LearningPortuguese

Prepositions

Prepositions are small words or phrases that usually follow a verb, relate to a noun and indicate the position of the noun in space or time. Prepositions can consist of a single word, in which case they are ‘simple’, or more than one word, in which case they are ‘complex’. Here are some examples:

Portuguese prepositions

Portuguese

English

a/para

to

acima de

above

antes de/perante

before

após/depois de

after

até

until

com

with

como

as

de/desde

from

diante de/perante

in front of

em

in

em/sobre

on

entre

between

para/por

for

perto de

near

por

by

sob

under

sobre

about

Correct use of prepositions is just one of those things you have to learn through experience. There are places where prepositions are required in Portuguese where they wouldn’t be in English, and vice-versa. As you begin to become familiar with whole phrases, you will get a feel for how prepositions work in Portuguese, and will begin to use them correctly almost sub-consciously.

To get you started though, here are some examples of phrases which require a preposition in Portuguese that is different to that used (if any) in English:

Examples of prepositions in English and Portuguese

Portuguese

English

Literal Translation

Eles estão em casa

They are at home

They are in house

Precisamos de ajuda

We need help

We need of help

Ela voltou para casa

She returned home

She returned to house

Eu gosto de vinho

I like wine

I like of wine

Tenho de suportar isso

 

Tenho que suportar isso

I have to put up with this

I have of support this

 

I have that support this

Puritans of English grammar often say that a sentence should not end with a preposition, because this was the case with Latin. These days though, it is generally accepted that this rule does not apply to English, because to follow it requires some verbal gymnastics – for example, whereas we find it quite natural to say ‘he knew what I was talking about’ (which ends with a preposition), if you wanted to phrase that without ending with a preposition, you end up with ‘he knew about what I was talking’.

Sir Winston Churchill is often credited with saying ‘to say that a sentence should not end with a preposition is blatant pedantry, up with which I shall not put!’ – as an ironic example of how ridiculous this rule is when applied to English.

However, as Portuguese is much more closely related to Latin than English, I'm afraid this rule does apply to Portuguese. This means learning the gymnastics of rewording your sentences so that they do not end with a preposition. Sorry about that.

Although incorrect use of prepositions will make you sound ‘foreign’ to a Portuguese speaker, you will still generally be understood, so don't worry about them too much.

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