Portuguese/Contents/L1/Lesson Two - I Like...

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Welcome to the second lesson in our Portuguese language course. If you haven't already, have a look at Lesson One - Saying Hello

Dialogue 2[edit | edit source]

Ricardo: Tu gostas de chocolate?
João: Sim, gosto de chocolate. E tu?
Ricardo: Sim. Gostas de chocolate de leite ou chocolate branco?
João: Eu e a minha esposa gostamos de chocolate preto.
Ricardo: O chocolate preto é bom.
João: Até logo!
Ricardo: Adeus!

Once again, don't worry if you don't pick up everything - or even anything. However some words are fairly obvious.

o chocolate - this means the chocolate. The o we slipped in above means the in Portuguese - but here's the catch - only for certain words. Because in Portuguese we introduce a concept called 'noun gender' which means that every noun - that is, every word that represents a thing - animal, mineral, vegetable - is either masculine or feminine. This is a mostly abstract concept. However, there are some words like 'homem' ('man', which is masculine) and 'mulher' ('woman', which is feminine) that follow logical patterns (as do others that refer to something with a specific gender). Most words, however, like 'carvão' ('coal', which is masculine) and 'casa' ('house', which is feminine) seem to be completely random. That is why you always have to learn the gender of a word when you learn a word.

Have a look at these examples.

o gato - the cat (masculine)

os pêssegos - the peaches (masculine, plural)

a casa - the house (feminine)

as árvores - the trees (feminine plural)

As you can see, the word for 'the' changes with every gender. It also changes depending on the NUMBER of things you are talking about. If there is more than one object we call it 'plural' and so the word for 'the' changes again.

Unfortunately, the word for 'the' isn't the only thing that changes with gender. Adjectives - words that describe an object - change depending on what gender the object they are describing is.

Some more examples...

o gato é amarelo - the cat is yellow

os pêssegos são amarelos - the peaches are yellow

a casa é amarela - the house is yellow

as árvores são amarelas - the trees are yellow

Can you see a pattern? We started with amarelo to translate "yellow". Can you see the similarity between the word for "the" in this instance - o - and the ending of the adjective, amarelo?
When the word for "the" changes to a, so too does the end of the adjective - we get amarela. So to change an adjective from masculine to feminine, we just change the final letter from an o with the masculine form to an a in the feminine.

To get to the plural forms, add an s - amarelos and amarelas. Try the following exercise out.

Fill in the following chart for the word vermelho - which means "red".

1. Masculine Singular = ______________

2. Feminine Singular = ______________

3. Masculine, Plural = ______________

4. Feminine, Plural = ______________

Complete the following phrases by converting the word in the brackets, which is the masculine singular adjective, to the appropriate form of the adjective.

5. As meninas são _________ (bonito) - The girls are (pretty)

6. O gato é __________ (branco) - The cat is (white)

7. Os tios são __________ (educado) - The uncles are (polite)

8. A casa é __________ (bonito) - The house is (pretty)


1. vermelho

2. vermelha

3. vermelhos

4. vermelhas

5. bonitas

6. branco

7. educados

8. bonita

How did you do? It's not that tricky if you keep in mind the link between the word for "the" and the ending of the adjective.

Before we move on to even more difficult ideas, let's have another quick pronunciation tip: if you have difficulty pronouncing the "lh" sound (like in vermelho), you can approximate it by pronouncing the "ll" sound from English words like billiard or million. That is to say, it sounds similar to an "l" followed by a "y".

Before we go, let's have a look at three things.

1. The Verb SER
You may have noticed that, despite the fact that we said last lesson that the verb for "to be" is estar, when we said "The house is yellow" we translated it as a casa é amarela. Shouldn't that be a casa está amarela? Unfortunately in Portuguese there are two verbs that translate to the English verb "to be". One is estar - the other is ser.

Let's have a look at the verb table for SER in the Present Indicative Tense:

SER - To Be

I am Eu s ou
You (familiar) are Tu é s
He is
Ele  é
She is
Ela  é
You (formal) are
Tu  é
We are Nós s
You (plural) are Vocês s
They are
(also elas, vocês)
Eles s ão

So when to use ser and when to use estar? One way to remember the difference is to remember where they came from. Ser comes from the Latin word 'esse'. In English, we derive the word essence from the same Latin root. Ser is used to talk about WHAT something or someone is. The verb estar that we met in Lesson One comes from the Latin stare, from which we also get our English word status. Estar is used to talk about the state of something, HOW is it. Some examples...

Uses of SER

O sol é amarelo. The sun is yellow.

Meu nome é Jim. My name is Jim.

Nós somos portugueses. We are Portuguese.

Uses of ESTAR

A cerveja está gelada. The beer is ice-cold.

Eu estou doente. I am sick.

O livro está em cima da mesa. The book is on the table.

When talking about the location of something, use ser if the thing being located is always or usually there (like a building) but estar if (like a person, or animal) they tend to move around and are only in the spot for a period of time. If you still find ser and estar confusing, go the this page - Ser and Estar

2. The second thing we still haven't got around to the main point of this article - how to say we like something. In the dialogue Ricardo asks Tu gostas de chocolate? This means "Do you like chocolate?"

João responds, Sim, gosto de chocolate. This means "Yes, I like chocolate."

So we have a formula for asking someone whether they like something. We can also respond.

Tu gostas
Do you like
(of the)
(of) the
(of) the
{of the)

The response will be

I like
não gosto
I don't like

OK, but why do we have the options of do/da/dos/das? Perhaps you have picked up on the endings of these words? They correspond to the words meaning "the". But why do we say do instead of o or das instead of as? Well, because in English we talk of "to like" wheras in Portuguese the phrase is gostar de which means "to like of". As a memory aid, you can think of the English phrase "to be fond of", which, like the Portuguese "gostar", does not make sense without that "of". The word for "of" in Portuguese is de. However when it appears before the words o, a, os and as we contract it - we squeeze the two words up. So, for instance

gostar de a amiga - "to like the friend". This is incorrect. Squish 'de' and 'a' into one word - 'da'. We now have gostar da amiga.

3. The final thing we need to look at is the order of adjectives. Usually in English the adjective (or describing word) comes BEFORE the word it is describing. For example.

The YELLOW dog. The POLITE mother.

However in Portuguese the opposite (usually) happens.

O cão amarelo - The yellow dog (literally, "The dog yellow")

A mãe educada - The polite mother. (literally, "The mother polite")

Adjectives can also be placed BEFORE the word they describe. This will cause their meaning to change slightly. However, we will deal with that situation a little later on.

That is all for Lesson 2. Have a little rest then see how you fare on Lesson Three.