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"a", "de", and "para"

How do you know when to use "a", "de", "para", or nothing at all before an infinitive verb?

September 4, 2013



Before infinitive verbs, you can try this (not a strict rule, but a good start, please notice that there is a biiiig range of possibilities, here are a few)

A + infinitive: turns it into some kind of gerund action.

Estou a andar = I'm walking

De + infinitive: it can be the cause of something, generally you can use "of/from" to replace it. And it's used to tell the usage of somethings:

Estou cansado de andar = I'm tired from walking

Essa barriga grande é de comer demais = this big belly comes from eating too much

Essa fruta é de comer? = Can this fruit be eaten? (is it real or plastic?)

Para + infinitive: indicates an objective or goal:

É para comer = It's to be eaten (I made these breads for you to eat)

Vim aqui para falar = I came here to speak.

Hint: Ask "what for?" (para que?)
Hint 2: You can see it as "in order to".

No preposition : normally a direct object just being itself.

Quero andar = I want to walk (WHAT do I want? I want to walk)

Please BE AWARE that MANY times, the other verb or the thing coming before the infinitive verb will define the preposition:

Gosto de andar = I like walking (this preposition is demanded by the verb "gostar", so it has nothing to do with the given explanation about "de")

Ele começou a falar = He started to speak (Like "started to" in English. You always use "start to" or "start gerund", but gerund cannot be used that way in Portuguese)

Prepositions are not trustable!!!
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Just a note: The gerund differs from Brazil to Portugal So "Estou a andar" would be the expected in Portugal, but in Brazil would be weird. Here we use "Eu estou andando".


Not weird, just "erudite".


That last sentence pretty much sums up everything about language learning. I'll give you half a lingot for the good explanation and another half for that :)


We don't use ''muita'' even for a woman is ''muito obrigada''


What is the function of “a” (before fazer) in this sentence please?

O melhor que você tem a fazer é aceitar

I’m guessing it’s that “tem” takes a noun-like object, so requires “a fazer” as it’s a gerund.

So literally, something like: “The best that you have ‘for doing’, is to accept.

Am I close?!

Thank you!


I noticed a structure that seems to be followed in this sentence (and others) which is ter + algo + a + infinitive but, as to the reasoning behind it - "Eu não sei"! I think the sentence may translate as The best you (can do)/(have to do) is to accept


Unfortunately prepositions vary from language to language so it's pretty hard to give any clues. Over time you'll learn which preposition fits better in certain cases and what prepositions are supposed to be used along with the verbs...


Para + verb can also indicate "in order to". Not a big difference from "to" but a lot of the time that extra meaning gets dropped


obrigada, eu gosto


it's depends on situation. Some cases you can use different prepositions before the same verb.

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