Quick Portuguese Podcasts

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Luiz Costa Pereira Junior, the editor of Revista Língua Portuguesa started doing quick Portuguese podcasts (titled “Em bom português” and recorded in Portuguese) on the magazine’s site and via the radio station Band AM840. You can check out the latest here and find the previous 2 or 3 near the blog’s comment section.

Cujo/a – Vocabulary/Grammar

(Cujo by Stephen King)

The pronoun cujo/cuja means ‘whose’ and precedes a noun without an article, but is employed as an adjective pronoun.

Ex : Qual será o animal cujo nome a autora não quis escrever? 
Ex. Which would be the animal whose name the author did not wish to write?

[whose name = the name of which]

Ex: Gosto muito desse compositor cujas músicas sei de cor. 
Ex. I really like that composer whose songs I know by heart.

[whose songs=songs of who]

As one can observe, cujo/cuja has a possessive value that agrees in gender and number with the object possessed. Keep in mind that it isn’t used in everyday speech but it may be found in literature.

Using the Participle – Grammar

 The following was taken from the book “Português Do Dia-a-Dia” by Prof. Sérgio Nogueira Duarte da Silva. If you get a chance to purchase the book, I do recommend it. As for the participle and the lesson below, one will often see the past participle of pagar, aceitar and prender (pago, aceito, preso) while the rest of the examples are seen to a lesser extent. Keep in mind that you will hear the ‘wrong’ way used in informal Portuguese (ie. tinha entregue), but wrong and right, as you may find, are debatable. The participle lesson starts with the example below.

Ex. Ele tinha ENTREGUE or ENTREGADO os documentos?

The correct form is “tinha entregado“. When the verb has two participles (abundant verbs), the rule is the following: With the auxiliary verb ter (or haver), the regular form (with the ending of –ado or –ido) should be used.

Ex. Ele tinha entregado os documentos.

With the auxiliary verb ser (or estar), the irregular form should be used.

Ex. Os documentos foram entregues por ele.

Observe other examples:

Ter (or Haver)/ Ser (or Estar)


On principle, this rule applies itself to the verbs ganhar (ganho and ganhado); gastar (gasto and gastado); pagar (pago and pagado); pegar (pego and pegado);

Ex. Isso foi ganho, gasto, pago e pego.

The regular forms are rarely used in Brazil. Many scholars already accept the irregular forms, even with the verbs ter and haver.

Ex. Ele tinha ganho, tinha gasto, tinha pago and tinha pego.

The verbs trazer and chegar aren’t abundant. They use just one participle: trazido and chegado. The forms trago and chego are inacceptable:

Ex. Isso foi trago por mim; Ele tinha chego atrasado. 

The correct form is: Isso foi trazido por mim; Ele tinha chegado atrasado.

Portuguese Punctuation

Here is some basic punctuation in Portuguese, together with the names in English and the symbol that goes with them. There are always times when you need to express one of these and you have to find a round-about way of doing so.

Ampersand – E commercial (&)
Apostrophe – Apóstrofo ( ) ( )
At Sign – Arroba (@)
Brackets – Colchetes ( [ ] )
Braces/Curly Brackets – Chaves ( { } )
Colon – Dois pontos ( : )
Comma – Vírgula ( , )
Dash – Travessão ( )
Ellipsis – Reticências ( )
Exclamation mark – Ponto de exclamação (!)
Hyphen – Hífen ( )
Parenthesis – Parênteses ( ( ) )
Period – Ponto final*
Question mark – Ponto de interrogação (?)
Quotation marks – Aspas (”   “)
Semi-colon – Ponto-e-vírgula ( ; )
Slash – Barra ( / )
Underline – Traço inferior (_)

* – not to be confused with ‘período‘, which refers to time.

Using Accents & Other Lexical Annotations

An accent is used over vowels to indicate a stressed syllable or the fusion of vowels. Learning where and when to place accents on words is just part of the learning process but I’d like to map it out for you in case you have any doubts. The section on the trema (¨) has a lighter font because due to the Spelling Reform, the trema is no longer used on words of Portuguese origin (only on foreign words now).

Agudo (´)
It’s use is conditioned by the rules of graphic accentuation, including stressed and open vowels such as a, e, and o or above the stressed vowels i and u.

Ex. Macapá (capital of Amapá state), médico (doctor), tórax (thorax), vovó (grandmother), língua (language/tongue), múltiplo (multiple).

Circunflexo* (ˆ)
Used above stressed and closed vowels such as a, e and o, in accordance with the rules of graphic accentuation.

Ex. lâmpada (lamp), você (you), ônibus (bus), vovô (grandfather).

Grave (`)
Indicates a crasis (contraction of a vowel or diphthong), such as the fusion of two a‘s (in general, a preposition and the article).

Ex. Fui à festa sem ser convidado (I went to the party without being invited).

Til (˜)
Used above a and e to indicate nasality.

Ex. pão (bread), mamões (papayas), ímã (magnet). 

Cedilha (ç)
Used only with the letter c when followed by a, o and u, to indicate the sound of the phoneme.

Ex. maçã (apple), estação (station, season), espaço (space), açúcar (sugar).

Trema (¨)
Used above the letter u when pronounced yet unstressed in the pairing gu and qu, when followed by either an e or an i.
Ex. ensangüentado (bloodied), lingüiça (sausage), conseqüencia (consequence), tranqüilo (calm).

Apóstrofo (‘)
Used to indicate the supression of a phoneme in a word, in order to avoid repetition or cacophony (harshness in sound).

Ex. d’água (of water).

* – The circunflexo is also called “chapeuzinho” (little hat) informally.

Six ways to know it’s European Portuguese

I’ve seen many people in many forums and communities who ask about the differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. Some people answer that with a history lesson, some say they are basically the same while others bring up a few phrases that seem funny in one country or the other. I’d like to tell you about 6 practical ways in which you can know if you are reading European Portuguese.

6 Ways to Know it’s European Portuguese

1. The use of the personal pronoun tu (instead of você). I think it’s important to learn how to use ‘tu’ and how to conjugate verbs using it, as even in Brazil, in the North and the South, you’ll hear ‘tu’ used.

2. Reflexive verbs are hyphenated, with the reflective part always following the verb. In Portugal, the phrase “I want you well” would be “Eu quero-te bem” (enclisis), while in Brazil, it would be “Eu te quero bem” (proclisis). There is also something called mesoclisis (see number 6), which is common in Portugal.

3. The use of “Estar + a + verb in the infinitive” instead of “Estar + verb in the gerund (-ing form)”. In Brazil, you would say “Estou pensando” while in Portugal, you would say “Estou a pensar“.

4. The use of se calhar in addition to talvez as a way to say ‘maybe’. The word calhar means chance/happen.

5. The rearrangement of determinors (aqui, aí, lá, ali, etc). In Portugal, you are more likely to see, for example, “eu lá fiquei” (I stayed there) instead of “eu fiquei lá” which would be found in Brazil.

6. Last but not least, in Portugal, you will see the use of the mesoclisis, which is a grammatical term that means ‘within the verb, between the stem and the suffix’. In Continental Portuguese, you’ll see “eu comprá-lo-ei” (I will buy it) while in Brazilian Portuguese, you will see “eu o comprarei“.

Keep in mind, not everything listed is exclusive to either side of the Atlantic (ocean), although it’s best to be prepared, right?