23.2 days of the week, month and seasons

The days of the week are very simple in Portuguese, they are just numbers. Only saturday and sunday have a proper name.

segunda-feira monday
terça-feira tuesday
quarta-feira wednesday
quinta-feira thursday
sexta-feira friday
sábado saturday
domingo sunday



This is astonishing for various reasons. First of all feira steems from the latin feria and feria means day of rest. Therefore one might induced to believe that all days in the Portuguese speaking world are day of rest. To explain what happened we have to go back in history.

In latin, and therefore in all countries where latin had been exported in the course of the roman expansion, the days of the week were named, only exception is monday, day of the moon, after Gods (dies lunae, dies martis, dies mercurii, dies iovis, dies veneris). In the other roman languages this is like that still today. However in roman languages the name of saturday and sunday, dies saturni, dies solis, has been changed, to sábado and domingo. (sábado / domingo in Spanish, samedi / dimanche in French, sabato / domenica in Italian and so on.)

There are two things that are strange with the Portuguese days of the week. First, why feira and second, why it starts with segunda feira and not with primeira feira. In Judaism there was only one day of rest, the Shabbat, that's where sábado steems from. In seven days God created the world and was somehow exhausted and in need of a break. That's why he decided that everybody has to have a break on Shabbat even the people who are not exhausted at all. For Christians the day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was much more important than Shabbat and therefore and because it is always a good idea to have a break, sunday becomes a day of rest as well, however this was the FIRST day of rest. Until here nothing new. The day of work were named after roman Gods and the weekend was shabbat dies dominus. From dies dominus steems domingo.

The fact that the working days were still namend after roman Gods was a problem for Martinho de Braga (510 - 579), bishop in Braga, a little village in the North of Portugal, mostly in eastern. So he ordered that in the eastern week the names should be changed from dies Lua to segunda-feira, dia de Marte to terça-feira, dia de Mercúrio to quarta-feira and so on and for any reason people ended up in using these names the rest of the year as well. (However Portuguese is not the only language where the days of the week are just named with numbers. In Persian is works the same way.)

Before the days of the week an article can be used, but it is not compulsory. An article is used if the day of the week is stressed.

O emprego do artigo antes dos dias da semana não está sujeito a regras gramaticais. Depende, não raro, de quem fala ou escreve. Há, porém, frases, em que o devemos utilizar, como sejam aquelas em que é conveniente salientar o dia da semana. Concerning the use of the article before the days of the week there are no fix grammar rules. That depends, as it happens very often, from the person who speaks or write. However there are sentences where it must be used, for instance sentences where the day of the week must be stressed.
Os dias da semana com ou sem artigo

Concerning the use of the article before the days of the week there are no fix grammar rules. That depends, as it happens very often, from the person who speaks or write. However there are sentences where it must be used, for instance sentences where the day of the week must be stressed.

with preposition an article is used
O domingo é dia feriado.
Sunday is a day of rest.
A Sexta-Feira é o dia mais esperado da semana.
Friday is the most longed-for day of the week.
A segunda-feira é um dia útil.
Tuesday is a working day.

Sometimes the days of the week are written with capital letters.After the latest spelling reform this is not necessary any more.

With prepositions the article is optional. To the English preposition on (On sunday I go shopping) correspond em and since em + article are combined in Portuguese we get na, em + a, no, em + o, nas, em + as, nos, em + os see 4.1.1. (The only masculine day of the week is sunday, domingo.)

em + article for on (there is no article in English)
Nós partiremos na terça-feira.
We go on tuesday.
Na quarta-feira não temos nada marcado.
For wednesday nothing is scheduled right now.
Eu convidei-a para jantar no domingo.
I invited them for dinner on sunday.
em without article
Três pessoas são mortas em quarta-feira violenta na cidade.
Three people died during the violent wednesday in town.
Previsão do tempo para quinta-feira.
Weather forecast for thursday.
Não estou preparada psicologicamente para segunda-feira.
Psychologically I am not prepared for monday.


