Prepositions And Articles
So here we are, the first Portuguese grammar article - being a living, breathing website expect this article to be updated and improved by your next visit. This article covers those little words that make up a large part of what you'll come across and hear, scattered amongst the many nouns and adjectives that make up sentences.
Prepositions are those many small words (such as: to, of, at, from, in) that links words in a sentence and highlights their relation to each other. Common prepositions are:
em = at, in, on e.g Eu estou em Londres (I'm in London)
de = of, from e.g Eu vai a casa de Tony (I go to Tony's house)
a = at, to e.g Fomos a Londres (We went to London)
por = for, by, through e.g Isto é por vocé (This is for you)
para = to, for, in order to e.g Amanhá nos partir para a Londres (Tomorrow we leave for London)
Por and para are a source of confusion for many, on the surface the difference between the two is confusing. As you study Portuguese and see the different uses it'll start to become clear but for now try to remember that 'para' refers to destination or purpose where as 'por' should be seen in terms of 'for the sake of'.
Right, let's test your new-found knowledge of prepositions. The sentences below have the preposition missing. Without cheating, see if you can correctly drag the correct word from the collection below into the blank space:
These are simply words which come before a noun to describe or restrict it in some way. Best explained with an example, in English, the articles are: A, An and The. In this case, 'The' is called the definite article and is used when the noun we are referring to is singular and known. So when we say 'I'm going to pick up the bike' - it's assumed that the specific bike being spoken about has already been mentioned or is otherwise clear to who is being spoken to.
'A' on the other hand is used when we are referring to potentially one of many, and is called the 'indefinite article'. In English we happen to also have 'An' which is used when the noun begins with a vowel and this is partly because it sounds clear. You'll notice Portuguese will frequently have occurrences where rules are broken in a bid for clarity.
With regard to articles, Portuguese differs in that it must match the gender of the noun it precedes but the language also has a plural variation. Every noun in Portuguese is either masculine or feminine, a later lesson will go into more detail but for the moment simply remember that the article being used must match the gender of the noun. As for the plural, you would say either 'the bike', or 'the bikes', but Portuguese has a plural version of the article that establishes we are talking about more than one. Here's some examples:
The definite article
'The' is 'o' in Portuguese if the noun is masculine, or 'a' if the word is feminine:
A mesa = The table
O comboio = The train
If we are talking about more than one, then the article would also be the plural form:
As mesas = The tables
Os comboios = The trains
The indefinite article
'A' is 'um' in Portuguese (which also happens to mean 'one') if the noun is masculine, or 'a' if the word is feminine:
Uma mesa = A table
Um comboio = A train
Again, if we are talking about more than one, the plural form of the article is used but notice English has no direct translation so we use a quantifier to indicate the same idea. Also note that, in becoming plural, 'um' becomes 'uns', with the 'm' being replaced with 'ns'. This is common across the language and something to keep in mind:
Umas mesas = Some tables
Uns comboios = Some trains
See how well you do here. Guess the correct translation for each of the following. If in doubt, scroll up and see what you missed.
1. Which of the following is the correct way to say 'The man'
2. Which of the following is the correct way to say 'The women'
3. Which of the following translates to 'A cat'
Joining prepositions and articles
It's very common to use prepositions and articles together in sentences, 'Going to the park' for example has the preposition 'to' immediately followed by the definite article 'the'. In portuguese, it's common to abbreviate this by joining them together. This will be broken down in the next article so check back soon!