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Intermediate B1

This intensive course is for language learners striving toward the B1 level. The language of instruction is Portuguese. I will speak in English only if need be.

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My suggestion for these two weeks is to focus on*:

  • Conversation
  • Listening comprehension
  • Reading comprehension
  • Compound tenses (Ter auxiliary) / Personal Infinitive / Imperative Mood / Present Subjunctive
  • Prepositional usage

*There's always room to adjust the course according to the group's preferences:

After this course, you'll have come closer to the B1 level and have the tools and strategies to get there and beyond.

Not sure if you should enroll in the A2 or B1 course?

Take this placement test

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Beginners A2

This intensive course is for language learners striving toward the A2 level. The language of instruction is English/Portuguese typically in a 30/70 ratio. (I always speak with you in Portuguese as much as possible.)

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My suggestion for these two weeks is to focus on:

  • Listening comprehension
  • Oral interaction
  • Past tense (Perfeito vs. Imperfeito)
  • Prepositional usage
  • Any other aspects according to your preferences as a group

After this course, you'll have come closer to the A2 level and gained the tools to take it further all by yourself.

Not sure if you should enroll in the A2 or B1 course?

Take this placement test

Any questions?

Inquiry

Beginners A1

This intensive course is for language learners striving toward the A1 level. The language of instruction is English/Portuguese typically in a 60/40 ratio. (I always speak with you in Portuguese as much as possible.)

If you've just started your learning journey, it may be that you will find this course a bit challenging. Nothing wrong with that. However, if you want to take it easy, consider enrolling for the Clean Slate A0 instead (if available).

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This is an all-round course, which means that we’ll work on all aspects of language learning according to the A1 level*:

  • Pronunciation
  • Listening comprehension
  • Reading comprehension
  • Conversation
  • Grammar

* There's always room to adjust the course according to your preferences as a group.

After this course, you'll have come closer to the A1 level and gained the tools to take it further all by yourself.

Not sure if you should enroll in the A1 or A2 course?

Take this placement test

Any questions?

Inquiry

Clean Slate A0

Geared toward Absolute Beginners, this course gives you a solid start and foundation to build upon. The language of instruction is almost entirely in English.

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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.

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New dates covering the period Mar–Jun will soon be announced. Fill up this form and I will keep you posted.

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Do you know what constipado means in Portuguese? Probably not what you are thinking...

Get a list of 50+ English-Portuguese False Friends and be surprised.

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Gender of Portuguese Words

Like other Romance languages, Portuguese nouns are gender-marked as masculine or feminine.

The gender dimension in Portuguese extends nonetheless well beyond nouns. For instance, word classes such as adjectives, pronouns, and articles will change their form to conform to the gender of the noun they refer to.

Take the following sentences:

(1) O meu primo comprou o seu primeiro carro.
My male cousin bought his first car.
(2) A minha prima comprou a sua primeira mota
My female cousin bought her first motorcycle.

In the examples above, the words marked in red are nouns, either masculine (primo, carro) or feminine (prima, mota). The words in blue, on the other hand, are those words conforming to the gender of the nouns they are referring to. As you can see, swapping the red words’ gender – as it happens from sentences 1 to 2 – affects all blue words around them.

Understandably, such gender ramifications make life a bit harder for language learners to say the least.

For instance, if you mistake the gender of a given noun in a sentence, you’ll probably pick the wrong inflection of the gender-conforming words around it. Or you might get the noun’s gender right but fail to gender-align all the rest accordingly.

Put another way, keeping everything gender-aligned is cumbersome for language learners, not least for those of you who just got started. In that regard, gender is a stumbling block that gets in the way for most of us. 

If you want to ease your pains concerning this gender “imbroglio”, I encourage you to look into Module 3 of All-Round Beginners. There, we dive into different spelling patterns that help you identify nouns’ gender. In addition, we explore masculine-to-feminine conversion patterns that will make your learning more intuitive and thus easier.

Let’s get started. 

! If you are a complete beginner, I’d recommend that you read the following grammar-introductory article before you dive into the specifics of gender: Dabbling in Portuguese grammar – first impressions for beginners.

