Monday, March 20, 2017


Image (S) by Karyn Christner (CC BY 2.0)
Do you feel confused by the rules for the pronunciation of the letter "S" in Portuguese? And do you feel even more confused by the accent differences? Don't worry! This article can help you a litle bit...

I know a very "chique" person, her name is Mayumi. She is Japanese and she has an intermediate level in Portuguese. I think Mayumi is very "chique" because she is wine expert and she already worked in many regions of Portugal and Brasil. She already visited Porto, Lisbon, Algarve, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Porto Alegre and other cities.

The other day, Mayumi talked to me and she said that she will never understand the correct pronunciation of the letter "S" in Portuguese. Because she feels like each place has a different pronunciation for this letter. If you feel like Mayumi, let's learn a little more about "S" pronounciation.

Remember that the letter "S" may appear at the beginning, the middle, or the end of a word. At the beginning of the word we must to write only "S" (e.g. "sal"). At the end of the word we must to write "S" (e.g. "lápis"). Between two vowels, if we want "Z" sound we must to write only "S" (e.g. "casa"), but if we want the "S" sound we must to write "SS" (e.g. "assassino");

In this article I will use the symbols of Alfabeto Fonético Internacional.

"S" in the beginning of the word...

In all regions of Brazil and almost all regions of Portugal, the letter"S" the the sound [s] when it is at the beginning of the word (NOTE: in the north of Portugal, the letter "S" has the sound [s̺] when is in the beginning of the word, that is a litle bit different). Here are some comparisons for this sound:

- the same as "S" of the English word "saturday";
- the same as "S" of the Spanish word "sabiduría";
- the same as "S" of the French word "sacré";
- the same as "S" of the Italian word "sala";

Male voice of Portugal:
Male voice of Brazil:

"SS" - that indicates "S" sound between vowels...

When you could see before, "SS" only appears between two vowels. And it always has the same sound as "S" in the beggining of rhe word. To illustrate, follow some comparisons of this sound:

- the same as "S" of the English word "sausage";
- the same as "S" of the Spanish word "beso";
- the same as "Ç" of the French word "leçon";
- the same as "SS" of the Italian word "rosso";

Example: SESSÃO
Male voice of Portugal:
Male voice of Brazil:

"S" when indicates "Z" sound between two vowels...

Bwtween two vowels, the letter "S" (single S) has the sound [z] (in the North of Portugal, the sound is [z̺]). Follow some comparisons for this sound:

- the same as "Z" of the English word "zebra";
- the same as "Z" of the French word "zéro";
- the same as "Z" of the Italian word "zucchero";

Example: USUÁRIO
Female voice of Portugal:
Female voice of Brazil:

It is interesting to note that, when the "S" is at the end of the word and the next word starts with a vowel, this "S" will have "Z" sound.

Female voice of Brazil:

"S" at the end of the word or at the end of the syllable...

In this situation, you will find many variations. The main ones are:

1) The majority of regions in Portugal, the region of Rio de Janeiro, many regions in North and North-East of Brazil.

In these regions, when "S" is in the end of the syllable (or the end of the word) and the next letter is a 'deaf consonant' (p, t, qu, f, s, ch and x), the "S" sound will be [ʃ] — that is like "CH" sound in the Portuguese word "CHÁ". Some similar cases are:

- similar to "SH" of the English word "harsh;
- the same as "CH" of the French word "chaud";
- the same as "SC" of the Italian word "prosciutto";

Masculina de Portugal:

Exemplo: DOIS
Male voice of Portugal:
Male voice of Rio de Janeiro region in Brazil:

Still in these regions, when the letter "S" is on the end of the syllable (or the word) and the next letter is a 'sound consonant' (b, d, g, j, l, lh, m, n, nh, r, v, z), the sound of the letter "S" will be [Ʒ] — that is similar to "J" sound in the Portuguese word "JÁ". See some comparisons:

- similar to "J" of the English word "joy;
- the same as "J" of the French word "jolie";
- similar to "G" of the Italian word "gente";

Example: MESMO
Male voice of Portugal:
Female voice of Brasil (Rio de Janeiro):

2) in the South and South-East of Brasil and in many regions in Center

In these regions the "S" when is on final syllable (or at the end of the word) has the same value as the beggining of the word. I.e, the sound will be [s] for all words. Follow some similar cases:

- the same as "SS" of the English word "grass";
- similar to "Z" of the Spanish word "lápiz";
- similar to S" of the first word in the French expression "mes amis";
- the same as "S" of the Italian word "versus";

Male voice of São Paulo region - Brazil:

Example: DOIS
Female voice of São Paulo region - Brazil:

Example: MESMO
Female voice of São Paulo region - Brazil:

So, I think Mayumi is right. Well, at least in some parts... There is some variation according to the region where you are. But this variation is not so big as she thinkgs. If you have some experience about this theme, don't forget to send us your comment.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Image (Love) by Juliana Coutinho (CC BY 2.0)
I guess you already could notice that the way we use verb "GOSTAR" in Portuguese is very different from the way we use the verb "GUSTAR" in Spanish. So let's talk about this subject a litle more...

The verb "GOSTAR" is a very interesting subject, maily if you also speak Spanish. I would like to tell you a story about my friend Benjamin. He lives in Brasil for two years. At the begging, he found the verb "GOSTAR" very hard. Would you like to know why?


My friend Benjamin was born and raised in Chile, his native language is Spanish. Maybe you already know what is the verb that he uses when he wants to express his feelings about things he likes and things he doesn't like. It's the verb "GUSTAR" in Spanish.

When he arrived in Brazil, Benjamin learned that for these situations we use the verb "GOSTAR" in Portuguese. Well, Same meaning and almost the same pronunciation. He found this very easy!

With time Benjamin found out the this similarity was precisely what made the use of the verb "GOSTAR" very difficult. In many situations, he ended up telling something like:

What do you think about this phrase above? Yeah, this phrase is totally WRONG! Let's see the reason...


Yes my friend. Although the meaning is the same and the pronunciation is very similar, the structure of the use of the verb "GOSTAR" in Portuguese is very different from the structure used in the Spanish language. Note the table bellow:

A mí me gusta...
A ti te gusta...
A él/ella le gusta...
A nosotros nos gusta...
A vosotros os gusta...
A ellos/ellas les gusta...
Eu gosto de...
Tu gostas de...
Ele/Ela gosta de...
Nós gostamos de...
Vós gostais de...
Eles/Elas gostam de...

Did you notice the difference? And the worst: The structure in Spanish is inadmissible in Portuguese. This means that trying to use "ME GOSTA MUITO O PÃO DE QUEIJO", your phrase will sound really weird. I mean really really really weird! It would be a classic example of the famous "Portuñol".


First, you have to understand that the verb "GOSTAR" can have different meanings. See the table below, it shows the two meanings of this verb:

Gostar 1 Gostar 2*
To find good, to have affection, to approve, to appreciate, to find tasty...

"Gosto de maçã."
To try, to taste...

"Gostei o bolo e achei o recheio delicioso."

Did you noticed that, depending on the meaning, you must use the preposition "DE"? This we will see in the next topic. But, one important thing for you to keep in mind now is that the structure of the verb will always be PERSONAL PRONOUN + VERB "GOSTAR". Forget about the oblique pronouns (me, te, etc), you need to use personal pronouns (eu, tu, você, etc). See this examples:

Eu gosto...
Você gosta...
Tu gosta...
Ele gosta ...
Nós gostamos...
Vocês gostam...
Eles gostam...

See in this link the complete table of conjugation of the verb "GOSTAR". Remember that the table will indicate the conjugation regardless of meaning and regency:


Now, you have to understand what it is regency. In simple words, verbal regency is the relationship established between the verb and its complements. Depending on the meaning, the verb "GOSTAR" need to use the preposition "DE" as a complement. This is very important, because the most common use of the verb "GOSTAR" is the meaning 1 of the table presented in the topic #3.

This is really very important: when the verb "GOSTAR" has as meaning "find something good", "approval", "to like something" etc., it will require the use of the preposition "DE".

