Pronouns

1. General Overview

 

A pronoun is used to replace a noun. Sometimes it is also used to avoid repetition.

In Portuguese there are six types of pronouns (personal, possessive, demonstrative, relative, interrogative and indefinite pronouns).

 

2. Personal Pronouns

 

There are five types of personal pronouns in Portuguese: subject, reflexive, prepositional, direct and indirect object pronouns. 

The subject pronouns are probably the most frequently used pronouns.

 

3. Subject Pronouns

 

eu I
você = tu you
o senhor/a senhora you (mark of respect)
ele/ela he/she/it
nós = a gente we
vocês  you
eles/elas they 

Remarks:

 

  • Você and tu(you) have the same meaning in Brazil, but você is more frequently used than tuthroughout Brazil. In most regions tu is rarely heard. Use você because it is easier. Tu introduces a new verb form.
  • Você (you) is informal and it is widely used in almost any situation while o senhor/a senhora (you) is more formal and it is used as a mark of respect, normally when addressing to older people (including parents), important people or people you do not know, but mainly in really formal situations.
  • A gente (we) is a colloquial form and it is usually used in the spoken language instead of nós (we). Even though it means we, it is a singular form and therefore followed by a singular verb.
  • In Portuguese there is also the female plural form of elas (they), which is used only to replace feminine nouns (women/animal/things).

Examples:

 

Você fuma? Do you smoke?
O senhor mora aqui? Do you live here? (mark of respect)

4. Reflexive Pronouns

 

In Portuguese there are reflexive verbs like sentar-se (to sit down) which are followed by the reflexive pronoun se (oneself) in the infinitive form. A verb is reflexive when the action refers back to the subject. If the action is reciprocal and it refers to two or more people, the reflexive pronoun can be translated as each other.

A reflexive verb in Portuguese is not always reflexive in English. For this reason, it appears strange in the beginning.

In Brazil, the placement of reflexive pronouns before the verb is very common in the spoken and also in the written language.

 

Tip: Always put the reflexive pronoun before the verb. This avoids learning any complicated rules.

 

me myself
se yourself/himself/herself/itself
nos ourselves/each other
se yourselves/themselves/each other

Examples: 

Eu não me lembro.  I (myself) do not remember.
A gente se conheceu no Brasil. We met each other in Brazil.

5. Prepositional Pronouns

 

Prepositional pronouns are pronouns used in conjunction with prepositions. Sometimes prepositional pronouns are contractions of the pronoun and preposition. 

 

mim/comigo me/with me
você/si/consigo = tu/ti/contigo you/with you
o senhor/a senhora you
ele/ela him/her
nós/conosco us/with us
vocês you
eles/elas them

Remark: Prepositional pronouns (si/consigo) are normally used only in the written form.

Examples:

Você se lembra de mim? Do you remember me?
Eu ligo para você mais tarde. I will call you later.

6. Direct Object Pronouns

 

A direct object pronoun is normally used to replace a direct object in a sentence in order to avoid repetition. A direct object can be a noun (person or thing).

The direct object pronoun is normally not used correctly in spoken form while in the written form (newspapers/magazines) it is used correctly. 

In Brazil, the placement of direct object pronoun before the verb is usual.

 

Tip: Always put the direct object pronoun before the verb. This avoids learning any complicated rules.

x

me me
o, a, lo, la = te you
o, a, lo, la him/her/it
nos = a gente us
os, as, los, las you
os, as, los, las them

Remarks: 

  • Lo(s)/la(s) are used after the infinitive form. 
  • There are two more direct object pronouns (no(s)/na(s), but they are rarely used. 

Examples:

Eu não te/o conheço. I don't know you.
Prazer em conhecê-lo. It is a pleasure to meet you.
É um prazer te conhecer. It is a pleasure to meet you.

Remark: Even though the direct object pronoun te (you) refers to the subject pronoun tu (you), it is widely used when referring to the subject pronoun você (you) instead of the direct object pronoun o/a (you). Its use is easier and acceptable in the colloquial form.

7. Indirect Object Pronouns

 

An indirect object pronoun is normally used to replace a indirect object in a sentence in order to avoid repetition. An indirect object can be a noun (person).

In Brazil, the placement of indirect object pronoun before the verb is usual.

 

Tip: Always put the indirect object pronoun before the verb. This avoids learning any complicated rules.

 

me = para mim me – to/for me
lhe = te = para você you – to/for you
lhe = para o senhor/para a senhora you – to/for you
lhe = para ele/ela him – to/for him/her
nos = para nós us – to/for us
lhes = para vocês you – to/for you
lhes = para eles/elas them – to/for them

Examples:

Você pode me fazer um favor? Can you do me a favor?
Você pode fazer um favor para mim? Can you do a favor for me?
Ele lhe/te deu o recado? Did he give you the message?
Ele deu o recado para você? Did he give the message to you?

Remark: Even though the indirect object pronoun te (you) refers to the subject pronoun tu (you), it is widely used when referring to the subject pronoun você (you) instead of the indirect object pronoun lhe (you). Its use is easier and acceptable in the colloquial form.

