Short Portuguese Lessons

Contents of lesson 4:

Some Prepositons




Some Prepositions

In classical Latin, the role of each member in the sentence was given by special case endings. In the evolution of Latin, these endings were replaced by prepositions, and that's what we use in Portuguese.
For English speakers, this is not very different from what they are used to, eventhough there isn't a one-to-one correspondence between english prepositions and their portuguese counterparts.
The following tables gives you a listing of some common prepositions, the ones we'll use for now:

English Portuguese
to a
from, of de
in em

Please keep in mind that these are just general translations. In many situations the prepositions used in Portuguese differ from those used in English. Anyone who has ever learned a foreign language knows that prepositions are one of the most difficult aspects to master...
Perhaps you have noticed that the preposition a(to) has the same form as the definite article for the feminine singular. This is just a coincidence, because gramatically they are very different. Be careful not to mistake them! (Just as in English one doesn't mistake to, too, and two eventhough they sound the same)


In Portuguese, you will rarely see those prepositions above alone in a sentence. The use of contractions is very common, and the usage of some of the non-contracted forms doesn't even sound well.
In the table below you'll find the contractions of the prepositions with the articles. (there are other elements that contract, but for now we'll stick to these)

Prepositions Definite Articles Indefinite Articles
o a um uma
a ao à a um a uma
de do da de um (dum) de uma (duma)
em no na num numa

As you can see, some of the constructions are not contracted, some can be contracted (user's choice), and others are always contracted.
I didn't indicate the plural forms because they follow the general rules shown in the previous lesson.
The construction "to the" (feminine singular), in Portuguese is said a a, which is always contracted to à. The only use for the grave accent in Portuguese is to indicate a contraction, like in this case.


Once again, the following examples use all the grammar given so far: the conjugation of the present tense of verbs ending in ar, er, ir, the articles, the making of masculine/feminine, singular/plural, and at last the prepositions. We'll introduce some new vocabulary, and we'll also need two new verbs: Ir (to go) and Vir (to come). Unfortunately, they are both irregular, and so you have to memorise them. (The same thing happens in all languages: the most common verbs, which people use daily, are usually irregular...)

Ir (to go)

Eu vou
Tu vais
Ele/ela/você vai
Nós vamos
Vós ides
Eles/elas/vocês vão

Vir (to come)

Eu venho
Tu vens
Ele/ela/você vem
Nós vimos
Vós vindes
Eles/elas/vocês vêm

Here's some vocabulary you might need:

praia - beach
circo - circus
teatro - theater
montanha - mountain
floresta - forest
lago - lake

And also the colours:

azul - blue
verde - green
vermelho - red
amarelo - yellow
branco - white
preto - black
castanho - brown
cinzento - gray
roxo - purple
cor-de-rosa (rosa) - pink
cor-de-laranja (laranja) - orange

Here are the examples:

O rapaz vem da praia - The boy comes from the beach
Eles vão ao teatro - They go to the theatre
Ele come as maças vermelhas num circo - He eats the red apples in a circus
Eu venho de uma praia amarela - I come from a yellow beach
Vós ides ao lago - You go to the lake
O urso velho vive na montanha branca - The old bear lives in the white mountain

In some of the sentences above, an english speaker would use the present continous instead of the simple present. In Portuguese there is also a construction equivalent to the present continous, but for now we'll use only the simple present.
Don't forget that the colours, being adjectives, must agree with the noun!


Translate the following sentences from Portuguese to English, and from English to Portuguese. (You can see the answers here.)

Um gato feliz bebe a água azul no lago
O boi castanho da montanha come na praia
Nós vamos ao lago
A woman from Portugal sings in the theatre
The big bear lives in a cold forest
The brown horse goes to the beach

And that's all for lesson 4. You are welcome to continue and go on for lesson 5. There we'll learn how to make questions, and we'll see lots of more new vocabulary.

Please send me your comments, sugestions, or whatever! If there's anything you would like to see included in these Short Portuguese lessons, please tell me so!

Lesson 4 Go on to Lesson 5

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Last updated: 97/04/04

Dario Oliveira Teixeira