22. 1. Quem who

In English, in opposite to Portuguese, a distinction is made between subject and direct object. For a subject of a sentence we ask with who in English, for the direct object with whom.

asking for the subject: He bought a book. => Who bought a book? => He.
asking for the direct object: I saw him yesterday. => Whom did you see yesterday? => Him.

In Portuguese it is quem in both cases.



subject
Quem fez a linda estrelha?
Who made this wonderful star?
direct object
Quem vês no espelho?
Whom do you see in the mirror?

For those who speak Spanish. In Spanish there is something called acusativo personal. That means that a direct object, that is normally not marked in any way, is marked with the preposition a if it is a human beingn. That doesn't exist in Portuguese. However if the direct object is a human being, we can say a quem as well as quem. In other words, in this special case there is something like personal acusative even in Portuguese, although it is not compulsory to use it.



personal acusative with a if the direct object (accusative) is a person
A quem viram e com quem falaram?
Whom did you see and whom did you talk with?


For the indirect object we ask with a quem. (That can be confusing, because, see above, for the direct object we can ask as well with a quem, if the direct object is a person.)


A quem pertence este número?
Whom this number belongs to?

If it makes sense, quem can be combined with any preposition.

Por quem os sinos dobram?
For whom the bell tolls?
Para quem trabalhamos?
For whom do we work?
Em quem posso confiar?
Whom can I trust?
Com quem posso falar sobre isso?
With whom can I talk about this issue?
De quem é esse chapéu?
Whose hat is that?
Quem fez esse bolo?
Who made this cake?

In Spanish there is a plural form of quién (quem). In other words if we know at least that we are asking for several people, we use quiénes in Spanish. In Portuguese there is no plural form of quem.

Spanish: ¿Quién lo hizo?
English: Who did it?
Portuguese: Quem o fez?
Spanish: ¿Quienes lo hicieron?
English: Who did it?
Portuguese: Quem o fez?

However if we already know that we are asking for a group of people, the verb is in plural. (What is normally not the case. If we ask for something unknown, we don't know whether it is singular or plural.)


Quem in singular, but the verb in plural
Quem é esse individuo?
Who is this individuum?
Quem são esses indivíduos?
Who are these individuums?
Quem é este garoto?
Who is this boy?
Quem são estes garotos?
Who are these boys?





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