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Indefinite Pronouns in Portuguese

Indefinite Pronouns in Portuguese: On questioning, stating or denying.

For some speakers of other languages understanding Portuguese Indefinite Pronouns can be a little confusing at first glance, but once they have been exposed to their real usage, everything becomes very clear. In Portuguese, we choose the indefinite pronoun according to what exactly we are trying to express. It does not matter as much if it is a question or a statement, but it may differ a little if what we are trying to express is affirmative or negative.

These pronouns refer to the third person, they are imprecise or express undetermined quantity. In this article, you will find some examples of “Pronomes Indefinidos” (Indefinite Pronouns) divided into:

· variable – those which will not vary in gender or number

· invariables – those which agree in gender (feminine or masculine) and number (plural or singular) with the nouns

· Indefinite Pronouns used for both people and things

· Indefinite Pronouns used for people

· Indefinite Pronouns used for things

· Indefinite Pronouns and their opposite meanings

Later, you will be able to find some examples and, to finish a quick practice.

Some of these pronouns can be used for both things and people, some of them can be used only for people or only for things:

Some Indefinite Pronouns may create opposition in meanings to other pronouns:

As you already know, there are other pronouns that were not mentioned in this article. Keep in mind that the Indefinite Pronouns in Portuguese relates more to their meaning and who they refer to than if they are in a question, statement or negative sentence and you will “tirá-los de letra” (sail through them with ease).

Some examples in a quick but unfortunate story:

Alguém quebrou a janela do meu carro. (Someone broke my car window.) – I cannot tell for sure who broke my car window but I know it does not break itself like that.

Ninguém viu quem quebrou a janela do meu carro. (No one saw who broke my car window). – Even though there could be people nearby, nobody was able to tell who broke my car window.

Tudo estava exatamente da mesma forma. (Everything was exactly the same way.) – All the objects I had inside of the car were still exactly in the same place.

Nada tinha sido roubado. (Nothing had been stolen.) – None of my objects in the car had been taken away.

Você sabe se alguma testemunha chamou a polícia? (Do you know if any witness called the police?) – Somebody could have seen what happened and called the police.

Meia hora depois e nenhum policial tinha chegado lá. (Half an hour later and no police officer had arrived there.) – Minutes later and there was zero police officers there.

De repente, olhei para dentro de meu carro e vi algo branco no assento da frente. (Suddenly, I looked inside my car and I saw something white on the front seat.) – I found a white thing on my front seat.

Havia um bilhete de uma pessoa com um pedido de desculpas, dizendo que quaisquer despesas com o conserto do meu vidro seria pago por ela. (There was a note from a person apologizing, saying that any expenses fixing my glass would be paid by her.) – Someone wrote a note apologizing and saying she would pay all the expenses for fixing my glass.

Ela explicou que o filho dela quebrou acidentamentalmente meu vidro com sua bola, mas disse que se eu tivesse qualquer dúvida que podia ligar para ela. (She explained that her son accidently broke my glass with his ball, but said that if I had any doubt I could call her.) – The accident had been explained but if it was not clear enough, I could call this lady who left the note.

Hoje em dia, poucos têm a decência dessa senhora. (Nowadays, few people is decent like this lady has.) – There is still a small number of people in the world who act like this lady did.

Muitos sumiriam sem se responsabilizar pelo acontecido. (Many would disappear without taking accountability for what had happened.) – A lot of people would run away without paying for the expenses of the glass they broke.

A senhora me contou que cada travessura do seu filho era uma dívida nova para ela. (The lady told me that each mischief of her son was a new expense for her.) – The boy seems to be very mischievous, because every single thing he does is an expense for his mother.

Quick practise:

Na minha bolsa não tem __________ (tudo, nada). Tudo = everything Nada = 0

Não conheço _________ (ninguém, alguém) nesse bairro. Ninguém = 0 pessoas, negativo Pessoa desconhecida, afirmativo

Você tem __________ (algum, alguma) caneta para me emprestar? Algum = Objeto (masculino) desconhecido Alguma = Objeto (feminino) desconhecido

Estou rico! Tenho _________ (tanto, nenhum) dinheiro! Tanto = grande quantidade Nenhum = vazio (0)

Escute… tem ________ (alguém, algo) batendo na portal? Sim. Parece que tem __________ (alguém, algo) batendo na porta. Alguém = pessoa desconhecida Algo = coisa ou ação desconhecida

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