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  5. "Onde é a secretaria?"

"Onde é a secretaria?"

Translation:Where is the office?

January 12, 2013

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I don't know if this ever got explained to people learning Portuguese, but I noticed my favorite learner making a simple but consistent mistake. I could not understand why he was mixing up "onde é" and "onde está" until I got to this question and I finally understand where it's coming from. So decided to share this here, because this is the question that made it clear to me. I might open up a thread to let more people know though. Anyway, here is a quick tidbit:

Onde é a cozinha? is not the same as Onde está a cozinha?

Onde é is used for things that do not move. Like a kitchen, a bathroom, a country, a train station. Onde é a cozinha? means "Where is the kitchen (located)?"

Onde está is used for things that move or can change place, like a person, a car, my lost keys, his cat. Onde está a cozinha? would translate to Where is the kitchen (now)? as in "Where did the kitchen go?"

If you're not in a very formal setting, and you forget which to use, use "cadê" (Cadê a cozinha?), which just means "where is" without specifying the details of the question–just like in English. =)


The choice between ser and estar is also based on whether or not the trait being discussed is a temporary state or a fixed characteristic.

The fact that I am in the kitchen (eu estou na cozinha) is temporary so it uses estar.

The fact that I am tall (eu sou alto) doesn't really change and is a characteristic of my self so it uses ser.

The fact that I am young (I wish) is a characteristic of the self, so Eu sou jovem even though it is really a temporary state.


By the way, this should be "Eu ESTOU na cozinha". Sou and Estou is used for 1st person, not É and Está. :)


Ooops. Dumb mistake. Fixed it. Thanks.


If you brought up the subject. Is using "Onde fica" is the exactly the same as "Onde é" or are there times I can use only one or the other?


I think that they are interchangeable, but "ficar" is used more often for buildings and geological structures.


Thanks for the explanation! Is there a difference between the portuguese word for "secretary" and "office" or is going by the context the only way to tell?


The difference between the two words is the use of an accent mark over the first "a" (secretária) to define "secretary" as a person. That impacts syllable stress and a change in pronunciation.


Escritorio means office and secretaria means secretary, I think.


The best that I can make out: 'secretária' is a secretary as well as desk or bureau (note accent). 'Secretaria' (no accent) is office or secretariat. Doesn't take much to change a word's meaning. That's why they make a point when you forget the accent on any word you use.


@nooorizad, Who were downvoting you without providing an explanation?! I had the same query too! If you didn't point it out, there wouldn't be txharman's useful and interesting explaination! I'm upvoting both of you!


Thank you, this explanation made it so much simpler for me too =)


Muito obrigado! I couldn't figure it out! I appreciate the tip! Knowing how to speak Spanish, this situation was confusing me, since, no matter what, in Spanish, "location" always uses "está".


So office can also be "a secretaria" as well as "o escritorio?"


Yes, but only when you are referring to the secretary's office or the reception/admissions office (not reception desk, though). Other offices are "escritório" (which is the safest bet if you are ever in doubt). Hope it helps! :)


Thanks vivisaurus for this é/está info. Very clear! Could you shed any light on "Onde + Aonde" can't keep those apart either. Thanks again.


Lexflex is correct! Aonde is "a+onde" or, in other words, see if you could replace it with "para onde" (to where, to what place). If you could add a "to where" or "where to" in the English version of the sentence, use "aonde". If not, use "onde". For example, for the sentences:

Where do you want to go?

I could say, at least in my head:

Where (to) do you want to go? / Where do you want to go (to)

But if the sentence is something like

Where is the key?

"Where (to) is the key)?"

That wouldn't work so well in this case, right? So use the default onde here.

Onde = Where
Aonde = Where to

Onde você está? = Where are you?
Aonde você vai? = Where are you going?

[note] = Many, many Brazilians do not know the difference and use aonde when they simply mean where. Especially in speech. So try not to get confused by that. =]


In English it is proper to avoid ending a sentence with a proposition, as in, "Where are you going 'to'?" It would correctly be said "To where are you going?" (The preposition is not really needed here at all when speaking informally, as it is assumed that the inquirer wants to know specifically where the person is going.) Having this in mind helps me to determine when I want to use "onde" or "aonde".


That long-discounted rule (dating from a grammarian in the 17th c.) results in unnatural speech. No native speaker of English would use say: To where are you going?