Let's see some examples:
"Não gosto de vocês."
"Gostaria de tomar água de coco."
"Gostei muito da sua amiga."

Ha! I bet you think this rule has some exception, right? YEAH YOU'RE RIGHT!

The sequence "GOSTAR DE QUE..." allows you to leave the preposition out. So you can use two forms for the example bellow:

"Gostaria que você fosse pontual." (more common)
"Gostaria de que você fosse pontual." (less common)

"Ela gosta que a elogiem." (more common)
"Ela gosta de que a elogiem." (less common)


I hope this article has been helpful. As Benjamin, you will be used to the verb "GOSTAR" very quickly. And remember: if you have any question, please leave your comment.

Monday, March 13, 2017


Image (diary writing) by Fredrik Rubensson (CC BY 2.0)
In this article I want to suggest some writing activities. And maybe you can say: "Li! I'm focusing in conversation! Why should I waste my time on writing?". Well, let me show you that you never lose your time when use this method...

Writing helps to maximize your learning and it's an important skill in any language. As a consequence, you end up improving your speaking skills. for example, you... yes you that have not so many opportunities to join conversation with native speakers in your city, can you remember a situation when you finally found an opportunity but didn't know what to say? Well... if you are used to write in Portuguese, when this day comes, you'll be prepared.

Writing allows you to practice everything that you are learning. But, how can you really practice? You do this when you write abour things you do, things you read, things you watch or things that you like. In other words, when you have the opportunity to creat a connection between your exercise and the real life. This makes it much easier to retain what you learn.

Oh! Another benefit: it is much easier to make a native speaker correct a text than a conversation :-)

So, did I manage to convince you? Huh? If so, I want to suggest a way to do all this in this article. You can use 3 very useful tools that are offered for free at Italki: "Notebook", "Answers" e "Discussions". Here is a short activity plan:


The first thing to think about is that you should not just write 'lost' sentences. You should write about things you can interact with: describe your activities, talk about movies that you have watched, give your opinion about an article that you could read, talk about your plans, etc.

This way it is much easier to keep fixed in your mind the words and expressions you have learned. Also, it is much easier to understand how to integrate these words into phrases for real-life situations.

Suggested activity
If you do not know where to start, follow some examples of articles in Portuguese that can use as a basis for your texts:
- As Dez Comidas Mais comidas do Mundo (BR)
- As origens reais de 8 superstições populares (BR)
- É possível ir de carro do Brasil até os EUA? (BR)
- 12 coisas que os casais felizes fazem todos os dias (PT)

Tip: The idea is that you choose something that you like. If you prefer videos, movies, songs or just tell something that happened to you, Choose these things as the basis for your texts. OK?


Hora de pôr a mão na massa (the English expression for 'pôr a mão na massa" can be 'hands on')! In this step, you cna use the tool "Notebook" ("Caderno de Notas" in Portuguese). With this tool you can write a text so that the native speakers of the community can correct it. After, you can compare the corrections and 'meditate' on them.

Suggested activity
You should choose a basis for your text. With this basis you should write one text a day (or each two days). You will be amazed at the number of texts you can write using just one article. For example, you can write...
1) A summary of article.
2) Your opinion about something that you agree.
3) Your opinion about something that you disagree.
4) About something you did not know before reading the article that surprised you.
5) Things of the article that are similar in your culture.
6) Your own text about something that has a connection with the subject of the article, but which was not addressed by it.

Tip: You should write a large enough text so that it may require an effort according to your level. But be careful, because a very large text can discourage people who will correct it.


Well done! You wrote beautiful and wonderful texts huh?! And the native speakers corrected them and also gave you some suggestions. Now it's time to meditate on what you can improve. There was something you did not understand or did not agree? Or, did you receive different corrections for the same point?

You can use the tool "Answers" ("Respostas" in Portuguese). With this tool, you can send questions so the native speakers in the community can answer them.

Suggested activity
During the days you are practicing, do not forget to send questions. You can ask about...
1) What is the meaning of a word or expression that you read or heard.
2) Doubts that arose at the time you were writing your text.
3) Cultural tips about the theme.
4) Some previous corrections that made you confused.

