6.1.5 Changes in the unstressed pronouns depending on the ending of the verb

In what follows we will see a lot of rules, that obviously nobody can remember. The question therefore is why describe rules when it is obvious that nobody can remember them? In recent times we find a lot of text books for learning languages that pretend to teach a foreign languages the same way, the mother tongue was learned, without any grammar, any effort and in only 20 minutes a day becomeing fluent in this language. Theres is a fundamental error in this logic. First of all a child needs four years to become more or less fluent in his mothing tongue having a teacher 12 hours a day, the mother, the father, the grandmother, the grandfather, the brother and sisters etc.. All of them focusing on the child and repeating hundreds of time if needed the same word. That makes mor or less 18000 hours of classes. In other words, the way a child learns his mother tongue is the most INEFFICIENT way to learn a language. In general a foreign language is taugh at school, depending on the country, 900 hours and normally students at the end of the school are more fluent in this foreign language than a four year old child in its mother tongue. We don't say that the way foreign languages are taught in schools is very efficient, the main problem is that teaching foreign languages at school focuses on the written language and putting missing words in placeholders, but even this method is much more efficient than the way a child learns a language. Last not least, all the textbooks that pretends to teach a language without grammar, end up to teach grammar rules, although in a somehow dispersed and confusing way.

However in what follows we have rules that nobody can remember, but we should distinguish between active and passive. If somebody has seen the rules, he will remember them when a construction where this rule is applied shows up in a text or in speech. And when he has seen this rule several 100 times, he will end up in using it correctly. If he have never seen the rule, he will not understand the text or speech. We learn a language by dealing with it passively, hearing or reading. The passive competence precedes the active competence. The problem in schools is, that they insist on focusing on the active production, speaking and writing. It should be the other way round. What is needed is a quick overview over the whole system. There is no need to dominate any detail, for instance there is no need to memorize any possible changes of the unstressed pronouns. But one should know that these changes happen. If somebody has studied the rules that describe these changes, he will recognize them if he saw them, even if he is not able to produce them actively. We have included in this website several novels. The pronunciation is very slow and clear and you have the written text and the translation. We recommend to hear and read these novels several times. Everything what has been explained in this grammar shows up several hundred times in these novels. This said, here we go.


If the a verb

1) ends in r, what is always the case in infinitive, falar, fazer, partir,
2) in s, that is always the case in the first person singular / pural, falamos, fazemos, partimos and in the second person singular, falas, fazes, partes,
3) or in z, this is the case in the 3rd person singular of the verbs dizer, fazer, traduzir

o,a,os, as becomes lo, la, los, las and r, s. z disappear.

It is therefore not "Quero comprar-lo"sino "Quero comprá-lo", "I want to buy it". The best thing to do is to remember one sentences that contains this rule. This is the basic rule. What follows are details of details. No need to worry about them.

In case 1) we have to see that there are three possibilities. The infinitives end in -ar, -er, -ir. If the final r is left out, what is left ends in -a, -e, -i. The a gets an acento agudo, the -e an acento circunflexo and the -i remains -i. (That means that the a is to be pronounced as an open a and the e is to be pronounced as a closed e, see 3.4.2.1 [o], [ɔ] und 3.4.3 [ɛ][e].)

(We abbreviate and adapt it. Actually a form like comprá-la needs a context, Quero comprá-la = I want to buy it. The literal translation, I want to buy her, doesn't make sense, because human beings can't be bought. O, a, os, as can refer to things in Portuguese, the correct translation is therefore it. This is obvious in comprá-la, where the a refers to a thing. However for didactical reasons we translate with her in this case.)

Attaching o, a, os, as to an infinitive => ending in r
verb ending on -ar => The a gets an acento agudo
comprarcomprá-la comprá-las comprá-lo comprá-los
to buy to buy it (her) to buy them to buy it (him) to buy them
example Eu quero comprá-lo. I want to buy it.
esperaresperá-la esperá-las esperá-lo esperá-los
to wait to wait for her to wait for them to wait for him to wait for them
example Você tem que esperá-la. You have to wait for them.
chamarchamá-la chamá-las chamá-lo chamá-los
to call to call her to call them to call him to call them
example Precisa-se chamá-las One must call them.
prepararprepará-la prepará-las prepará-lo prepará-los
to prepare to prepare her (it) to prepare them to prepare it (him) to prepare them
exampleTemos que prepará-las. We have to prepare them.
verb ends on -er => The e gets an acento circunflexo
fazer fazê-la fazê-las fazê-lo fazê-los
to do to do her (it) to do them to do him to do them
BeispielQuerem fazê-lo They want to do it.
ler lê-la lê-las lê-lo lê-los
to read to read it (her) to read them to read it (him) to read them
Beispiel Queremos lê-lo. We want to read.
devolver devolvê-la devolvê-las devolvê-lo devolvê-los
to return to return it (her) to return them to return it (him) to return them
exampleTens que devolvê-las. You have to return them.
vender vendê-la vendê-las vendê-lo vendê-los
to sell to sell it (her) to sell them to sell it (him) to sell them
exampleQuerem vendê-lo. They want to sell it.
verb ends on -ir => The i remains as it is
ouvirouvi-la ouvi-las ouvi-lo ouvi-los
to hear to hear her to hear them to hear him to hear them
exempleVocê quer ouvi-la? You want to hear her?
traduzirtraduzi-la traduzi-las traduzi-lo traduzi-los
to translate to tranlate it (her) to translate them to translate it (him) to translate them
example Eles têm que traduzi-lo. Yo have to translate it.
dividir dividi-la dividi-las dividi-lo dividi-los
to divide to divide it to divide them to divide it to divide them
BeispielEu posso dividi-lo. I can divide it.


