Crase (from greek krâsis, "mixture", "blend") refers to the contraction of two vowels. In Portuguese, only two vowels "a" can make up a crase, the first "a" being the preposition a (to, at, in, for) and the second "a" must be the first character of the next word. This phenomenon occurs in the following situations:
- The preposition a before the definite article a ("the", feminine, regardless number);
- The preposition a before the determiners aquele, aquela or aquilo ("that"), regardless of gender and number.
Aquele is used to refer masculine words.
Aquela is used to refer feminine words.
Aquilo is like aquelas coisas ("those things").
Sometimes the contraction with the article a occurs even when the next word is implicit/hidden. This situation happens when the hidden word is moda ("mode", "fashion"), maneira ("manner", "way"), a.s.o.
1. Vou à festa de aniversário de Maria.
- I'm going to Mary's birthday party.
2. Diga àquele homem para parar de beber.
- Tell that man to stop drinking.
3. Saída à francesa.
- Exit without saying farewell. (An idiom; literally, "Exit in the French way / Exit à la French".)
The verb ir (to go, irregular) is constructed with the preposition a. Since the mentioned party (festa) is a specific party (Mary's), one uses the definite article. Festa is a feminine word so it receives the article a. This way:
- Vou a a festa → Vou à festa (a+a = à)
Errors in using crase
Some people write à caminho, à não ser.
But this is not correct because caminho ("way") is a masculine word and não ("no", "not") and ser ("to be") are not nouns.
To be continued.
Author: Daniel Simas Barros
Edited by: Alexandre D. Almeida