Definite articles & nouns (1)
(Os artigos definidos e os substantivos)
Lesson 1 teacher’s introduction.
The Portuguese language has a number of word classes or parts of speech: Verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, articles, conjunctions and interjections.
Nouns have a gender in Portuguese and can be masculine or feminine, but unlike other languages are never neutral in Portuguese. Articles are small words that precede a noun, or in Portuguese |um substantivo|. The definite article in English is the word |the| and the indefinite is |a|; first I will start with the definite article. In English, if you say the book or the table, you always use the word |the| as nouns have no gender, but in Portuguese, it is different.
The definite article in Portuguese always matches the gender of the noun and also matches the noun when it is singular or plural. In order to understand the logic of genders, we suggest that you read this article.
for masculine word singular
for masculine word plural
for feminine word singular
for feminine word plural
The definite article appears before a noun in certain circumstances, where it is not used in English, for example before certain proper nouns, country names, names of persons, seasons, possessives and names of organizations.
|O livro > The book
O António (name of a person – man) > Anthony
O Togo (country name) > Togo
O “meu” livro (possessive masculine) > My book
|A mesa > The table
A Maria (name of a person – woman) > Maria
A primavera (season name – feminine) > Spring
A “minha” casa (possessive feminine) > My house
If you look at the words livro and António in detail, you will see that livro and António end in |o| and mesa and Maria end in |a|. So if you want to say the book in portuguese, you say o livro. But if we want to say the table, you say a mesa.
In general, nouns that end in |o| are masculine and those that end in |a| are feminine, but there are few exceptions.
Masculine words ending in |o|
|o livro||the book|
|o barco||the boat|
|o carro||the car|
|o copo||the glass|
|o dedo||the finger|
|o gato||the cat|
|o pato||the duck|
|o sapato||the shoe|
|o rio||the river|
|o mundo||the world|
Feminine words ending in |a|
|a casa||the house|
|a mesa||the table|
|a janela||the window|
|a caneta||the pen|
|a porta||the door|
|a chávena||the tea cup|
|a cadeira||the chair|
|a mota||the motorbike|
|a cozinha||the kitchen|
|a mosca||the fly|
There are also some irregular nouns that end in |a|. These words, only by knowing them, we know if they are masculine or feminine.
|O día (masculine) > The day
O problema (masculine) > The problem
O poeta (masculine) > The poet
O mapa (masculine) > The map
Other noun endings and their gender examples
Nouns ending in -e.
|A cantante (feminine) > The singer
A crise (feminine) > The crisis
A ponte (feminine) > The bridge
Nouns ending in -ão, -l, -z.
|O leão (masculine) > The lion
O avião (masculine) > The plane
O campeão (masculine) > The champion
A razão (feminine) > The reason
|O aerosol (masculine) > Aerosol
O álcool (masculine) > Alcohol
|A gravidez (feminine) > Pregnancy
A luz (feminine) > The light
A raiz (feminine) > The root
Nouns ending -im, -om, -um tend to be masculine and -ção, -dade, -gem tend to be feminine.
|O jasmim (masculine) > The jasmin
O boletim (masculine) > The bulletin
O marfim (masculine) > The ivory
|O batom (masculine) > The lipstick
O dom (masculine) > The talent
O som (masculine) > The sound
|O atum (masculine) > The tuna
O álbum (masculine) > The album
O jejum (masculine) > Fasting
|A lição (feminine) > The lesson
A imaginação (feminine) > The imagination
A informação (feminine) > The information
|A felicidade (feminine) > Happiness
A cidade (feminine) > The city
A idade (feminine) > The age
|A bagagem (feminine) > The luggage
A mensagem (feminine) > The message
A passagem (feminine) > The passage
The feminine of the nouns
When a noun ends in |o| you must change the o for |a|. Note that the article also changes, since it must agree in gender and number with the noun.
|O amigo / A amiga > The friend
O gato / A gata > The cat
O sogro / A sogra > The father-in-law / The mother-in-law
O rato / A rata > The mouse
O advogado / A advogada > The lawyer
O engenheiro / A engenheira > The engineer
O aluno / A aluna > The pupil
When a noun ends in |r| or |s| you just add |a|.
|O doutor / A doutora > The doctor
O condutor / A condutora > The driver
O cantor / A cantora > The singer
O nadador / A nadadora > The swimmer
O apresentador / A apresentadora > The presenter
O freguês / A freguesa > The male client / The female client
O burgues / A burguesa > The bourgeois
Plural of definitive articles & nouns (for words ending in o/a)
To transform nouns ending in voyels |o| or |a| into plurals, Portuguese simply adds an |s|. The rule is the same with the definitive article, |o| becomes |os| and |a| becomes |as|.
The plural in Portuguese language is more complete. Check here for all plurals.
Plural masculine word examples
|o livro > os livros||the books|
|o barco > os barcos||the boats|
|o carro > os carros||the cars|
|o copo > os copos||the glasses|
|o dedo > os dedos||the fingers|
|o gato > os gatos||the cats|
|o pato > os patos||the ducks|
|o sapato > os sapatos||the shoes|
|o rio > os rios||the river|
|o mundo > os mundos||the worlds|
Plural feminine word examples
|a casa > as casas||the houses|
|a mesa > as mesas||the tables|
|a janela > as janelas||the windows|
|a caneta > as canetas||the pens|
|a porta > as portas||the doors|
|a chávena > as chávenas||the tea cups|
|a cadeira > as cadeiras||the chairs|
|a mota > as motas||the motorbikes|
|a cozinha > as cozinhas||the kitchens|
|a mosca > as moscas||the flies|
We also add and |s| to words ending in the voyels -e, -i, -u. Although there are not many words with these endings.
|A cantante / As cantantes > The singer
A crise / As crises (feminine) > The crisis
A ponte / As pontes (feminine) > The bridge
There are nouns ending in the consonants -l, -m, -r, -s, -z. Check here for all plurals.
Contraction |de| (of)
To form phrases like |Manuel’s boat| or |Maria’s house| we need to add a preposition. We do not have possesive case, so we do not express it like in English. We say |the boat of Manuel|, |the house of Maria|. Find list of all prepositions and its contractions in our grammar section.
|Preposition||Definite article masculine||Definite article feminine|
||do (of + the)
|dos (of + the)
|da (of + the)
|das (of + the)
|A casa do António. > Antonio’s house.
A chávena da Maria. > Maria’s tea cup.
O livro do Luis. > Luis’s book.
O pai da Maria. > Maria’s father.
A mãe do António. > Antonio’s mother.
As casas da Esmeralda. > Esmeralda’s houses.
Os barcos do Pedro. > Pedro’s boats.
Os carros das amigas da Maria. > The cars of Maria’s friends. (feminine)
|O gato da vizinha. > The (masculine) cat of the (feminine) neighbour.
O gato do vizinho. > The (masculine) cat of the (masculine) neighbour.
A gata da vizinha. > The (feminine) cat of the (feminine) neighbour.
A gata do vizinho. > The (feminine) cat of the (masculine) neighbour.
|* Os gatos dos vizinhos. > The cats (in general) of the neighbours (in general).|
* We are still a bit “macho” so when we speak in plural we generally use the masculine although the nouns can consist of masculine and feminine unless we are talking of all the feminine nouns in plural. Example: As gatas das vizinhas. As gatas dos vizinhos.