The Language Brazilians Speak

Personal Pronouns and the verbs “SER” and “ESTAR”

 The personal pronouns in Portuguese may be:

  • Caso reto
  • Caso oblíquo átonos
  • Caso oblíquo tônicos 

Caso reto: 

Eu – I

Tu – thou, you (only singular)

Você – thou, you (only singular)

Ele – he; it

Ela – she; it

Nós – we

Vós – you (only plural)

Vocês – you (only plural)

Eles – they (males or male and female together)

Elas – they (only females) 

As you can see, “caso reto” refers to the subject pronouns. Now let’s use them with the verb “ser” in the “presente do indicativo” (indicative simple present tense): 

Eu sou – I am

Tu és – thou art, you are

Você é – you are

Ele é – he is; it is

Ela é – she is; it is

Nós somos – we are

Vós sois – you are

Vocês são – you are

Eles são – they are

Elas são – they are 

“Ser” is one of the verbs that have the same meaning of “to be”. It means “being something”. It is used to say what something is, but it is not used to say how something is. 

- Como é seu irmão? – What is your brother like?

- Ele é alto, magro e tem cabelos castanhos. – He is tall, thin and has brown hair.

- Como está seu irmão? – How is your brother?

- Ele está bem, arrumou um emprego, uma namorada e comprou uma casa. – He is fine, he has got a job, a girlfriend and bought a house. 

The verb “estar” – presente do indicativo: 

Eu estou

Tu estás

Você está

Ele está

Ela está

Nós estamos

Vós estais

Vocês estão

Eles estão

Elas estão 

You’ve probably noticed two ways for the second person (you) in the singular and plural forms. The origin of “você” is the expression “vossa mercê”, used like “vossa majestade” (your majesty), for example. Well, “vossa majestade” was used for royal people. “Vossa mercê” was used for people who were not royal but also were not ordinary people or you were not so intimate to address them as “tu”. Along time it became “vossemercê”, “vosmecê”, and now it is “você”, but there are lots of people who say “ocê” or “cê”. I wonder if one day it’ll be only “ê”.

In Portugal “você” is used for people to whom you are not intimate, just like “usted” in Spanish. In Brazil it is just like “tu”. The pronoun “tu” is largely used in Brazil, but most of the people who use it don’t use the verb correctly. So you’ll often here people say “tu é” and “tu está” instead of “tu és” and “tu estás”. Some example of Brazilian locations where people use “tu” and the appropriate verbal form are Manaus (the capital city of the state of Amazonas), Pernambuco, some parts of Bahia and some other states of the Brazilian Northeast Region. 

You’ll see “vós” only in old poems, old versions of the Bible and some other old texts. Its situation nowadays is quite the same as the situation of the English pronoun “thou”. 

Caso oblíquo átono: 

Me – me

Te – you

O, a – you

O – him; it

A – her; it

Nos – us

Vos – you, ye

Os, as – you

Os – them

As – them 

As you’ve surely noticed they’re used as object pronouns, but they are used ONLY as direct object. But what is a direct object? Check this out: 

Maria was at the party. I saw her at the party and she talked to me.

I saw her at the party – her is a direct object

She talked to meme is an indirect object, because I need a preposition to link it to the verb that it is complementing. 

This sentence in Portuguese: 

Maria estava na festa. Eu a vi na festa e ela conversou comigo.

A = her

Comigo = with me – In English you talk “to” somebody. Although the main words to translate “to” in Portuguese are “a” and “para” (often said “pra”), in Portuguese você conversa “com” alguém. (com = with) 

Now take a careful look at this: 

Ela disse algo para mim – She said something to me.

Ela me disse algo – She told me something. 

In this case, the word me alone means “a mim” or “para mim” (to me). 

For “te” you use the same direct “te”: “Eu te dei um livro” (I gave you a book) – here “te” means “a ti”, “para ti” (to thee, to you) – “Eu dei um livro a ti” (I gave a book to you). 

For indirect object pronouns we have: 

With preposition (pronomes pessoais do caso oblique tônicos): 

mim – me

ti – you, thee

você, si – you

ele, si – him

ela, si – her

nós – us

vós – you, ye

vocês, si – you

eles, si – them

elas, si – them.


Com + mim = comigo

Com + ti = contigo

Com + si = consigo

Com + nós = conosco

Com + vós = convosco 

In Brazil “si” and “consigo” are mostly only used as reflexive: “Ela só pensa em si mesma” (She only think about herself). 

In Brazil: “Eu trouxe uma laranja para você”; in Portugal: “Eu trouxe uma laranja para si” (I’ve brought an orange for you). 

Indirect object with no preposition (they mean the preposition  and the pronoun together): 

me – me

te – you

lhe – you

lhe – him

lhe – her

nos – us

vos – you

lhes – you

lhes – them 

Ele está com frio, dê-lhe um casaco. (He is feeling cold, give him a coat).

Se você quiser, eu posso lhe emprestar minha bicicleta. (If you want I can lend you my bicycle). 

In colloquial Portuguese people use “ele”, “ela”, “você”, “eles”, “elas” and “vocês” when they should use “pronomes do caso oblíquo” in standard Portuguese: 

Standard Portuguese: “Sua irmã estava na praia, eu a vi lá” (You sister was at the beach, I saw her there).

Colloquial Portuguese: “Sua irmã estava na praia, eu vi ela lá”

Standard Portuguese: “Você não foi à feira? Eu não o vi lá.” (Didn’t you go to the market? I didn’t see you there).

Colloquial Portuguese: “Você não foi à feira? Eu não vi você lá.”

Many people say “você” for subject and “te” for object. In colloquial Brazilian Portuguese “tu” and “você” are often mixed. 

In standard Portuguese, the direct object for “você” may be “o” if you are talking to a man or “a” if you are talking to a woman. Brazilian people just don't speak like this in daily conversation.

You'll often also hear people say "lhe" and "lhes" as a direct object. You can have examples that in songs, like this song by Legião Urbana (a famous Brazilian rock band that no more exists): 

"Vem cá, meu bem, que é bom lhe ver; O mundo anda tão complicado que hoje eu quero fazer tudo por você" (Come here, my love, 'cause it's good to see you; The world has been so complicated that today I want to do everything for you)

In standard Portuguese, it would be, using "você" and assuming it was said to a woman: "Venha cá, meu bem, que é bom vê-la; O mundo anda tão complicado que hoje eu quero fazer tudo por você" (In Portugal it would be "tudo por si").

Using "tu": "Vem cá, meu bem, que é bom ver-te, o mundo anda tão complicado que hoje eu quero fazer tudo por ti". 

Colloquial Portuguese is fast to learn; standard Portuguese may take you more time than Latin would. But don't think it is difficult, it is not. You just need some time and patience.