LearningPortuguese

Questions

Forming basic questions is easy enough. Just phrase what you want to say in the same way as you would a statement, but make it obvious that it is a question by the inflection in your voice (or by a question mark if writing). For example…

Você trabalha aqui?

Do you work here?

Não comemos agora?

Don’t we eat now?

Easy eh? You also need to be aware of other ways of asking questions in Portuguese. Merely turning a statement into a question, whilst useful, does not provide a mechanism for every type of question that you might want to ask. For example ‘why do you walk home?’; ‘what are you eating?’ – these types of question make use of interrogative pronouns and adverbs: why; what; where; when; which; who; how. Here are their equivalents in Portuguese:

porquê?

why? (lit. ‘for what?’ If used as part of a longer question [eg. ‘por que estamos à espera?’], it is 2 separate words with no circumflex on the ‘e’)

que...?

what...? (if used on its own, a circumflex is added to the ‘e’)

o que (é)?

what (is it)?

onde?

where?

quando?

when?

quanto/quanta?

how much?

qual?

which/what? (singular)

quais?

which/what? (plural)

quem?

who?

como?

how?

quão…?

how…? (only used as an adverb – eg. ‘how tall are you?’ or, ‘how tall you are!’)

One more that you need to know is ‘será que…’, which can be used to start a question requiring a yes or no answer. Literally, this means ‘it will be that…’, but a better translation might be ‘is it true that…?’. It can also be translated as ‘I wonder if…?’. We don’t really have a direct equivalent in English, but virtually any question that has a yes or no answer could probably be phrased using ‘será que…’. For example:

Será que eles vão a pé para casa?

Do they walk home? (is it so that they walk home?)

Será que comemos agora?

I wonder if we eat now?

That's the end of the grammar section - time to widen our Portuguese vocabulary.

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