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This sentence illustrates adjective vs adverb. It shows that when used as an adverb, 'primeiros' does not agree with 'mulheres' in gender and number. The implied meaning is, "women go first". ('first' modifies 'go' and is therefor an adverb.) If it were an adjective, it would look like this: "as mulheres primeiras" = "the first women".
Wouldn't it be "as mulheres primeiras" since adjectives follow the noun in Portuguese?
So to answer others' question, because "primeiro" is used, the translation is "women/ladies first". By changing "primeiro" to "primeiras", you get "the first women".
Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
Numbers (both cardinal and ordinal) come before the noun. :)
Except with, for instance, the nobles such as Dom João IV (one of the Portuguese kings which would translate in English to King John the Fourth).
So do most "quantifiers" (few, many, some) and probably most other determiners (really these are "determiners" more than "adjectives"):
Here's one where the English and the Portuguese is opposite of what we expect (especially given that "enough" is a quantifier):
- A minha explicação foi bastante clara.
- My explanation was clear enough.
Because in this sentence primeiro is actually an adverb (in a lesson module on adjectives) and adverbs do not inflect (decline). As an adjective (or really, a "determiner" which do come before nouns generally in PT) it would be primeiras (plural as well as feminine) in this DL exercise.
- Women first = Mulheres primeiro
- First women = Primeiras mulheres
It is actually ingenious to getting us to think about the differences. :)