Prepositions and contractions in Brazilian Portuguese

This page explains the use of prepositions and contractions in Brazilian Portuguese.

O gato sentou no tapete - prepositions and contractions in Brazilian Portuguese

Prepositions come before a noun or pronoun and are used to show where or when something is in relation to something else.  For example, words such as ‘in’, ‘on’ and ‘at’ indicate where an action is taking place e.g. at the beach.  Other prepositions may indicate the purpose of something e.g. it is for drinking; connection to something e.g. he is a friend of mine, or the direction of something e.g. we are flying to Italy next week. Prepositions are usually followed by an article.

The table below lists some common prepositions in Brazilian Portuguese and their English equivalents:

Brazilian Portuguese prepositionEnglish preposition
emin, on, at
deof, from
porby, through, for
ato, at

As you can see, translating prepositions from English to Portuguese isn’t always straightforward, English prepositions can be translated into a number of Portuguese prepositions and vice-versa.  Correct use of prepositions comes with experience.

Contractions of definite articles in Brazilian Portuguese

Contractions are shortened words, created when two words are combined.  Examples in English include can’t (can not) and haven’t (have not). 

Em translates to ‘in’ in English and both o and a translate to the word ‘the’ (depending on the gender of the noun that follows it).  Rather than use ‘em o’ to say ‘in the’, Brazilians use the contraction no for masculine nouns and na for feminine nouns.  E.g. ‘shop’ is a feminine noun (loja), so the translation of ‘in the shop’ is na loja.  If the noun is plural, the contraction is nas lojas = in the shops.

See below for a table showing contractions in Brazilian Portuguese:

o (m)nodopeloao
a (f)nadapelaà
os (m, pl)nosdospelosaos
as (f, pl)nasdaspelasàs

Examples in context include:

emin the bathroomno banheiro
defrom the houseda casa
porthrough the townpela cidade
ato the cinemaao cinema

Using contractions for definite articles in Brazilian Portuguese is mandatory.

Contractions of indefinite articles in Brazilian Portuguese

Indefinite articles, which in English include the words ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘some’, are used before nouns where the identity is not specific (e.g. a man, some books, etc).    

See here for more information about the use of indefinite articles in Brazilian Portuguese.  

Contractions can also be made of indefinite articles in Brazilian Portuguese.  E.g. I’m going to spend money on a car = vou gastar dinheiro num carro

um (m) (a/an)numdum
uma (f) (a/an)numaduma
uns (m, pl) (some)nunsduns
umas (f, pl) (some)numasdumas

Unlike definite articles, contraction of indefinite articles is not always mandatory.

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