8. Possessive Pronouns

 

Possessive pronouns are used to show ownership. In Portuguese, possessive pronouns can be either masculine or feminine, singular or plural.

 

meu/s minha/s my/mine
seu/s = teu/s sua/s = tua/s your/yours
do senhor = seu/s da senhora = seu/s your/yours
dele = seu/s dela = sua/s his/his/her/hers/its
da gente da gente our/ours
nosso/s nossa/s our/ours
seu/s = de vocês sua/s = de vocês your/yours
dele/s = seu/s dela/s = sua/s their/theirs

Remark: In Portuguese, parts of the body are usually used with the definite article, not with the possessive pronoun. Example: Ele quebrou o braço. (He broke his arm.).

Examples:

Qual é o nome dele? What is his name?
(O) meu livro é novo. E o seu? My book is new. And yours?

9. Demonstrative Pronouns

 

Demonstrative or adjectives pronouns are used to point out a thing or person specifically.

In Portuguese, demonstrative pronouns can be either masculine, feminine or neither masculine or feminine.

 

este/s esta/s isto this 
esse/s essa/s isso this 
aquele/s aquela/s aquilo that

Remarks:

  • Este(s)/esta(s)/isto (this) normally followed by aqui (here) are used to point out things or people close to the speaker.
  • Esse(s)/essa(s)/isso (this) normally followed by aí (there with you) are used to point out things or people close to the person the speaker is talking to.
  • Aquele(s)/aquela(s)/aquilo (that) normally followed by ali/lá (there/over there) are used to point out things or people far from the speaker and the person the speaker is talking to.
  • Demonstrative pronouns can be contracted with the preposition em and de.

Examples:

Este livro é seu? Is this book yours?
O que é isto? What is this?

10. Demonstrative Pronouns and Preposition em 

 

neste/s nesta/s nisto in/on/at this 
nesse/s nessa/s nisso in/on/at this 
naquele/s naquela/s naquilo in/on/at that

Examples:

Você também mora neste prédio? Do you also live in this building?
Ele não trabalha mais naquela empresa. He no longer works in that company.

11. Demonstrative Pronouns and Preposition de

 

deste/s desta/s disto this
desse/s dessa/s disso this
daquele/s daquela/s daquilo this

Examples:

Não gosto desta música. I don't like this music.
O que você acha deste vinho? What do you think of this wine?

12. Relative Pronouns

 

A relative pronoun is used to refer back to an earlier noun or pronoun.

 

que o/a qual os/as quais which/that
onde no/na qual nos/nas quais where 
de quem do/da qual dos/das quais of whom
cujo cujo/s cuja/s whose

Remarks:

  • Que (which) is the most frequently used relative pronoun.
  • Quem (whom) is always preceded by a preposition (de/com/para/a, etc.).
  • Qual/quais (which) preceded by the definite article or a preposition can also be used as a relative pronoun, but its use is rare and more complicated.
  • Cujo(s)/cuja(s) (whose) show ownership and they always match the following noun, but are rarely used.

Examples:

Onde está o livro que/o qual comprei? Where is the book which I have bought?
Esta é a casa onde/na qual ele mora. This is the house where he lives.

13. Interrogative Pronouns (Question Words)

 

Interrogative pronouns and some adverbs are commonly used to make questions.

 

como how, what
que, o que what
de que, em que, para que what about, what about, what for
por que why
qual, quais what/which
quem who/whom
com quem, de quem, em quem, para quem with whom. about whom, in whom, to whom
onde, de onde, para onde where, from where, to where
quando when
quanto(s), quanta(s) how much, how many

Remarks:

  • Sometimes que and qual have the same meaning in English and are usually confused. Que is always followed by a noun while qual is not. Qual usually implies a choice.
  • Question words using que (o que, por que, etc.) have a circumflex accent if they stand alone at the end of a sentence. Example: Não sei. Por quê? (I don't know. Why?)

Examples:

Como/Qual é seu nome? What is your name?
De onde ele é? Where is he from?

14. Indefinite Pronouns

 

Indefinite pronouns and adjectives are words used to refer to people or things non-specifically rather than specifically.

 

alguém > ninguém somebody/anybody > nobody/no one
algum/alguns > nenhum some/any > none (male)
alguma(s) > nenhuma some/any > none (female)
alguma coisa/algo > nada something/anything > nothing/anything
bastante a lot
cada (um/uma) every/each (one)
certo(s), certa(s) certain
mais >menos more > less
muito/muita > pouco/pouca much > little
muitos/muitas > poucos/poucas many > few
qualquer, qualquer um/uma any, any one/either one
tanto/tanta so much
tantos/tantas so many
tal/tais such
todo/toda whole/entire
todos/todas every/all
tudo everything
uns/umas some/about
vários/várias several

Remark: There are nouns that are countable in English, but uncountable in Portuguese. Example: muito dinheiro (a lot of money), muita gente (a lot of people).

Examples:

Alguém me telefonou? Has anyone called me?
Vocês entenderam tudo? Did you understand everything?

back to top