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Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Introduction to Portuguese.
My name is Alisha and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone! I'm Ana Clara
In this lesson, you'll learn the basics of Portuguese grammar.
Word Order
"Word Order" refers to the order in which words are structured to form a sentence in a given language.
Consider the English sentence "I ate an apple." But first, let's remove the article "an" here for simplicity. So we're just left with "I ate apple."
The basic Word Order for English is subject, verb, object, or SVO for short.
The good thing is Portuguese uses the same SVO Word Order! Let's take a closer look.
If we break down the English sentence "I ate apple," we can see that the subject "I" is presented first, followed by the verb "ate," and then finally the object "apple" is positioned last.
Let's compare that same sentence “I ate an apple” in Portuguese.
Eu comi uma Maçã
“I ate an apple”
Like before, let's remove the particles to keep it simple, so we're just left with the words
Eu comi maçã
“(I) (ate) (apple)”
Subject - Verb - Object
Breaking down the Portuguese sentence, we can see the Word Order is subject, verb, and object.
Which means that you don't have to change this basic structure when speaking Portuguese. In some cases, the order can be changed and the subject, in Brazilian Portuguese, is likely to be repeated forward in the sentence. But don't worry about it for now. Let's keep going.
How to Form Basic Statements and Negative Sentences in Portuguese
One of the great things about Portuguese is that once you learn how to form statement sentences, it's really easy to form other type of sentences! Let's see this one.
Você pegou (o) ônibus
(subject) (verb) (object)
“You took (the) bus”
As you see, the order of this statement is SVO. Now, what if you want to say this as a negative sentence, Ana Clara?
You just have to place the negative word "não," which means "no" or "don't," before the verb. So we have the negative sentence
Você não pegou (o) ônibus
“You didn't take (the) bus”
Basically there are no different rules for these negative sentences. Just place the negative word "Não" before the verb and keep the Word Order.
There are also other negative words in Portuguese, such as these
Nenhum / Nenhuma
“No / Not any / Not one”
Negative words in Portuguese may follow different rules and be placed differently.
For now, just stick with "Não" before verbs, and you'll do just fine! Let's see another example.
With the statement
Eu tenho tempo
(subj)(verb) (object)
“I have time”
How can we make it a negative sentence with the word "Não?" You try!
Eu não tenho tempo
“I don't have time”
Well done! Notice that this negative word is not a verb, so it won't change according to verb tense. The verb changes, but the negative word doesn't, which is quite different from English.
Eu não tenho tempo (present)
Eu não tive tempo (past)
Eu não terei tempo (future)
“I don't have time”
“I didn't have time”
“I won't have time”
How to Form Questions in Portuguese
As we mentioned before, building sentences in Portuguese is relatively simple.
Let's see how we can form a question from a sentence.
If you want to make an indirect question, you can think of it like it's basically a statement, like the previous phrase,
Você pegou o ônibus.
“You took the bus”
with a question mark at the end and a raised intonation.
Você pegou o ônibus?
“Did you take the bus?”
And that's it!
How simple!
Unlike English, in Portuguese you don't need to use a verb at the beginning of a question.
And what about direct questions?
For some cases, you only need to use a question word, like
O que / Onde / Quando
at the beginning of the sentence. The rest is like the other examples we've seen in this lesson.
“What / Where / When”
So, using one of these question words, we could make the following direct question by simply placing it at the beginning.
Onde (“where”)
Onde você pegou o ônibus?
“Where did you take the bus?”
Let's try it with a different word. So, with the same statement:
Você pegou o ônibus
To make it a question using "Quando," that means "When," let's place it at the beginning:
Quando você pegou o ônibus?
“You took the bus”
“When did you take the bus?”
This is not an absolute rule, but it's enough to give you a better idea about question words and direction questions in Portuguese.
Okay, then! Let's move on to the next section!
Peculiarities of Portuguese
As we learned in this lesson, Portuguese uses the same SVO order as English, and there are no great changes in negatives and questions. So we're going to talk about some Portuguese grammar aspects that differ from those of English.
Portuguese is a Null Subject language. That means Portuguese grammar may permit or even mandate the omission of an explicit subject. Let's see two examples.
Não choveu
(negative (verb) Word)
“It didn't rain”
There is no subject in this phrase, as it's the rule in Portuguese in such cases..
Here's another example:
(Eu) Estou feliz
(Subject) verb adjective
“I am happy”
In this case, the subject is implicit. This is extremely common in Brazilian Portuguese and wouldn't be wrong to make it explicit:
Eu estou feliz
We'll elaborate later, but in Portuguese the subject is encoded in the verb conjugation. That's why in this case we know the subject is the first-person singular, even though it's hidden.
There is one more aspect about Portuguese grammar that may be tricky.
In Brazilian Portuguese, adjectives almost always are placed after its noun, while in English it's the other way around.
Você pegou o ônibus amarelo
(noun) (adjective)
You took the yellow bus
(adjective) (noun)
“You took the yellow bus.”
Adjectives before nouns are not wrong, though. They're just used more commonly in writing and for poetic effect. It would be unusual however, when used in daily conversation.
Okay! Let's wrap up this lesson by recapping what we've learned.
In this lesson, you learned that Portuguese sentences are formed using a subject, verb, object, or SVO word order. At the same time, this is not rigid, as Portuguese also uses other orders. Basic sentences, like statements and negatives, are very similar in their structure. To make indirect questions, you should just add a question mark at the end of a statement sentence and raise your intonation. Portuguese is a null subject language, so a lot of sentences may have the subject in a hidden condition or not present at all. Adjectives are placed after the noun, and not before, like in English.
We've covered only the very basics of Portuguese grammar. If you're interested in learning more, check out our "Portuguese in 3 minutes" video series. In that course, we teach you useful phrases while covering the fundamentals of Portuguese grammar, and each lesson is only 3 minutes long!
In the next lesson, we'll introduce you to the basics of Portuguese writing.
See you in the next lesson. Bye!