Gender in Portuguese

gender in Portuguese

Hello! Let’s learn more Portuguese? Today, we are going to talk about gender in Portuguese. We’ll explain the difference between masculino (masculine) and feminino (feminine).

Talking about Gender in Portuguese

Generally, masculine and feminine words in the Portuguese language are introduced by the article a and o to express their gender (male and female). In some cases, a word can be differentiated by the ending: -o for masculine words and -a for feminine words. Examples: a escola (the school), o cachorro (the dog).

In other cases, a specific word is used for a masculine word or feminine word. Example: homem (man) x mulher (woman). Here are some examples:

Different words used in gender expression: o homem x a mulher, o cão x a cadela, o boi x a vaca, o padre x freira, o padrasto x a madrasta.
Examples for masculine and feminine words

Gender in Portuguese in Variable Nouns

We use the ending -o for masculine words and -a for feminine words. This rule can help us a lot, because the majority of the words that end in o are masculine and most words that end in are feminine. But, this rule has a lot of exceptions. So don’t be misled by the last letter of the words, we need to know all the rules to understand it completely.

Take a look at these examples and notice that the Portuguese masculine and feminine words are marked with an and o at the end.

Example of feminine and masculine words in Portuguese: o amigo x a amiga, o aluno x a aluna, o gato x a gata, o velho x a velha, o moço x a moça.
Gender in Portuguese with variable nouns

Words ending with -r

When the word ends in -r we have a specific rule. We use the ending -or for masculine words and -ora for feminine words. It’s very simple, if the word ends in -r in the masculine form to transform it into feminine you just add an -a at the end. Check out these examples:

Words ending with -r in Portuguese: o cantor x a cantora, o professor x a professora, o mentor x a mentora, o autor x a autora, o instrutor x a instrutora, exception: o ator x a atriz.
Words ending in -r

And of course, we have an exception, the word ator (actor) becomes atriz (actress) in the feminine form.

Words ending with -ante

Words ending with -ante should be accompanied by the articles a and o to indicate the gender. It means that these words are neutral words and in order to specify the gender we have to rely on the article that comes before the word. If you only say the word estudante for example, a native speaker won’t know if you are talking about a man or a woman, so you’ll have to make it clear with and article or an adjective.

To change from masculine to feminine words ending with -ante in Portuguese only change the article: o estudante x a estudante, o imigrante x a imigrante, o viajante x a viajante.
Words ending with -ante

Words ending with -ente

Words ending in -ente should be accompanied by the articles a and o  to indicate the gender. Following the same logic as the words above, the word that end in -ente must have an article to specify their gender too. If you only say presidente, for example, I don’t know the gender of the person you’re talking about.

To change from masculine to feminine words ending with -ente in Portuguese only change the article: o presidente x a presidente, o gerente x a gerente, o tenente x a tenente, o assistente x a assistente.
Words ending with -ente

Fun Fact: Did you know that when Dilma Rousseff was elected many people started using the word presidenta because they thought it was important to mark the gender in this word? Especially, because she was the first female president in Brazil.

Words ending with -ista

Words ending with -ista should be accompanied by the articles a and o  to indicate the gender. Just like the words we’ve studied above, the words that end in –ista can only be specified with an article or an adjective. To know the gender of the subject, we need to complete it with more words.

To change from masculine to feminine words ending with -ista in Portuguese only change the article: o dentista x a dentista, o artista x a artista, o maquinista x a maquinista.
Words ending with -ista

Feminine Words in Portuguese

There are some words that are always feminine in Portuguese. This helps us to learn them correctly. So, the first rule is: when the word ends in -agem, it is feminine. As you already know, Portuguese is a language with a lot of exceptions, and the exception to this rule is the word personagem. This word ends in -agem, but it can be used to describe both genders.

Words that end in -agem in Portuguese are always feminine. Examples: a viagem, a paisagem, a garagem, a vantagem, a reportagem. Exception: o personagem x a personagem.
Feminine words in Portuguese

To make things easier, words ending in -ade are almost always feminine words! There’s only one exception to this rule: nômade (nomad) – it can be both masculine (o nômade) and feminine (a nômade). But still good enough, no?

In Portuguese words that end in -ade are always feminine. Examples: a idade, a cidade, a identidade, a verdade, a oportunidade, a amizade, a vontade. Exception: o nômade.
In Portuguese words that end in -ade are always feminine.
Words ending in ção in Portuguese are mostly feminine. Examples: a noção, a emoção, a exceção, a correção, a observação. Exception: o coração.
Words ending in ção in Portuguese are mostly feminine.

Words ending in -ção are almost always feminine too. Once again we have one single exception — the word coração (heart) is a masculine word.

Even though this one is a bit harder to get a hold of, you can keep it in mind: words ending with -ície will be feminine as well.

Palavras terminadas em ície são sempre femininas. Exemplos: superfície, planície, imundície, calvície.
Words ending with -ície

Masculine Words in Portuguese

Just like in feminine words, we have some rules to determine the masculine words in Portuguese. The words that end in -grama are always masculine words.

In portuguese the words ending in -grama are always masculine. Examples: o programa, o telegrama, o anagrama, o quilograma.
In portuguese the words ending in -grama are always masculine.

The words that end with an á (the letter a with an acute accent) are always masculine too. Check out some examples:

Words that end in á in Portuguese are always masculine. Examples: o sofá, o crachá, o guaraná, o Amapá, o Canadá, o Panamá.
Words that end in á in Portuguese are always masculine.

Pay attention to this because a lot of students get confused with the word problema (problem), and we use this word a lot, right? The words that end in –ema  or –oma are always masculine too. So, don’t get confused just because it ends with an a. You would think that if it ends with an a it’s feminine, right? No! Because these words don’t end only with an a, they end with –ema/-oma and follow this specific rule.