Dica: No matter what is your level, Try to write the questions in Portuguese. You can use a dictionary or even a translator to help you express yourself better.


Cool! When you reach this step, it means that you already could practice reading (or listening) and writing. Also you already could have the opportunity to get the answers for many questions.

Why not take advantage of the tool "Discussions" ("Discussões" in Portuguese)? With it you have the opportunity to get more involved with the community.

What you can do?
1) Create a topic asking help.
2) Create a topic offering help.
3) Create a topic to introduce yourself.
4) Create a topic to start a conversation about things you like.


With the above suggestions, you will have small activities to attend for a week or two. You can vary these activities using Brazilian or Portuguese movies. Also, you can write a diary with your day-to-day activities or travel plans. The options are many!

But, one important thing is that you should analyze whether this time has helped to improve your skils. You can even write about your activities in the comments of this article.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Hello Everybody! This post will discuss some basic topics about Portuguese demonstrative pronouns.


We use demonstrative pronouns to explicit the position of a noun or something in relation to others or to the context. This relationship can occur in terms of space, time or speech...

See this image bellow, you can notice some of those relations:

Looking at this image, we can imagine some example for phrases:

"Este livro é meu." [This book is mine]
"Essa caneta é sua." [That pen is yours]
"Aquele quadro negro é nosso." [That blackboard over there is ours]

Maybe you noticed that in Portuguese the demonstrative pronouns must agree in gender and number with the noun the pronoun is related to.

Let's see more details about each one...

Masculine Singular Masculine Plural Feminine Singular Feminine Plural

"ESTE" is translated as "THIS" in English and its plural form "ESTES" is translated as "THESE". "ESTE" and its variations are used to indicate something or someone that is close to the speaker.

"Este menino é o meu filho." [This boy is my son.]
"Este cachorrinho é tão fofo!" [This puppy is so cute!]
"Esta maçã é muito gostosa." [This apple is delicious.]
"Estas mesas são caras." [These tables are expensive.]
"Estes são os meus irmãos." [These are my brothers.]

Masculine Singular Masculine Plural Feminine Singular Feminine Plural

"ESSE" is translated as "THAT" in English and its plural form "ESSES" is translated as "THOSE". "ESSE" and its variations are used when something or someone is far from the speaker but close to the listener.

"Você vai comer esse bolo?" [Will you eat that cake?]
"Essa bola é minha!" [That ball is mine!]
"Maria, essas são as suas amigas?" [Mary, those are your girlfriends?]
"Esses livros são velhos." [Those books are old.]

Masculine Singular Masculine Plural Feminine Singular Feminine Plural

"AQUELE" is translated as "THAT OVER THERE" or only "THAT" in English and its plural form "AQUELES" is translated as "THOSE". "AQUELES" and its variations are used to refer to something or someone that are further away from both speaker and listener.

"Aquele que está chegando é o João." [That one who is coming is João.]
"Aquela casa está muito longe." [That house is really far.]
"Aqueles homens são elegantes." [Those men are elegant.]
"Aquelas borboletas voando no céu são lindas." [Those butterflies flying on the sky are beautiful.]


"ISTO" means "THIS THING", "ISSO" means "THAT THING" and "AQUILO" means "THAT THING OVER THERE". They are used when we don't know or when we don't want to use the name of the thing. These demonstrative pronouns do not identify objects (they don’t accompany a noun) and they are used just in the singular form (they NEVER vary). Also we can use them when we want express opinion or ideas. Let's see some examples:

"O que é isso?." [What is that?]
"O que é aquilo?." [What is that thing over there?]
"Isso não é bom." [This is not good.]
"Aquilo parece um OVNI." [That over that seems to be an UFO.]

"ESTE", "ESSE" and "AQUELE" are not used only to refer to the spece. They follow the same logic to refer to time. Suppose we are in the year 2016, see these examples:

"Este ano está sendo bom para nós." [This year is good for us.]
"Quanto a 2015... Esse ano que passou foi razoável." [About 2105... That past year was reasonable]
"Ah 1970! Aquele ano foi terrível para todos." [Ah 1980! That year was terrible for everyone.]

