Question words are a part of any conversation. In this Portuguese lesson you will learn:
- How to use three important question words in Portuguese: Who? When? How?
- Where to place the preposition when you ask a question such as “Who are you with?” It’s different in Portuguese.
- How to use the funny “é que” that we Brazilians add to common questions
I have a lesson on how to use Onde (where) and the difference between Onde and Aonde. Be sure to check it out as well.
1. Who? = Quem?
It’s pretty straight forward to ask questions with Quem in Portuguese:
- Quem é você? = Who are you?
- Quem estava na festa? = Who was at the party?
- Quem pode me ajudar, por favor? = Who can help me, please?
- Quem você pensa que é? = Who do you think you are?
Keep in mind that we don’t use helping verbs in Portuguese, such as do, does, did in English (see example # 4 above).
Avoid this mistake!
When you use “who” as a relative pronoun, the correct choice in Portuguese will almost always be que (instead of quem). Check out the examples below:
- Joana é a minha amiga que mora em Natal. = Joana is my friend who lives in Natal.
- Eu conheço muitos americanos que são fluentes em português. = I know many Americans who are fluent in Portuguese.
It will be different if you have a preposition together with the personal pronoun:
- Carla é a amiga com quem eu viajei ao Brasil. = Carla is the friend with whom I traveled to Brazil.
2. When? = Quando?
Using quando is also pretty straight forward.
- Quando é a festa? = When is the party?
- Quando você vai ao Brasil outra vez? = When are you going to Brazil again?
- Quando é o seu aniversário? = When is your birthday?
3. How? = Como?
Below are examples using the question word como:
- Como vocês dois se conheceram? = How did you two meet?
- Como se diz “feliz aniversário” em inglês? = How do you say “happy birthday” in English?
- Como você gosta da carne? Mal passada, ao ponto ou bem passada? = How do you like the meat? Rare, medium, or well done?
One of the first questions that everyone learns in Portuguese is “What is your name?” The Portuguese version of this question uses “how”, even though it doesn’t translate as “what”:
- Como é seu nome? = What is your name?
4. Where to place the preposition
In Portuguese, we place the preposition right before the question word in questions that are formed using a question word together with a preposition. The examples below will make it clear:
- Com quem você vai para a festa? = Who are you going to the party with?
- Para quem é este presente? = Who is this gift to?
- Com quem você está? = Who are you with?
5. Como é que é?
In Brazil, we often add “é que” after the question word. It doesn’t change the meaning of the question and there are no situations in which it is mandatory or in which it shouldn’t be used. Adding or not adding the “é que” is a matter of personal habit. Additionally, the “é que” may add emphasis to the question. The context will tell if it is the case.
Here are examples using “é que”:
- Quem é que pode me ajudar, por favor? = Who can help me, please?
- Como é que vocês dois se conheceram? = How did you two meet?
- For this example, imagine that your partner has just told you something outrageous. You can say:
- Como é que é? Repete, por favor, pra ver se eu entendi direito! = What is it? Repeat it, please, to see if I got it right!
Now you just need to practice in order to use your questions words correctly in Portuguese. Book a lesson with a Street Smart Brazil professional to speak Portuguese that you are proud of!