The position of the personal pronoun in Roman languages, but not in Portuguese, is quiet simple. In other roman languages the pronoun preceds the first conjugated verbe. (If there is an infinitive it is a little bit more complicated, but not a big deal.)
I have done it. / I want to do it.
Je l'ai fait. / Je peux le faire.
Lo he hecho. / Puedo hacerlo.
L' ho fatto. / Posso farlo.
In portuguese however, that is true for the European Portuguese as well as for the Brasilian Portuguese the personal pronoun is put after the verb and in Brasil it is the norm taught at schools, although it is questionned whether that is useful, see below.
Portuguese: Tenho-lo fatto.
Professionel linguists point out, that in colloquial speech this norm is not respected. In colloquial speech the personal pronoun is very often put before the verb, although it should stand after the verb.
As gramáticas normativas condenam o uso brasileiro de próclise e esse uso é ensinado no colégio como sendo proibido na escrita. Portanto, exceto quando a escrita simula a fala (mensagens instantâneas e de celular, por exemplo), as posições clíticas da escrita no Brasil são as mesmas do português falado em Portugal.
Normative grammars condemns the preceding personal pronouns in Brasilian Portuguese and at school it is taught that this use is to be refuted in writing. Therefore the use of the Brasilian written language correspond, if we abstract from situation where the written language imitates the spoken language (for instances messages like the instant messages or the messages send by a smartphone), to the spoken language in Portugal.
We let this matter rest and explain the norm. Who is interested in this issue can put in google something like colocação pronominal (position of pronouns). He will find thousand of articles, contribution in forums, blogs etc. where this problem is discussed. He will find thousand of article defending the norm and thousand who refutes this norm for the brasilian Portuguese. In any languages there are discussions about the norm, but perhaps in Portuguese the discussion about these issues is more intense than in other languages. At least this author has never seen a debate like that in other languages: O português brasileiro precisa ser reconhecido como uma nova língua. E isso é uma decisão política. The reasons given by this professor for the existence of a new language, brasilian, are pure nonsense.
As pessoas perguntam “por que você está dizendo que existe o português brasileiro? Existe o espanhol argentino? Existe o espanhol mexicano? Existe o inglês americano?”. Existe, sim. Mas as circunstâncias históricas da formação do português brasileiro são muito diferentes da formação do inglês americano, por exemplo. Basta lembrar que até 1960 era proibido por lei nos Estados Unidos o casamento entre pessoas negras e brancas. No Brasil, desde quando os portugueses vieram para cá faziam a festa com as índias e as escravas, também. Então, a formação étnica da nossa população é muito diferente da formação étnica dos Estados Unidos.
"Why do you say that the brasilian portuguese exists? Does the Argentine Spanish exists? The Mexican spanish? Does the American English exists?" Yes, they exist. But the historic circumstances of the formation of the Brasilian Portuguese are very different than of the American English for instance. We only have to remember that until 1960 the marriage between black and white people was forbidden by law in the United States . In Brasil, from thee moment on the Portuguese arrived they celebrated with indian and slave women as well. Therefore the ethnical formation of our population is very different from the ethnical formation of the United States.
Included in this website are two novels, O Cortiço by Aluísio Azevedo and A Escrava Isaura by Bernardo Guimarães. The historical truth is that indian and enslaved women where simply raped. That what led finally to the collapse of race segregation because there were more and more people slaves descending from Portuguese fathers. Furthermore the relationship between the differences in ethical building and language are hard to see. However this author believes that the Brasilians find their language being as different from European Portuguese as the people in Argentine find their Spanish being different from the Spanish spoken in the North of Spain. They don't care about these issues in general.
This said, we stick to the norm here, although it is perhaps not what people speak. (But it is at least the standard in writing.)
The table below show the rules if NONE OF THE EXCEPTIONS SHOWED BENEATH ARE GIVEN.
The sentences that serve as examples contain some structures we have not seen until now and there is no need to memorize that, because all of these structure we will discuss in detail later. Furthermore to the sentences in the table there is a didactical motivated translation that allows to understand the Portuguese construction more or less.
