Translation:Yesterday we saw ourselves in the mirror.
That is called an "objeto direto preposicionado" (direct object with preposition).
Who knows why they are used? But some times they sound really better.
Here, it seems a little clear. "mesmos" wouldn't sound good with "nos", but sounds good with "nós". But, the object "nós" must use a preposition. So you will find this weird grammar thing when using sentences like:
- Viu a si mesmo
- Feri a mim mesmo
Both ver and ferir would use a direct object, but here, it gets a preposition (it doesn't mean it turns into an indirect object).
It's common too with "amar", like in:
- Amar a Deus acima de tudo (To love God above all things)
- Amar ao próximo (To love your neighbor)
Mesmo is a tricky word.
It carries two ideas I can remember now.
1 - Intensify or assure something
2 - Identify two things as the same
When it comes just after the pronoun, it intensifies the "reflexive" idea.
If you think about it, both ideas are present, "assures" the actor and the object are the "same", indeed.
See: he hurt himself.
You could say "ele se feriu". But you couldn't be sure if he did that intentionally.
But if you say "ele feriu a SI MESMO", there's a bigger chance that he did that to himself intentionally. (You would expect that he would hurt another person, not himself)
ELE MESMO fez o almoço = He himself made the lunch. (You would expect somebody else would do it)
Esse é o MESMO CARRO que vi ontem = This is the same car I saw yesterday.
Nós somos do MESMO TAMANHO = we are the same size
"Você é o João?" (are you John?) / "Sim, sou EU MESMO" (yes, it's me)
"Está FRIO MESMO" = "It's really cold" or "It's cold indeed".
Maybe I have an additional info....
The problem is the presence of "mesmo", a very versatile word that can assume A LOT of different meanings depending on where it is and what goes with it.
"Mesmo" is not really an obligation here, but it's a common usage, so, if you want to use it, note that:
- Eu vi-me mesmo no espelho = I really saw myself in the mirror
So, it doesn't seem it works with "atonic" pronouns for the meaning we want. But it works with the "tonic" pronouns (mim, ti, ele/ela, nós, vós, eles/elas).
But, the tonic pronous can only be used after prepositions, making "vi mim mesmo" a creepy mistake.
Thus, exceptionally, we use the "a" (which can be used in several cases where we want to remove certain ambiguities without really making the object indirect or adding extra meanings). The result, since we want to use "mesmo" is using "mim", which requires a preposition: "a". Finally:
- Vi a mim mesmo = I saw myself
I don't know if the response was for me, or 'emeyr', but I've no idea what's going on from reading it. I'm at beginner level in Portuguese, and I'm following the progression tree. If I've encountered "vi me", "vi-mim", I don't remember them and I don't know how to use them.
One of the meanings of 'mesmo' is 'really'?
In that case, this is what I see when I read "Ontem, vimos a nós mesmos no espelho":
Yesterday, we saw the/to we same/really in the mirror.
I've actually accepted 'mesmo' here and what it means and it's different variations (I just treat them as expressions). I just don't get what the "a" bit is here. Does it not have an official meaning in this kind of sentence?
Pronouns in Portuguese are defined by whether they are direct or indirect as in English. They are also differentiated by whether they have a strong or weak tonic stress which determines their placement in a sentence. In BrPt, the weak pronouns (atonic) usually go before the verb while tonic pronouns always go after the verb. In order to put a tonic pronoun after the verb, it needs to be accompanied by a preposition. In this particular case, "a".
Eu me vi no espelho. (atonic)
Eu vi a mim mesmo no espelho. (tonic)
Ele nos ama. (atonic)
Ele gosta de nós. (tonic)
See the chart at the bottom of the page showing both tonic and atonic object pronouns. The pronouns preceded by "para" or prepositions like "a, de, com" (not shown) are strongly stressed (tonic) and placed after the verb.
There is an important difference between BrP e EP regarding the placement of unstressed pronouns. In EP, you will find "nos" (with a hyphen) and other unstressed pronouns after the verb. Ex:
• Ele ajudou-nos a cortar a grama ontem.
• Eu pedi para você os levar.
• Eu pedi para você levá-los.
I read an article about the disappearing use of the 3rd person object pronoun in spoken BrP. Nowadays, (1) it is omitted entirely (and understood by context), or (2) the [incorrect] subject pronoun is used or (3) a noun is used in its place. Ex:
• Pedi para você levar [eles] para o escritório.
• Pedi para você levar os documentos para o escritório.
Unfortunately, there's no way for me to know whether Portuguese pronouns have a strong or weak tonic stress or not to then guide how I write the sentences.
Ele nos ama. (atonic)
Ele gosta de nós. (tonic)
It's only because you wrote "atonic" and "tonic" after them that I'm thinking that's what they are. If I saw either of those sentences written elsewhere, or again, there's nothing there that makes me think they are written that way because of atonic and tonic stress. If you wrote "Ele ama nos (or 'nós') I don't have anything to fall back on that tells me that there's something wrong with it!
That link was really helpful, Emeyr, thanks. A little advanced for me in some parts, but I'm sure I'll pick up more of what it talks about as time goes on. I have two questions due to it:
"Ele parou para nós". I can see that it's "nós" because it's indirect, but is it possible to end sentences with "nos" in Portuguese? I think I remember someone saying to me that no matter the context, it should be written as "nós" if it's the last word in the sentence.
"'Os levar’ means the same as ‘levá-los'". I understand that in isolation like this, it's saying they mean the same, but can you give me an example of a sentence where 'os levar' is used to mean 'to take them'?
Would the following be one, because it looks like it doesn't make sense to me?
Eu pedi para você os levar.
We see = Nós vemos
We saw = Nós vimos