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O seu vs. dele usage


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User offline. Last seen 2 years 36 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 08/22/2010
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In some Pimsleur tapes I have, they have said several times: "Ella acaba de terminar os seus estudos." Porquê 'os seus' e não os estudos dela?
So I guess the question is when do you use o seu and a sua, and when do you use dele or dela? On the tapes, this is the only instance they use os seus. In all other cases, constructs like 'as amigas dela' are used.
Thanks!

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User offline. Last seen 3 hours 40 min ago. Offline
Prof
Joined: 08/08/2009
Posts: 476

This is a great question and something that often confuses students.
 
"Seu", "sua", "seus", "suas" can mean "your", "his", or "her".

  • A casa de Maria é linda. Sua casa fica perto da praia. A casa dela é bem decorada.

 
What happens is that in a conversation this may be confusing. Imagine that you and I are having coffee and chatting. We mention our friend Maria. At some point, you say, "Eu vi sua irmã ontem." I will probably ask if you mean my sister or Maria's. To avoid this, in spoken Portuguese we tend to use "dele", "dela", "deles" and "delas". In our example, you would say, "Eu vi a irmã dela ontem". I would know for sure that it was Maria's sister.
 
When should you use one form or the other? In spoken Portuguese the use of "dele/dela" is predominant. In written and formal Portuguese we prefer to use "seu/sua".
 
In written language there is less room for confusion. Let's say that you are reading about the writer Paulo Coelho. If the text says, "Seus livros são muito populares em todo o mundo", you know for sure that they are talking about Coelho's books.
 
I hope that helps. Obrigada for the question.

User offline. Last seen 3 years 5 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 11/01/2009
Posts: 120

I'm glad this was brought up, I wasn't entirely clear on how it was used, but I noticed Facebook in PT uses seu and sua... but it's confusing cos sometimes it is my status and sometimes it is someone elses. like:
Anna tambem comentou seu status
It was her status... I thought it was mine, a quick click fixed that! but is that normal to get confused?

User offline. Last seen 3 hours 40 min ago. Offline
Prof
Joined: 08/08/2009
Posts: 476

Oi Species,
It is totally normal to be confused. It is confusing :)

Joined: 06/04/2010
Posts: 30

Oi pessoal,
It is true, the use of Dele e Seu is confusing even for Brazilian Portuguese native speakers. The best thing to do is practicing by reading good examples and writing some others. :)
There's a song "Morena cor de canela" by Luíz Gonzaga that I thought would be a good example of it. Here's part of the lyrics:
 
Olha o jeito dela                                                                   
morena cor de canela                                                           
pode morrer de paixão                                                          
quem olhar nos olhos dela (2x)
 
Olha os seus olhinhos
nariz tão afilados
corpo esculturado
beleza que Deus Criou (...)

 
The "morena cor de canela" would be a brunette with a cinnamon-colored skin.
 
For more information about Luíz Gonzaga ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luiz_Gonzaga )
 
For the complete Morena cor de canela lyrics ( http://letras.terra.com.br/luiz-gonzaga/944166/ )
Obrigada!
 

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