Just like in English, there are words in Portuguese that either look or sound like other words. Four that come to mind rather quickly are seu, sua, são and vão. You may very well recognize all of these words for their most used definitions. Below, I’ll show you what else two of these words mean (and, in another post, I’ll talk about the other two).
In its most used sense, seu is a possessive pronoun, like “your” is in English (your car – seu carro). In its secondary sense, seu is used as a form of respect towards someone masculine and it always comes before the name. Some language websites explain it as something created by slaves as a shortened form of senhor and, while I can’t back up the veracity of that, I do know it is used in the same way. One thing to watch out for when using seu is to remember that it is mostly used with the person’s first name. For example, if I were to ask the imaginary Mr. Jorge if he has been living here a long time, I’d say:
- Seu Jorge, o senhor mora aqui há muito tempo?
Seu before insults
Another thing that’s good to know is that seu can also be used in cases where you want to speak badly to (or, if you know them well, joke with) someone. If I wanted to call someone a pig, I could easily say “seu porco!”, as the seu would just add a bit of emphasis.
If you know your pronouns, you’ll easily recognize sua as “your” for feminine words. At the same time, it is also the third-person conjugation of the verb suar, meaning to sweat. Since sweating is temporary, the verb is usually seen in its gerund (-ing) or past-tense form. There is, however, a trick phrase that uses sua which I’ll leave for you below. The idea is to make sense of the phrase by inserting the punctuation you think works best.
“Maria toma banho porque sua mãe diz ela pega shampoo.”
The phrase if translated without thinking twice would mean, “Maria takes a bath because her mother tells her get shampoo.” There’s obviously some errors in there if it were to be taken literally. If you think you’ve figured it out, leave a comment on Street Smart Brazil’s Facebook page ; )