Maybe this article can be useful for you too: "AQUI", "CÁ", "ALI", "LÁ", "AÍ" IN PORTUGUESE

Monday, December 5, 2016


Hello everybody! If you are following the series of articles for beginners, at this time you already know some vocabulary and affirmative phrases structures. Now I will show you basic topics about Portuguese interrogative phrases.


You already know about the structure for simple sentences in Portuguese. For interrogative sentences, the structure is the same, you just need to change the "." for the "?" ("ponto de interrogação" in Portuguese):
[subject pronoun] + verb + complement + ?

Você gosta de gatos? [Do you like cats?]
Você prefere maçãs ou bananas? [Do you prefer apples or bananas?]

Not a big deal right? Now let's see some interrogative words that are very common on our interrogative prhases. They work like in English, see:

que [what]
quem [who]
quando [when]
onde [where]
por quê* [why]
qual [wich]
como [how]
quanto* [how much]

Let's see some examples:
Quem fez o almoço? [Who prepared the lunch?]
Qual das frutas preferes? [Which fruit do you prefer?]
Quantas pessoas estão na festa? [How many people are at the party?]
Quando posso te ver? [When can I see you?]
Você sabe como tudo aconteceu? [Do you know how it all happened?]

I Know what you thought when you saw the asterisks in the list above: "Lota of exeptions huh?"... This time I have no exception for you, but i have some observations:

I guess you noticed that sometimes people write "por que", "porque", "por quê" and "porquê". It's a long history... So I recommend this article for you: The Important Differences Between POR QUE, POR QUÊ, PORQUE and PORQUÊ

"Quanto" and "Qual" must vary according to the number and gender of the nouns that they are follwing.

See these examples:
Qual é a vantagem deste trabalho? [What is the benefit of this work?]
Quais são as vantagens deste trabalho? [What are the benefits of this work?]
Quanto dinheiro será necessário? [How much money will be needed?]
Quanta mão de obra será necessária? [How much labor will be needed?]
Quantos empregados serão necessários? [How many male employees will be needed?]
Quantas empregadas serão necessárias? [How many female employees will be needed?]

Another important consideration is about "Que". For example, a correct phrase would be: "Que comeremos agora?" [What we are going to eat now?]. This phrase is very common in Portugal, but in Brazil people use to say "O que comeremos agora?". This second form is grammatically wrong, but people talk like this all the time. And things are not so easy... in some situations people don't use this article "O" when use "Que" interrogatives. For example phrases like "Que comunicado ele pretende fazer?" [What communication does he intend to make?] is widely used in Brazil.


Hello everybody! By this time you already know about principles of verb conjugation in Portuguese... good... good... Well, as you speak English, you know that life isn't only made of regular verbs. So let's see basic topics about Portuguese verb conjugation for some irregular verbs.


As the name suggests, irregular verbs don't follow those rules that we discussed in the previous articles of this series. Remember them? They are pretty simple and if you want a review just click this link: Portuguese Regular Verbs (Present Tense) - Part II

Well, I have good and bad news for you. The bad one is that besides having the most complex conjugation "rules" irregular verbs are the most common, so you can't get rid of them. The good one is that you will master them really fast as you already have mastered the regular conjugation! Let's see some examples:

Rebels of first conjugation: ESTAR [to be], DAR [to give]
Eu estou
Tu estás
[Você está]
Ele está
Nós estamos
Vós estais
Eles estão
Eu dou
Tu dás
[Você ]
Nós damos
Vós dais
Eles dão

Please give me some examples of phrases using these verbs and pronouns:

1) If you want to review subject pronouns concepts, click this link: Portuguese subject pronouns

Rebels of second conjugation: SER [to be], TER [to have]
Eu sou
Tu és
[Você é]
Ele é
Nós somos
Vós sois
Eles são
Eu tenho
Tu tens
[Você tem]
Ele tem
Nós temos
Vós tendes
Eles têm

Now give me more examples:

1) If you need information about the difference between "Ser" and "Estar", click this link: The Verbs "Ser" and "Estar" in Portuguese

Rebels of third conjugation: IR [to go], PÔR [to put]
Eu vou
Tu vais
[Você vai]
Ele vai
Nós vamos
Vós ides
Eles vão
Eu ponho
Tu pões
[Você põe]
Ele põe
Nós pomos
Vós pondes
Eles põem

Can you give me more examples?


