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Your Handy Guide to Portuguese Conjunctions

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When constructing sentences in any language, we tend to focus a lot on the big “building blocks,” like the subject, verb, and object. But there are many other small elements that have a part to play! Conjunctions are one of those essential parts, since they connect words and clauses, making sentences coherent. Portuguese conjunctions are handy words to learn, and you’ll soon be using them all the time!

Conjunctions might appear very simple at first. And the truth is, they are! But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a very important role in languages. After all, even if you understand all the grammar rules and acquire an impressive vocabulary, without conjunctions, you can’t communicate fluently.

Hopefully you agree with us that conjunctions are important. But perhaps now you’re wondering what those small yet powerful words are. Conjunctions are connecting words, such as “and,” “or,” “nor,” and “if.” There’s quite a large list of conjunctions, which are used in different contexts.

In this article, we’ll cover the different kinds of Portuguese conjunctions, help you understand the difference between simple conjunctions and conjunctive phrases, and show you a lot of examples! By the end, you’ll have the resources to express your thoughts in Portuguese with much more ease.

    → Before you continue, you may find it useful to study our short vocabulary list on Connecting Words!

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Table of Contents

  1. The Basics of Portuguese Conjunctions
  2. Portuguese Conjunctions to Add Information
  3. Portuguese Conjunctions to Express Alternatives
  4. Portuguese Conjunctions to Express Condition
  5. Portuguese Conjunctions to Express Conclusion
  6. Portuguese Conjunctions to Express Opposition
  7. Portuguese Conjunctions that Act as Complementizers
  8. Portuguese Conjunctions to Express Concessions
  9. Portuguese Conjunctions to Express Cause
  10. Even More Portuguese Conjunctions
  11. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. The Basics of Portuguese Conjunctions

First things first. Let’s get to understand what conjunctions are and what you can expect from them.

1 – What are Conjunctions?

Conjunctions connect other words, phrases, and clauses. They tend to be invariable grammatical particles, which means they are not modified in number, gender, or mode. In other words, they’re very useful but quite simple!

As an English speaker, you’re already quite familiar with the role conjunctions play. Take a look at these examples:

  • She likes to dance and sing.
  • I am a good cook, but my desserts are not great.
  • We had to sleep early, so we turned off the lights.

The words in blue are conjunctions in English. As you can see, they’re very commonly used words. You’ll use conjunctions in Portuguese the same way, although more often than in English.

Another important thing to note is that conjunctions express different things: cause, purpose, opposition, condition, and more. In this article, we’ll go through the most commonly used types of conjunctions, which will allow you to express your thoughts coherently.

2 – Simple Conjunctions and Conjunctive Phrases

Simple conjunctions are exactly what we were talking about before: single words that have a connective function. Conjunctive phrases are two or more words that, together, behave as a conjunction.

Here are some examples of sentences using conjunctive phrases:

  • Farei uma reunião com os professores para que não haja nenhum mal-entendido.
    “I’ll have a meeting with all the professors so that there is no misunderstanding.”
  • Já que você não quer mais, vou comer o bolo.
    “Since you don’t want it anymore, I’ll eat the cake.”
  • Podemos sair agora, uma vez que a babá chegou.
    “We can go now, since the nanny has arrived.”

Pretty straightforward, right? Now that we’ve clarified what Portuguese conjunctions and conjunctive phrases are, let’s see the most common ones in our Portuguese conjunctions list!

2. Portuguese Conjunctions to Add Information

Sentence Patterns

We’ll begin with the most common conjunctions in Portuguese. These words are called conjunções aditivas (“additive conjunctions”), and their purpose is to add more information to your sentence. Take a look:

1- E (“And” )

  • Eu posso escutar podcasts e cozinhar ao mesmo tempo.
    “I can listen to podcasts and cook at the same time.”
  • Você gosta do verão e da primavera, certo?
    “You like summer and spring, right?”

2- Nem (“Nor” )

  • Sua mãe não ligou nem mandou mensagem.
    “Your mother hasn’t called nor sent a message.”
  • Não como peixe nem frutos do mar.
    “I don’t eat fish nor seafood.”

3- Não só…mas também (“Not only…but also” )

  • Ele não só ganhou o prêmio, mas também o bônus.
    “Not only did he get the prize, but also the bonus.”

You can also use another conjunctive phrase to express a similar idea: não só…como também (“not only…also” ).

