Portuguese Pronouns: A Comprehensive Guide for Learners
Eu te conheço? (Do I know you?)
Você me conhece? (Do you know me?)
Do you know your Portuguese pronouns?
You will by the time you’ve finished reading this post.
We all know how important pronouns are in a sentence. Whether you need to describe something you own, talk about a friend or express an opinion, a pronoun is always going to be called for.
If you need any form of convincing, just look at the number of pronouns in that last sentence; or even in this one!
Point is, nobody can escape pronouns.
Since they’re such an important linguistic element, it’s only fair that we teach you, my fellow Portuguese learner, how our Brazilian and Portuguese friends use them.
So, let’s get right to it!
How to Practice Portuguese Pronouns
There are loads of ways to practice Portuguese pronouns. If you need some inspiration, here are a few suggestions:
Get some spelling, grammar, and pronunciation practice in a single study session by creating your own sentences. Either write these down in a notebook or type them out in a word document. Then, proofread to check you’ve got your spelling/grammar right and read them aloud to yourself a few times so you can nail your chosen Portuguese dialect.
For a fun grammar exercise, listen to some Portuguese language songs and try to identify the pronouns used in the lyrics. For an additional challenge, write these down somewhere, then listen to the song a second time with the lyrics in front of you so can see how much you picked up on.
Portuguese Pronouns: A Comprehensive Guide for Learners
Portuguese Personal Pronouns
In Portuguese there are five kinds of personal pronouns: subject, reflexive, direct object, indirect object and prepositional.
Portuguese Subject Pronouns
Subject pronouns are those that are used as the subject of a verb.
O Senhor/A Senhora
The main thing to know about these in Portuguese is that there are different ways of saying “you” depending on which dialect (Brazilian or European) you’re learning.
In Portugal, tu is the colloquial form of “you” and você is formal. In Brazil, você is the informal you; some regions use tu, but often conjugate the verb that precedes it in the same way as você, which follows the same conjugation rules as the third person singular (he/she/it).
Tu estás feliz? — Are you happy? (Portugal)
Você quer alguma coisa? — Would you like something? (Brazil)
Tu tá me entendendo? — Do you understand me? (A Brazilian person, using tu very informally)
O senhor (masculine) and a senhora (feminine) are formal ways of addressing someone of a higher rank, authority or prestige in Brazil.
A senhora pode me ajudar? — Could you help me?
Nós is the most common form of we/us used in both Portuguese dialects, while a gente is a colloquial Brazilian Portuguese way of saying we/us. (Note that the verb that follows a gente is conjugated in the first person singular.)
Nós estamos na praia — We are at the beach.
A gente vai falar com a professora — We’re going to talk to the teacher.
Vós is considered archaic by Brazilian Portuguese speakers, but it’s the preferred plural form of “you” in European Portuguese.
Vós falastes com ele? — Have you all/you guys talked to him?
Portuguese Reflexive Pronouns
This type of personal pronoun can be used when dealing with reflexive verbs or when both the subject and the object of a sentence refer to a single individual.
Take extra care with this one, as many sentences that are reflexive in Portuguese aren’t reflexive in English.
Me and Nos usually precede a verb. In a phrase where these reflexive pronouns follow the verb, a hyphen is used to connect them.
Eu me lembro bem disso — I myself remember this well.
Diga-me quando souber o que aconteceu — Tell me when you know what happened.
Lavamo-nos no riacho — We washed ourselves in the stream.
Se is used as “yourself” when it’s replacing você and is conjugated in the third person singular.
Você se aborreceu com ele? — Were you upset with him?
When talking about himself/herself/itself or yourselves/themselves/each other, se and si apply for both genders.
Ele/Ela se queimou — He/She burned himself/herself.
Eles deram a si um intervalo — They gave themselves a short break.
Vocês se falam — You talk (among yourselves).
Vos is the reflexive of vós and is most commonly used in Portugal.
Vós vos lavastes no riacho — You washed yourselves in the stream.
Portuguese Direct Object Pronouns
A direct object pronoun is used to replace an object (usually a noun) to avoid repetition.
Typically these go before a verb, though more complex sentence structures will place them after.
For him/her/it: o/a are placed before a verb, while lo/la are typically placed after a verb. The same rule applies to the plural forms (os/as, los/las).
Eu a conheço há anos — I have known her for years.
Eu vou conhecê-lo amanhã — I will meet him tomorrow.
Eu quero chamá-los para sair para jantar — I want to invite them to go out for dinner.
Nos can be used before or after a verb.
Ela quer nos dar uma ajuda — She wants to give us some help.