Thursday, December 1, 2016


Hello everybody! Let's see now some basic topics about feminine and masculine in Portuguese.


Like other Latin languages, in Portuguese nouns are either masculine or feminine, and the adjectives and articles that qualify them have to match their number and gender.

English native speakers always tell me about how insane is the idea that places, animals, things, feelings and everything has a gender. Well I know... but as I said before all descriptive adjectives and articles of a noun must to agree in gender with this ackward. So let’s talk about some general ways to recognize if a noun is masculine or feminine.

NOTE: If you need review some concepts about Portuguese articles you can click this link: Portuguese Definite and Indefinite Articles .

Some nouns have their masculine and feminine form...

Usually, masculine nouns end in "O" and feminine nouns end in "A". Many of them has two forms in order to indicate the gender, they have the same root and change the termination. The table bellow shows some common nouns and their proper articles:

Masculine Form Respective Feminine Form
o menino
o gato
o aluno
a menina
a gata
a aluna

You will notice that even masculine nouns that don't end in "O" have their respective feminine form. But these nouns present different standards that help to form their feminine form and usually they end with "A". The table bellow will show some examples.

Masculine Form Respective Feminine Form

NOTE: Please notice that I always highlight the word "usually" as Portuguese has a lot of "exceptions". There are many "rules" for feminine version of masculine nouns that don't end in "O". These topic is quite complex and it's hard to find material in English for it. If you are comfortable in reading short articles in Portuguese, you can try to read this article in Internet: If you are not prepared yet, don't worry, by now you can focus on master this basic information in this article.

Some nouns have only one form, but they still have a gender...

Some nouns, usually things/objects have only one form, either masculine either feminine. In these cases you need to memorize the gender and you will be able to use the proper agreement. Let's see some examples:

They have only masculine Form They have only feminine Form
o sabão
o carro
o colchão
o macarrão
a espuma
a mesa
a colcha
a salada

You know Portuguese always has exceptions...

An important point is to notice that I said "let’s talk about some general ways to recognize if a noun is masculine or feminine.", I never said about rules. And if the "O/A" termination was a rule, here you can see some exceptions:

They have only masculine Form They have only feminine Form
O problema
O programa
O guarda-roupa
A lição

Also you will notice that are many words that end in other letters (not "O" and neither "A"). In these cases you will memorize the gender by the time.

Even more special cases...

There are some nouns that have only one form for both genders. And we only are able to know the gender in the phrase by verifying the article. The table bellow shows some examples:

Masculine Form Respective Feminine Form
o capitalista
o estudante
o cliente
o jornalista
o jovem
a capitalista
a estudante
a cliente
a jornalista
a jovem

There are some nouns that we consider they don't have any gender. But as we always need to agree the article and adjectives, they have fixed "fake" genders. Let's see some examples:

They have only masculine form They have only feminine form
o indivíduo
o cônjuge
a criança
a testemunha
a pessoa

Some animals names don't change from masculine to feminine versions. We only add the words "MACHO" [male] or "FÊMEA" [female] to indicate the gender. See some examples:

Masculine Form Respective Feminine Form
a cobra macho
o crocodilo macho
o peixe macho
o pinguim macho
a águia macho
a aranha macho
a baleia macho
o besouro macho
a borboleta macho
o jacaré macho
a mosca macho
o mosquito macho
a tartaruga macho
a cobra fêmea
o crocodilo fêmea
a peixe fêmea
o pinguim fêmea
a águia fêmea
a aranha fêmea
a baleia fêmea
o besouro fêmea
a borboleta fêmea
o jacaré fêmea
a mosca fêmea
o mosquito fêmea
a tartaruga fêmea