Brazilian Portuguese: not pro-drop?

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English - English
Like Spanish, European Portuguese is almost exclusively pro-drop, but is it true that Brazilian Portuguese almost always uses pronouns?
  • LuizLeitao

    Senior Member
    In very many cases, the omission/suppression of pronouns is normal in the Portuguese language, Brazilian Portuguese included.

    Examples: (Nós) Podemos chegar lá. (Nós) Somos brasileiros. (Eu) Gosto de laranja. (Vós) Podeis me dar licença? Parts of the body, objects of personal use, qualities of the spirit, reject the use of the possessive pronoun: Machucou o (seu) braço. Levou a bengala (e não a sua).

    Estava em casa (e não em sua casa).

    Source: Manual de Redação e Estilo de O Estado de S. Paulo. Eduardo Martins.


    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Well, I think Brazilian Portuguese is closer and closer to becoming a non-pro-drop language. But European Portuguese is not lagging that behind.
    In Brazilian Portuguese, in my opinion, there's a tendency not to drop even the first person singular and plural (eu and nós) in the spoken language especially when they're first uttered:
    Eu* vi muita gente na rua e decidi** ir lá ver o que 'tava acontecendo.
    * [it's for the first time uttered and although it could be dropped, it isn't]
    ** [Now the "eu" is dropped]

    More on this subject:


    Portuguese - Brazil
    No, but only because of the first person. The second person conjugation, in Brazil, is not used anymore (both singular and plural), and the first plural person (nós) is getting replaced by another conjugation which is the same of the third singular.


    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Like Spanish, European Portuguese is almost exclusively pro-drop, but is it true that Brazilian Portuguese almost always uses pronouns?
    From my experience, I'd say the use of pronouns is indeed more frequent in Brazilian Portuguese. This is probably because Brazilians tend to use third-person forms for 'you', 'he/she/it' and 'we', thus having the necessity to specify their respective pronouns (você, ele/ela, a gente) - whereas in Portugal, the common use of second-person singular and first-person plural forms reduces the need of explicit pronouns.


    Portuguese - Brazil
    Casmurro, mas nem no RS, onde o uso de "tu" é tão comum, pitoresco e bonito? Sobre o vós eu concordo, plenamente com você.
    De fato aqui no sul não há você, há tu :), bem como confio em ti, não em você. Contudo, a conjugação em si (tu fazes, tu fizeste, tu farás/vais fazer) não existe. É tu + terceira pessoa. Qualquer pessoa que use a segunda pessoa quer aparecer e mostrar uma imagem que não existe.

    O porquê de fazermos isso é uma excelente pergunta.


    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Well, in my post I mainly talked about the first persons (eu and nós) because for the second and third persons it's quite obvious that pronoun is NOT dropped AT ALL.
    And not to mention, of course, the ever-present "a gente" as the first person plural and it's never dropped.

    Everyone can have a look at a video from someone in Brazil on YouTube speaking spontaneously or a conversation in a soap opera and try to identify how many times the pronouns are dropped. Very few.

    Just like in RS, in my state PE the tu is used more than você among friends.
    The "tu" is uttered, almost never dropped, but when it's dropped, the "s" comes back: Tu vai amanhã? OR Vais amanhã?


    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    It must be interesting to be a stranger studying portuguese. You can take many different aspects from many variants and literally build your own language, and it'll still be right!
    Usually the Portuguese say that I speak Brazilian. When I speak with Brazilians I throw in some Portuguese slang. And they ask me the meaning. :D
    In the new thread I opened, you see I've built my own system of possessive adjectives. :D


    Senior Member
    Like Spanish, European Portuguese is almost exclusively pro-drop, but is it true that Brazilian Portuguese almost always uses pronouns?
    In both brazilian and european Portuguese, it's unnecessary sometimes to let the subject (pronoun) explicit. If there is more than one person that matches with the verbal form, it's necessary to declare it. For example, the verb "estar" (to be). Eu estou, Tú estás, ele / você está, nós estamos, vós estáis, eles / vocês estão. Only Eu matches with estou, therefore, it's needless to declare it when you say "estou triste", the same happens to "estás, estamos, estáis". On the other hand, "está" matches with both ele and você, that's why if you ask someone "está triste?" without the subject, the person who you are talking to will ask you, "who? eu or ele / ela?". Depending on the context of the conversation, your interlocutor will understand that you are talking about him, but in the most of the cases, it begets ambiguity.
    I think there should be in english this option as well. If only "I" am, and no other pronoun "he, she, we" matches with this word (am), why not to say "am happy"?

    Best regards.
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    Senior Member
    I'm having a look at portuguese grammar and I got an idea of this matter.
    Is it possible that you use personal subject pronouns "eu" and "nos" (even when there is a present, preterite or future indicative) because standard (formal) language rules don't allow you to start a sentence with a proclitic pronoun?

    So, in EP one can say "digo-te/dizemos-te" or "amo-te" while in formal BP one have to say "eu te digo/nos te dizemos" or "eu te amo" instead of (the "wrong way") "te digo/te dizemos" or "te amo" (used only in very informal spoken language).

