Last modified on 4 February 2015, at 08:51

Portuguese/Contents/L1/Lesson Four - Where Do You Come From?

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Dialogue 4Edit

Ricardo: Bom dia, João. De onde é você?
João: Sou americano, mas agora moro em Lisboa. E você?
Ricardo: Sou de Londres.
João:É inglês?
Ricardo: Os meus pais são portugueses. Eles moram em Londres.
Ricardo: Gosta de Lisboa?
João: Sim, muito.

This time Ricardo and João are talking about where they live, and what nationality they are.

De onde é você? - Where are you from?

By now you may have picked up that, like in a couple of other European languages, the word for "of" or "from" is de. The word onde means "where". To avoid ambiguity, in this case você is used most of the time. And finally, you should remember é - it means "he/she/it is" or "you are" (when using você) - as part of the verb ser.

João responds thus:

Sou de Lisboa - I am from Lisbon.

Can you remember what sou means? It means "I am" (when using ser as the verb). So we have "I am from...". Of course, you can put anything after the "de".

Translate the following into English.

1. Sou de Melbourne.

2. Você é de Washington

3. Eles são do Rio de Janeiro.

4. Tu és de Paris.

Translate the following into Portuguese

5. I am from Edinburgh

6. You are from Auckland. (use tu)

7. Where is she from?

8. Where do we come from?


1. I am from Melbourne

2. You are from Washington

3. They are from Rio.

4. You are from Paris.

5. (Eu) sou de Edinburgh

6. Tu és de Auckland

7. De onde é ela? (Use ela in this case because context doesn't tell us who é refers to)

8. De onde somos? (But because somos is only used to mean "we are" we can always omit the word for "we")

If you were looking closely at the dialogue, you may have spotted a way to tell someone where you come from in a different way. Instead of saying, "I am from France" - Sou de França - you can say "I am French".

In Portuguese, this is done as in English - by using the verb "ser" and an adjective, like "French" or "Australian". Why do we use ser? Because your nationality is a permanent feature of you. It is WHAT you are, rather than HOW you are at a particular moment.

However first we need to have a look at the different nationalities.

The following adjectives (plus more like them) are like regular adjectives- their endings are as follows...
-o -a -os -as More adjectives like these:

mexicano - Mexican
indiano - Indian
brasileiro - Brazilian
britânico - British
italiano - Italian'

americano -
americana americanos americanas
australiano -
australiana australianos australianas
The following adjectives are changed a litte differently. Their endings are...
-ês -esa -eses -esas More adjectives like these:

chinês - Chinese
japonês - Japonese

português - Portuguese
inglesa ingleses inglesas
francesa franceses francesas
The following adjectives are quite strange: they don't change with masculine and feminine: only plural.


belga belgas belgas

Some examples?

as meninas canadianas - the Canadian girls (feminine, plural)

a mulher australiana - the Australian woman (feminine, singular)

o homem belga - the Belgian man (masculine, singular)

os homens franceses - the French men (masculine, plural - notice the change from homem to homens)

As pointed out above, something strange goes on when we talk about more than one homem (man). Instead of homems we get homeNs (men).

You now know how to say who you are, where you come from, what you like doing and what you are going to do on a certain day. As a practice, write a letter to an imaginary Portuguese penfriend, using your knowledge of basic Portuguese vocabulary. Include questions - for example, 'Como se chama você?

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