Articles before possessives

When should I add an article before a possessive pronoun?

As in "O gato bebe o seu leite" rather than "O gato bebe seu leite"

Is there a rule for this? Is it to emphasize the object rather than the subject?

November 14, 2012


As stated before, we always use the article if the object is not mentioned again. For example:

  • "What car is nicer: mine or yours?" = "Qual carro é mais legal: o meu ou o seu?"

In the second sentence, car is no longer used, so we need to use the article. Another example:

  • "Meu carro é mais legal que O seu!" = "O meu carro é mais legal que O seu!"

In the first, it can be omitted, but not in the second one because there is no noun.

Another tip: when using a comparison, we can say in both ways, totally correct: "Meu carro é mais legal (do) que o seu!"

The preposition do (of the) is optional.

November 14, 2012

Let's see if I'm getting this correct, based on your explanation. "Meu carro é mais legal que o seu." You add the article, because car isn't being mentioned again. Which means, this would be correct as well; "Meu carro é mais legal que seu carro."

Am I right on this one?

October 30, 2013

Yes, they both are correct, and you can say "o meu carro" and "o seu carro".

October 30, 2013

Man, I never thought about that before! Thanks!

March 13, 2013

Actually I think this rule is for Brazilian dialect. In Portugal, people almost always use the article - which bugs me when I do practices here. I think both answers should be accepted at all times. Whom should we complain to?

May 26, 2013

Thanks for clarifying - I'll use the article because I'll then be right in Portugal or if speaking with a Brazilian!!

August 3, 2018

You should go to the "feedback" button. But, as Duo team quoted, it's supposed to teach Brazilian portuguese, so once in a while you may find these tricky things. I dunno how much they'll do about that since it is a specefic focus. I dont think they'll mix them... but give it a try! Who knows.... ;)

May 26, 2013

Thanks this was confusing me!

December 11, 2012

Am I reading this right? The two sentence examples given here -

1) Meu carro é mais legal que O seu! 2) O meu carro é mais legal que O seu!

are followed by "in the first, it can be omitted, but not in the second one because there is no noun"

So surely sentence 2 is incorrect and it should be

2) O meu é mais legal que O seu!

If this is not the case then I am totally confused.

December 18, 2015
  • Meu carro é mais legal que O seu = right
  • O meu carro é mais legal que O seu = right
  • O meu carro é mais legal que seu = wrong
  • Meu carro é mais legal que seu = wrong

When you do not have possessive + noun, add the article.

December 18, 2015

What is an "article"? I see English grammar terms used a lot that I have never been taught so I asked my brother who is a writer and editor and he said we were never taught as kids. Only nouns verbs pronouns adjectives and adverbs. Subjunctive and many others we didn't learn. My Brasilian Portuguese teacher gets frustrated trying to explain things to me and can't believe we never learned something she had to and she suggested taking English classes first. Is this crazy or is it true? I have always scored very high in English but there seems to be a gap in what I know. The "O seu" and "a minha" among others seem random to me and your explanation wasn't clear. The object not being used again was confusing to me. I have struggled with it for 2 years and finally want to see if I can figure it out. Thanks

September 17, 2016

Educational system in Brazil and USA are quite different. Here we learn articles, adjectives, subjunctives, all verb tenses, etc. during all the years at school. But don't worry, you can learn that little by little.

Refer to this link for more information about articles in Portuguese:

Refer to this link for more information about articles in English: In English, you have "the" (definite), "a", and "an" that work as articles.

Refer to this link for more information about possessive adjectives/pronouns in English:

Refer to this link for more information about possessive pronouns in Portuguese:

After reading all of these references, we can have a QandA session to see if you still have any question! =)

September 18, 2016

Thank you so much for those links. I was stuck and I feel this will help. Dou should incorporate these links or something similar. The explanation thus far in my learning on this topic is lacking. But that being said, doulingo is an excellent teacher! Your the icing on the cake Paulenrique. Thanks

May 9, 2019

Pat, I think we must be the same age because both my husband and I discussed never having been taught any grammar at school - I only started to understand it when I learned Latin!!

It's fascinating - I'd urge you to buy a book!!

August 3, 2018

i am 54 and raised in NJ. I remember doing all of these rules I just dont remember how to apply them czuse I only remember this being taught in hs

September 21, 2018

It’s still a mystery, so much to remember that I can’t believe that it’s possible to learn enough and be able to remember it in a way where I can recall it fast enough to use it in a conversation. I’m stuck at “Bom dia” “tudo bem?” “Olá” “Por favor” “Obrigado” and basic things. Everything else has to be translated in my head or put together in a slow process. After studying for 4 years and going to Brasil 13 times I thought I would be able to converse and read. I must be doing something wrong. All of my Portugues classes have been in English because I can’t understand enough Portugues yet. I’ll keep going though in case something finally happens.