1) In opposite to all other roman languages compound tenses are formed with ter = to have and ter can be used as an auxiliary verb to form compound tenses as well as a main verb in the meaning of to possess. Haver is also possible, but haver is only an auxiliary verb and its use not very common, see 11.2 Der pretérito perfeito composto.
4) Actually se is a reflexive pronoun (He sees himself). However sometimes it is used if the executor of the action described by the verb is unknown or should not be mentioned. This construction is somehow difficult to understand. We will have a closer look on this construction at 17.1. Se impessoal and se passivo.
5) Before indefinite pronouns (anybody, somebody, all, etc.) the negation is nem. "Not everybody know it" is therefore "Nem todos o sabem" and not 'Não todos o sabem'. See 19.5.5 nem que even if.
6) In one sentence we have a conjuntivo / conjunctive. The conjuntivo is used after verbs, conjunctions, idiomatic espression etc. that describes a subjective attitude towards the world. In other words if we want, hope, are afraid of something we not only describe something, we have a subjective attitude towards this action or event. Between 1) "I know that he will come at six o' clock" and 2) "I hope that he will come at six o'clock" there is a difference. In one we describe a fact. Whether we like that or not, is irrelevant. In 2) we have subjective attitude concerning this fact. This is complex issue and we will study that in detail in 12. O conjuntivo.
We are not interested in all these structures at the moment and you can deduce how it works in Portuguese from the didactical motivated translation. Furthermore this author doesn't believe in the possibility to learn abstract rules. If it is a purely syntactical problem, a problem without any relationship to the extralinguistic reality, it is better to remember just one sentence that contains this structures. The rule can then be deduced from this example in lightning speed and it is possible to construct any amount of sentences with the same structure. It is therefore in general enough to click several times on the loud speakers. It is useful to understand the rule, but there is no need to memorize it. If the extralinguistic reality is to be taken into account, as in the case of the use of the tenses, the situation is different.
The following sentences describe the position of the personal pronounce following the standard of european portuguese. (At the end there is a simplified rule, ONLY ONE. Stick to this one in case of doubts.)
pronoun after the verb
If the sentence beginns with a verb and if there is only one verb, the pronoun is added to the verb by a hyphen. (In Brasilian Portuguese without hyphen.)
They give me the shirts..
It is better to tell him all.
I see her very often.
I remember it.
If the sentence contains an auxiliary verb and a participle the pronoun is put directly after the auxiliary verb.
They informed us.
Have you it
I have said you that.
Have it bought.
I have bought it.
If the sentence has a modal verb (can, must, should etc.) and an infinitive the personal pronoun precede or follow the modalverb or precedes or follows the infinitive.
O devemos fazer agora.
Devemo-lo fazer agora.
Devemos faze-lo agora.
We have to do it now.
O quero saber.
I want to know it.
The personal pronoun is added to the gerund. (Exception: There is em before the gerund: Em o fazendo, perdem = Doing that, they lose)
Despede-se, beijando-me a face.
Said goodby himself, kissing me the face.
Giving me a kiss on the face, he said goodbye.
The personal pronoun is added to the imperative
Diga-lhe que está tudo bem.
Tell him that is all good.
Tell him that everything is alright.
The personal pronoun precedes the verb if the sentence starts with an interjection.
Que seu novo amor o faça feliz!
That your new love you / she / he makes happy!
I wish that his / her / your new love makes you happy.
If the sentence starts with a personal pronoun nominative, subject, eu, tu, ele, ela, nós, etc. in brasilian portuguese the pronoun precedes the verb.
Eu te amo!
I love you!
These rules can be simplified. The simplified version doesn't embrace all possibilities, but es easy to memorize. The personal pronouns are added, at least can always be added, to the first conjugated verb. Only exception: The sentence starts with a pronoun in nominative or an interjection. So if you are not sure, stick to the simple version, that always works.
In negative sentences or if the sentences starts with an adverb, the personal pronouns (and the reflexive pronouns) precedes the first conjugated verb.
