Portuguese Grammar Reference ("QuickGrammar")
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>>Portuguese Verbs > Verbs and Pronouns

The direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns (including reflexive pronouns) are always placed next to the verb that passes the action onto them. Their placement follows a steady set of rules that is different in both Portugal and Brazil. While the differences can be overwhelming for an English speaker, understanding these rules only takes a few moments.

In Brazil, the object pronoun comes before the main verb in all but the most formal written or spoken language. Notice the location of the pronoun me, meaning both me and to me in the following examples:

Me diz a verdade he tells me the truth
Me chamo Ana I call myself Ana (or my name is Ana)

The object pronoun can come after the main verb if it is in a larger construction with an infinitive (a double-verb construction like I want to gowe can see, you have to speak). This isn't written with a hyphen except in the most formal written language:

Pode me dizer? can you tell me? (literally (you) can to-me say?)

The rules are more complex in Portugal, as well as in the more formal usage of Portuguese of Brazil.

In Portugal, the object pronoun comes after the main verb if the verb stands alone at the beginning of a phrase or sentence. It is attached to the main verb with a hyphen. Notice the location of the pronoun me, meaning both me and to me in the following examples:

Diz-me a verdade he tells me the truth
Chamo-me Ana I call myself Ana (or my name is Ana)

When there is a noun or subject pronoun at the beginning of a sentence, this is no longer an issue, and the Portuguese can choose to move the pronoun in front of the verb:

Eu me chamo Ana I call myself Ana (or MY name is Ana)

The pronoun cannot be placed after the main verb if the verb follows any question word or the word que that:

Quando me diz a verdade... when he tells me the truth...

The object pronoun can come after the main verb if it is in a larger construction with an infinitive (a double-verb construction like I want to gowe can see, you have to speak). This isn't written with a hyphen:

Pode me dizer? can you tell me? (literally (you) can to-me say?)

The object pronoun is often attached to the end of an infinitive, if one is present. This is written with a hyphen:

O cachorro pode lavar-se the dog can wash himself.