In some areas of Portuguese grammar, translations tend to be direct equivalents of the English words—for example, nouns, being words that refer straightforwardly to objects, usually have words in English and Portuguese that are direct equivalents. Conjunctions are usually different. Portuguese conjunctions often have uses that are somewhat different from English ones, and there are fewer directly equivalent words. The best way of learning to correctly use the conjunctions according to the rules of Portuguese grammar is to practice with a tutor who can give you guidance and feedback.
In this post, we’ll look at 15 of the most common conjunctions and at how they operate in Portuguese grammar.
A direct translation of the English “and.” For example, “I went out yesterday and bought a car” translates as eu saí ontem e comprei um carro.
In “either/or” sentences in Portuguese, the word ou is repeated; for example, “either this or that” translates as ou isto ou aquilo.
For example, “I tried to buy a car yesterday but I forgot my wallet" translates as eu tentei comprar um carro ontem mas esqueci minha carteira.
Que translates as either “what” or “that” depending on the context. It’s also important to be aware that que is more common than the English “that.” Some sentences in English have an implied “that”; for example, “I think that he’s OK” would usually be rendered as “I think he’s OK.” In Portuguese grammar, this never happens—the sentence invariably translates as eu acho que ele está bem, and the que is never removed.
So; then; therefore; consequently
Então is the principal conjunction used in Portuguese grammar to express a causal link between two events or states of affairs. For example, “This car’s broken, so I’ll buy a new one” translates as este carro está quebrado, então eu vou comprar um novo.
Nem is used to introduce a further negative statement. For instance, “I don’t have a car, nor do I want one” translates as eu não tenho um carro, nem quero um.
Thus; therefore (formal)
For example, the famous Descartes quote “I think, therefore I am” is usually rendered as penso, logo existo. Logo, in addition to its use as a conjunction, has a more common usage as an adverb meaning “soon.” It is also often combined with que to form the conjunction phrase logo que, meaning “as soon as.” For example, “I’m going to buy a car as soon as I can afford it” translates as eu vou comprar um carro logo que puder pagar.
Though; although (despite the fact that)
The word mesmo plays an important—and rather complex—role in Portuguese grammar. In addition to its use as a conjunction, it can be used as a noun (meaning “the same thing”), an adjective (meaning “the same as” or “equal to”) and an adverb (meaning “really,” “even,” or “exactly”).
As a conjunction, mesmo generally means something like “even though” or “despite the fact that”; for example, “he bought a car, even though he was poor” can translate as ele comprou um carro, mesmo sendo pobre.
For example, “I bought a new car, because the old one was broken” translates as eu comprei um carro novo porque o velho estava quebrado.
Porque and pois are very close synonyms. The main difference is that pois can also be used as an adverb, meaning “so” or “then”. However, in their use as conjunctions, the two words are interchangeable—so the example from above, “I bought a new car, because the old one was broken” can be translated as eu comprei um carro novo, pois o velho estava quebrado. Both translations are equally valid in Portuguese grammar.
For example, “I tried to buy a car; however, it was too expensive” can be translated as eu tentei comprar um carro; porém, era muito caro.
For example, “I need to find a place where I can buy a car” translates as eu preciso encontrar um lugar onde eu possa comprar um carro.
Se is also a reflexive pronoun. However, in its use as a conjunction, it performs precisely the same role as the English word “if.” For example, “I would buy a car if I had enough money” translates as eu compraria um carro se tivesse dinheiro suficiente.
As; how to
Como also has various adverbial uses. As a conjunction, there are at least two distinct ways of using the word. The first is similar to “as”; for example, “as I had no money, I didn’t buy a car” translates as como eu não tinha dinheiro, eu não comprei um carro. The second is the “how to” usage; for example, “I don’t know how to buy a car” translates as eu não sei como comprar um carro.
Like several other words on this list, embora has a rather different use as an adverb, meaning “away.” As a conjunction, it means “although”; for example “although he was poor, he bought a car” translates as embora ele fosse pobre, ele comprou um carro.
There are various other conjunctions in Portuguese grammar, including compound conjunctions consisting of two or more words. In addition, to put the information in this post into practice, you should work with an expert tutor who can ensure you’re not making errors and give you guidance on pronunciation. Our tutors are Portuguese language experts and natural teachers who can accommodate even the busiest schedule.