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Contractions in Portuguese Posted by on Jun 6, 2013 in Grammar, Learning

Hello, there!

Today’s post was suggested by a reader and it covers one aspect of learning Portuguese that has students somewhat confused: the contractions.

Contractions come mostly with prepositions and articles so here they are!

01. Em – in, on or at

em + o = no
em + a = na
em + os = nos
em + as = nas

Minha mochila está no quarto. – My backback is in the bedroom.
Suas coisas estão na sala de aula? – Are your things in the classroom?
Não acredite nas coisas que ele diz. – Don’t believe the things he says.
Isso só acontece nos casos de polícia. – This only happens in police cases.

In some cases contractions are facultative, you can either use them or not. In spoken Portuguese they are always used.

em + um = num
em + uma = numa
em + uns = nuns
em + umas = numas

Ele mora num apartamento. – He lives in an apartment.
Ela mora numa casa. – She lives in a house.

02. De – of or from

de + o = do
de + a = da
de + os = dos
de + as = das

Este carro é do meu cunhado. – This car is my brother-in-law’s.
A padaria fica perto da minha casa. – The bakery is near my house.
Isso é assunto dos professores, não dos alunos. – This is the teachers’ matter, not the students’.

Facultative contractions using de

de + um = dum
de + uma = duma
de + uns = duns
de + umas = dumas
de + este = deste
de + esta = desta
de + estes = destes
de + estas = destas
de + esse = desse
de + essa = dessa
de + esses = desses
de + essas = dessas

03. Por – by, through or for

por + o = pelo
por + a = pela

O artigo foi escrito pelo professor. – The article was written by the teacher.
Vou te dizer isso pela última vez. – I’m going to tell you this for the last time.

Facultative contractions using por

por + os / por + eles = pelos
por + as / por + elas = pelas

Note: por does not combine with um, uma, uns or umas

04. A – at or to

a + o = ao
a + a = à
a + os = aos
a + as = às

Você foi ao teatro ontem? – Did you go to the theater yesterday?
Ela foi à escola de carro. – She went to school by car.
Esta música é dedicada aos meus colegas de classe. – This song is dedicated to my classmates.
Os alunos entregaram a tarefa às professores. – The students handed their homeworks to the teachers.

Note: a does not combine with um, uma, uns or umas.

05. Para – for, to, so that, in order to

We don’t have standard contractions with para. It contracts colloquially with o, a, os, as, um, uma, uns, umas:

para o = pro
para a = pra
para os = pros
para as = pras
para um = prum*
para uns = pruns*
para umas = prumas*

*very informal and not found in written texts

Golden tip!

Trying to understand and use these contractions is not an easy task at first so here’s my golden tip: don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get it right the first time – it surely takes a lot of practicing. Also, make sure to pay close attention when you read these contractions in a text or listen to them in a dialogue, TV program, radio, music, etc. The more you read and listen, the better you will speak.

What about you? Can you give us some more examples with the contractions above? Leave them in the comment area!

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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.


  1. rakesh lugun:

    Hello Adir, thanks for posting the post on contractions. Can you give a little more introduction on the same topic? Also kindly post an article each on articles and prepositions used in Brazilian Portuguese. Thanks.

  2. Margaret Nahmias:

    Thanks for tha tip because I don´t see num and numa a lot.

  3. imagenes facebook:

    Good post, thanks for the contribution

  4. Gaelle:

    Hi Adir.

    Good to see a post written on this. I’m studying Brazilian Portuguese and at least there, I haven’t heard those contractions used anywhere:

    para um = prum*
    para uns = pruns*
    para umas = prumas*

    Can you tell us a bit more if some of those contractions are more used specifically in Portuguese from Portugal for example?

    Also people told me to use “pra” to mean “para” and that it was also used without articles but for the word “para” itself. For example: Eu vou à padaria pra comprar algumas coisas.
    Pra did not include the contraction of “a” in this case.

  5. sami Zaki:

    Bom trabalho