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This/That in Portuguese

Hey guys, one thing that has always gotten me a little confused is probably the amount of words in Portuguese for "this" and "that". According to a book I'm using to study grammar, it gives me this explanation:

  1. Este/Esta: Is for something that is close to you and close to the person talking to you. Bringing the meaning of "this".
  2. Esse/Essa: Is for something that is far away from you but close to the person you are talking to. In English, I would use the word "that" for this kind of situation. ("That bookcase near you is red.")
  3. Aquilo/Aquela/Aquele: Is for something that is far away from you and far away from the person you are talking to as well. So I would think it means "that".
  4. Isso (Now I actually had to ask a native speaker about this because my book didn't provide an explanation): As I understand it, "Isso" can either mean "this" OR "that" but it can only be used for a "something" that is not defined, for example you can't say "Isso garrafa" But you can pick up a bottle and say "Isso." And then depending on distance would mean either this or that.

And lastly "Isto", I'm not sure how to use Isto at all to be honest, perhaps someone would care to help me out? :) I would also like to know if what I've written about the other words can be considered correct, my book teaches both European Portuguese and Brazillian, and it states that in Brazil, they do not always make a distinction between "Esse/Essa" and "Este/Esta" Any truth to this? Any clarification would be appreciated!

March 6, 2013



Thats true. In Brazil esse/este is used in the same way. Isto/isso is used when u dont point anything. Isso/isto é uma vergonha (it's a shame) so, its most of time translated as IT. Examples: "não gostei dessa camisa" near and defining. U told a joke on someone, and the person says: "não gostei disso" neutral and general. U also use isso to agree (that's it) "você que é o Paulo?" - "isso!"


And what u wrote from the book is also correct. I just think isso is a bit complicated.


Ah, thanks for the clarification! :)


Thank-you all for your help on this subject but I am still confused on one aspect. I read somewhere (very likely in Duolingo Comments) that "Isto/Isso" can be "This/That or It" but when they are the subject of a sentence they cannot be translated as "It". Your example "Isso/isto é uma vergonha (it's a shame)" appears to contradict that. I have been using the rule to avoid losing hearts but does Duolingo accept It as correct.


Just a correction: 'este, esta and isto' are used to refer things or people close to the speaker no matter if the listener is close or not!


thank you for the message

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