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Nouns, Gender & Number - Portuguese Lessons

Nouns (substantivos)

Nouns are words that describe or appoint beings (animate or inanimate, concrete or abstract), states, qualities and actions in general. In Portuguese, along with number, nouns can also have gender. If the gender is masculine, the noun will be preceded by the article “um” [a/an] or “o” [the]. On the other hand, if the gender is feminine, the noun will be preceded by the article “uma” [a/an] or “a” [the].

·      Um carro [a car]

·      Uma menina [a girl]

·      O professor [the teacher]

·      A secretária [the secretary]

·      A casa [the house]

·      O jardim [the garden]

·      Uma enfermeira [a nurse]

·      Um enfermeiro [a nurse]

·      O cachorro [a dog]


Gender: feminino e masculino

Usually, most masculine nouns follow similar patterns, as listed below:


-       Most nouns ending in –o, -l, -r and –z: o gato [the cat], o anel [the ring], o colar [the necklace], o juiz [the judge]

-       Names of ocean, seas, rivers, mountain ranges: o Atlântico [the Atlantic],  o Amazonas [the Amazon], os Himalaias [the Himalayas]

-       Names of seaons (except: a primavera [the Spring]) : o verão [the Summer]


Generally, the following kinds of nouns are considered feminine:


-       Most nouns ending in –a, -ã, -ade, -ice, -gem: a garrafa [the bottle],  a irmã [the sister], a verdade [the truth], a velhice [the old age], a maquiagem [the makeup]

-       Names of sciences: a História [History]

-       Days of the week: a segunda [Monday] (except: o sábado [Saturday] and o domingo [Sunday])

-       Abstract nouns ending in –e and –ão: a sorte [luck], a paixão [passion]



To transform a singular noun into plural, you need to follow the rules stated below:




-a, -e, -I, -o, -u à + -s

 casa [house]

casas [houses]

-ão  à -ões

coração [heart]

corações [hearts]

-al à -ais

animal [animal]

animais [animals]

-el à -eis

papel [paper]

papéis [papers]

-il à -is

barril [barrel]

barris [barrels]

-ol à -ois

sol [sun]

sóis [suns]

-ul à -uis

azul [blue]

azuis [blue]

-r à + -es

professor [teacher]

professores [teachers]

-z à + -es

luz [liht]

luzes [lights]

-s à + -es

país [country]

países [countries]

-ês à + -es

freguês [customer]

fregueses [customers]

-m à -ns

homem [man]

homens [men]

*There are some exceptions for these rules, but you learn them as you get immersed into the language.

Things to Remember...

·      Some nouns are written in the same way, but they have two genders and each gender gives the noun a different meaning: o rádio [the radio], a rádio [the radio station]

·      Some nouns exist only in either singular or plural form. As a result, if you change their number, the meaning will change as well: as férias [vacation], a féria [weekly pay]

·      When learning a new noun in Portuguese, make sure you learn its gender as well, since the gender of a noun is as important as the noun itself.

Adjectives (adjetivos)
These are the qualities given to nouns. They follow the nouns in gender. Sometimes they come after the nouns, sometimes they come before.


·      Um belo carro [A beautiful car]

·      Ela é uma menina inteligente [a smart girl]

·      Ele é um professor bastante competente [He is a very responsible teacher]

·      A secretária dele é eficiente [His secretary is quite efficient]

·      A casa amarela está à venda[the house]

·      Um lindo jardim [A beautiful garden]

·      Uma enfermeira é uma ótima pessoa [The nurse is a very good person]

·      Um enfermeiro legal ajudou muito na cirurgia [A very cool nurse helped a lot during the surgery]

·      Uma praia agradável [a pleasant bech]

·      Nosso cachorro é muito levado e brincalhão! [Our dog is very smart and playful!]