Btw, gender and number go hand in hand when it comes to word declension. Here’s a complementary read for you: Forming the Plural in Portuguese: Singular-to-Plural Conversion Patterns You Need to Care About.

Nouns

Either masculine or feminine

In general, Portuguese nouns are either masculine or feminine. So, how do you know which is which? 

Portuguese native speakers like me know it by heart, of course. Easy. But for you learning Portuguese as a second language, learning the nouns’ gender can be a long and laborious process. Luckily, there are a few spelling patterns that will make your life easier. Let’s look at some of them. 

Tips! When learning new words, always make sure that you learn their genders – learn them together with their respective definite articles.

The -o/-a pattern

The  –o/-a pattern pervades much of the Portuguese language. Hence, there is an abundance of masculine and feminine nouns ending in -o and -a respectively. This pattern alone will help you to guess the gender of a large number of words correctly. A few examples:

MASCULINEFEMININE
o vaso (pot)a mesa (table)
o livro (book)a torneira (tap)
o carro (car)a janela (window)
o copo (glass)a casa (house)
o garfo (fork)a persiana (blind)
o correio (post)a faca (knife)
o prédio (building)a cama (bed)
. . .

While the -o/-a pattern may apply to a large number of words, you ought to be on your guard as there are exceptions. The masculine word o dia (day) and the feminine word a tribo (tribe) are examples of that.

Importantly, if you want to be 100% sure about the nouns’ gender, look at those little words preceding them (o, a, esta, este, etc.) – those words are called determiners and indicate the gender of the nouns they refer to (we’ll be talking about determiners further down).

Nouns ending in -grama, –ema, and –oma

Actually, there are plenty of masculine nouns ending in -a. However, most of these nouns give away their gender through their spelling. Accordingly, nouns ending in -grama, -ema and -oma are masculine. A few examples:

MASCULINE
o programa (program)
o telegrama (telegram)
o cinema (cinema)
o sistema (system)
o idioma (idiom)
o axioma (axiom)
. . . 

So far, we’ve taken up nouns ending with either -o or -a. Yet, there’s an abundance of nouns ending either with other vowels or with consonants.  Fortunately, in these cases, there are also patterns that help us get the gender right. Let’s look at some of them. 

Nouns ending in -l, -r, or -z

Most nouns ending in -l, -r, and -z are masculine:

MASCULINE
o papel (paper)
o anel (ring)
o colar (collar)
o lugar (place)
o juíz (judge)
o arroz (rice)
. . . 

Nouns ending in -ão

Nouns ending in -ão referring to concrete things are often masculine:

MASCULINE
o pão (bread)
o limão (lemon)
o coração (heart)
o pião (spinning-top)
. . . 

Let’s now look at patterns pointing at feminine nouns.

Nouns ending in –ção ,-são, or –ssão

Often, words ending in either -ção, -são, or -ssão refer to abstract concepts and are feminine:

Feminine
a exceção (exception)
a resignação (resignation)
a dimensão (dimension)
a divisão (division)
a compressão (compression)
a missão (mission)
. . . 

Did you notice that all the examples above have English cognates? You see, you probably know more Portuguese words than you thought you did. Read the following article to unleash that vocab stash you’ve been sitting on all along: English-Portuguese Cognates – The Words You Already Know (Without Knowing It).

Nouns ending in -gem

Nouns ending in –gem are, for the most part, feminine:

FEMININE
a coragem (courage)
a origem (origin)
a imagem (image)
a vantagem (advantage)
a paisagem (landscape)
a viagem (travel)
. . . 

Nouns ending in -dade

The same goes for words ending with –dade, that is, they normally are feminine:

FEMININE
a cidade (city)
a necessidade (necessity)
a integridade (integrity)
a qualidade (quality)
a possibilidade (possibility)
a mobilidade (mobility)
. . . 

Two genders, two forms (conversion patterns)

Unlike the nouns we’ve covered so far, these ones have two forms, one masculine, and one feminine. Typically, these nouns refer to humans denoting things like kinship, profession, and nationality, as well as to animal species. 