September 21, 2018

Good question, it helped me too. Thanks

May 9, 2019

Ah, after re-reading it, you are talking about the first O, not the second one. But then the noun you referred to is the second instance of car, not the first. That is what confused me.

Thank you for the clarification.

December 18, 2015

The issue is that one is an adjective and one is a pronoun. When it is a possessive pronoun, you need the article. When it is a possessive adjective, the article is optional.

It's just like in English, we say "My house is bigger than yours." (Not "My house is bigger than your.") "My car is better than hers." (Not "My car is better than her." (Unless you're comparing the car to her as a human being.))

August 15, 2018

Possessive adjective? I’ve never heard of those! Wow! “That’s Gigantic’s car” or something? Now I’m going to have to study longer tonight.

September 21, 2018

A possessive adjective is just an adjective that describes possession.

E.g. "that's MY car" "It's YOUR turn" "HER book is here."

Possessive pronouns show possession but work as pronouns (i.e. a subject that takes the place of a noun)

The car is MINE

My house is nicer than YOURS

The book is HERS

September 21, 2018

They seem the same to me. My brother and I talked about this and can to the conclusion that we weren’t taught much English grammar in school for some reason. Just very basic grammar in elementary school. I don’t know what prepositions, phrasal verbs, and articles are along with many other things I’ve heard people talking about in Portugues classes like everyone knows it. Do I need to learn English grammar first before learning Portugues? A teacher of mine said she couldn’t teach me Portugues until I learned English grammar.

September 21, 2018


... [we came] to the conclusion that we weren't taught much English grammar in school for some reason.

Quite a while ago it seems that formal grammar was dropped from the curriculum in many (most?) American schools. That certainly was my experience. I have some compassion for this, since the body of human knowledge grows every day yet the amount of time we spend in school stays roughly the same, hence some "optimizations" have to be made. Having said that, I'm not convinced that reducing language study was a good decision.

Do I need to learn English grammar first before learning Portugues? A teacher of mine said she couldn't teach me Portugues until I learned English grammar.

I personally think this is a misguided point of view. Many language learners wind up learning a great deal about their own native languages as they pursue their foreign language studies. This has absolutely been my experience.

Furthermore, there is an argument to be made that language can be acquired entirely through conversation -- listening and speaking. After all, this is how we all learn languages as children. And from this perspective, no grammar required.

Having said that, becoming familiar with grammar will help and speed your learning, since it will allow you to link elements of the language(s) you know and the language you are learning. But there's no reason you can't learn grammar as you go.

For example, in this thread you've been exposed to possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives. And this thread has provided examples in both Portuguese and English, giving points of comparison between the two languages. So that's a new element of grammar to remember, and tomorrow there will be others. We all learn this way, and that's a perfectly good way to learn. One brick at a time.

You don't need to become a linguist or grammarian to learn a language. Just one bit of knowledge at a time. And as you learn, the more fun it will be, and the easier it will become.

Don't lose hope. Hang in there.

September 21, 2018

@antlane, você está completamente certo e eu nunca quis dizer que a gramática é inútil. Concordo com todos os seus pontos -- a meu ver eles são todos bem válidos.

Pessoalmente, o meu estilo de aprendizagem preferido é mais formal e gosto muito de aprender através de textos didáticos, livros de gramática, etc.

No entanto, quando um aluno iniciante estiver lutando com um idioma, a resposta é mudar o método de ensinar. Isso é especialmente verdadeiro com o estudo de línguas pois é possível aprender a gramática das duas línguas ao mesmo tempo. Em contraste, é muito mais desanimador dizer a um aluno para parar de aprender o idioma que ele quer aprender e começar a aprender o seu idioma nativo. Mas tudo isso é só minha opinião como um colega estudante.

Passando a um outro assunto, como um estudante que tem lutado com o seu idioma, gostaria de me agradecer você por todos os seus comentários que tenho lido ao longo dos anos. Muito obrigado por todos os seus esforços. Abraços. :-)

September 21, 2018

In “It’s your turn” wouldn’t the “your” be a pronoun? It seems like the adjectives and pronouns are the same. Very difficult. We never learned any of this in school but it seems necessary now. Thanks

September 23, 2018

I think this is actually similar to english - you can't say "your car is nicer than my" because there's no noun, you have to say "... than mine". In this circumstance "meu" = "my" and "o meu" = "mine". Não é? I was referred here from "eu amo a minha esposa" but I don't think this explains why the article is required in that sentence.

