Portuguese Grammar Reference ("QuickGrammar")
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>>Portuguese Nouns > Regular Nouns > Articles and Nouns
Portuguese has four definite and four indefinite articles. To understand which article to use with each noun, you must first know the noun's gender. The gender of the noun alone determines the gender of the articles used with it. Ano year can be modified as um ano a year or o ano the year. The word festa feast can be modified as uma festa a feast or a festa the feast.
Since every Portuguese noun has a singular form and a plural form, you must use the corresponding form of the article (see number). If you know the noun's gender, then you will simply use the appropriate masculine plural or feminine plural article. Anos years can be modified as uns anos some years or os anos the years. The word festas feasts can be modified as umas festas some feasts or as festas the feasts.
Portuguese adjectives also change to reflect the number and gender of the noun in a similar manner.
Nouns do not typically head sentences in Portuguese. This means that you must use articles with nouns at the beginning of any sentence. You can say time flies in English, where time is the noun, but the correct translation is o tempo foge (the) time flies.
The definite articles are more frequent in Portuguese. You can call the language o português the Portuguese and say falo o português I speak the Portuguese. Fields of study like a história the History or a ciência the Science also demonstrate how much more inclined Portuguese speakers are to use the definite article than speakers of English.
Definite articles also precede proper nouns, a practice that will sound foreign to English speakers. Using a definite article with a person's or place's name adds a hint of familiarity. You can call a country o Brasil the Brazil. You can also say that a Ana fala inglês the Anna speaks English or o Roberto tem idéia (spelled ideia in Portugal) the Robert has an idea. It is not acceptable to use the definite article when calling out someone's name, as in Roberto! venha cá! Robert, come here!.
Indefinite articles, on the other hand, can fall out of a sentence entirely. This is especially true when the noun is the object of an action and you are not setting it apart as one example. Tenho idéia! (in Portugal: tenho ideia!) literally translates I have idea!, but you must use the indefinite an in the same phrase in English.