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How to Make Nouns Plural in Portuguese Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Grammar, Learning

In today’s post I’m going to show you how to make nouns plural in Portuguese. It’s not difficult, but you need to follow some rules.

Are you ready to start?

01. Words ending in vowels, just add an -s.

cama [bed] – camas [beds]
tia [aunt] – tias [aunts]
caderno [notebook] – cadernos [notebooks]
[foot] – pés [feet]

02. Words ending in “r” “s” or “z”, just add the “es” ending.

cobertor [blanket] – cobertores [blankets]
mês [month] – meses [months]
nariz [nose] – narizes [noses]
luz [light] – luzes [lights]

03. Words ending in -al, -el, -il, -ol.

sinal [sign] – sinais [signs]
capital [capital] – capitais [capitals]

hotel [hotel] – hoteis [hotels]
anel [ring] – aneis [rings]

funil [funnel] – funis [funnels]
barril [barrel] – barris [barrels]

farol [lighthouse] – faróis [lighthouses]
lençol [sheet] – lençóis [sheets]

04. Words ending in “ão”

irmão [brother] – irmãos [brothers]
mão [hand] – mãos [hand]

cão [dog] – cães [dogs]
mansão [mansion] – mansões [mansions]
pão [bread] – pães [bread]

organização [organization] – organizações [organizations]
gavião [hawk] – gaviões [hawks]
avião [airplane] – aviões [airplanes]

05. Words ending in -em.

trem [train] – trens [trains]
nuvem [cloud] – nuvens [clouds]

06. Some words are always plural and they’re conjugated with a plural verb.

as calças [pants]
as férias [vacation]
as costas [back – body part]
os óculos [glasses]
os parabéns [congratulations]

There are some more complex plural forms, but we are going to get into that today. A good tip is to pay attention to when plural words are used when you are reading a text, listening to a dialogue or speaking in Portuguese.

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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.


Comments:

  1. Margaret Nahmias:

    The ão words are the trickiest because they are no rules from

  2. Adir Ferreira:

    Yes, Margaret, you’re right. Well, if you just memorize the most common examples then it is easier. But hey, even native speakers make mistakes with plurals. For example, the words ending in “éu”, like chapéu or troféu, only add an -s. Some people add the -éis ending, which is absolutely incorrect.

  3. Joe Polacco:

    OK, i am doing a research leave in São Paulo: I get the exceptions, such as cão – cães; pão – pães, but how common are they?
    I was explaining US politics (never do this in ANY language) and tried to pluralize cidadão, to cidadões, and was corrected to cidadãos.

    Tell me those exceptions are few in number.

    Also, it appears to me that virtually all words ending in ção are pluralized to ções, such as instrução to instruções. Is this a valid assumption?

  4. emerson:

    There is a rule I figured out for ao nouns. But you have to know Spanish. If in Spanish it ends with -ón the plural is ões if it’s -án in spanish its ães. If its -ano its ãos.

    Nação – Nación – Nation
    Nações – Naciones – Nations
    Alemão – Alemán – German
    Alemães – Alemanes – Germans
    Cidadão – Ciudadano – Citizen
    Cidadãos – Ciudadanos – Citizens

    Of course you have to know spanish to actually be able to immediately know the plural. But there are exceptions where the word in pt is nothing like in es

    Cão – Perro
    Cães – Perros

    You have to learn them

  5. Al:

    The -ão plurals echo older forms of the language. If you speak Portuguese’s sister tongue, Spanish, you can predict which form to use.

    mão – mãos = mano – manos
    In Sp just add -s, same in Pt. Or, to look at it another way, take the Sp plural, remove the n, put a ~ over the preceding vowel and you have the Pt plural.

    capitão – capitães = capitán – capitanes
    The Sp plural ends in -anes. Remove the n and put a ~ over the preceding vowel.

    nação – nações = nación – naciones
    The Sp plual ends in -ones. Remove the n, a ~ over the preceding vowel et voila!