June 1, 2019

You are right. You can say: eu amo a minha esposa, eu amo minha esposa.

You have to say: Seu carro é mais bonito que o meu (no noun). or: (O) seu carro é mais bonito que (o) meu carro.

June 1, 2019

hey Patoncho... Until the point I know living here, there's no difference in any of them... you can use both to express exactly the same meaning :) In English, French or Spanish we can´t use a definite article with a possessive adjective/pronoun, but it doesn't happen in Portuguese....

November 14, 2012 The possessive pronouns are identical to possessive adjectives, except that they must be preceded by the definite article (o meu, a minha, os meus, as minhas, etc.) For the possessive adjectives, the article is optional, and its use varies with dialect and degree of formality. In Portuguese, one may or may not include the definite article before a possessive pronoun (meu livro or o meu livro, for instance). The variants of use in each dialect of Portuguese are mostly a matter of preference, i.e. it does not mean a dialect completely abandoned this or that form. In EP, a definite article normally accompanies a possessive when it comes before a noun: este é o meu gato 'this is my cat'. In Southeastern BP, especially in the standard dialects of the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the definite article is normally used as in Portugal, but many speakers do not use it at the beginning of the sentence or in titles: Minha novela, Meu tio matou um cara etc. In Northeastern BP dialects and in Central and Northern parts of the state of Rio de Janeiro, (starting from Niterói), rural parts of Minas Gerais, and all over Espírito Santo state, speakers tend to drop the definite article, but there is nothing such as a total preference for this form instead of the other, making both esse é o meu gato and esse é meu gato likely in their speech. Formal written Brazilian Portuguese tends, however, to omit the definite article in accordance with prescriptive grammar rules derived from Classical Portuguese, even though the alternative form is also considered correct, but many professors consider it inelegant.

November 14, 2012

An interesting discussion. I asked my daughter’s boyfriend, who is Portuguese and he said the same thing, that they always use the definite article before the possessive. I am finding the Brazilian version on duo lingo very difficult as it doesn’t seem to make much sense, and it keeps correcting me when I think my version is right.

September 23, 2018

you can say:

Meu gato, O meu gato = my cat Seu irmão é alto, O seu irmão é alto = Your brother is tall

If you say Este é o meu irmão = This is my brother - you emphasise Este é meu irmão.

September 23, 2018

So it’s not “The my cat” I just ignore the “O”? Or do I think of it in a different way? I think I need to find a way to understand Portugues without translating everything. It doesn’t translate perfectly. Thanks

September 23, 2018

So there is always an “O” or “A” before every noun or some or ? When I’m reading or listening do I just ignore the “O” and “A”? Thanks

September 23, 2018

The way you're supposed to think about it is "Mine cat is taller than the your one" - Meu gato é mais alto que o seu. OR "The mine cat is taller than the your one" - O meu gato é mais alto que o seu.

March 5, 2019

Meu gato = O meu gato. No difference.

Meu cachorro late = O meu cachorro late. = Meu cão late. = O meu cão late. = My dog barks.

Meu tio é maior que o seu. = O meu tio é maior que seu tio. = O meu tio é maior que o seu tio. = My uncle is bigger than yours.

April 26, 2019

We love articles. We say O Lula, O Obama, O Trump. Our country is O Brasil. And you must only say Brazil. OK?

April 27, 2019

What should I do when I see the “O”? Ignore it or think about it differently? I still have to translate everything into English to understand Portuguese. I need to learn how to understand Portuguese without translating everything word for word. My brain is stuck on English only after studying Portuguese for 4 years and 8 months and going to Brasil 15 times. It’s frustrating. I study every day. I have a Brasilian girlfriend that I practice with every day too. Thanks!

April 26, 2019

When I’m reading it do I ignore the “O” or think about it differently? I don’t use the “O” when I’m writing or speaking. I need to learn how to understand when I’m reading or trying to understand Portuguese. Thanks

April 27, 2019

@El_capitan: "Meu tio matou um cara" hehehe! nice uncle, but I rather not meet him!

Thanks for the answers to all. Really useful!

November 16, 2012

"Meu tio matou um cara" is the name of a famous Brazilian movie, from director Jorge Furtado.

April 21, 2013

haha what does um cara mean? :) :)

December 11, 2012

It means "a guy". It's used in Brazil. "Um gajo" in Portugal, but slightly ruder. I can't be sure, but I suspect "o cara" used in this sense (because "a cara" means "the face") has its origin in a vernacular word for "penis": "caralho". (Pardon my French...) But this is me speculating...

