10.6. The relative pronoun refers to an indefinite pronoun or a context

Indefinite pronouns refer in an abstract way elements or groups. They underline certain aspects of these elements or groups. Somebody for instance means that someone performs or performed an action or can be the goal of an action, but it is unclear who it is. Anybody means that every element of a group can perform the action or can be the goal of an action in an arbitrary way. We can't substitute them.

correct: Somebody has stolen my wallet. => There is no doubt that someone performed the action, but it is unclear who.
wrong: Anybody has stolen my wallet. => That doesn't make sense, because the action has been performed.

correct: Anybody can do that, it's easy. => The message is, that every single element of the group can do that.
wrong: Somebody can do that, it's easy. => If it is easy, than every single element of the group can do that.

In moste cases the aspect emphasized by the indefinite pronoun is obvious. Nobody means for instance, very simple, that nobody performs the action described by the verb or is the goal of the action described by the verb. In other cases it is more tricky and the differences are mor subtle. We will come back on this issue in the chapter about indefinite pronouns.

An indefinite pronoun is referred to with the relative pronoun que. Que can be the subject or the direct object in the relative case. If it is a subject it governs the verb.

main clause relative clause main clause
relative clause subject direct object
Ninguém (Niemand) quefala(m) muito vejoé (são) o(s) meu(s) amigo(s).
Todos (Alle)
Alguém (Jemand)
Qualquer (Irgendwer
was auch immer)
O outro (Ein anderer)
Algum (Jemand)
Nenhum (Keiner)
Ninguém (Niemand)

subjectTodos que falam muito são os meus amigos.
All those who talk a lot, are my friends.
direct objectAlguém que vejo é o meu amigo.
Somebody that I see is my friend.

We can distinguish between indefinite pronouns and indefinite adjectives.

indefinite pronouns
Nãoconheço ninguém que não** seja* artista.
Not know nobody who not is artist
I don't know anybody who is not an artist.
Qualquer que seja* o plano, foi muito bem pensado.
Whatever that was the plan was very well though.
Whatever was the plan, it had been carefully worked out.
Em tantos sentimentos deve ter algum que sirva.
Among such a lot feelings have to have some that serves.
Among such a lot of feelings there should be one that is useful.
indefinitive Adjektive
Nenhum homem que não domine a si mesmo é livre.
Nobody man that not dominates to himself is free.
No man that doesn't dominates himself is free.
alguma mulher que estude espanhol?
Is there some woman that studies Spanish?
Is there any woman who studies Spanish?
Qualquer pessoa que te motive a ser melhor, é alguém que vale a pena manter por perto.
Any person that you motivates to be better is someone that is worth maintain by proximity.
Any person that motivates you to be better is worth being kept nearby.

* This is a conjunctive. It is used here because the assertion of the relative clause is denied. However right now we don't care about these details, we will discuss that in chapter chapter 12, when we talk about the conjunctive. The second conjunctive is used, because the assertion of the relative clause is unsure, but right now we don't care about that either.
** Doble negation is not positive in roman languages. If nobody doesn't do anything a logical analysis would come to the conclusion that everybody does something. However that is not the case in roman languages. If nobody doesn't do something nobody does it.

Something is translated with algo and is referred to with que.

the relative pronoun is subject of the relative clause
Algo que é familiar às massas.
Something that is known to the masses.
Something known to the masses.
the relative pronoun is the direct object of the relative clause
Isso é algo que vejo acontecendo* bastante com colegas.
This is something that I see happen quite often to colleagues.
This is something I see happen quite often to colleagues.

* acontecendo is a gerund. We will discuss this issue in 18.1.4.

If indefinita are referred to with a preposition, "Someone with whom I can spent the rest of my life", the basic rules remains the same, see relative pronouns with preposition. In the case of monosyllabic prepositions a, com, de, em, por we use que / quem if the referred object is a person and que if the referred object is a thing. Sem is an exception to the rule. Sem, although monosyllabic, is referred to with article + qual / quais.

Indefinite pronouns are unpecified in gender and number. If someone knocks at the door we don't know neither how many people are knocking at the door nor if a woman or a man is knocking at the door. Therefore we have a problem in the case of polysyllabic prepositions because in this case there is a preference for o qual / a qual / os quais / as quais and these relative pronouns are well defined in gender and number. The solution is easy we use o qual in case that the referred object is in singular, "Someone with whom I spoke yesterday", and os quais, in case that it is plural, "All with whom I spoke".

