Portuguese subject prounouns

In European Portuguese you have to be careful which form of the second person subject pronoun (tu or você) you use, because there are social distinctions to consider. In Portugal, tu is used in informal social contexts (among one’s peers, friends, and lovers, and you will hear it a lot in love songs). Você might be used for more formal situations (addressing a stranger, or one’s elders or superiors, for example) but even here you have to be careful. Using você might be disrespectful – it could imply disdain or scorn. It is far safer when approaching a man you are not familiar with to use o senhor, or a senhora for a woman, and these take the third person singular ending along with vocêele and ela.

In Brazil the situation is simple, você is used for the second person singular and vocês for the second person plural, regardless of social distinctions.

The subject pronouns are

Singular

  • eu (I )
  • tu  (you, familiar, used mainly in Portugal)
  • você (you, used mainly in Brazilian Portuguese – takes third person verb ending)
  • ele (he)  ela (she)

Plural

  • nós (we )
  • vocês (you – takes third person verb ending)
  • eles (they, masculine)   elas (they, feminine)

 

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