  • Vocês não só são bonitas, como também são muito engraçadas.
    “You are not only pretty, you are also very funny.” [plural feminine form]

Someone Pouring Coffee and Milk into a Mug

Gosto de café e gosto de leite. (“I like coffee and I like milk.” )

3. Portuguese Conjunctions to Express Alternatives

In life, we face a lot of choices. From what we’re having for breakfast to what movie we’ll watch tonight, alternatives are everywhere! Here are some of the conjunções alternativas (“alternative conjunctions” ) you will encounter every time you face those moments of choice.

1- Ou (“Or” )

  • Você quer sair ou assistir a um filme?
    “Do you want to go out or watch a movie?”
  • Eles preferem sopa ou salada?
    “[Do] they prefer soup or salad?”

2- Ou…ou (“Either…or” )

  • Ou saímos agora ou perderemos o show.
    “Either we leave now or we miss the show.”
  • Ou ela termina esse projeto ou aceita o emprego ou volta para a universidade.
    “Either she finishes this project or she accepts the job or she goes back to university.”

When repeating the word ou (“or” ) to indicate alternatives, it’s translated in two ways: as “either” the first time it’s used and as “or” the subsequent times.

3- Senão (“Otherwise” )

  • Durma cedo, senão vai perder o ônibus.
    “Sleep early, otherwise you will miss the bus.”
  • Coma tudo, senão não tem sobremesa.
    “Eat it all, otherwise there is no dessert.”

Senão can also act as another kind of conjunction, called an adversative conjunction, which we’ll see a bit later. In these cases, it works as “but.”

  • Ele ganhou não por sua habilidade, senão por seu carisma.
    “He won not because of his abilities, but due to his charisma.”

4- Nem…nem (“Neither…nor” )

Nem is a versatile little word. We already saw it before, being used by itself as an additive conjunction. Now, take a look at how it can be used to talk about negative alternatives.

  • Nem meu pai nem minha mãe sabem resolver esta questão.
    “Neither my father nor my mother know how to solve this question.”

As you can see, nem translates to both “neither” and “nor,” depending on the position of the word in the sentence. It can also be used several times within the sentence.

  • Não bebo nem café nem chá nem bebidas alcóolicas.
    “I don’t drink neither coffee nor tea nor alcoholic beverages.”

5- Quer…quer (“Whether…or” )

  • Quer você ganhe o prêmio, quer não, estou orgulhoso.
    “Whether you win the prize or not, I am proud.”
  • Quer chova, quer faça sol, estaremos lá!
    “Whether there be rain or sunshine, we’ll be there!”

A Girl Trying to Decide between a Green or Red Apple

Vermelha ou verde? (“Red or green?” )

4. Portuguese Conjunctions to Express Condition

Expressing condition is essential in social interactions. In conversations with friends, family, and loved ones, there are always circumstances where we have to employ a bit of quid pro quo, right? Maybe you need to convince someone to do the dishes after preparing a nice dinner, or vice-versa. For these kinds of situations, conjunções condicionais (“conditional conjunctions” ) are the way to go.

1- Se (“If” )

  • Eu lavo a roupa se você varrer o chão.
    “I’ll do the laundry if you sweep the floor.”
  • Se não tiver comida, posso pedir uma pizza.
    “If there is no food, I can order a pizza.”

2- Desde que (“As long as” )

  • Compre o que quiser, desde que esteja dentro do orçamento.
    “Buy whatever you want, as long as it is within budget.”
  • Ela vai organizar o evento, desde que você pague adiantado.
    “She will organize the event, as long as you pay in advance.”

The conjunctive phrase contanto que (“as long as” ) can be used interchangeably.

  • Podemos assar um bolo, contanto que a cozinha continue arrumada.
    “We can bake a cake, as long as the kitchen remains tidy.”

3- A não ser que (“Unless” )

  • Não me ligue a não ser que haja uma emergência.
    “Don’t call me unless there’s an emergency.”
  • Preciso ir embora, a não ser que eu cancele a consulta.
    “I need to leave, unless I cancel the appointment.”

The conjunctive phrase a menos que (“unless” ) can also be used in these cases.

  • Temos que sair, a menos que a aula tenha sido adiada.
    “We have to leave, unless the class has been postponed.”

5. Portuguese Conjunctions to Express Conclusion

To wrap up an idea or a thought, use the conjunções conclusivas (“final conjunction” ).

