Translation:The student received her diploma in January.
If you are translating from english to portuguese... Yes! It's possible to translate this sentence changing the gender and using the plural. So:
1) A aluna recebeu seu diploma... / O aluno recebeu seu diploma... 2) As alunas receberam seu diploma... / Os alunos receberam seu diploma... (in this case they received only one diploma - team group)
But... If you are translating from Portuguese to english there is one correct way to translate it:
1) A aluna recebeu seu diploma... a) "A aluna" - singular and female b) "seu" - possessive pronoun (it should be combined with "diploma". (not "sua diploma")
One thing I noticed about Portuguese, is that it is much more difficult to be ambiguous. For example, if you were talking to your girlfriend and she asked you where you were last night. In English, you could say, "Oh, I was just hanging out with a friend." But, in Portuguese, you would have to use amigo or amiga in place of the word friend. This could get you into a lot of trouble with your girlfriend, if you friend was an amiga instead of an amigo. Especially with the Brasileiras.. ;-) Just Saying...
Maybe that is why Brasilian women/men seem more jealous? Because they know right away whether it was a girl or boy 'friend' from the grammar. Where as, in North America, you just say you were out with a friend... If your girlfriend/boyfriend asks specifically whether it was a girl or a boy 'friend', it could be considered a breach of trust in the relationship, because it shouldn't matter what gender the friend is. They are only 'friends' and if you think otherwise, you're labeled jealous.
From my limited experience in Brasil, it certainly seemed like jealousy is much more accepted as a part of love, perhaps it is expected, even.
My experience in North America, is that jealousy is not considered an admirable trait in a partner. Even small amounts of jealousy seem to shame the jealous lover as insecure, which could lead to a break up.
Where as in Brasil, jealousy was much more a part of the culture and seemed to somehow be indicative of your passion towards your lover, perhaps jealousy was even considered admirable.
In portuguese... if there are a million girls and one boy... you use the male form. So... is more common to use the male form. "Os estudantes receberam o diplomas" (even if the most of the students is girls). Ou "a turma recebeu o diploma"... "a classe foi bem no exame"...
Ok, good to know. But, I still want to know how to say "The student (1 student) received their diploma (1 diploma)". Just one student, without a gender assigned. Like, what if you didn't know whether the student/lawyer/teacher was a boy or a girl, yet...?
Would you just use o aluno/advogado/professor (male gender) as default?
What if you were writing a book and you had not yet revealed the gender of the character/student/lawyer/teacher, who just received their diploma?
I'm brazilian and I'm learning english. I had the same question. Look at this: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/a-diploma-is-not-a-degree/