Nenhum x Nem um | Portuguese Language Blog

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Nenhum x Nem um Posted by on Aug 10, 2018 in Grammar, Learning, Pronunciation, Spelling, Vocabulary

Boa noite, leitores! Good evening, reader!

How is your Portuguese learning process going? Estudando muito ou nem um pouco (studying hard or not even a little)? Bom, não tem nenhum lugar melhor do que esse blog para ajudar vocês (well, there is no place like this blog to help you)! All jokes aside, I’m sure you could see that the words nem um and nenhum in Portuguese may bring some doubts because not only do they look very similar, but they also sound the same. These homonyms have a very nasal sound, as you can check below:

Today’s post will be dedicated to nem um and nenhum, always followed by examples so you guys can evaluate when it is better to use each.

NEM UM (a) – not one, not even or not a single one. It indicates quantity and can be used for emphasis, to indicate frustration.

NENHUM (a) – no or none, expresses total absence, the inexistence of something. Nenhum is the opposite of some and very close in meaning to nothing. It is used more frequently in our language.

Either way, nem um and nenhum bring a negative connotation to a sentence. You should also remember that they very according to gender: nenhum homem, nenhuma mulher/ nem um homem, nem uma mulher (no man, no woman/ not even a man, not even a woman).

See the examples below:

  • Nenhum aluno foi à escola ontem | No student went to school yesterday
  • Ele foi embora e não se despediu de nenhum amigo | He left and didn’t say goodbye to any friend
  • Maria é trabalhadora, não rejeita nenhum serviço | Maria is a hard worker, she rejects no job
  • Estivemos em Paris mas não comemos fora nem uma vez | We went to Paris but we didn’t eat out not even once
  • O professor não disse nem uma palavra sequer | The teacher didn’t say a single word
  • Nenhum dos candidatos tinha razão | None of the candidates was right
  • Eu não estou tendo nem uma hora do dia para me dedicar à academia | I  haven’t had a single hour of my day to dedicate to the gym
  • O noticiário disse que não tem nenhuma chance de chover hoje! | The news said there was no chance of raining today
  • Aquela antiguidade não tinha nenhum valor | That antique had no value
  • Pessoas de bem não desejam mal a nenhuma pessoa | Good people wish harm to no person
  • Fomos comer o bolo mas não havia sobrado nem uma fatia | We were going to eat the cake, but there was not even one slice left
  • Nenhuma garota quis sair com ele | No girl wanted to date him
  • Não encontramos nem uma coisa que eu queria no supermercado | We didn’t find a single thing I wanted at the supermarket
  • Nem um terno sequer serviu no seu pai | No suit fits your father
  • Queríamos sair, mas não tinha nem um lugar aberto | We want to go out, but no place was open

And, in some cases, both may be correct, although their meaning can vary slightly:

  • O dever de casa estava tão difícil que não conseguir resolver nem um/nenhum problema| The homework was so hard I couldn’t solve a single/any problem
  • Não tenho nem um real na minha conta/ Não tenho nenhum dinheiro na minha conta | I don’t have a single dollar in my account/ I have no money in my account
  • Nenhum livro foi vendido/ Nem um livro foi vendido | No book was sold/ Not a single book was sold

Sempre um prazer escrever para vocês! Mantenham o bom trabalho! Always a pleasure writing for you! Keep up the good work!

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