December 11, 2012

Cara in this sense is actually like dude or guy in American English. Here is a really funny example.

O Cara do Fiat Uno:

(The guy with the Fiat Uno) Alô Bruninha? (Hello, Bruninha?) Quem é? quem é? (Who is it? Who is it?) Sou eu! sou eu! (It's me! It's me!) O cara do Fiat Uno, (The guy with the Fiat Uno) E aí, qual é? (What's up?) Vamos sair! Dar um rolé? (Let's go for a ride?)

Now "o coisa", at least in the area of Brazil where I lived, can have that sense of penis. Like when a mother is talking to a small child. I lived in Brasilia, but I suspect it was at least a feature of the Portugueses around the DF and Goiás. In southern Ohio and the Midwest we would say "bird" or "weewee" or maybe even "thingy".

April 21, 2013

LOL thanks - I read that and again, since Spanish was my first second language, I thought he killed...face? Wait. aren't anglosaxons the only people who use the idiom "killed someone in the face"? hahah :) jk of course.

December 11, 2012

It’s all very irritating when I get a correction after I’ve answered a question and it tells me it’s wrong. I would prefer to learn proper Portuguese as my daughter’s partner is Portuguese and he tells me that quite a few of the things of the things I say are not proper classical Portuguese - for instance the word for dog is not cachorro in Portugal. I guess I’ll just have to get used to it if I want to do Duolingo, which is obviously a US website, so they are bound to use Brazilian!

September 24, 2018

Is the word they use “cão”? Because I see it used exclusively in some of my books. I can get the correct answers in Duolingo without knowing them and was up to 54% Fluent when I can’t even converse yet unless it’s “Ola” “Tudo bem?” “Bom dia” and things like that. How long have you been studying? Portugues to me is like a secret code. I have to translate everything. Good luck.

September 24, 2018

Can the article be used before names too?

I only ask, because when I have been to Lisbon, I am not quite sure if I am hearing someone say "Oh Ricardo!" or "O Ricardo!" in the street.

July 7, 2015

Yes. At least in brazilian portuguese, we use the article before proper names. According grammatical rules, t is optional the use of the article before personativos names when there is an idea of familiarity or affection. Ex.: "Este é o Paulo, meu primo" or "a Maria já está chegando".

July 7, 2015

As with Pat214197 my English and American schools, 1950's to 70's, taught me very little grammar. You kind of pick it up as you go along. I'm learning more doing this than I ever have before. Possessives are a real struggle.

April 26, 2019

Thanks! When I see “O” or “A” before something I don’t know whether to ignore it or to think of it in another way. It seems like “O” and “A” are totally random. They are sometimes used and other times not used. I have no idea when to use them or why. The only explanation I’ve had from teachers is “Sometimes they are used and sometimes they aren’t used, you’ll get it!” I’m trying to discover a way to understand Portuguese without translating everything in my head or with a translator. When I see a Portuguese word I don’t get the idea behind it yet after 4.75 years of studying. I still have to translate it to the English word to understand the meaning. It makes understanding spoken Portuguese impossible so far because I can’t make out what people are saying either. I practice with my Brasilian girlfriend every day and have for 21 months. I had another girlfriend before that for 4 years and I couldn’t understand her either. I’ve always been able to learn quickly until now. Thanks

May 9, 2019

the definite article is mandatory when the name is known (o presidente, the president, o professor, the teacher,o delegado: the delegate) or when it becomes definite (eu comprei um livro e o livro é muito bom: I bought a book and the book is very good.

can use or not before possessive: Meu livro, o meu libro : my book.

The rest, over time

May 10, 2019

could i say "o gato bebe dele leite"?

February 22, 2016

if you're trying to say ''the cat drink his milk'' you wrongly placed the word ''dele = his'' the correct version would be ''o gato bebe o leite dele''

September 10, 2016

The correct sentence is "O gato dele bebe leite".

July 27, 2016

Why? We do not have here English "his cat", as I understand here there is "its milk" , so "The cat drinks its milk" = "O gato bebe o seu leite" and possibly as Francisco wrote "O gato bebe o leite dele". But Pt sentences probably are ambiguoes, can mean that milk is the cat's or of some man. Correct?

February 18, 2019

It looks like “The cat drinks the your milk”. Seu is “your”. I’ve heard that it can mean “His” but don’t know how to know which meaning to use.

April 26, 2019

I totally get that if you don't have a noun, you need to use an article. However, why is there an article in "A tua gata come peixe"? Is this Portuguese Portuguese, where they always use the article?

June 7, 2019

we like the articles... If you don't like them you can say: Tua gata come peixe, it's right too.

June 7, 2019
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