Português: o/a patterns?
Are there any patterns in terms of which words in Portuguese are masculine or feminine?
I know there are significant patterns in Italian for this (e.g. words ending in -o are usually masculine, words ending in -a are usually feminine) and in French (e.g. words ending in -tion are usually feminine).
What about Portuguese? Any particular things to notice that will help me have an idea of whether a word is masculine or feminine just by looking at it? :-)
If you're interested in a more systematic way of seeing how English words (mainly those with Latin/Greek origins which are shared by Portuguese, or words we borrowed from English) may be "transformed" into Portuguese, I wrote this series of posts for my blog a while ago: https://theepexperience.wordpress.com/turning-english-words-into-portuguese/
It also gives you useful information on the gender of these words (as per your original question)
I hope you find it helpful!
Nice website. I've been to Brazil twice, but have never been to Portugal. I would like to do so in the next couple years, so it would be good to know the differences in language.
Words that end in -o are often masculine. Those that end in -a are often feminine. It's enough to make a good guess if you don't know. Exceptions are words that end in -ma (of greek origin) are masculine. Dia is also masculine so the -a rule doesn't always hold. It's similar to Spanish in that way, but there are differences.
Unfortunately, I don't know if you can't tell with the cão words, unlike the ción words in Spanish or -tion in French. (However, Luis Domingo said they are usually feminine, so that's good to know!)
*Words of Greek origin ending in -ma are masculine (like programa, drama, tema, poema...); that's an important distinction, since there are many other common words ending in -ma which are feminine (cama, lama, fama, dama, rama, ama).
*You can really tell with technical/abstract words ending in -ção (not cão, ção); more often than not, they will be feminine are direct cognates with the words ending in -ción and -tion (a ação, a função, a jurisdição, a exortação, a maldição, a nação, a ficção); same thing with technical words ending in -são vs. sión and -sion (a divisão, a visão, a fissão, a concessão, a sucessão, a pretensão).
*Unlike the other Romance languages, words ending in -agem are usually feminine instead of masculine: a garagem vs. le garaje; a viagem vs. el viaje / le voyage.
Not all of these rules are 100% foolproof, but they do help when you have to make a guess.
Thank you. That's very helpful for me also. I thought of mentioning the Greek aspect of the masculine -ma verbs but didn't, so thank you for clarifying that. One of the moderators said in another discussion that you couldn't tell with the -cão words, so I'm glad to know that cão and -são are usually feminine
You're very welcome! I can think of a few words that diverge from the pattern (for example, o arção [saddle bow], o escanção [a sommelier, if male], o calção [shorts]; for -são, names for particles and subdivisions of particles in physics are masculine: o bosão, o fermião, o fotão, o mesão...; also o brasão [coat of arms], o faisão [pheasant, the bird], o artesão [artisan, if male], o parmesão [Parmesan cheese, because queijo is masculine], o diapasão [tuning fork]; for -gem, o pagem [page]), but they're by far the minority, and don't really fall into the category of those technical words with Greek or Latin prefixes and/or suffixes.