Portuguese Sentence Structure

students posing in front of christ the redeemer. headline: "os alunos da rio & learn visitam o cristo redentor."

Hello there! Whenever you learn a new language, it’s the same old song all over again. You say something like you would in your own language, which then gets you puzzled looks from a native speaker, such as your teacher at Rio & Learn. You double-check the conjugation, your pronunciation, hell, the spelling even – but it usually comes down to one thing: sentence structure. So today, why don’t we take a look at the Portuguese sentence structure?

Morphology of Portuguese Sentence Structure

First things first, we should probably try to understand the types of words we can find in a sentence in Portuguese. This way it is easier to explain how sentence structure works. Our friend Moisés explains in the video below what ‘category’ words can belong to (noun, adjective, adverb, etc.), as well as correct word order. Remember to turn on the subtitles! Let’s watch it:

If you would like to read more about these types of words, you can check out the following Dicas:

Definitive Articles
Indefinitive Articles

Portuguese Word Order

structure of portuguese word order. subject + verb + object. examples: roberta caminhou rápido. ele estudou português. as crianças brincam muito.

As you probably saw in the video, the sentence structure in Portuguese is not that different from that in English. Portuguese and English both follow the idea of: subject + verb + object. This is how we could break that down based on our teacher explanation:

Subject = article + noun (optional: adjective)

Verb = it can follow or precede an adverb

Object = the thing that the verb describes (adjective) or impacts (article + noun, optional: adjective). Example: to be pretty, to throw a ball

Using Adjectives in Portuguese

portuguese students getting to know Arcos da Lapa. headline about adjectives in portuguese: "os arcos brancos são chamados de arcos da lapa".

You may have noticed that in Moisés’ example he says: a moça bonita. That literally translates to a ‘girl pretty’. That’s right! Adjectives in Portuguese have to come after the nouns they are describing. Take a look at some more examples:

Minha mãe tem um carro vermelho.
My mother has a red car.

Aquela estátua grande é o Cristo Redentor.
That big statue is Christ the Redeemer.

Minha casa amarela fica na rua Uruguai.
My yellow house is on Uruguay Street.

Using Adverbs in Portuguese

five students getting to know the botanical garden in rio de janeiro. headline highlighting adverbs in portuguese: "o jardim botânico é muito bonito!"

In Brazilian Portuguese sentence structure, we also got adverbs. Adverbs accompanies verbs, adjectives or other adverbs, adding characteristics or intensifying their meaning. Adverbs can be of place, time, manner, intensity, affirmative, negative, doubt and interrogation. Let’s check out an example of each:

Advérbio de Lugar: Demorou, mas minha encomenda chegou ontem!
Adverb of Place: Took a while, but my order arrived yesterday!

Advérbio de Tempo: Sempre que precisar de algo, basta chamar-me.
Adverb of Time: Whenever you need something, just call me.

Advérbio de Modo: Eu terminava depressa os meus deveres.
Adverb of Manner: I finished my duties quickly.

Advérbio de Intensidade: Eles formam um casal tão bonito!
Adverb of Intensity: They make such a cute couple!

Advérbio de Afirmação: Claro que entendemos!
Adverb of Affirmation: Of course we understand!

Advérbio de Negação: Ela não ficou nada satisfeita.
Adverb of Negation: She was not pleased at all.

Advérbio de Dúvida: Nós talvez venhamos à sua festa.
Adverb of Doubt: We might come to your party.

Advérbio Interrogativo: Onde eles moram?
Interrogative Adverb: Where do they live?

Omitting Subjects

three students playing uno. headline highlighting how to omit words in Portuguese: "jogamos uno durante a chuva."

In Portuguese, much like Spanish, sometimes we casually drop the personal pronoun in a sentence. That means that a sentence such as ‘I live in Rio de Janeiro‘ can be said as ‘Live in Rio de Janeiro’. We usually refer to these as ‘hidden subjects’, and they are more common in the first-person, although we can drop personal pronouns everywhere. Check it out:

Corro todas as manhãs para manter a forma.
I run every morning to stay in shape.

Lemos sempre a Dica do Dia.
We always read a Dica do Dia.

Fez o dever de casa?
Did you do the homework?

Asking Questions

students posing together while having a riolive! activity. headline: "será que eles gostam de caipirinha?"

Pay attention to that last example we saw and you may already figured out what this is all about. In English, when we ask questions, we have to start the sentences with a verb. But we like to keep it simple – the Portuguese language structure is the same for statements as for questions. How can we tell questions and statements apart, then? Well, by the intonation, of course. It’s all about the way you say it. Here are some examples:

Vocês vão na RioLIVE! de hoje? É no Pão de Açúcar.
Are you going to RioLIVE! today? It’s at the Sugarloaf Mountain.

Ela gosta de caipirinha?
Does she like caipirinha?

Vocês gostam de estudar português?
Do you like to study Portuguese?

Do you see how the question mark makes all the difference? And even if we didn’t have them, the statements would still retain their meaning without any change in word order.

Exercises with Portuguese Sentence Structure

Rewrite the sentences in the correct Portuguese word order we have just studied:

1) menino – O – está cansado

2) bem – mulher – A – dança

3) O – quente – Rio – é

4) é – muito – caro – computador – O

5) Luana – alto – A – muito – fala

6) bebê – frequentemente – chora – O

7) A – malhadagrama – a – vaca – come

8) sujo – O – vermelho – casaco – está

9) de – homem – sério – O – preto – é – terno

10) Paulo – Fernanda – estão – e – apaixonados – loucamente

That’s all for today guys. Did you like it?

Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
Regular Verbs in Portuguese
Adverbs of Denial in Portuguese
Types of Sentences in Portuguese


1) O menino está cansado.
2) A mulher dança bem.
3) O Rio é quente.
4) O computador é muito caro.
5) A Luana fala muito alto.
6) O bebê chora frequentemente.
7) A vaca malhada come a grama.
8) O casaco vermelho está sujo.
9) O homem de terno preto é sério.
10) Paulo e Fernanda estão loucamente apaixonados.

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

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