Portuguese definite articles are important.
And so easy.

The Portuguese definite articles are of extreme importance. They are the equivalent to the English word "The".

To say "the" in Portuguese, you have 4 possibilities depending on gender and number.

I've created the following video-lesson in an attempt to help you better understand the definite articles in Portuguese. So please have a look and continue reading the rest of this article.

So, as you see, gender refers to words (of objects, ideas, or people's names) that are either feminine or masculine. Every single object, idea or person is either masculine or feminine - say male or female (except in very particular cases).

Although objects in English are, generally speaking, neutral (no male nor female), some of them have a gender. For instance, if you talk about the Titanic, you would say "She was a great ship". By saying "she", you are giving a gender to the ship Titanic - you are saying Titanic is a "she".

So now imagine you having to give a gender to every single object, idea or person.

This is what happens in Portuguese. And this is the role of the Portuguese definite articles.

Number: In Portuguese, you not only have to give a gender to words - with the Portuguese definite articles - but you also have to give them a number. What I mean by that is you have to define (with a Portuguese definite article) if they are singular or plural. As an example, you know that "the table" is different from "the tables."

So, the Definite articles are as follows:

O [oo]
A [ah]
OS [oosh]EU
AS [ash]EU

EU stands for European Portuguese and BR stands for Brazilian Portuguese.

The definite articles are also important because in most cases they match the ending of a word (e.g. a porta [the door], o copo [the glass], as camas [the beds], os livros [the books]).

You should also use a definite article before any person's name (e.g. O Paul, A Maria).

The only cases when you should not place a definite article before a person's, name is:

  • 1. When someone is really famous like writers, presidents, ministers, popes, etc. e.g. "Shakespeare foi um grande escritor" [Shakespeare was a great writer].
  • .

  • 2. When you are calling for someone (e.g. Peter, vem aqui, por favor! - Peter come here, please!).
  • In this last case you won't need to use the definite article because you are using the vocative, or in other words, you are catching someone's attention.

    Also you should not use a definite article:

  • 3. With Portuguese speaking countries except Brazil (e.g. Angola é grande. - Angola is big).
  • 4. With most city names (e.g. Chicago é grande. - Chicago is big).
  • And that's it!

    From now on, please remember to place a definite article before any single word that describes any object, idea or person, taking in to account the exceptions.

    Here are some examples:

    O livro - the book.

    A secretária - the desk or the secretary.

    Os pratos - the plates or the dishes.

    As canetas - the pens.

    As camisas - the shirts.

    A Sofia - Sophie (the girl).

    O António - Antonio.

    O rato - the mouse.

    A filosofia - the philosophy.

    O sonho - The dream.

    O pensamento - the thought.

    Yep! I hope you have enjoyed this explanation.



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    Here are some pages you may find interesting:

  • The Portuguese alphabet.
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  • Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation
  • Portuguese Determinants
  • Portuguese Nouns
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  • Free Portuguese Verb Table
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