Portuguese/Contents/Number and Gender
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The Portuguese language has two grammatical categories shared by a large number of other languages, especially the Indo-European ones. These two categories are Number and Gender. As a speaker of English, you certainly know that the Number of a word expresses the amount of this word. Thus we have nouns like door and doors.
Speakers of Romance languages, German, Greek and a lot of others also understand what Gender is. In Portuguese, each noun has one specific gender, and unless this noun is related to people or animals, it is highly random. In English there are some examples of nouns with gender, like man and woman, actor and actress.
Unlike some languages, there is no case system in Portuguese, not even some vestiges of the case systems in Latin or other ancestor of the Language.
There are two Numbers:
- Singular - expresses the idea of a single object;
- Plural - expresses the idea of several objects.
There are also two Genders:
- Masculine - used on nouns related to men or male animals;
- Feminine - used on nouns related to woman or female animals.
Nouns that are not related to any of those genders are distributed randomly across the two possibilities. Thus, the noun "casa", house is feminine, while "pão", bread is maculine.
Tips for Identifying Word Gender
As said above, gender is mainly random. However, there are some ways to find out if a certain word is masculine or feminine, by looking at its ending:
- Words ending with -o, -im, -om, -um, -or are usually masculine:
- "carro" car;
- "rim" kidney;
- "som" sound;
- "atum" tuna fish
- "cantor" male singer.
- Words ending with -a, -ice, -ção, -são, -gem, -ez, -iz are usually feminine
- "casa" house;
- "patetice" foolishness;
- "Conceição" (Proper Name);
- "coragem" courage;
- "acidez" acidity
- "actriz" actress.
Bear in mind that these rules are not flawless. For instance, the words "coração" heart and "panda" panda are masculine, despide their endings.
Words ending in -l and -e are very difficult to guess, so when learning these words, always remember their gender as well. Consider these, for instance:
- "sal" salt is masculine;
- "final" final can be either masculine or feminine, depending on the use:
- When speaking of the ending of something, "final" is masculine; when this word refers to the last game on some championship or tournment, it is feminine.
- "cone" cone is masculine;
- "estudante" student can be either masculine or feminine.