1- Então (“So,” “Therefore” )

  • Hoje é meu aniversário, então vamos comemorar.
    “Today is my birthday, so let’s celebrate.”
  • Vamos dormir tarde, então então me ligue de manhã.
    “We’re going to sleep late, so don’t call me in the morning.”

2- Logo (“So,” “Therefore” )

  • Não concordo com isso, logo prefiro não me envolver.
    “I don’t agree with that, so I prefer not to get involved.”
  • Você conhece o Luís há anos, logo faz sentido que você faça o convite.
    “You have known Luís for years, therefore it makes sense that you invite him.”

3- Portanto (“Therefore,” “So” )

  • Tenho muito trabalho para fazer, portanto, não espere por mim.
    “I have a lot of work to do, so don’t wait for me.”
  • Esse carro é muito caro, portanto, não posso comprar agora.
    “This car is very expensive, therefore, I can’t buy it now.”

The conjunctions above can be used interchangeably most of the time. The most commonly used one is então, in both written and spoken Brazilian Portuguese.

Other conjunctions you can use in the same way and with the same meaning are: por isso, por conseguinte, and assim.

A Mother Reading a Book to Her Daughter

No story is complete without a conclusion!

6. Portuguese Conjunctions to Express Opposition

Another very handy and commonly used group of conjunctions! After all, we can’t communicate without a dose of opposition, right? Take a look at the most useful conjunções adversativas (“adversative conjunctions” ) in Portuguese.

1- Mas (“But” )

  • Ele gosta de bolo, mas não quis comer uma fatia.
    “He likes cake, but he didn’t want to eat a slice.”
  • Vou me atrasar, mas chego para o jantar!
    “I’m going to be late, but I’m coming for dinner!”

2- Porém (“However,” “But” )

  • Ela acordou cedo, porém chegou atrasada.
    “She woke up early, but arrived late.”
  • A encomenda já foi enviada, porém não tenho o código de rastreamento.
    “The order has already been shipped, however, I don’t have the tracking code.”

3- Todavia (“However,” “Still,” “Yet” )

  • Eles não acreditaram na história, todavia, ela manteve sua versão dos fatos.
    “They did not believe the story, yet she kept her version of the facts.”
  • O acordo, todavia, não aconteceu.
    “The agreement, however, did not happen.”

This conjunction can also be used at the beginning of a sentence, without the comma.

  • Todavia o acordo não aconteceu.
    “However, the agreement did not happen.”

The conjunction entretanto (“however” ) can be used in the same way.

  • Não foi possível, entretanto, encontrar os documentos.
    “It was not possible, however, to find the documents.”
  • Entretanto, não foi possível encontrar os documentos.
    “However, it was not possible to find the documents.”

7. Portuguese Conjunctions that Act as Complementizers

“Complementizer” is just a fancy grammatical term for words that introduce a complement in sentences. In English, the most common complementizers are “that” and “if.” For example:

  • I hope that she comes.
  • I wonder if she will come.

Let’s look at their Portuguese counterparts, called conjunções integrantes.

1- Que (“That” )

  • É importante que você diga a verdade.
    “It’s important (that) you tell the truth.”
  • Eu acho que eles ganharam.
    “I think (that) they won.”

Unlike the English word “that,” que can’t be omitted in sentences. As a result, it’s used quite often. Que is also often used to replace other conjunctions, making it a handy go-to even for native speakers.

2- Se (“If,” “Whether” )

  • Não sei se ele já chegou.
    “I’m not sure whether he’s arrived yet.”
  • Vou perguntar se eles querem ir.
    “I will ask if they want to go.”

Instead of expressing alternatives, when se (“if” ) is used as a complementizer, it introduces an indirect question.

Si-o-se Pol Bridge in Iran

Think of complementizers as a bridge.

8. Portuguese Conjunctions to Express Concessions

This group of conjunctions serve to introduce a contrasting or contradicting idea. As you can imagine, they’re very useful when trying to explain a decision or an unexpected event. In Portuguese, they’re called conjunções concessivas (“concessive conjunctions” ).

1- Ainda que (“Even if,” “Although” )

  • Ainda que chova, vamos passear.
    Even if it rains, we will go for a walk.”
  • Ele vai no jantar, ainda que não esteja muito animado.
    “He will go to the dinner, although he is not very excited.”

