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Portuguese articles: O, A, OS and AS

Portuguese has four different words for the English definite article the. The choice of which one to use depends on the noun that follows it, as definite articles have to agree in both gender and number (singular or plural) with the noun they precede. Take a look:

noun definitive article translation
male + singular O cachorro nada bem. The dog swims well.
male + plural Os meninos são fofos The boys are cute.
female + singular A mulher está feliz. The woman is happy.
female + plural As rosas são vermelhas. The roses are red.

Rules for the use of the definite article are different in English and Portuguese. In general, Portuguese speakers use o/a/os/as more than English speakers use the.

Definite articles can be used with all of the following:

use example translation
specific nouns O celular dele é novo. His cell phone is new.
general / abstract nouns A música faz bem para a alma. Music is good for the soul.
proper names A Ana é linda. Ana is beautiful.
titles O Presidente Obama foi reeleito. President Obama was reelected.
parts of the body Quebrei a minha perna. I broke my leg.
family names Os Silva chegaram. The Silvas have arrived.
languages O inglês é fácil de aprender. English is easy to learn.
days of the week As segundas-feiras são terríveis! Mondays are terrible!
geographical elements O Oceano Pacífico é frio. The Pacific Ocean is cold.
seasons O verão é quente. Summer is hot.

Share your experience

Do you have difficulty choosing which form of the to use in Portuguese? What are some tricks you use to remember?

November 19, 2017



Ótima explicação.


Once again you've made it look uncomplicated and straitforward. Good use of the letters in colour. Thanks Helpful :))


muito obrigado eu preciso disso

  • The best do do is use no trick, learn the language itself.

My friend was talking to me in Portuguese (I am Brazilian) and he forgot about "telefone"(telephone) being a male noun. The phrase was terrible.

Eu posso pegar a sua telefone?

However, if someone would like to add a trick, it can.


When writing it, it seems you always use the articles. But when speaking it, do you have to always say the article before the noun you're saying?


some are irregular, like 'a foto'. There is no mnemonic which can help in these cases.


My fiancé’s family is Continental Portuguese (More precisely, Açoriano), so I am doing my best to pick up the language in hopes that we can raise our children to be bilingual.

Unfortunately, the only option Duo offers for Portuguese is the Brazilian dialect (which I have to say, I vehemently disagree with). Yet, alas, I am learning best I can with Duo and bouncing what I learn off my fiancé so he can help me to tailor it to the Azorian dialect.

One thing I have discovered is that there are many words which are different between the two cultures. For example, “pineapples”; in the Azores, one would say “ananás” (phonetically in English, ah-nuh-nage). Whereas in Brazil, one would say “abacaxi” (phonetically in English ah-bah-kah-shee). Besides having some words that’s aren’t the same, and extremely varying accents/dialects, there are a ton of other differences between the many Portuguese-speaking regions/ countries; such as usage of articles, as was pretty well explained above (As well as in Duolingo’s forum listed under ”A Laura volta hoje”. Yet, I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the article thing.

I am also a longtime student and speaker of French, so a lot of my insight comes from a mix of English and French consideration. In French, one almost always uses an article; where in English, in comparison, one almost never does. Portuguese, as far as I can tell, lies somewhere in the middle.

I understand that in some regions Portuguese speakers use a more “proper” form of the language, and therefore use more definite articles. I understand that in some regions the use of an article attached to a proper noun relays an intimacy or considerable knowledge of the [proper noun], in the case of a person. As well as other case, mentioned above, such as denoting a family name.

What I am having a hard time understanding is when it comes to using an article in regard to ownership.

This is one thing that Duo has not made very clear, and when I ask my fiancé I get an answer that I still don’t completely understand (such as “Just always use the article, and you’ll be good”).

Is the use of an article in regard to ownership also a regional thing??

I guess this whole tangent I’m on here is just a super long way of asking a simple question: Is there a rule for articles when it comes to ownership?

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