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Why does English have those two words? Why not just one of them if they mean exactly the same?
An author writes a book.
A writer works for a newspaper, a magazine, blog, ad agency, or just makes a shopping list.
An Author writes, so s/he is the writer of novels, and the author of this book.
Who is the author of this Wish List? :)
The Definite Article
While the same structure of the definite article "the" is used for all cases in English, in Portuguese, the definite article has to agree with the gender and the number of the noun it accompanies.
- MASCULINE: O/ MASCULINE PLURAL: OS
- FEMININE: A/ FEMININE PLURAL: AS
- o: o sobrinho = the nephew / o livro = the book
- a: a sobrinha = the niece / a casa = the house
- os: os sobrinhos = the nephews / os livros = the books
- as: as sobrinhas = the nieces / as casas = the houses
The definite article appears before a noun in certain circumstances where it is not used in English, for example before certain proper nouns, such as country, and organization names:
- Ele visitou o Perú, a China e a Itália - "He visited Peru, China, and Italy"
- Ele visitou o Cusco - "He visited Cusco".
- A IBM patrocinou o MoMA - "IBM sponsored MoMA"
- Ele foi para o São Paulo - “He went to the São Paulo (soccer team)".
However, the article is never used with Portugal, Angola, Cabo Verde, Moçambique and Timor. In general, article usage for proper nouns is principally determined by tradition, and it may differ with dialect.
- Ele visitou Angola e Cabo Verde, "He visited Angola and Cabo Verde" -Ele foi para São Paulo, "He went to São Paulo (city or state)".
The Indefinite Article
In English, the indefinite article a becomes an when it go before a vowel. In Portuguese, the singular forms of the indefinite article are um and uma. In English, the indefinite article has no plural; in Portuguese, the articles used to express the indefinite plurals are uns and umas. The indefinite article must always agree with both the gender and number (singular or plural) of the noun.
- MASCULINE: UM/ MASCULINE PLURAL: UNS
- FEMININE: UMA/ FEMININE PLURAL: UMAS
- um: um avião = the airplane / Um livro = A book
- uma: uma bolsa = the purse / Uma casa = A house
- uns: uns aviões = the airplanes / Uns livros = books
- umas: umas bolsas = the purses / Umas casas = houses