Fun Portuguese Day of the Week Idiom
Sábado não chega nunca. — It’s never Saturday again.
This Portuguese idiom is typically used when the week seems to be taking forever to end, or when you can’t wait for the weekend.
Use this with your Portuguese-speaking friends, who will surely be impressed by your sarcastic remonstrance.
You now have the vocabulary and tools that you need. All that’s left is to go use your new knowledge every day until you become a master of the days of the week in Portuguese!