10.5.1 The relative adverbs onde, aonde

Where are you? => Onde ficas?
Where do you go? => Aonde vais?

In Portuguese, that is true for the interrogative pronoun as well as for the relative pronoun, there is a distinction. We use onde, in case that we refere to a position and we use onde for a mouvement to a certain place we use aonde. In English we can use where in both cases.


A casa onde nasci vai ser recuperada.
The house where I was born goes be repared.
The house where I was born will be repaired. .

If a mouvement towards a place is described aonde is used.

O lugar aonde ele vai fica longe.
The place to where she goes is far.
The place she goes to is far away.

In some languages, german and french for instance, where / où / wo can refer as well to a period of time. (~The times where...). In other languages that is not possible. There is a third group of languages. In Portuguese the standard grammar rejects the use of where referening a period of time, but the use of where / onde is so common, that it seems that nobody cares about the standard grammar.

A sentence like that would be regarded as wrong.

Longe vão os tempos onde cada palavra era delicada, pensada três vezes antes de ser proferida.
Far away go the times where every word was delicate, thought three times before to be expressed.
The times when every word was critical, examined carefully before being used, are long gone.
Quelle: Jornalismo e Bom Senso


Normative grammars tend to argue with logic, however logic is completely irrelevant in grammar rules. The use of where refering to a period of time or a moment is officially accepted in French and german and widespread used in Spanish. If it is so common in all languages than it is accepted by the human brain, it is the way the human brain wants to represent verbally the reality and that is the relevant issue, not "logic". This lady for instance just postulates that where can't be used in a context where it refers a to period of time, but she doesn't give any reason why that is wrong. We can call something an error if only a small group of people uses this construction and other people have problems to understand the structure. But if a constructon is used in almost all languages, if a construction seems "natural" to billions of people in different languages, the argument that this construction doesn't match with a "logic" is irrelevant.

Ana Paula teaches her students something, that their students shouldn't learn: To accept certain rules without questioning whether these rules make sense or not. This has nothing to do with Brasil, it is a common problem all over the world, but this is something that should be changed.

É um erro comum usar “onde” para se referir a não-lugares, aponta Ana Paula. “Os candidatos costumam jogar o pronome relativo onde em tudo o que é lugar. Porém, cuidado! Onde só retoma lugar", diz a professora. Caso o aluno queira retomar um nome que não é um lugar concreto, o correto é usar "em que", "no qual", "nos quais", "na qual" ou "nas quais". ton 4 Widely spread is the error to use "where" in a context where it doesn't refers to places, says Ana Paula. "The candidates use normally where as a relative pronoun for everything that is a place. However attention! Where only refers to places", says the teacher. In case that the student wants to refer to a noun that is not a concrete place, "em que", "nos quais", "na qual", "nas quais" must be used.
Enem 2013: veja erros gramaticais comuns na redação e como evitá-los

Onde can be used as well with other prepositions like a, de, até, para and por. De + onde becomes donde and a + onde becomes aonde. (The Portuguese donde has therefore nothing to do with the Spanish donde. The Spanish donde is simply where, the Portuguese donde is used to descibe a mouvement, that woule be in Spanish de donde.)


A cidade aonde vou é belíssima.
The city, where I go is very nice.
A cidade donde vim é belíssima.
The city where I come from is very nice.
A verdade é que não sabemos até onde ela nos leva.
The truth is that we don't know where she leads us.
Não sabe para onde vai.
She doesn't know where she goes.
Não esquecemos os lugares por onde passamos.
We don't forget the place where we passed.





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