The preposition em is semantically almost meaningless. That always happens if the relationship described by the preposition is unclear. Actually to go to the cinema on sundays is as nice as going to the cinema ~ in sundays. In sundays would be even more motivated semantically, at least we are inside a period of time. To be ON a period of time is actually difficult. The book can lie on a table, but how it can lie on a sunday? In colloquial speech in german there is a tendency to leave out the preposition in sentences like "I go to the cinema on monday." In French, "Le lundi je vais au cinema", in Spanish, "El lunes me voy al cine" and in Italian "Lunedi vado al cinema" there is no preposition before the day of the week in this context.

preposition with article
Termina às 10 horas da quinta-feira da semana seguinte.
It ends on thursday of the following week.
Eu não via a hora para o domingo seguinte vir. *
I can hardly wait next sunday.
Estes certificados podem ser entregues** a partir da segunda-feira que se segue à comunicação.
The certificates can be handed out the thursday that follows the notification.


* vir a hora = to wait for something desperately (presumably an italianism, non vedo l'ora)
** entregar = to hand; there are two past participles, entregado and entregue

preposition with article
Aguardo uma resposta sua até quinta-feira da próxima semana.
I expect your answer until thursday next week.
Igreja não é apenas para domingo.
The church is not only for sundays.
A semana normal de trabalho é de segunda-feira a sexta-feira.
A normal working week lasts from monday to friday.

It seems that mankind has a tendency to give a deeper sense to reality. Sometimes this is beautiful and romantic and sometimes it is unpractical. This author for instance would name the month with a, b, c, de etc.. A for january, b for februrary and so on. Easy and straightforward. However some month are named after antique Gods. The first one, the january, is actually nice. January is named after Janus, the good with the two faces. He looks back to the old year and forward to the new one. That doesn't clear how the past is connected to the future, but a romantic heart is moved.

The name of the month must be learnd by heart. That's the problem. Septembro, outubro, novembro are obviously boring. These name steem simply from the number, septem = 7, okto = 8, nonem = 9, decem = 10. What is actually astonihing. There are a lot of antique Gods, enough in any case for the 12 month of the year.


janeiro january
fevereiro february
março march
abril april
maio may
junho june
julho july
agosto august
setembro september
outubro october
novembro november
dezembro december


There is no article in front of month.

Vão ter que esperar pelo menos até janeiro do ano que vem.
They have to wait until january next year.
Até julho já gastámos muito dinheiro.
Until july we have to spent a lot of money.
Não soube nada dele desde julho.
Since july I haven't got any news from him.
Custa 10€ e é válido de setembro até janeiro do próximo ano.
It costs 10 € and is valid from september to january next year.
É melhor ir em setembro do que em julho/agosto.
It is better to go in september instead of august.


Most of the peoples on earth have four seasons, only the Chinese have five of them. Besides summer, été in French and estate in italian, but verano in Spanish, they have the same name in all roman languages.

primavera spring
verão summer
outono autumn
inverno winter

There is no rule, at least the author of these lines was not able to find one, but in front of the season of a year there is an article, if there is no prepostion. (With a preposition there is an article.)

O inverno é minha estação preferida.
Winter is the season I like the most.
O verão é a estação de que menos gosto.
Summer is the season I like the least.
O inverno é a estação mais fria do ano.
Winter is the coldest season of the year.
O verão passou rápido.
Summer passed fast.


There is no rule either for the case that there is a preposition, but at least as far as the prepositions ending with de are concerned, antes de, depois de, por causa de, the empirical data are evident. Without article, in other words something like "depois de verão" google doesn't yield no result at all. With article, "depois do verão", it yields more than half a million results. Therefore we deduce that in opposite to the days of the week, where the article is not compulsory, the seasons have an article if there is a preposition.

Produtos que não podem faltar antes, durante e depois do verão.
Products you need before, during and after summer.
Antes do outono sempre vem o verão.
Before autumn comes the summer.
O melhor período para vacinação é antes do outono.
The best time for vaccination is autumn.
Tem muita gente sofrendo com dores nas costas por causa do inverno.
There are a lot of people who suffers from back pain in winter.






contact privacy statement imprint