Since all nouns in this category have both a feminine and masculine form, we will now be focusing on masculine-to-feminine conversion patterns.  

The good old -o/-a pattern

As mentioned before, the -o/-a pattern permeates much of the language and many of the words that have both masculine and feminine forms conform to it. 

Accordingly, masculine words ending in –o find their feminine form by having -o replaced with -a:

MASCULINEFEMININE
o tio (uncle)a tia (aunt)
o primo (cousin, he)a prima (cousin, she)
o médico (doctor, he)a médica (doctor, she)
o arquiteto (architect, he)a arquiteta (architect, she)
o gato (male cat)a gata (female cat)
o sueco (Swedish man)a sueca (Swedish woman)
. . .

Masculine nouns ending in –or

In principle, going from masculine nouns ending in –or, we form the feminine by adding an –a to it. Often, you’ll find names of professions, jobs, trades, or crafts fitting this category:

MASCULINEFEMININE
o pintor (male painter)a pintora (female painter)
o cantor (male singer)a cantora (female singer)
o professor (male teacher)a professora (female teacher)
o mentor (male mentor)a mentora (female mentor)
. . .

A few words ending in -or, however, form their feminine with -triz:

MASCULINEFEMININE
o ator (actor)a atriz (actress)
o embaixador (male ambassador)a embaixatriz (female ambassador)
o emperador (emperor)a emperatriz (empress)
. . . 

Masculine nouns ending in -ês

A similar conversion rule applies to masculine nouns ending in -ês, that is, we form the feminine by adding an -a. The words in this group often correspond to nationalities:

MASCULINEFEMININE
o francês (French man)a francesa (French woman)
o japonês (Japanese man)a japonesa (Japanese woman)
o inglês (English man)a inglesa (English woman)
o dinamarquês (male customer)a dinamarquesa (female customer)
. . .

By the way, the name of any language always matches the masculine form of the respective nationality. So, the national languages corresponding to the above nationalities are called Francês, Japonês, Inglês, and Dinamarquês respectively.  

Masculine nouns ending in –ão

Often, nouns ending in -ão form their feminine by dropping that final –o:

MASCULINEFEMININE
o ancião (old man)a anciã (old woman)
o alemão (German man)a alemã (German woman)
o irmão (brother)a irmã (sister)
o aldeão (villager man)a aldeã (villager woman)
. . .

Also possible are the feminine forms -oa and -ona

MASCULINEFEMININE
o melão (melon)a meloa (small melon)
o leão (lion)a leoa (lioness)
o chorão (crybaby, he)a chorona (crybaby, she)
solteirão (single man)solteirona (single woman)
. . .

Noble titles ending in -e 

Often, the masculine form of noble titles ends with -e, whereas their corresponding feminine forms end with either -essa or -esa

MASCULINEFEMININE
o conde (count)a condessa (countess)
o duque (duke)a duquesa (duchess)
o príncipe (prince)a princesa (princess)
o abade (abbot)a abadessa (abbess)
. . .

Anomalous cases

Some commonly used words won’t conform to any clear masculine-to-feminine conversion pattern. A few examples:

MASCULINEFEMININE
o homem (man)a mulher (woman)
o pai (father)a mãe (mother)
o rapaz (boy)a rapariga (girl)
o rei (king)a rainha (queen)
o frade (friar)a freira (nun)
. . .

Two genders, one form (unisex) 

Nouns ending with either -e or -a

There is an abundance of professions and occupation-related words ending with either the –e or –a vowels. Often, these words are unisex, that is, they look the same irrespective of gender. 

Consequently, it is only the articles (or other determiners) in front of those nouns that point out the gender. A few examples:

MASCULINE/FEMININE
o/a gerente (male manager)
o/a assistente (male assistant)
o/a dentista (male dentist)
o/a artista (male artist)
. . .

Adjectives

Adjectives always conform to gender and follow some of the masculine-to-feminine conversion patterns that we’ve gone through above. 

