Portuguese/Contents/Personal Pronouns of Subject

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The Portuguese language contains pronouns for I, you (formerly thou), he, she, we, you and they. There is no "it" because Portuguese has no neuter gender, and instead an ungendered thing will be considered either masculine or feminine, depending on the gender of the word.

The pronouns[edit]

Official forms:

  • eu - I
  • tu - you (singular, very informal) This is used only in Portugal; Thou was once used as the informal you in English (found in Medieval and Renaissance English and earlier translations of the Bible)
  • você = you (singular, informal) This form is used in Brazil.
  • ele - he or it (For people and objects of the male gender)
  • ela - she or it (For people and objects of the female gender)
  • nós - we
  • Vós - you (singular and plural, very formal) *
  • eles - they (For male people and objects or both genders)
  • elas - they (For female people and objects)

* - Nowadays, This form is only used in northern Portugal and by intellectuals. When used, it can also be intended as a 3rd person of singular formal form.

Colloquial forms:

  • Você - you (singular, formal), it was Vossa Mercê (Your

Grace)*2

  • A gente - we (singular, informal) (Just in Brazil) 2
  • Vocês - you (plural) *2
  • O senhor - he/sir (male, singular, formal) *3
  • A senhora - she/madam (female, singular, formal) *3
  • Os senhores - they (males, formal)
  • As senhoras - they (females, formal)


*2 - In colloquial language, most Portuguese speakers use the forms você and vocês instead of tu and vós.

*3 - These expressions can also be honorific forms for important or unfamiliar people. Example: O senhor João (...) -> Mr John (...)

As you can see, there is sometimes more than one pronoun in Portuguese for the equivalent English word. The reason for this is to show both the gender and the level of formality that you wish to use to address the other person.

I & we[edit]

To say "I", you simply say eu. To say "we", you say nós. There is no gender or formality that needs to be assigned to these terms.

You[edit]

When you say "you" in Portuguese to an individual, you must show the level of formality that is appropriate to that person. By saying tu, you are addressing that person informally, in the way you'd talk with a friend. When you use você, you are speaking in a formal way. While this is done in formal situations, it is also used when addressing someone who is deserving of respect, such as an enterprise director. When você is the subject of a verb, the verb always takes a third-person form, as with Ele / Ela.

When talking to a group of people, vocês is commonly used. At one point, vós was used as a formal plural "you", but it is now outdated and not commonly used, although still commonly heard in the north of Portugal. As the conjugation sounds a bit strange with this pronoun, only people who use a more erudite way of speaking use this pronoun.

In Brazil, tu is considered too odd for general use (although it can be found in the northeast regions of Brazil) and você is almost always used instead for informal situations (when speaking to peers or when an elder speaks to much younger people).

He, she, & they[edit]

As in the English language, Portuguese has individual words for "he" (ele) and "she" (ela). But unlike in English, Portuguese also has male and female words for "they". Eles is used for males, but can also be used when dealing with both a male and a female (or a large group involving both genders). However, elas is used only for female groups.

Other forms of he, she, & they[edit]

When dealing with a formal situation, "he", "she", and "they" can take on formal states. O senhor would replace ele, and a senhora would replace ela. For "they", os senhores replaces eles and as senhoras replaces elas. These forms would usually be used with older people.