Portuguese Grammar Reference ("QuickGrammar")
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>>Portuguese Pronouns > Direct Object Pronouns
The direct object pronouns indicate the object of a verb. These pronouns stand in for the person or people receiving the direct impact of an action. In the sentence I did it, the word it acts as the direct object. When using a word like at, with, for, about, or from, you will instead need to use a prepositional pronoun.
A direct object pronoun can stand in for any one of the subject pronouns.
Direct Object Pronouns
|2nd person||te||you (tu)|
|3rd person||o||him, you (vocÍ, o senhor)|
|3rd person||a||her, you (vocÍ, a senhora)|
|2nd person||vos||you (archaic)|
|3rd person||os||them (eles), you (vocÍs, os senhores)|
|3rd person||as||them (elas), you (vocÍs, os senhores)|
Note that the pronouns o, os and a, as represent a variety of subject pronouns, so a quick review of those pronouns will answer most of your questions. When as stands in for vocÍs all of you, it has to represent an all-female group (these are the same standards you use to pick elas over eles). Otherwise, you will use os, since it can represent an all-male or a mixed group.
If your subject and object are the same, as in I washed myself, be sure to use the similar set of reflexive pronouns.
The action words that you will use with the direct object pronouns are called transitive verbs. These verbs allow the action to directly affect the object. For example, John sees you directly affects you, whereas Mary gives it to you distances you from the action (the direct object here is it). Ele me vÍ means he sees me and vocÍs os querem means you want them. The QuickGrammar also offers more information on using verbs.
These pronouns can occupy a number of positions in a sentence. You will find them before a verb, after a verb, and even between verbs. In Portugal, you may begin a phrase or sentence with ele me vÍ he sees me (where the he is stressed), but you must use the form vÍ-me when you do not wish to stress the subject pronoun ele. In Brazil, both ele me vÍ and me vÍ are accepted, but vÍ-me sounds both slightly literary and European. The QuickGrammar includes more rules on the specifics of using pronouns with verbs, and how these constructions differ in Brazil and Portugal.