The rules for the placement of prepositions in English are different from romance languages.



Hee hee, come to think of it, my favorite English teacher in high school (who was probably 70 or so years old then) has been dead for at least 20 years - along with some of those rules she so diligently taught!


I'm not native Portuguese but I am pretty sure of this: 'Onde' = where. 'Aonde', [= A Onde = to where] = 'where (...) to'. 'Aonde' is used when something/someone is going somewhere. Like "where(to) are you going?" (answer: "TO Portugal" ). But if you canNOT use 'to' ('a', 'ao', 'à'), in either the question or the answer, then you probably should use 'onde'. Like "Where is Portugal?" "IN Southern Europe".

Correct me if I'm wrong


General office is given in the suggested vocabulary


So was "department", but it turned out to be wrong.


You hear Secretariat of the United Nations fairly often on the news


The way the speaker pronounces "secretaria", it seems as though there should be a right-justified accent on the last "i".


Default stress in Portuguese is on the second to last syllable. So no accent is needed here. If the stress needs to be anywhere else, it is indicated by an accent.


That's right, in most cases stress falls on the second-to-last syllable, except for words ending in -i, -im, -is, -u, -um, -us or in a consonant (other than -s, -m) where stress falls on the last syllable.

Stress on the last syllable, but without explicit accent:

  • assim (ends in -im)
  • ali (ends in -i)
  • xampu (ends in -u)
  • algum (ends in -um)
  • abril (ends in a consonant)
  • jantar (ends in a consonant)
  • juiz (ends in a consonant, in contrast to juíza)

Stress should normally be on the last syllable, but is marked by an accent as it is actually not on the last syllable:

  • grátis (ends in -is)
  • chapéu (ends in -u)
  • dólar (ends in a consonant)
  • açúcar (ends in a consonant)
  • nível (ends in a consonant)
  • útil (ends in a consonant)
  • álcool (ends in a consonant)
  • ônibus (ends in a consonant)

Stress should normally be on the second-to-last syllable, but is marked by an accent as it is actually not on the second to last syllable:

  • porém (ends in a consonant, but it is -m and not -im, -um)
  • através (ends in a consonant, but it is -s and not -is, -us)


Someone shared with me a VERY simple tool to remember most of the exceptions to the 'emphasis on the 2nd to last syllable: LUZIR (pronounced like "Loo-zer" in English - any word that ends with those 5 letters gets the accent. I can't tell you all the exceptions. But by the time you have immersed yourself in listening to and speaking whatever you learn, you'll figure them out!


Yes, LUZIR is a good mnemonic (another version of it is "RULIZ"), but it misses two important cases:

  • addition of a final -m or -s after -i or -u (words ending in -im, -is, -um, -us)
  • any other consonant (mostly in foreign words)

Those two cases cover about 10% of Portuguese words, mostly with the -is ending.


Yes, that is how it is supposed to sound. I don't know why it is not written that way in Portuguese, though. =]

Secretária/Secretário (secretary) makes it clear at least.


Why did they propose "administrative office" if it's wrong. As a French speaker it would have more sense...


I also got marked wrong for this when it was a suggested answer


I never had to use the word secretariat before..


I believe that was the winning horse at the Kentucky Derby one year- Secretariat.


hahah yes.. i have used this word only in this way.. and not in any other :)


Secretaria must have originated from "office where the secretaries are." In practice it is more like a reception/admissions office or even secretary's office.


Wikidictionary defines secretariat as "a permanent administrative office or department, esp. a governmental one." Does that fit the use of 'secretaria' in portuguese?

Wiki defines 'office' as "a room, set of rooms, or building used as a place for commercial, professional, or bureaucratic work." I believe this is most likely what is translated as "escritório". There is a 2nd definition of office - "a position of authority, trust, or service, typically one of a public nature: the office of attorney general" - which I'm sure would be a different word in portugese which I have not yet learned.


Thank you Lexflex

[deactivated user]

    I think it's a strange question because Duolingo suggests two possible answers: Where is the office? or Where is the administrative office? I chose the second one, but...it's wrong!! What a shame!! I am not a native speaker but I guess all language have a logical structure... "Secretária" in Portuguese means a administrative department in schools, universities etc, The notion of "office" is a "escritório" in the company, firms etc. Maybe the logical tradution would be "Where is the secretary"?? Duolingo answers another possible tradution: Where is the general office? It's a mess of possible meanings.

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