Portuguese learners often find themselves entangled in the intricate web of prepositions. In this lesson, I hope to demystify the use of em, no, na in Portuguese. These are crucial prepositions in the Portuguese language.
The preposition Em translates to ‘in’, ‘on’, or ‘at’ in English. For instance:
- Eu estou em casa. = I’m at home.
- Em que estado você mora? = In what state do you live?
- Os preços subiram em média 6% em 2016. = Prices increased on average 6% in 2016.
However, Portuguese isn’t always straightforward. There are two key points to remember:
- Prepositions in Portuguese must agree in gender and number with their corresponding nouns.
- Em contracts with definite articles in Portuguese.
Don’t worry, though! Let’s break this down with an example.
Consider the sentence:
The book is on the table.
In this sentence, you have:
- The preposition On, which in Portuguese is: Em
- The definite article The, which is Portuguese is: A (because table is a feminine noun)
As I said before, in Portuguese you need to contract the preposition Em with the article A. So you have:
- em + a = na
Therefore, we have:
- The book is on the table. = O livro está na mesa.
It seems like a lot to think about, but this is all going to be in autopilot in your brain soon enough.
Na = em + a. It can mean at the, in the, on the, and is used with feminine nouns.
Here are examples, including one with the plural version Nas:
- Maria está na praia. = Maria is at the beach.
- O gato está na cama. = The cat in on the bed.
- O leite está na geladeira. = The milk is in the fridge.
- Ela está sempre com a cabeça nas nuvens. = She is always with her head in the clouds.
No = em + o. It also means at the, in the, on the. It’s used with masculine nouns.
Here are examples, including one with the plural version Nos:
- Tinha muita gente no show. = There were a lot of people at the concert.
- Meu casaco está no guarda-roupa. = My coat is in the wardrobe.
- Eu moro no terceiro andar. = I live on the third floor.
- Não sei o que fazer nos últimos dias das minhas férias. = I don’t know what to do on the last days of my vacation.
Prepositions with Months
I often hear Portuguese speakers using No with the months of the year. This is incorrect. We use Em instead. Here are examples:
- Meu aniversário é em setembro. = My birthday is in September.
- Vou fazer uma viagem em março. = I’m going on a trip in March.
Prepositions with cities and countries
Cities and countries can be trickier, as countries in Portuguese have genders. I delve deeper into this in a specific lesson. Visit the lesson here.
Beyond the Basics
While these rules form the foundation, Portuguese prepositions can be complex. Sometimes, prepositions are used differently than in English, necessitating attention to detail and context.
For instance, in the sentence below, we don’t have an article before Christmas in English, but we need it before Natal in Portuguese. Therefore in Portuguese you need no, and not em:
- As pessoas dão presentes no Natal. = People give gifts at Christmas.
These variations highlight the importance of understanding the fundamental use of em, no, na in Portuguese. Mastery of these basics is a significant step towards fluency.
Remember, practice is key to perfection. Enhance your Portuguese with Street Smart Brazil instructors and gain confidence in your language skills!