Geared toward Absolute Beginners, this course gives you a solid start and foundation to build upon.
This is an introductory course to the Portuguese language as spoken in Portugal. Throughout the course, we will focus on the Portuguese sound system and basic Portuguese grammar.
You will also learn how to introduce yourself and day-to-day, useful phrases. Finally, we will discuss learning resources and strategies to support your learning journey.
After the course, you will have a basic understanding of European Portuguese pronunciation and grammar. You will also be capable of engaging in simple, short oral interactions. Last but not least, you will be aware of a variety of learning resources and strategies to help you succeed at learning the language.
I will keep you updated on upcoming course seasons
This intensive course is for language learners striving toward the A2 level.
Demonstratives are those words that help with pointing out a person or object as well as their location in relation to both speaker and hearer.
Portuguese demonstratives work along the same lines as the English, that is, they indicate whether something is closer or further away, either in time or space:
Esta mesa aqui é de vidro, essa aí é de madeira. This table here is made of glass; that one is made of wood.
Estes tempos de agora são complicados do que aqueles de outrora. These present times are more complicated than those from before.
Now, Portuguese demonstratives are more nuanced than the English. This is partly because they also agree with the noun’s gender, and partly because there is a neuter form that disregards both number and gender.
Also, there is a third variant of demonstratives encoding a specific spatial relationship between speaker, hearer, and object that English misses altogether.
Finally, let’s not forget that Portuguese demonstratives merge with a few prepositions, meaning that you have to keep track of a more varied word morphology compared to English.
We’ll soon look into all that in more detail. But for now, here are the Portuguese demonstratives in anutshell:
VARIABLE (more specific; agree with the noun’s gender and number)
INVARIABLE (neuter) (less specific; no regard to either gender or number)
this/these near the speaker
este (s/m)* esta (s/f) estes (p/m) estas (p/f)
that/those near the hearer
esse (s/m) essa (s/f) esses (p/m) essas (p/f)
that/ those (over there) far from both
aquele (s/m) aquela (s/f) aqueles (p/m) aquelas (p/f)
* s – singular; p – plural; m – masculine; f – feminine
Variable vs. invariable demonstratives
In Portuguese, demonstratives come in two flavors, variable and invariable (neuter).
Variable demonstratives are specific in that they conform to both number and gender of the nouns they refer to.
Invariable demonstratives, on the other hand, don’t attend to either number or gender and are, therefore, more general.
Variable demonstratives change their endings to agree with the noun’s gender and number they refer to:
Esta pera é saborosa. (a pera) This pear is tasty.
Estesmelões são saborosos. (os melões) These melons are tasty!
Also, they can be used either as stand-alonepronouns (substituting for the noun altogether) or adjectivally as determiners:
as a determiner
Estasmaçãs não prestam! These apples are no good!
as a pronoun
Estas não prestam! These are no good!
Invariable demonstratives don’t conform to either gender or number. They are less specific and always used as pronouns:
Isto é saboroso. This is tasty.
We often use them to either speak concisely or in more abstract terms (compared to variable demonstratives):
More abstract vs. less abstract
Isto é teu vs. Estacaneta é tua This is yours vs. This pen is yours
Leva isto contigo vs. Leva estes livros contigo Take this with you vs. Take these books with you
Isto é complicado vs. Esta situação é complicada This is complicated vs. This situation is complicated
Demonstratives and space
In Portuguese, there are 3 categories of demonstratives according to the spatial relationship between the speaker and hearer, and the things they talk about.
Near the speaker
The demonstratives in this group refer to people or things near the speaker. They correspond to the English demonstratives this/these:
este navio this ship
estes homens these men
esta companhia this company
estas fotografias these photographs
Note that the sense of proximity to the speaker conveyed by these demonstratives is often reinforced by the adverb of place aqui (here):
este navio aqui this ship here
estes homens aqui these men here
istoaqui this here
These demonstratives merge with the prepositions de and em:
de + (este; esta; estes; estas; isto)
em + (este; esta; estes; estas; isto)
deste (s/m) desta (s/f) destes (p/m) destas (p/f) disto
neste (s/m) nesta (s/f) nestes (p/m) nestas (p/f) nisto
Here’re a few sentence-examples:
Gostaste deste filme? (gostar de) Did you enjoy this movie?
Estou farto desta canção. (estar farto de) I am tired of this song.
Preciso disto aqui. (precisar de) I need this.
Entrei nesta loja mesmo agora. (entrar em) I just came into this shop.
Ninguém pode viver nestas condições! (viver em) No one can live in these conditions!
Não penses nisto agora. (pensar em) Don’t think about this now.
Gostas daquela casa? (gostar de) Do you like that house?
Hoje lembrei-me daqueles dias maravilhosos de verão. (lembrar-se de) Today I remembered those wonderful summer days.
Preciso daquilo agora. (precisar de) I need that now.
Deitei-me naquele sofá e adormeci. (deitar-se em) I lay on that couch and fell asleep.
Vivo naquela casa ali. (viver em) I live in that house over there!
Não penses naquilo. (pensar em) Don’t think about that thing.
Vou àquele restaurante. (ir a) I am going to go to that restaurant.
Pedi ajuda àqueles senhores. (pedir ajuda a) I asked those gentlemen for help.
Queres assistir àquilo? (assistir a) You want to watch that thing?
Demonstratives and time
Demonstratives are not only relatable to space but also to time. For instance, este(s), estas(s), and isto refer to the present time:
Estes tempos são difíceis. These times are difficult.
Both esse(s), essa(s), isso and aquele(s), aquela(s), aquilo refer to the past time:
Esses tempos foram difíceis. Aqueles tempos foram difíceis Those times were difficult.
In a past time-context, the difference between using esse(s), essa(s), isso or aquele(s), aquela(s), aquilo is very subtle.
If someone was talking about a past event and I were to comment upon it, I would probably go with esse(s), essa(s), isso. Otherwise, aquele(s), aquela(s), aquilo might be preferable.
Reading tips! As you’ve noticed, Portuguese demonstratives have specific forms for masculine vs. feminine and singular vs. plural nouns. But they are far from being the only word class affected by gender and number. Learn more about it: