Let’s Be Honest About The “A” Accent in Portuguese
If you thought the “A” accent in Portuguese (à) was difficult, please know you’re not alone! Something you’d learn by studying Portuguese in Brazil is that a lot of Brazilians think the same! But, wait a second, if native speakers have trouble with it, how well are you going to fare? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered! We’re a Portuguese language school, after all! So let’s get to it!
When to Use the “A” Accent in Portuguese
The theory behind the crase (à) is very simple. Whenever you’d say the preposition a and the article a together, you should use the “A” accent in Portuguese: à. Alright, so a + a = à. Easy enough, right? But when are we likely to find those two together? In other words, when will we usually need the “A” accent?
The Verb ‘To Go’ in Portuguese
The most obvious instance is when we use the verb ‘to go’ – ir. Just like in English, in Portuguese we need a preposition to indicate where we are headed to. That preposition will either be para or a — there’s no difference in meaning between the two. So, inevitably, if we are headed towards a place that is feminine and requires the article a, we need to use the “A” accent in Portuguese! Check it out:
Eu vou à praia de Copacabana.
I got to Copacabana beach.
Eu nunca fui à China.
I’ve never been to China.
Feminine Adverbial Phrases
Another instance in which we need the “A” accent in Portuguese is when we are using some common adverbial phrases in Portuguese. Talking about time in Portuguese usually demands that we use the crase, for example:
Eles vão se encontrar às sete horas.
They are going to meet at seven o’clock.
Here are some other instances in which we need the “A” accent in Portuguese:
Examples with Feminine Adverbial Phrases
Algumas RioLIVE! são à noite.
Some RioLIVE! are at night.
Às vezes durmo muito tarde.
Sometimes I sleep very late.
Ela gosta de ter plantas à janela.
She likes to have plants by the window.
João sempre anda com um amigo à sua esquerda e outro à sua direita.
João always walks with a friend by his left side and another by his right side.
Tips on Using the “A” Accent in Portuguese
Thankfully, it’s not all theory! With a lifetime of practice, native speakers like your Brazilian Portuguese tutor have discovered some tricks to help remember when to use the “A” accent in Portuguese. So, if you thought that the explanation was already easy, now it’s going to feel natural! Bear in mind, these tricks don’t work with feminine adverbial phrases. But they can still give you a pretty good grasp of the other instances in which you need the crase.
Para + A = À
Wherever you can put ‘para a‘ in a sentence, you can also use the crase. That is, in order to make sure if you need the “A” accent or not, just ask yourself: would this sentence work with ‘para a’ instead?
Você pediu para a sua mãe ir para a festa?
Você pediu à sua mãe para ir à festa?
Did you ask your mother to go to the party?
Nós fomos para a biblioteca.
Nós fomos à biblioteca.
We went to the library.
À or Ao
Another good trick is replacing the feminine noun for a masculine noun. Do you think you would say ao instead? Then that means you need the “A” accent in Portuguese! If you would still say just a then you shouldn’t use the crase.
Quero ir ao Reino Unido.
Quero ir à Escócia.
I want to go to the United Kingdom.
I want to go to Scotland.
Eles vão ao Jardim Botânico.
Eles vão à loja.
They go to Jardim Botânico.
They go to the store.
That’s all for today, everyone! Now you know how to use the “A” accent in Portuguese!
Tell us, where do you want to go?