https://www.duolingo.com/Jaelzion

Not sure what the Portuguese definite article is doing here.

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I got the following sentence in a lesson:

"O meu irmão é um coronel"

I was able to pick out the right translation, which was "My brother is a colonel." However, I don't understand what is the purpose of the "o" in the Portuguese sentence. "O" is the male definite article right? What is it contributing in this sentence? Why isn't the Portuguese just "Meu irmão é um coronel"?

Thank you!

.

2 weeks ago

10 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/El_Gusano
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I am going to answer this by a question I asked a Spanish speaking friend who speaks Portuguese. I asked him if the definite article was necessary. He said in Portuguese it's optional. I wondered the same thing because in Italian, the definite article is required. In Spanish and French it isn't used.

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jaelzion
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I see - good to know it's not required. Thanks!

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Joao_Sartori
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Yes, it is optional but we always use it

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Pat214197

Where and when do you use them? I’ve been studying Portuguese for 4.5 years and been to Brasil 14 times and I still can’t converse or understand what people say. It’s very frustrating. I’ve never understood the “o” and “a” and when to use them and when they mean “him” and “her and the other things they mean. It’s like Portuguese is a secret code. I have to translate everything except for basic things like “ola, oi, tudo bem, bom dia, obrigado and tchau”. I’ve had my hearing tested and it is ok. Thanks

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Joao_Sartori
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Sincerely I don't know how to answer you, because for me it is natural I never thought about it, but in English you only have "THE" in portuguese we have "O-A-OS-AS". You use "O" for man, (O homem, O menino, O gato, O cachorro), "A" is used for woman (A mulher, Amenina, A gata, A cachorra), "OS-AS" in the same way but plural

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BartekBomDia

I noticed that Portuguese speakers use definitive articles far more often than English speakers. I guess it is more customary to use it than not. Even app names: "Eu uso o Facebook e o WhatsApp".

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Joao_Sartori
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You nailed it!

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/eduardrch
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In coloquial portuguese, we don't use the definite article as much.

But the general rule for using "o/a" is when the subject is known to both participants in the conversation. In the example you gave, it is not any brother, not any sibling, but MY brother, and you know exactly who I'm talking about.

That's why we say "O meu irmão".

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jaelzion
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Thank you, that's very helpful.

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Pat214197

You mean they have to personally know them? With “o” and “a”having multiple meanings I never know how to know which meaning to use. Same with “seu”, is it “your” “his” “their”? I’ve been studying Portuguese for 4.5 years and am still struggling to understand and be able to converse. I usually learn very quickly. Thanks

1 week ago
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