Here is a list of the exception, that you can't memorize. Stick to the simple rule and the problem is resolved.
pronoun before the verb
If the sentence is introduced by a negative particle or by an indefinite pronoun that indicates the action described by the verb is unrealistic, because there is nobody who can perform this action or a condition needed to get the action performed is not given. That means that after words like não (no / not), nunca (never), jamais (never), ninguém (nobody), nada (nothing), nenhum (any), etc. the personal pronouns precede the verbe.
Não o sabe.
Not it knows.
He doesn't know it. .
Não me incomodo com eles.
Not me annoy with them.
They don't annoy me.
Nunca se recusa a ajudar a quem precise.
Never recuse himself to help to who needs.
He never recuses to help someon in need of help.
Ninguém lhe deve nada.
Nobody him owes nothing.
Nobody owes him anything.
Nem sequer nos conta porque faz isso.
Not even us tells why did that.
He not even tells what he did to us.
If the sentence begins with one of the adverbes / pronouns mentioned before (nobody, never, any etc.) and the sentence has a modal verb and an infinitive the personal pronoun can precede the modal verb or can be added to the infinitive. It can't stand in this context between the modal verb and the infinitive.
Não lhe devemos dizer a verdade.
Não devemos dizer-lhe a verdade.
We don't have to tell him the truth.
O advogado não lhe tinha dito a verdade.
The lawyer not him has said the truth.
The lawyer didn't tell him the truth.
In interrogative sentences the personal pronoun precedes the first conjugated verb.
Quem o diz?
Who it says?
Who says that?
O que lhe posso responder?
What him / her / it can answer?
What can I answer him / her?
Por que o faz?
Why this does?
Why does he do that?
If the sentence begins with an adverb / adverbial, with a word that describes the circumstances the action described by the verb is executed, words like today, perhaps, yesterday, here, there etc.. the personal pronoun precedes the first conjugated verb. If there is an infinitive, it can be added as well to the infinitive.
Agora te conto um conto de fadas.
Now you tell a fairy tale.
I will tell you a fairy tale now.
Aqui lhe mostramos um exemplo.
Here him / her / you show an example.
Here we show you an example.
Hoje o faço por prazer.
Today it do for pleasure.
Today I do it just for fun.
Hoje posso fazê-lo.
Today can make it.
I can do it today.
Nesta casa se fala espanhol.
In this house one speaks spanish.
We speak spanish here.
If a sentence begins with an indefinite pronoun, a pronoun that indicates that the action described by the verb can be performed by just anybody, that stresse the fact that everybody is the executor or the goal of an action, that anybody can be the goal or the executor of an action the personal pronoun precedes the first conjugated verb. If there is an infinitive, it can be added to this infinitive as well.
Nem todos o sabem.
Not all it know.
Not everybody knows that.
Só alguns o podem pagar.
Only some it can pay.
Only few people can afford to that. .
Cada um pode fazê-lo à sua maneira.
Everybody can do it its own way.
Everybody can do it as he pleases.
Ninguém o sabe.
Nobody it knows..
Nobody knows it.
In relative clauses the pronouns precedes always the first conjugated verb or, if there is one, are added to the infinitive. There are therefore two possibilities.
Jamais pergunte a pessoa que te chama para entrevista que ônibus pegar.
Never ask to the person that you call for interview which bus take.
Never ask the person who invites you for a job interview for the bus connection.
A mulher que o pode fazer.
The woman that it can make.
The woman who can do it.
É o homem que pode fazê-lo.
Is the man that can make it.
This is the man who can do it.
The same situation we have in subordinate clauses.
Faço aquele trabalho porque o quero.
Make this work because I want.
I do this job, because I like it.
Dou-lhe o livro para que o leia.
Gave him the book for that it read.
I gave him the book so that he read it.
Pode ser muito divertido quando o quer ser.
Can be very funny when he want be.
He can be very funny when he wants.
You can find in literature constructions where the pronoun is put between steem of the verb and the endings of the future or the conditional. However this structure is never used in spoken language.