2) Verbform ends in s. In this case there is no accent. The a was open before and is open afterwards. We describe only the present. In -s ends as well

the 1st person plural of the perfeito simples,
the 2nd person singular and the 1st person plural of the imperfeito
and the 2nd person singular as well as the 1st person plural of the future and the conditonal.

Furthermore we list only the o. The pronoun a, as, los are attached the same way. A distinction between the verb ending in -ar, -er or -ir is not necessary here.

attaching of o, a, os, as to the 1st person plural / 2nd person singular of the present (verb forms ending in -s)
tu compras / nós compramos tu compra-lo / nós compramo-lo
you buy / we buy you buy it / we buy it  
tu queres / nós queremos tu quere-lo nós queremo-lo
you want / we want you want it / we want it 
tu vendes / nós vendemos tu vende-lo / nós vendemo-lo
you sell / we sell you sell it / we sell it  


3) Verbform ends in z. In this case we have the same situation as in 1). The ending a gets an acento agudo, the e an acento circunflexo and the i remains at it is. There are only few verb forms ending in z. Only the 3rd person singular present of the verbs dizer, fazer and trazer and the 1st and 3rd person singular perfeito simples of the verb fazer ends with an z. Furthermore the imperative of these verbs end in z.

No need to mention that we don't care at the moment how the perfeito simples is used and how it should be translated in english, we will talk about this issue in chapter 11.

fazerfaz fá-lo 3rd peron singular present / imperative He does it / Do it!
fazer fiz fi-la 1st person singular perfeito simples I did it
fazer fez fê-las 3rd person singular perfeito simples He did it.
dizerdiz di-lo 3rd person singular present He says it.
dizerdiz di-lo imperative Say it!
trazertraz trá-las 3rd person singular present He brought them
trazertraz trá-lo imperative Bring it!
traduzirtraduz tradu-lo 3rd person singular present He translates it.
traduzirtraduz tradu-lo Imperative Translate it!


If the verbform ends in a nasale sound a, o, as, os becomes na, no, nas, nos. In presente, perfeito simple and imperfeito all verbs ends in nasal sound in the third person plural, either in -am, eles falam, -em, eles vendem, -ir, eles partem. Therefore it is not vendem-os but vendem-nos, not fazem-o but fazem-no. The same rule is true for the reflexive pronoun nos. It is therefore lavamo-nos and not lavamos-nos.

Four important verbs are irregular and end with the nasale diphtong ão: vão (they go), dão (they give), são (they are), estão (they are). (We don't care right now about the difference between estão and são. Both are translated in english with to be, but estar describes transitional states, "They are nervous", ser describes inherent properties, "They are born in Brasil". We will have a look on this issue later.) In this context the rule applies that in the case of the verb forms ending in -am. It is not dão-a but dão-na, "They give it". (However concerning the verbs vão, são and estão that is irrelevant, because ir is an intransitive verb and estar / ser are copulative verbs. They can't have a direct object.)

The third person singular present of the verb pôr ends with a dipthong as well. It is therefore not pôe-o but pôe-no.

Another topic we don't care about is the use of the perfeito simples and the imperfeito. We translate with the simple past in english in both cases. (What is actually not correct. In opposite to all other roman languages, the pretérito perfeito simples resembles more to the english present perfect continuous, I have been working the whole day. This is hard to believe, because in Portuguese the use of the pretérito perfeito simples is completely different than the spanish indefinido, but that's like that.) We will discuss these tenses in detail later, see 11.1.

We only show the verb forms in presente, imperfeito and perfeito simples do indicativo. The 3rd person plural of the conditional and conjunctive of these tenses, see for instance 12.1.2, ends in a nasale vowel as well. The schema is the same as in the examples before.

verbs on -ar (comprar = to buy)
presente compram compram-no They buy it.
imperfeito compravam compravam-no They bought it.
perfeito simples compraramcompraram-no They bought it.
verbs on -er vender = to sell
presente vendem vendem-na They sell it.
imperfeito vendiam vendiam-na They sold it.
perfeito simples venderam venderam-na They sold it.
verbs on -ir conseguir = to obtain
presente conseguem conseguem-nos They obtain them..
imperfeito conseguiam conseguiam-nos They obtained them.
perfeito simples conseguiramconseguiram-nos They obtained them.
dar (irregular) to give
presente dão dão-no The give it.
imperfeito davam davam-no They gave it.
perfeito simples deram deram-no They gave it.
pôr (irregular verb) to put
presente pôe pôe-nos He put it.
presente pôem pôem-nos They put it.
imperfeito punham punham-nos They put them.
perfeito simples puseram puseram-nos They put them.






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