The Hyphen

Ola! Will duolingo be adding a lesson to the tree, perhaps has a bonus skill? I'm a little confused about the use of the hyphen. I see Portuguese often written with a hyphen in it. what is that about? Ex. Vou deixá-lo em paz. or Vou deixar-te em paz. Translation: I'm going to leave you alone.

Why not just: Eu vou deixá voce em paz.


December 10, 2018


"Eu vou deixá voce em paz." - although its grammatically incorrect that's pretty much how we speak.

As for the hyphen, its usually only used in formal writing. I personally wouldn't use it while texting with friends. Imagine you chatting with someone and they say "I will leave thee alone" jeez it would come out kinda snobbish: )

the hyphen is used when a clitic object pronoun comes after the verb: in spoken Brazilian Portuguese object pronouns are almost always put before the verb, so you probably won't see it that often:

Vou deixar-te = Vou te deixar = Vou deixar você in Brazil

Note that -r and -s will turn into -l at the end of a verb when o/a/os/as follows:

vou o deixar -> vou deixá-lo (deixar + o)

Hey Damien

The hyphen is used whenever an action implicates a second person. Your example perfectly demonstrates this, as "I'm going to leave you alone" translates to "(Eu) vou deixar-te em paz". "Vou deixá você" is incorrect, because it uses the subject pronoun where an object is present (and "deixá" alone is not a word).

Let's look at this in English: "You" does not change whether it is subject or object, but English has differentiated 3rd person object pronouns him and her for he and she respectively. Saying "Eu vou deixar você" is like saying "vou deixar ele" which is "I'm going to leave he" - you want to "leave him" instead, so "deixá-lo", but why the hyphen? Welcome to the world of oblique atonal pronouns - the portuguese way to separate the verb from the object while keeping them connected.

It's not that hard. Here's a basic list to get you started:

  • -me is object me
  • -te is object you
  • -o is (object) him
  • -a is (object) her
  • -nos is object us
  • -vos is object you (plural)
  • -os is (object) masc. them
  • -as is (object) fem. them

And as relox84 said, any verb ending in -r -z -s loses that last letter in the third person and -o/-a/-os/-as become -lo/-la/-los/-las. It also gains an accent IF it now ends in -a or -e after losing a letter. There are many exceptions, but this post is too long already. Here are some examples:

  • fiz + te = fiz-te; fiz + o = fi-lo
  • deixar + te = deixar-te; deixar + a = deixá-la
  • fazer + nos = fazer-nos; fazer + o = fazê-lo
  • ferir + vos = ferir-vos; ferir + os = feri-los
  • ouvimos + te = ouvimos-te; ouvimos + as = ouvimo-las

Finally, there are the nasal terminations, which take -no/na/nos/nas.

  • viram + o = viram-no
  • repõe + os = repõe-nos
  • retém + a = retém-na
  • tem + as = tem-nas

There are many others (like -ma -mo -ta -to -lhe -lha -lho-lhes -lhas -lhos) but those entail a third object in the sentence, so let's leave them for another time.

Final note: My brazillian friend once told me these have been phased out in Brazil and are considered very posh, but in Portugal they are mandatory and used in common parlance.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you need any more help or if I forgot something.

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