Ele vai dar-nos o seu apoio — He will give us his support.
Portuguese Indirect Object Pronouns
An indirect object pronoun replaces the indirect object (usually a noun) in a sentence—once again, this is to avoid repetition.
Essentially, indirect object pronouns are concerned with things that are for the person being described. Take a look:
|Lhe/Te, Para ti/Para você||(To/for) You|
|Lhe/Para ele/Para ela|
Para o senhor/Para a senhora
|Nos/Para Nós||(To/for) Us|
|Lhes/Para Vocês||(To/for) You (plural)|
|Lhes/Para Eles/Para Elas||(To/for) Them|
Mim is always preceded by a preposition like para (to or for) or de (of).
Comprei esse relógio para mim — I bought this watch for myself.
Lhe is neutral in gender and can be used in the second- or third-person singular. The same rule applies to lhes and the second- and third- person plurals.
Eu lhe dei um presente — I gave a present to him/her.
Portuguese Prepositional Pronouns
Prepositions often connect people, objects, time or locations of a sentence. These pronouns are used to show the relationship between things in a way that avoids repetition.
Prepositional pronouns differ from direct and indirect object pronouns in that they always follow a preposition, like de (of), em (in) or com (with).
In some forms the prepositional pronouns double up as a contraction of the pronoun and the preposition com (with). For instance com + ti = contigo; com + nós = connosco/conosco.
Eles querem ir comigo — They want to go with me.
Eu queria ir contigo — I wanted to go with you.
Conosco is used in Brazil, while connosco is the preferred spelling in Portugal.
Por que não viaja conosco? — Why won’t you travel with us? (Brazilian Portuguese)
Por que não viajas connosco? — Why won’t you travel with us? (European Portuguese)
Com nós (without any contractions) is typically employed when the number of people or objects is specified.
Ele discutiu o problema com nós três — He discussed the problem with us three.
Portuguese Possessive Pronouns
As its name suggests, possessive pronouns are there to show ownership.
Sometimes the definitive articles o, a, os and as (the) precede possessive pronouns, but often they’re omitted.
|Meu/Meus (masc.) |
When using possessive pronouns, you must agree in gender and number with the thing described.
Meu computador — My computer (singular, masculine)
Minha casa — My house (singular, feminine)
Meus cachorros — My dogs (plural, masculine)
Minhas melhores amigas — My best (girl) friends (plural, feminine)
Teu/tua/teus/tuas are used for tu, while seu/sua/seus/suas are used for você.
(As) Tuas amigas — Your (female) friends
(O) Seu vizinho — Your (male) neighbor
Vosso/vossa/vossos/vossas are used with vós and are exclusively used in European Portuguese.
Ponha isto na vossa mala — Put this in your suitcase.
Emprestei o vosso casaco — I borrowed your coat.
Dele/deles (masc.) and dela/delas agree in gender and number with the person who owns the thing described. This is unlike all other possessive pronouns, which agree in gender and number with the noun that follows them.
As irmãs deles — Their sisters (when “their” refers to men/boys)
Os irmãos delas — Their brothers (when “their” refers to women/girls)
Portuguese Demonstrative Pronouns
Also known as demonstratives (demonstrativos in Portuguese), demonstrative pronouns showcase an object in relation to the person speaking. In Portuguese, these can be variable (either masculine or feminine) or invariable (gender-neutral).
Demonstrative pronouns in Portuguese take into consideration both the physical and temporal distance of the objects being described. This will make more sense when you look at the example sentences to follow.
For this and these: Este/esta (masculine/feminine) and estes/estas are variable pronouns used to demonstrate something close to the speaker and/or something closer in time.
Vou escrever uma carta esta semana — I will write a letter this week.
Isto is invariable, but is used to demonstrate objects in the same manner.
Isto é perfeito para mim — This is perfect for me.
For that and those: the variable esse/essa/esses/essas and invariable isso are used when an object is fairly closer to the person being spoken to (e.g. “that box you’re holding”) or it’s being described in the context of a recent past or future event the speaker and listener were involved in (“that restaurant we visited”; “that coffee shop we’ll be meeting at later”).
Esse cachorro é do meu vizinho — That dog is my neighbor’s.
Isso é muito caro — That is very expensive.
Aquele/aquela/aqueles/aquelas (variable) and aquilo (invariable) are used when talking about something that’s really far away or in the distant past.
Você encontrou aquelas chaves que tinha perdido? — Did you find those keys that you lost?
Aquilo me ofendeu — That offended me (at the time).
