Let’s see how to use POUCO in Portuguese. You will learn when we have the plural (POUCOS, POUCAS) and the feminine (POUCA), and when we don’t. In this lesson you will also learn the useful construction UM POUCO DE.
1. Pouco = Little, modifying a verb
In this use, you can think of POUCO as the opposite of “a lot”.
- Maria fala pouco. = Maria speaks little. Maria doesn’t speak a lot.
- Renato se exercita pouco. = Ronaldo exercises little. Ronaldo doesn’t exercise a lot.
- Rosa tabalha pouco. = Rosa works little. Rosa doesn’t work a lot.
In the examples above, POUCO is an adverb: it modifies a verb (falar, se exercitar). Therefore it is invariable; there is no plural or feminine when POUCO modifies a verb.
You will also see the variation MUITO POUCO:
- Maria fala muito pouco. = Maria speaks very little.
- Rosa trabalha muito pouco. = Rosa works very little.
2. Pouco = little, few; modifying a noun
In this use, you can think of POUCO and its variations as the opposite of “many”.
- No momento, Fabiana tem poucos amigos e poucas atividades sociais em sua nova cidade. = At the moment, Fabiana has few friends and few social activities in her new city.
- Paulo tem poucas camisetas pretas. = Paulo has few black t-shirts.
- Eliana tem poucos livros. = Eliana has few books.
You can see in the examples above that when POUCO modifies a noun to indicate quantity, it may vary both in gender (feminine and masculine) and in number (plural and singular) to agree with the noun that it refers to.
If the object is uncountable, keep POUCO and POUCA in the singular.
- Ela usa pouco sal quando cozinha. = She uses little salt when she cooks.
- João usa pouca pimenta quando cozinha. = João uses little pepper when he cooks.
In this use, you can think of POUCO and its variations as the opposite of “much”.
3. Pouco as the opposite of “very”
- Bianca é pouco simpática. = Bianca is not very friendly.
- Ana e Camila são pouco pacientes. = Ana and Camila are not very patient.
- Todas as minhas amigas são pouco conservadoras. = All my girlfriends are not very conservative.
In the examples above, POUCO is an adverb that modifies an adjective. Adverbs are invariable. In other words, POUCO does not vary when used as the opposite of “very”.
4. Um pouco de = a little
- Quero um pouco de água, por favor. = I want a little water, please.
- Tenha um pouco de paciência. = Have a little patience.
- Ela precisa de um pouco de atenção. = She needs a little attention.
Check out this beautiful song by Lenine with translated lyrics: Paciência.
UM POUCO DE does not vary.
I hope this helps you speak Portuguese with more confidence!
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