Portuguese Diminutive

Portuguese Diminutive. Este bolinho é muito gostoso! Formation of Diminutives is made using -inho and -inha as sufix.

What’s up, everybody! All good?
In our Dica today, we are going to talk about the formation of the Portuguese Diminutive. To begin with, it’s not possible to use diminutive in every word. We know it sounds cute but try to use it only when it’s appropriate. Try these:

Portuguese Diminutive

Eu tenho uma casinha.
I have a small house


Você é tão bonitinho!
You are so handsome!


Come rapidinho porque já estamos saindo!
Eat fast because we are leaving!

Formation of diminutives in Portuguese


Casa – casinha House – little house
Escola – escolinha School – little school
Garoto – garotinho Boy – little boy
Filme – filminho Filme – little film

So, as you can see, we simply used both -inho and –inha in order to form the Portuguese Diminutive.
We can also use the ending –zinho or –zinha to form a diminutive.

Examples of words with stressed syllables

Café – Cafezinho Coffee – Little coffee
Mulher – Mulherzinha Woman – Little woman
Papel – Papelzinho Paper – Little paper
Amor – Amorzinho Love – Little love

This is used in some situations with words that end in a stressed syllable or a syllable with a heavier, stronger pronunciation. Notice that the last syllable is the strongest for all of those examples: ca, mulher, papel, amor. Because the last syllables are stronger (i.e. “stressed”), we have to add –zinho or –zinha to form the diminutive.

Examples of words ending in two vowels

Pai – Paizinho Father – Little father (Dad)
Boa – Boazinha Good – Little good
Mau – Mauzinho Bad – Little bad

You can see that all of these words end with two vowels: ai, oa, au. Therefore, we use the same ending as above (-zinho and –zinha).

Examples of words with nasal sound

With words that end with a nasal sound we also use –zinho and -zinha. Whenever you say any of these words, you can feel the vibration of the nasal sound if you put your finger on your nose.

Bom – Bonzinho Good – Little good
Mãe – Mãezinha Mother – Little mother (Mom)
Irmão – Irmãozinho Brother- Little brother
Irmã – Irmãzinha Sister – Little sister

Now try pronouncing these words while touching your nose to feel a vibration.

Examples of words ending in -dade

And finally, words ending in –dade will always take the suffix –zinha instead of –zinho, because they’re feminine words.

Cidade – Cidadezinha City – Small city
Propriedade – Propriedadezinha Property – Small property 
Universidade – Universidadezinha University – Small university
Oportunidade – Oportunidadezinha Opportunity – Small opportunity

Brazilian Portuguese diminutives meanings

We use the diminutives to express different meanings. Now we’ll see which meanings the diminutives in Portuguese can express. Let’s take a look:

Diminutives referring to size

Comprei uma casinha
I bought a small house

Ela tem uma bolsinha muito bonita
She has a pretty little bag

Eles têm um irmãozinho
They have a little brother

So this is how we use it to express small things or objects.

Diminutives referring to affection

We can use diminutives to express caring or affection. When we want to show my affection for something or someone. Check it out:

Meu amiguinho!
My dear friend!

Minha filhinha!
My dear daughter!

Meu irmãozinho!
My dear brother!

Meu irmãozinho! Eu gosto muito dele!
My dear brother! I like him very much!

Ele é nosso filhinho
He is our beloved son.

O CELPE-Bras é uma provinha interessante.
CELPE-Bras is an interesting little test.

Diminutives referring to discontent

We can also use it to express discontent or dislike. It really depends on the intonation used. It’s used to express that you don’t like something or someone.

Que livrinho desagradável!
What a dreadful book!

Que mulherzinha arrogante!
What an arrogant woman!

Que musiquinha ruim!
What a horrible song!

Que menininha chata!
What a boring girl!

Diminutives referring to emphasis

It is also possible to use the diminutive when we want to emphasize or specify something.

Rio & Learn fica pertinho da praia.
Rio & Learn is very close to the beach.

Fale baixinho, tá?
Keep it pretty quiet, ok?

Tomo café com pouquinho açúcar.
I drink coffee with just a little bit of sugar.

É facinho conseguir o visto de estudante para o Brasil.
It’s very easy to to get a student visa for Brazil.

Diminutives without a specific function

And finally, we can also use it without any specific function.

Espere só um minutinho.
Wait just a little bit.

Você quer um cafezinho?
Do you want some coffee?

Vou embora. Tchauzinho!
I am leaving. Bye bye!

Now its your turn!

With this purpose in mind, follow the guidelines that we’ve just studied. Practice changing the words in the sentences below into their diminutive forms and tell us their meanings.

  1. Meu filho tem 2 anos. (____________)
  2. Eu machuquei meu . (____________)
  3. Ele viu um homem passando por baixo da mesa. (____________)
  4. Precisamos comprar um armário para o quarto. (____________)
  5. Que cantor escroto… Copiou a música na cara de pau. (____________)
  6. Ela tem uma enfermidade, mas logo vai passar. (____________)
  7. Vou preparar um mingau para você. (____________)
  8. João comprou um computador novo. (____________)
  9. Olha! Que chapéu bonito! (____________)
  10. Tenho uma novidade para te contar. (____________)
  11. Pode me trazer um copo de água? (____________)
  12. Que menino malvado… (____________)

That’s it, everyone!
We’ll finish our Dica here! We, from Rio&Learn, really hope to see you soon here in Rio de Janeiro.
Tchauzinho! Don’t forget to practice talking about different situations using diminutives 🙂
Until next time!
Beijinhos and abracinhos for you all!

Ler esta Dica em Português          Leer esta Dica en Español
Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
Diminutive Exercises in Portuguese
Portuguese Augmentative
Adjectives in Portuguese
Nouns in Portuguese


  1. Meu filho tem 2 aninhos. (carinho)
  2. Eu machuquei meu pézinho. (carinho)
  3. Ele viu um homenzinho passando por baixo da mesa. (tamanho)
  4. Precisamos comprar um armariozinho para o quarto. (tamanho)
  5. Que cantorzinho escroto… Copiou a música na cara de pau. (desgosto)
  6. Ela tem uma enfermidadezinha, mas logo vai passar. (sem função específica)
  7. Vou preparar um mingauzinho para você. (sem função específica)
  8. João comprou um computadorzinho novo. (sem função específica)
  9. Olha! Que chapéuzinho bonito! (ênfase)
  10. Tenho uma novidadezinha para te contar. (ênfase)
  11. Pode me trazer um copinho de água? (sem função específica)
  12. Que menininho malvado… (desgosto) 

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

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