Personal pronouns in Brazilian Portuguese

This page outlines the use of personal pronouns in Brazilian Portuguese.

Personal pronouns typically refer to people or things and replace nouns to help make sentences shorter, clearer and less repetitive.  

In English, personal pronouns include: I, we, it, they, you, he and she, e.g. I brush my teeth regularly

Portuguese is a highly gendered language and almost all words are either masculine, or feminine.  If you’re referencing a masculine noun, you can use the word ele and if you’re referring to a feminine one, use ela:

Ele é baixo / He’s short

Ela é alta / She’s tall

However, unlike in English, there isn’t a gender neutral personal pronoun “it” in Brazilian Portuguse.  

The table below lists personal pronouns in Brazilian Portuguese:

SingularI eu
you (more than one person)vocês
they (masculine)eles
they (feminine)elas

As you can see, there are male and female words for “they”in Portuguese:

  • Eles is used for males 
  • Elas is used for females

When we want to refer to a mixed group of men and women (even if the group is made up of mostly women), we use the masculine plural, for example:

Eles são meus colegas / They are my colleagues

O senhor (sir) and a senhora (miss) correspond to a slightly more formal form of you, and literally mean the gentleman or the lady.  They’re used when showing respect to older people.

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