1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Portuguese
  4. >
  5. "They write a letter."

"They write a letter."

Translation:Eles escrevem uma carta.

October 18, 2013

25 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/K.Alix

Is it not possible to leave out subject pronouns in Portuguese? I thought it was okay?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnPrado

No, it's not always possible. It depends on the context. In the lesson's context, you have to use it


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chris_nairn

Interesting, I thought it would be more for emphasis or clarity just like in Spanish. What makes this sentence so?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ThanKwee

Third-person pronouns are less likely to be omitted because they provide additional information about gender


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chris_nairn

If we are talking about a group, we probably know if they are male, female, or both. And if not, we defer to the masculine as if it's mixed gender, no? Regardless, you're saying that in practice, the subject pronoun is used more often in the third person.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ThanKwee

Yes, the subject pronoun is used more often in the third person because there is gender information. (ele, ela, eles, elas) = (he, she, they -all males or mixed-, they - all females).

Eu, nós, and tu, don't provide any gender information, so the subject pronouns in first (eu, nós) and second person (tu) are superfluous, whereas third-person subject pronouns are not superfluous.

Note that você and vocês are conjugated the same as third person

If you just say "Escrevem uma carta", you don't know if it's elas, eles or vocês.

Or if you say "Escreve uma carta", you don't know if it's ela, ele or você.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PaulAbraha11

Less likely, but not prohibited. I believe this being marked as an error is incorrect.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

Please, explain why, what are the rules? (If there are other rules than the one explained by ThanKwee.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chris_nairn

Is "letra" only for the letters that build words and not for a correspondence? It didn't like it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnPrado

both 'carta' and 'letra' are 'letter', maybe 'correspondence' wasn't accepted because in portuguese it is 'correspondência', not the same as 'uma carta'


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chris_nairn

Non, I meant that I put "letra" and got it wrong. I was giving a definition for the intended use of "letra" as separate from the definition of a "letra" as a character in the alphabet for the sake of clarity. It didn't occur to me at the time that it was also a cognate. :)

Okay, "letra" should have been accepted! Thanks. :)

Even so, if "letra" only meant the letters in the alphabet it should have accepted it anyway. We can have all of the children write letter "A" or the letter of their choice.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RicardoHer84

I thought elas it's feminine for they


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mike2025

If all the people you are referring to are female, you use 'elas'. If there is at least one male in the group you refer to, or if the gender isn't known, you use 'eles'.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

"They" can mean "eles" or "elas", it depends on who is in this group.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/irinau

as long as the verbs are declined , they terminations for each person , why is it necessary a subject , in this case 'elas 'or' eles '? Can't I say "Escrevo uma carta " ? or is it absolutely necessary "Eu escrevo uma carta " ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chris_nairn

The books I checked weren't conclusive, so, I found this. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Portuguese_pronouns

"The subject is always before a verb. Due to the high number of verb conjugations, this pronoun can be omitted if superfluous: Eu comi arroz ontem.; Comi arroz ontem. — “I ate rice yesterday.”"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chris_nairn

My understanding is that it is not necessary. But, Portuguese is not my strongest language. I will check a book or two.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/irinau

Thanks . I'm thinking that in French the verbs are declined too but , unlike ...let's say Greek , Romanian or Spanish , they always need a subject ( noun or pronoun ) . Seems Portuguese is more like French rather than Spanish ....


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

It's exactly the same thing in French, except you can't skip the pronouns.

In Portuguese, as explained above by ThanKwee, it's not good to skip the 3rd person pronoun, because you don't know from the ending if it's a feminine or a masculine (see explanations given by ThanKwee)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ChiNane

Not good <> wrong.

I'm pretty sure that in a continuous text, where there can be no doubt who 'they' are, the subject can be omitted. Thus in a lesson without any context, it should not be marked as wrong.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

See above. (ThanKwee)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/reeanynany

Why can't you say "um carta" - "a letter"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

Because "a" can be translated either by "um", or by "uma", if the noun is masculine, you choose "um", if it's feminine - as "carta", you choose "uma".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/reeanynany

is there a way to know which words are feminine and/or masculine or does that just come with experiance?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/franciscos851058

feminine words:

  • carta = letter
  • casa = house
  • batata = potato
  • salada = salad

masculine words:

  • quarto = room
  • carro = car
  • sapato = shoe
  • bolo = cake

it is a way, but there are some is exceptions like the "sofa" that is a masculine word

Learn Portuguese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.