Learn Portuguese (Brazilian) sentence by sentence

This basic Portuguese Brazilian language course is in two parts. The first consisting of useful phrases which are learnt without regard to any particular grammatical points.

The second is a series of lessons illustrating some basic grammar. These lessons will be particularly helpful when used in conjunction with a phrasesbook enabling you to construct and modify sentences.

A very basic grammar

A very basic grammar covering some of the most important points to help you build simple sentences - and modify those from phrase books. The headings are split into lessons, each containing sentences illustrating the point, and all with audio recorded by a native speaker from Brazil.

The simple sentences don't cover or mention exceptions.


Like many European languages, Brazilian Portuguese uses different words for "you", depending on the degree of formality required. In broad terms, tu and você (both meaning singular "you") are used in informal situations, while in formal contexts o senhor, a senhora (masculine singular, feminine singular) are preferred.

In parts of Brazil, você represents an intermediate degree of formality between tu (familiar) and o senhor (very formal). However, você has replaced tu in some parts of Brazil - which according to the

wiki entry is mainly in the southeast of Brazil.

So to sum up, in general terms, tu is used in informal situations, o senhor is very formal and voce is somewhere in the middle. The example sentences use both informal and formal forms.


Portuguese nouns are either masculine or feminine. Words ending in an o are usually masculine and words ending in a are usually feminine. Words ending in ão may be either masculine or feminine, so you must learn the gender

Definite and indefinite articles

The definite article 'the' and indefinite article 'a' used depends on the gender and number of the noun.

The definite article is either: o (masculine singular), a (feminine singular), os (masculine plural) and as (feminine plural).

The indefinite article 'a' is either um (masculine singular), uma (feminine singular), unos (masculine plural) and umas (feminine plural).

Uma cidade Cidade 'city' is feminine and 'a' is uma
O hotel Hotel 'hotel' is masculine and 'the' is o.
A chiave Chiave 'key' is feminine and 'the' is a.
Os livros Livro 'book' is masculine and the masculine plural of 'the' is os.
As casas Casa 'house' is feminine and the feminine plural of 'the' is as.

Adjectives must be inflected according to the gender and number of the noun referred to. E.g. the o in branco changes to a, as and os to agree with carro (masculine singular), casa (feminine singular), aves (masculine plural) and gatos (feminine plural).

This nice white car Este lindo carro branco
This nice white house Esta linda casa branca
These nice white birds Estas lindas aves brancas
These nice white cats Estes lindos gatos brancos

Example phrases using adjectives.

Adjectives. Plural

Generally to make an adjective plural, an s is added to the singular version. So pequeno becomes pequenos and pequena becomes pequenas.

The houses are small As casas são pequenas
The rooms are small Os quartos são pequenos

Example sentences using plural adjectives.

Word Order

The normal sentence structure is subject verb object - as in many of the previous examples. These sample sentences also show the use some of the irregular verbs.

Example sentences showing sentence word order.


A demonstrative is a word like 'this/that/these and those', and is often accompanied by pointing. Again, like adjectives, demonstratives change depending on the noun referred to.

In the singular, 'this' is este (masculine), esta (feminine), and in the plural estes (masculine) and estas (feminine).

Example sentences using demonstratives.


Portuguese verbs conjugate depending on the meaning needed.However, unlike the other Romance languages, tu uses the same verb endings as você, meaning there are no second person verbs. This is similar in the plural and in contast to other Romance languages. Tu, você and o senhor all use the 3rd person of the relevant verb.

Infinitives There are three Portuguese conjugations with (infinitive) forms ending in ar, er, and ir.

When the ending (ar, er, or ir) is removed the verb stem remains. Endings are added to the verb stem to change the meaning. The endings vary depending to which of the conjugations the verb belongs. The following examples are in the present tense.

Trabalhar, is an ar verb with a stem of trabalh:

I work Eu trabalho
He works Ele trabalhou
She works Ela trabalhou
We work Nós trabalhamos
You (plural) work Vocês trabalham
They work (masculine) Eles trabalham
They work (feminine) Elas trabalham

The pronouns Eu 'I', Você 'you', Ele 'he', Ela 'she' ... are often omitted if the subject is clear from the context.

Comer, is an er verb:

I eat Como
You/he/she/it eats Come
We eat Comemos
You/They eat Comem

Partir, is an ir verb:

I leave Parto
You/he/she/it leaves Parte
We leave Partimos
You/They leave Partem

Example sentences showing regular verbs.

Verbs. Irregular

Many of the most common and useful verbs are irregular.

To want Querer
I want Quero
You/he/she/it wants Quer
We want Queremos
They want Querem

Example sentences using Querer.

To be able Poder
I can posso
You/he/she/it/can pode
We can podemos
You/they can podem

Example sentences using Poder.

To go Ir
I go vou
You/he/she/it/goes vai
We go vamos
You/they go vão

Example sentences using Ir.

To have Ter
I have tenho
You/he/she/it have tem
We have temos
You/they have têm

Example sentences using Ter.

There are two verbs meaning 'to be' and these are used in different situations.

To be Estar
I am estou
You/he/she/it are está
We are estamos
You/they are estão

Example sentences using Estar.

To be Ser
I am sou
You/he/she/it are é
We are somos
You/they are são

Example sentences using Ser.


In Portuguese prepositions (and demonstratives) are combined with a following article to form contractions. There are numerous contractions, for example:

de + a da
em + as nas
em + os nos
a + os aos

and so on ... Example sentences using contractions.


There are various ways of asking questions. A statement can become a question using a 'question word' such as 'who, where, what'. Statements can also be changed into questions by changing the intonation of the phrase. For example, posso 'I can' with a change in emphasis becomes posso? 'Can I?'.

Where? Onde?
Where from? De onde?
To where? Para onde?
At what time? A que horas?
How much? Quanto?
Why? Por que?
Who/whom? Quem?
What? O que?

Example phrases using question words.


Possessive pronouns have masculine, feminine, singular and plural forms and agree with the noun/thing being possessed. The masculine singular form of my is meu and the feminine singular is minha. So 'my address' is meu enderêço as address is masculine, but 'my key' is minha chave as the word for key is feminine.

my meu minha meus minhas
your seu sua seus suas
our, ours nosso, nossa, nossos, nossass

Seu, sua etc. may also mean his, her, their, theirs. To avoid confusion dele 'of him, his', dela 'of her, her', deles 'of them, their (m)' and delas 'theirs (f)' are used when necessary.

Dele and dela are not affected by the thing possessed: a mala dele 'his suitcase' and a malas dele 'his suitcases'.

The definite article as 'the' is often used with these possessives. E.g. As minhas casas 'my houses'.

Example phrases using possessives.

Portuguese Grammar. Resources

Portuguese phrases 'Get by' words and phrases.

Some of the example sentences above are from the FSI Brazilian Portuguese language course now in the public domain. It is good but dated and lacking audio, with many of the examples and situations of little relevance.

Learningportuguese.co.uk contains explanations of Portuguese grammar (and more) - http://www.learningportuguese.co.uk

More Brazilian Portuguese phrases can be found : http://wikitravel.org which also contains some (basic) grammatical explanations.

There is also a very much more detailed Wiki entry describing Portuguese grammar.