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How To Use & Understand "...inho" - Dininutives In Portuguese
April 12, 2011
Olá! Tudo bem?

If you want to learn Portuguese with Rafa click here to see what I mean.

Hey! Have you ever wondered about the reason why Portuguese speakers, so often, end their words with "...inho" or "...inha", "...zinho" or "...zinha"?

And this is not only to express that an object is small...

No, I'm not joking! It's true. Indeed, if you use the diminutives properly in Portuguese you'll be be passing a sort of message that you wouldn't be able to pass with any other words. This is one of the things I'll try to explain to you today - the power of using diminutives in Portuguese.

Another thing is that I'm officially getting very excited here, and I'll tell you why in just a few moments too.

But before anything else, let me ask you a few questions first.

During this time that I've been quiet, what kind of thoughts have you come up with about your learning? How have you been progressing? What have you been doing to enhance your fluency in Portuguese?

Hey, during this time, I hope you:

1. Have rewarded yourself for having enhanced you self-discipline, and for becoming more conscious of the results you have accomplished so far with your Portuguese.

2. Have found new ways of mastering your fluency.

3. Have written down all your questions about the parts of the language you have been concentrating on so far, which you may not fully understand.

Have you checked any of these boxes?

I know. Many of you have.

Also many of you have contacted me too, which made me very happy. Every single email I've received from you have put a smile on my face and made me think to myself: Yeah baby! You are getting there my friend! This is the way! Just keep going with the great work!

Indeed, all of you deserved every single minute I spent replying to every single email personally. Everything you shared with me on your emails, and every question you asked me, every misunderstanding you showed me represented a lot to me. Above all, it proved me your progress, and my friend, I can tell you, this is priceless! Thank you!

But, I cannot hide my concern about those of you who didn't get in touch.

All I can think of is, either you are doing tremendously well, and are already communicating with Portuguese native speakers, or something is not going as planned.

If the latter is your case, do you still have that list of reasons that made you start or continue with your Portuguese learning? Have you been reading those reasons recently?

If you haven't read them recently, or even, if you haven't ever written down the reasons that made you want to speak Portuguese in the first place, please do it now! This is really important!

Think about it. You are the only one with the answer. If you want to share anything with me, I'll be all ears, and ready to help you.

Anyway, but just before we move on to the "...inho" and "...zinho", let me quickly tell you about my excitement. OK, for all this time that I have been quiet, what do you think I have been doing?

No, I haven't changed my job. And no, I haven't neglected my mission here in helping you speak Portuguese.

This time of quietness doesn't mean that I have been laying down on the park and hanging around enjoying this beautiful weather either, although this is making us here in London very happy. :-)

No. What I've been doing is, I have been working really hard on my creation. And I have good news now. It's over 90 percent ready. Yes, over 90 percent already! The closer I get to the completion, the more excited I get too. Are you with me on this? Do you understand now why we need to be persistent?

If you are wondering what kind of creation this is, I'll reveal a bit of the secret for you right now. Yes, but just a bit, OK?

What I'm creating is a Language tool that will help you better

• learn,

• understand,

• listen to,

• pronounce and

• recall Portuguese words and expressions categorised in a strategic sequence that will lead you to communicate in Portuguese faster, more efficiently and more fluently.

This is a tool that will make you use your full brain capacity for learning, and with this I mean by using your conscious and subconscious mind.

I have designed it with all the passion and knowledge I have, together with the results of all the research I've done for years on teaching and learning Portuguese. With this, one of my main aims is to allow you to learn Portuguese in such a way that you won't have to give up of your free time - the time you like to spend with your friends, family and hobbies - to learn Portuguese. How does it sound?

I'm so excited to have this ready, that I can hardly sleep. Believe me!

I've been working with people from different parts of the world to make this happening.

So far, I have had many delays and obstacles with the process of making this real, but I'm determined to accomplish my mission as I, very deep inside, believe this is going to help you achieve fluency faster.

More great news will come soon. I promise.

But let's go to the nitty-gritty now.

As I said, let's talk about diminutives in Portuguese.

Diminutives are used everywhere all the time by Portuguese native-speakers wherever they are, wherever they go.

In case you are not sure about what a diminutive is, I can tell you that it is an alteration of a Portuguese word. This alteration is the ending of the word that gives a sense of affection, cuteness, irony, contemptuousness or smallness to an object or a person.

Let me explain.

Every time Portuguese native speakers have these feelings about something or someone, they use diminutives.

In fact, diminutives in Portuguese can be used in pretty much everything:

a) Nouns (the name of an object, for instance "table", "house", "computer", etc.),

b) Names (a person's or a pet's name, for instance ), or

c) Adjectives (a words that gives a quality to a noun, for instance "beautiful", "big", "good", etc.)