Portuguese Relative Pronouns
Pronomes relativos (relative pronouns) are used to refer back to a previously used noun or pronoun, connecting it to another element in a sentence.
Que can be used with a preposition like em (in) or on its own.
O homem que me telefonou — The man who called me
A casa em que ela mora — The house in which she lives
Quem is used when talking about a person or a personified object, and always has a preposition before it.
O funcionário por quem fomos assistidos foi muito gentil — The employee by whom we were helped was very kind.
Definite articles (o/a, os/as) must precede qual (singular) and quais (plural) and they must agree with with gender of the subject/noun referred to.
O jogador sobre o qual eu falei foi premiado ontem — The player who I talked about won an award yesterday.
Falamos com a prima dele, a qual mora na Inglaterra — We talked to his (female) cousin who lives in England.
Cujo/cujos/cuja/cujas agree in gender and number with the possessed object, not its owner.
Patrícia é a estudante cujo trabalho foi muito elogiado — Patrícia is the student whose work was greatly lauded.
Onde is a synonym of em que (in which) and always refers to places.
A casa onde eu cresci foi demolida — The house where I grew up was demolished.
Portuguese Interrogative Pronouns
As you might’ve guessed, interrogative pronouns are used when formulating questions about ownership.
|De que/Em que/Para que||What about/In which/What for|
|Com quem/De quem/ Em quem/Para quem||With whom/About whom/In whom/To or for whom|
|Onde/De onde/Para onde||Where/From where/To where|
|How many/How much|
Que (what) is always followed by a noun; o que is typically followed by a verb.
Que dia é hoje? — What day is it today?
O que posso fazer? — What can I do?
When por que (why) is used at the end of a sentence, or as a standalone question, the quê is spelled with a circumflex accent. It’s also worth noting that porque (written all together) means “because” and o porquê is “the reason why.”
Por que ele faltou da aula? — Why did he miss class?
Ela não quer falar comigo? Eu posso saber por quê? — She doesn’t want to talk to me? Can you tell me why?
Qual/quais (which) implies a choice and doesn’t always have to be followed by a noun.
Eu não sei qual é o meu favorito — I don’t know which is my favorite.
Quais dias eles estarão disponíveis? — What/which days will they be available?
Quanto/quantos and quanta/quantas agree in gender and number with the associated object.
Sua filha tem quantos anos? — How old is your daughter? (Literally, “how many years does your daughter have?”)
Eu preciso de quantas maçãs para essa receita? — How many apples will I need for this recipe?
Portuguese Indefinite Pronouns
Lastly, we have indefinite pronouns, which are used to refer to people or objects that are identifiable in a sentence but not specified explicitly.
|Mais; Menos||More; Less|
|Algum/Alguns; Nenhum/Nenhuns (masc.)|
Alguma/Algumas; Nenhuma/Nenhumas (fem.)
|Tanto/Tantos (masc.) |
|So much/So many|
|Poucos/Poucas; Muitos/Muitas||Few; Many|
|Pouco/Pouca; Muito/Muita||Little; Much|
Nada can be used in affirmative, negative or interrogative sentences. The word não (no or not) + a verb usually precedes it.
Nós não sabíamos de nada — We didn’t know anything.
Você não tem mais nada a adicionar? — Don’t you have anything else to add?
Alguém (somebody/anybody) and Ninguém (nobody/no-one) can be used in both affirmative and interrogative sentences.
Alguém veio te ajudar? — Did someone come to help you?
Eu não conheço ninguém aqui — I don’t know anyone here.
Ninguém quer falar comigo — Nobody wants to talk to me.
When todo/toda takes the meaning of “each” or “all”, a definite article isn’t needed. When talking about an entire thing, a definite article is required.
Eu ligo para ela todo dia — I call her everyday.
Ele ficou todo o dia fora de casa — He was away from home all day.
Todos/todas are always followed by the indefinite articles os and as.
Eu corro todas as manhãs — I run every morning.
Nós contamos todos os itens — We counted all the items.
Tudo, nada, alguém and ninguém are all invariable. Every other indefinite pronoun must agree in gender and number with its corresponding subject/noun.
Ele me contou tudo — He told me everything.
Ele tem poucos amigos — He has few friends.
Ele tem poucas amigas — He has few (female) friends.
Now that you have all the theory, it’s time to put your Portuguese pronoun knowledge into practice!
Be creative, and don’t be afraid to mix and match different learning techniques to see what works for you. Whether you’re reading the news, listening to a podcast or watching a movie, you’ll always be exposed to Portuguese pronouns. Opportunities are plentiful, so make sure you’re getting the most out of them.