Gender in Portuguese: o menino (boy) x a menina (girl).

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 genders (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.

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, 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 blinded 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.

Words ending with -r

When the words end 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 in 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.

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

Words ending with -ante

The 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 in the article that comes before. If you only say the word estudante for example, I native speaker won’t know if you are talking about a man or a woman, so you’ll have to make it clearer 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 -ente

The 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.

Curiosity: 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? Specially because she was the first female president in Brazil.

Words ending with -ista

The 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.

Feminine Words in Portuguese

There are some words that are always feminine in Portuguese. This helps us learning 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.

To help our lives, the words ending in -idade are always feminine words!

In Portuguese the words that end in -idade are always feminine. Examples: a idade, a cidade, a identidade, a formalidade, a oportunidade, a intimidade.

The words ending in -ção are always feminine too, but in this case we have a exception. The word coração (heart) is a masculine word.
Words ending in ção in Portuguese are mostly feminine. Examples: a noção, a emoção, a exceção, a correção, a observação. Exception: o coração.

Masculine Words in Portuguese

Just like in the 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.

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.

Pay attention to this because a lot of students always 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 and have 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 amigo A amiga The friend
O professor inglês A professora inglesa The English teacher
O aluno inteligente A aluna inteligente The intelligent student
O banco alemão A indústria alemã The German bank / industry
O bairro industrial A cidade industrial The industrial neighborhood / city
O trabalho difícil A lição difícil The difficult work / lesson
O moço feliz A moça feliz The happy boy / girl
O artista famoso A artista famosa The famous artist
O homem comum A mulher comum The ordinary man / woman
O botão simples A solução simples The simple button / solution
O amigo espanhol A amiga espanhola The Spanish friend
Um apartamento bom Uma casa boa A good apartment / house
Um plano mau Uma 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

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

See you in the next Portuguese lesson.
Beijinhos!

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Exercise about gender in Portuguese: answers

  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

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