You can also use the conjunctive phrase mesmo que interchangeably:

  • Mesmo que chova, vamos passear.
    “Even if it rains, we will go for a walk.”
  • Mesmo que as pessoas mudem, os amigos são para sempre.
    “Although people change, friends are forever.”

2- Embora (“Although,” “Even though” )

  • Embora estivesse atrasado, ele preparou um delicioso lanche.
    “Although he was late, he prepared a delicious snack.”
  • O dia estava agradável, embora tenha chovido.
    “The day was pleasant, even though it rained.”

3- Se bem que (“Even though,” “Although” )

  • Ele não confirmou presença, se bem que parecia bem animado com a festa.
    “He didn’t confirm his presence, although he seemed very excited about the party.”
  • As aulas estão boas, se bem que já foram melhores.
    “The classes are good, although they have been better.”

9. Portuguese Conjunctions to Express Cause

These conjunctions, called conjunções causais (“causal conjunctions” ) introduce a sentence or clause that explains the cause of what was stated before. Very handy for explaining how you came to a decision or took a certain action.

1- Porque (“Because” )

  • Não pude esperar mais porque meu filho estava cansado.
    “I couldn’t wait any longer because my son was tired.”
  • Ela tirou uma boa nota porque estudou muito.
    “She got a good grade because she studied hard.”

Notice the correct way of writing porque in these situations. In Portuguese, there are different ways of writing the word depending on the meaning or use. But the conjunction form should always be written like this, with no accent marks and no spaces.

2- Visto que (“Since,” “As,” “Seeing” )

  • Não quero mais alugar o carro, visto que a taxa é muito alta.
    “I don’t want to rent the car anymore, since the rate is very high.”

You can also use the conjunctive phrases uma vez que (“since” ) and já que (“since” ) to express the same thing.

  • Ela não quer viajar, uma vez que ainda está se recuperando.
    “She doesn’t want to travel, since she is still recovering.”
  • Vocês podem dividir o prêmio, já que tiveram a mesma pontuação.
    “You can share the prize, since you had the same score.”

A Man Explaining Himself to His Boss

Now you know what conjunctions to use to explain what happened!

10. Even More Portuguese Conjunctions

We already saw a number of important conjunctions in Portuguese, organized by the function they have. Now, let’s take a look at some extra useful conjunctions that you might encounter.

1- Enquanto (“While” )

Expresses time.

  • Vou tomar banho enquanto você cozinha.
    “I’ll take a shower while you cook.”

2- Desde que (“Since” )

Expresses time.

  • Desde que comecei a trabalhar, não tenho tempo para a academia.
    “Since I started working, I haven’t had time for the gym.”

3- Conforme (“As” )

Expresses conformity.

  • Eu resolvi o exercício conforme foi explicado.
    “I solved the exercise as was explained.”

4- Como (“As,” “Like,” “As well as” )

Como is another one of those versatile conjunctions. It can have different roles and is also part of several conjunctive phrases.

→ Expressing comparison:

  • Alice, como sua mãe, gosta de plantar.
    “Alice, like her mother, likes to plant.”

The conjunctive phrases bem como and assim como have the same meaning.

  • Alice, bem como sua mãe, gosta de plantar.
    “Alice, like her mother, likes to plant.”
  • Alice, assim como sua mãe, gosta de de plantar.
    “Alice, like her mother, likes to plant.”

→ Expressing cause:

  • Como perdi o ônibus, cheguei atrasada.
    “As I missed the bus, I was late.”

→ Expressing conformity:

  • Hoje não haverá aula, como anunciado na segunda-feira.
    “There will be no class today, as announced on Monday.”

→ Expressing condition:

  • Comprarei o livro como não seja muito caro.
    “I’ll buy the book if it isn’t too expensive.”

5- Quanto mais…mais (“The more…the more” )

Expresses the idea of proportionality.

  • Quanto mais o tempo passa, mais eu gosto de você.
    “The more time passes by, the more I like you.”

A Group of Women doing Yoga at the Beach

Quanto mais me exercito, mais energia tenho. (“The more I exercise, the more energy I have.” )

11. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Improve Listening

Now that you’re familiar with the most important Portuguese conjunctions and conjunctive phrases, get out in the world and put it into practice! You’re ready to create even more complex sentences, linking ideas and clauses in a coherent way. And remember, whenever you need to refresh your memory, come back to this article for a quick lesson.

Was this article helpful to you? Did we miss any important conjunction you were hoping to learn about? Let us know in the comments; we would really like to hear from you.

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