So, if it's a word that ends either in "o" (masculine) or "a" (feminine) it's endings are respectively "...inho" and "...inha" for the singular and , "...inhos" or "...inhas" for the plural.

OK. Let me give you the rules to know how to build it properly first, and then a few examples:

In general, and as we have seen before, the ending of the diminutive is

"...inho" and "...inha" (singular) or

"...inhos" and "...inhas" (for plural).

Exemple: "A minha casa é bonita." (My house is beautiful) but if you want to show that you have affection for your house you'd say "A minha casinha é bonitinha" (which corresponds to something like "My house is so beautiful that I love it to bits", like "My house is my baby". In this case, you are talking about your house as something you protect a lot and you are very proud of).

Do you understand?

So in Portuguese, if you want to show the affection you have for something you just need to use a diminutive.

How cool is this?

Let me give you some more examples:

"Gato" becomes "Gatinho" (sweet cat).
"Problema" becomes "Probleminha" (a small problem that you can easily resolve).
"Amigo" becomes "Amiguinho" (which with the right intonation in a sentence like "Ele é um amiguinho" means "He's the back-stabber sort of friend).
"Livro" becomes "Livrinho" (which means that it's the kind of book you'd never get rid of for anything in this world).

So you can take any noun, name or adjective and add some more meaning to it just by adding "...inho" at the end.

Isn't this great?

Let me put some more examples here for you:

With nouns:

"Carro" becomes "Carrinho" - car.
"Água" becomes "Aguinha" - water
"Comida" becomes "Comidinha" - food

With names:

"Pedro" becomes "Pedrinho" - Peter
"Cristina" becomes "Cristininha" - Christina
"Carminda" becomes "Carmindinha" - Carminda

With adjectives:

"Grande" becomes "Grandinho" - Slightly big
"Verde" becomes "Verdinho" - Vivid green
"Barato" becomes "Baratinho" - Cheap and affordable

Even with some adverbs like:

"Depressa" becomes "Depressinha" - to give the idea of very quickly
"Nunca" becomes "Nunquinha" - to give the idea of Never ever.

And so on and so forth.

Do you get me?

Nevertheless, I must say that if the original word doesn't end either with "O" or "A", it gets the ending of "...zinho" or "...zinha" instead, specially in the following cases:

1. When the stressed syllable is the last syllable of the word, so

"Café" becomes "cafezinho" (a pleasant and delicious coffee)
"Papel" becomes "Papelzinho" (a small piece of paper)
"Mulher" becomes "Mulherzinha" (which in a sentence like "Que mulherzinha, hein..." means something like "What a vulgar woman")
"Animal" becomes "Animalzinho" (and you'd use this to show compassion for an abandoned animal in the street in a sentence like "Hoje vi um animalzinho abandonado na rua" - Today I saw a poor animal abandoned in the street).

2. When the original word ends with two vowels, so "Rua" becomes "Ruazinha" (to show that it's a street that is hidden and hard to find)
"Pai" becomes "paizinho" (to emphasise special affection for your father in a special occasion)
"Boa" becomes "boazinha" (to indicate that a certain person is not only a good person but very sweet as well).

3. When a word ends with a nasal sound, like

"Mãe" becomes "Mãezinha" (if you want to emphasize that your love for your mother is very strong)
"Irmão" becomes "Irmãozinho" (to indicate that your brother is considerably younger than you, for instance, so that you want to protect him a lot)
"Fim" becomes "Finzinho" (to indicate, for instance sarcasm when a film has a disappointing ending, in an expression like "O filme teve cá um finzinho...")

Do you understand?

Well, then, and before I finish, there are a few exceptions like: "Devagar" becomes "Devagarinho". In this case, if "devagar" means slowly, "devagarinho means even more slowly.

Many people even use diminutives in Portuguese when there are no grammatical explanation for it, for instance in words like "Tchauzinho" because they want to show special affection by the time they say goodbye, or even "Até loguinho" instead of the simple "Até logo" (see you later).

So, when you have finished reading this email, think about all the words you can use the diminutive with, and don't be afraid!

Well, and that's all for today. I'm going to call it a day now because I still have plenty of things to do in order for me to finish this project as soon as possible.

Think about this email whilst you enjoy your learning, and think about how you can best focus on to achieve your goals.

I hope you have enjoyed this message as much as I have enjoyed writing it and I'll be back with more news soon.

Till then, Bom trabalhinho!
Enjoy your work! (and here I show a bit of emphasis as I expect you to work on your Portuguese) ;-))

Your friend,

Rafa x

PS 1: Questions about any topic? Success stories? Please let me know.

PS 2: Also, if you were going to tell your friends ONE PIECE OF ADVICE you learned from me which has helped you to speak Portuguese... What would that be? Let me know in your email!

I look forward to receiving your email :-)


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