(As it had been already said the rule that polysyllabic prepositions requires o qual / a qual / os quais / as quais is a tendency not really a rule. Without any problem we can find examples where polysyllabic prepositions are used with que / quem.)

monosyllabic prepositions like a, com, de, em, por etc.: que
Eu não sou ninguém com que se possa contar.
I not am nobody with that one can count
I am not someone to rely on.
Alguém em que você possa confiar.
Someone in who you can trust
Someone you can trust.
Vamos considerar um produto qualquer em que o valor de custo seja muito alto.
We go consider a product any in that the value of costs is very high.
We consider some product whose costs are very high.
polysyllabic prepositions like para, contra, sobre: article + qual / quais
Ele queria mostrar que havia alguém sobre o qual ele não tinha poder.
He wanted to show that there is someone about the that he not has power.
He wanted to show that there is someone upon whom he doesn't exert any power.
Alguém sobre o qual longamente escrevemos aqui.
Somebody about the that already since long time we write here.
Somebody we have been writing about here already for a long time.
Algo contra o qual os europeus devem proteger-se.
Something against the that the europeans should protect themselves.
Something the europeans should protect themselves against.

A relative pronoun can refer to a context, to an idea. In a sentence like "He didn't tell me the truth, what makes the solution of the problem difficult" the relative pronoun what doesn't refer to something concret, but to an abstract idea. Sometimes the indefinite pronoun refers to an idea and the relative pronoun refers to the indefinite pronoun.

Referencing a context: what: He was not prepared to this question what complicated the negotiation.
Referencing an indefinite pronoun: all / nothing what: Nothing that he does he does well.
He is successful in all (what) he does.

Ideas and indefinite pronouns that refere to ideas are referred to in Portuguese with o que. (In Spanish it is lo que, a neutral form, but given that Portuguese doesn't have a neutral form, the masculin form is used.) O refers the idea and que is the relative pronoun that refers to the idea or the indefinite pronoun.

referencing an idea
Eles se apaixonaram, o que complicou tudo.
They themselves fall in love what that complicated everything. alles.
They fall in love with each other what complicated everything.
O vapor quente, no entanto*, aumenta o inchaço, o que não é bom.
The steam hot however increased the swelling what that not is good.
The hot steam however increased the swelling what wasn't good.
Referenzierung von todo , nada
Podem comer tudo o que tem barbatanas e escamas.
Can eat everything what that have fins and scales.
You can eat everything that has fins and scales.
Entre a dor e o nada o que você escolhe?
Between the pain and the nothing what that you choose?
If you can choose between pain and nothing what do you choose?

* There is no need to understand the construction no entanto, because the construction is incomprehensible. Entanto alone doesn't mean anything and no doesn't mean not as in other roman languages. No actually doesn't exist, not is não in Portuguese. No entanto is a relic of a former language layer. We will discuss this issue in chapter 19.3.4.

Tudo (all / everything) and todos / todas (all of them) can be referred to with quanto(s), quanta(s). The basic meaning of quanto is how much / how many and therefore an interrogative pronoun / interrogative adjective and espontaneously it is hard to see how it can be used as a relative pronoun. (Something that works as well in Italian, but not in Spanish, by the way.) However most of relative interrogative pronouns are as well relative pronouns and therefore there is a certain logic in that.

Ele sabe tudo quanto fazemos.
He knows everything that we do.
He knows everything we do.
Tudo quanto imaginei, tudo quanto eu pensei.
Everything how much imagined everything how much I thought.
Everything (that) I imagined, everything (that) I thought.
Todos quantos o tocavam ficavam curados.
All how many the touched remained healthy.
All who touched it got well.
Beba todas quantas quiser* beber.
Drink all as much want drink.
Drink as much as you want.

*quiser is a conjuntivo do futuro of the verb quer. This tense is astonishing even for people who studied roman languages. It exists only in Portuguese and, nowadays, in no other roman language. We will come back to this issue in the chapter 12.2.4.

Como is a relative adverb. It refers to a noun in the main clause, but is an adverb in the relative clause.

Nada é, como tem que ser.
Nothing is like have to be.
There is nothing that is like it should be.

Tudo and nada, all and nothing, can be referenced as well together with a preposition. In English we can leave out the reference to nothing and in this case. In Portuguese not. (In general: Very often we can leave out the reference through a relative pronoun in English. This is a speciality of the English language and doesn't work in any other language, at least the author of these lines doesn't know any language where this possible.)

That was all that we have been talking about.
That was all we have been talking about.