Observe the following few examples:

MASCULINEFEMININE
two genders, two forms
-o -a
oldvelho velha
madloucolouca
legitimatelegítimolegítima
shortcurtocurta
-ês-esa 
Portugueseportuguêsportuguesa
Chinesechinêschinesa
or -ora
hard-workingtrabalhadortrabalhadora
agitatoragitadoragitadora
two genders, one form
-a-a
dentistdentistadentista
idiotidiotaidiota
-e-e
enormousenormeenorme
strongforteforte

In addition, adjectives ending with the consonants –l, -s, -ar, or -z also remain unaltered in the feminine form:

MASCULINEFEMININE
two genders, one form
-l-l
possiblepossívelpossível
easyfácilfácil
blueazulazul
-s-s
simplesimplessimples
politecortêscortês
lilacliláslilás
-ar-ar
particularparticularparticular
familiarfamiliarfamiliar
similarsimilarsimilar
-z-z
capablecapazcapaz
happyfelizfeliz
sagacioussagazsagaz
. . .

Here are a couple of anomalous cases, yet commonly used adjectives:

MASCULINEFEMININE
goodbomboa 
badmau

Determiners

Simply put, determiners are words introducing a noun and they normally come before it. For instance, in the phrases the boy and my uncle, the words the and my are determiners. 

Importantly, in Portuguese, determiners conform to the gender of the noun they refer to.  There are different types of determiners and below we’ll be focusing on a few subcategories.

Articles

In Portuguese, like in English, there are definite and indefinite articles. Here’s what they look like in their masculine and feminine forms:

MASCULINEFEMININE
the (definite)o
o carro (the car)
a
a casa (the house)
a (indefinite)um
um prato (a plate)
uma
uma mesa (a table)

Demonstratives

Demonstrative determiners are those words pointing out objects:

MASCULINEFEMININE
this este
este copo (this glass)
esta
esta porta (this door)
that esse
esse casaco (that jacket)
essa
essa camisa (that shirt) 
that over thereaquele
aquele café (that café over there)
aquela
aquela igreja (that church over there)

Possessives

These determiners indicate possession:

MASCULINEFEMININE
mymeu
o meu lápis (my pencil)
minha
a minha caneta (my pen)
your teu
o teu computador (your computer)
tua
a tua secretária (your desk)
his/herseu (dele/dela)
o seu pai (his/her father)
sua (dele/dela)
a sua mãe (his/her mother)

As you see above, in Portuguese (mainly in the European standard), you normally put an article before a possessive. 

What’s more, the determiners seu and sua agree with pai (father) and mãe (mother) respectively, and not with the implied son or daughter. In other words, from the last sentences of the table above, we can’t know if the third person they refer to is a man or a woman.

However, we often use the possessives dele and dela instead, which have a direct correspondence to his and her in English. Accordingly, dele and dela, like his and her, agree with the gender of the person that the sentence is referring to:

 O pai dele (his father)
O pai dela (her father)
A mãe dele (his mother)
A mãse dela (her mother)

Further reading! Portuguese Possessive Pronouns and Adjectives.

Numerals

In Portuguese, only the numbers one and two have distinct forms for masculine and feminine. Otherwise, the same word covers both genders:

MASCULINEFEMININE
oneum
um saco (one bag)
uma
uma mochila (one backpack)
twodois
dois sacos (two bags)
duas
duas mochilas (two backpacks)
threetrês
três sacos (three bags)
três
três mochilas (three backpacks)
. . .

Portuguese ordinal numbers, on the other hand, have always a masculine and a feminine form:  

MASCULINEFEMININE
firstprimeiro
primeiro lugar (first place)
primeira
primeira fila (first row)
secondsegundo
segundo lugar (second place)
segunda
segunda fila (second row)
thirdterceiro
terceiro lugar (third place)
terceira
terceira fila (third row)
. . .

Further reading! If you want a more comprehensive account of Portuguese numerals, head over to this article: Numbers in Portuguese: counting from 1 to infinity.

Stay tuned for upcoming courses, reads, and other novelties.

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