In Portuguese the words that end in -ema or -oma are always masculine. Examples: o sistema, o poema, o cinema, o idioma, o sintoma, o coma.

 Examples of masculine and feminine words in Portuguese

O amigoA amigaThe friend
O professor inglêsA professora inglesaThe English teacher
O aluno inteligenteA aluna inteligenteThe intelligent student
O banco alemãoA indústria alemãThe German bank / industry
O bairro industrialA cidade industrialThe industrial neighborhood / city
O trabalho difícilA lição difícilThe difficult work / lesson
O moço felizA moça felizThe happy boy / girl
O artista famosoA artista famosaThe famous artist
O homem comumA mulher comumThe ordinary man / woman
O botão simplesA solução simplesThe simple button / solution
O amigo espanholA amiga espanholaThe Spanish friend
Um apartamento bomUma casa boaA good apartment / house
Um plano mauUma ideia A bad plan / idea

Now we know how to differentiate gender in Portuguese, shall we practice?

Exercise 1: About Gender in Portuguese

Change the sentences into the feminine:

  1. Meu pai é professor.
    ____________________________________________________
  2. Ele falou com o diretor da escola de Português para estrangeiros no Brasil.
    ____________________________________________________
  3. Aquele menino é inteligente e simpático.
    ____________________________________________________
  4. O aluno chegou atrasado.
    ____________________________________________________
  5. Meus amigos são altos.
    ____________________________________________________
  6. Meu tio tem um gato que adora dormir na mesa.
    ____________________________________________________
  7. O carro do professor dos meus filhos enguiçou.
    ____________________________________________________
  8. O boi comeu todo o capim.
    ____________________________________________________
  9. Meu padrasto caiu.
    ____________________________________________________
  10. O homem é magro e muito bonito.
    ____________________________________________________

Exercise 2 about Gender in Portuguese

Now we have a few words that you have to transform into the opposite gender. Don’t forget to change the articles too!

  1. O professor
  2. A mulher
  3. O amigo
  4. O ator
  5. O estudante
  6. A viajante
  7. A presidente
  8. O artista
  9. O alemão
  10. A gata

Exercise 3: Determine the Correct Gender

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate gendered form based on the context provided by the sentence.

  1. “_______ criança que mora ao lado é muito educada e chama-se Maria.”
  2. “Conheci _______ professor que vai ensinar nossa aula de matemática; ele é conhecido por seu rigor.”
  3. “_______ amiga de Joana veio nos visitar ontem à noite; ela trouxe biscoitos.”
  4. “O carro é de _______ aluna que ganhou o prêmio ontem; seu trabalho foi excepcional.”
  5. “_______ jovem naquele grupo sempre usa um chapéu elegante; seu estilo é único.”
  6. “A mochila que _______ nova estudante trouxe é muito grande; ela acabou de se mudar para cá.”
  7. “_______ cantor que performou no evento tem uma voz incrível; ele foi muito aplaudido.”
  8. “_______ chefe da minha mãe é realmente compreensiva; ela sempre apoia sua equipe.”
  9. “_______ médica que me atendeu no hospital explicou tudo claramente; sua paciência é notável.”
  10. “_______ gata que vive naquela casa sempre vem me cumprimentar; ela é muito amigável.”

See you in the next Portuguese lesson.
Beijinhos!

Any doubts?
Don’t forget you can always check if your answers are correct at the end of the page.

 
Clique nos links abaixo para ler outras Dicas relacionadas
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Portuguese Diminutive

Answers 1:

  1. Minha mãe é professora.
  2. Ela falou com a diretora da escola de Português para estrangeiros no Brasil.
  3. Aquela menina é inteligente e simpática.
  4. A aluna chegou atrasada.
  5. Minhas amigas são altas.
  6. Minha tia tem uma gata que adora dormir na mesa.
  7. O carro da professora das minhas filhas enguiçou.
  8. A vaca comeu todo os capim.
  9. Minha madrasta caiu.
  10. A mulher é magra e bonita.

Answers 2:

  1. A professora
  2. O homem
  3. A amiga
  4. A atriz
  5. A estudante
  6. O viajante
  7. O presidente
  8. A artista
  9. A alemã
  10. O gato

Answers 3:

  1. A criança que mora ao lado é muito educada e chama-se Maria.”
    • Correct gendered word: A (feminine)
  2. “Conheci o professor que vai ensinar nossa aula de matemática; ele é conhecido por seu rigor.”
    • Correct gendered word: O (masculine)
  3. A amiga de Joana veio nos visitar ontem à noite; ela trouxe biscoitos.”
    • Correct gendered word: A (feminine)
  4. “O carro é de a aluna que ganhou o prêmio ontem; seu trabalho foi excepcional.”
    • Correct gendered word: A (feminine)
  5. O jovem naquele grupo sempre usa um chapéu elegante; seu estilo é único.”
    • Correct gendered word: O (masculine)
  6. “A mochila que a nova estudante trouxe é muito grande; ela acabou de se mudar para cá.”
    • Correct gendered word: A (feminine)
  7. O cantor que performou no evento tem uma voz incrível; ele foi muito aplaudido.”
    • Correct gendered word: O (masculine)
  8. A chefe da minha mãe é realmente compreensiva; ela sempre apoia sua equipe.”
    • Correct gendered word: A (feminine)
  9. A médica que me atendeu no hospital explicou tudo claramente; sua paciência é notável.”
    • Correct gendered word: A (feminine)
  10. A gata que vive naquela casa sempre vem me cumprimentar; ela é muito amigável.”
    • Correct gendered word: A (feminine)

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

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