One could be tended to believe that the rules we have seen before apply as well for referencing ideas, however the picture is not as simple. We have seen in the precedent chapters that with polysyllabic prepositions we use o qual / a qual / os quais / as quais and with monosyllabic prepositions que. This rule, as said before, is at least a tendency.

However when ideas are referred we can find monosyllabic prepositions + article + qual / quais even in academic papers that are not a spontaneous expression. If concepts or tudo / nada are referred to we can find the use of o que together with polysyllabic prepositions. The examples below are real sentences of Portuguese native speakers. There are a lot of examples that doesn't comply with the standard rules we find in grammar books. (Since ideas / indefinite pronouns don't have gender and number, we use o qual.)

monosyllabical prepositions with o qual
Tudo com o qual sonha a maioria da população americana é possível para todos aqueles com alma empreendedora.
All with the that dream the majority of the population american is possible for all those with spiritentrepreneurial.
Everything the american population dreams of can be reached with entrepreneurial spirit.
O senador representa tudo ao qual me oponho.
The senator represents all to what me opposed
The senator represents everything I am opposed to.
pollysylabic prepositions with (o) que
Ele falava de tudo sobre que era lícito conversar.
He talked of all about what was allowed to talk.
He talked about everything that was allowed to talk about.
Não fiz o melhor, mas fiz tudo para que o melhor fosse* feito.
Not made the best but mad all for the best was done.
I didn't make the best, but I did everything to get the best done.
Este lugar representa tudo contra o que lutei durante toda a minha carreira.
This place represents all against the that I fought all the my career.
This place represents all I fought against during my entire career.
Amo tudo sobre que ela fala e da maneira que ela fala.
Love all about that she talks and of the way that she talks.
I love the issues she talks about and the way she does it.
Saiba** tudo sobre que é considerado um dos mais importantes meios de comunicação.
Know everything about what is considered one of the most important means of communication.
Get aquainted with what is generally considered the most important means of communication.

And examples that comply with these rules.


polysyllabic prepositions with o qual
Não existe nada*** sobre o qual se pode ter influência.
Nothing exists nothing about the that one can have influence.
There is nothing that can be influenced.
O poder público é um todo contra o qual se luta diariamente .
The power public is one all against the that one fights every day.
People fight against the whole public power every day.
monosyllabic prepositions with que
Não há**** nada em que paire tanta sedução e maldição como num segredo.
Nothing there is nothing in what pairs such a lot of seduction and evil as in a secret
There is nothing so surrounded by seduction and evil as a secret.
Depois de tudo por que passámos juntos, não posso aceitar.
After vo all through que passed together noht can accept.
After all what we have passed together, I can'accept that.
Tudo do que precisas, tens.
Everything of the that you need already have.
You have already all what you need.

* fosse is perfeito simples do conjuntivo. We will explain that in detail later.

** saiba is presente do conjuntivo. We will explain that in detail later.

*** Doble negation remains a negation in Portuguese.
**** há comes from haver, to have. In the meaning of to possess it didn't survive and is only used in the third person person in the sense of there is.

Until know we have only seen relative clauses that refer to an element or a context of the main clause. We can reconstruct the following sentences in order to see more clearly that it is a relative clause, but even than they differ from the relative clauses we have seen until know.

1) Who laughs last, laughs best. => Those who laugh last, laugh best.
2) What you do not wish to be done to yourself, do not do to others. => Everything that you do not wish to be done to yourself, do not do to others.

From a formal point of view in the reconstructed version we have a classical relative clause. Those is the pronoun and the pronoun is referred to with the relativo pronoun who. However the reconstruction doesn't change anything. The referred thing is outside the sentence. If refer to that thing directly with who or who refers the pronoun that refers to the thing doesn't make any difference.

In a normal relative clause the referred thing is well defined. The relative pronoun refers to something or a context that exists. In the case of a free relative clause the object referred to is undefined. A free relative clause doesn't describe the object referred, it constitutes it. The amount of people who laugh last is undefined, but whoever laughs last, laughs best. The relative pronoun in this case is quem or o que.

Quem ri por último ri melhor.
O que ri por último, ri melhor.
Who laughs last, laughs best.
Quem cava uma cova para outra pessoa cai lá dentro mesmo.
O que cava uma cova para outra pessoa cai lá dentro mesmo.
Harm set, harm get.
O que não queres para ti não faças aos outros.
What you do not wish to be done to yourself, do not do to others.
Onde seja que ele esteja eu lhe encontrarei.
Wherever he is, I will find him.

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