    Could this syntactic rule be the reason why brazilian tend not to drop subject pronoun "eu" and "nos" even if verbal inflections are clear?
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    aprendiendo argento

    Senior Member
    Maybe yes.
    Because it's incorrect/non-standard to write: Te amo, Me preocupo com você, etc, Brazilian grammarians recommended using the explicit pronoun in these cases,
    so students are not forced to write Amo-te, Preocupo-me com você.

    The recommendation of using the explicit pronoun to avoid sentence initial clitic has been around for fifty years or so, and it may contribute to
    (over)using of subject pronouns:

    You can write even in formal texts:

    Eu me preocupo com ela.
    Eu lhe agradeço.
    Eles nos chamaram.

    But I guess, it has to do with the rhythm too, many people use the introductory/first eu, and dismiss repeated usage afterwards, just like they dismiss initial article with possessive, and use ''linking'' article afterwards:

    Eu sei que vou te amar. (''eu sei que eu vou te amar'' sounds natural too, ''sei que vou te amar'' may be felt as too bare / newscastish to some people: in headlines they alway dismiss pronouns, articles etc, that's why it may sound as ''newscastese'').
    Meu pai e a minha mãe... (many people always say ''O meu pai e a minha mãe'' especially in São Paulo, many people Bahia say: Meu pai e minha mãe [article there is used only in contracted forms with prepositions: do meu pai, da minha mãe;
    de meu pai sounds very formal everywhere in Brazil, except when infinitive clause is used: de meu pai fazer, which is sometimes heard in Bahia).

    Many grammarians consider the overuse of explicit pronouns and explicit articles with possessives inelegant in formal texts tho'.
    The more formal text is, the fewer articles and explicit pronouns you see. In newspapers headlines, the most formal style of all, you see the most extreme cases of dismissal of articles and pronouns.

    Maybe the generalized use of pronouns started with reduction of verbal forms:

    eu, você/ocê/cê/tu, ele, ela, a gente queria
    vocês/ocês/cês, eles, elas queriam

    And since any language tends to symmetry (rather than assymetry),
    it's easier to use always eu and nós in eu sei, nós iremos
    than use it like this: eu queria, você queria, ele queria, queríamos, vocês queriam, eles queriam.

    (I haven't counted, but I think in 90% cases Brazilians tend to say: eu sei, rather than bare sei,
    except perhaps when answering a direct question: Cê sabe? -Sei.
    But when commenting to something, I always heard them say: Eu sei,
    this is similar to Spanish usage of Lo sé rather than

    Spoken Brazilian Portuguese deletes o, and makes up for this by using eu:

    Lo vi = Eu vi.
    Lo sé. = Eu sei.
    Te lo mando después = Depois eu mando pra você).

    Asymmetry can cause dramatic changes in verbal paradigms.
    In Latin, because future tense was formed differently in 1st and 2nd vs 3rd and 4th conjugation in Latin,
    it was one of the first forms/tenses which got obsolete in spoken Latin, and none of the future Latin forms survived in Romance languages.
    (Speaking of the Latin future: te amabo(= vou te amar) does look like um ama-bo (=eu te amo in CapeVerdian ;) )

    If we were to follow the advice given by some grammarians (dismiss the pronoun when it's not needed), we would create a fairly assimetric system:
    eu queria, você queria, ele queria, queríamos, vocês queriam, eles queriam (1)

    And no Brazilian would ever conjugate it like this.
    In Brazilian schools, pupils learn it like this:
    queria, querias, queria, queríamos, queríeis, queriam or
    eu queria, tu querias, ele queria, nós queríamos, vós queríeis, eles queriam

    In my humble opinion, ''bad'' asymmetry (1) is far worse than ''bad'' symmetry (2):
    eu queria, você queria, ele queria, nós queríamos, vocês queriam, eles queriam (2)
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    Senior Member
    Yes, that's it!
    I think that when people are used to employing all subject pronouns in spoken language and when all professors everyday correct the absence of the pronouns "eu" and "nos" in sentences with clictic pronouns, one start to employ them almost ever.


    New Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    Just like in RS, in my state PE the tu is used more than você among friends.
    The "tu" is uttered, almost never dropped, but when it's dropped, the "s" comes back: Tu vai amanhã? OR Vais amanhã?
    There is something interesting about this. I have lived in Recife - PE and I noticed that there is very common the conjugation of the 2nd person, but with a little modification, they don't say de "t". So: Fizeste turns to Fizesse, Foste turns to Fosse, etc.

    In Pernambuco is common to hear things like that:

    Visse (Viste) o filme do Homem de Ferro?
    Fosse (Foste) ao mercado?
    Fizesse (Fizeste) a tarefa?
    Ganhasse (Ganhaste) na loteria?
    Comesse (Comeste) muito?


    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    The imperative mood is an exception to this rule about using the explicit pronoun in the beggining of a sentence. Everyone in Brazil says very naturally: "Me dá uma chance", "Me faz um favor?". It's not unusual to hear someone say "Cê me faz um favor?", but perhaps in this case the speaker interprets the verb as indicative.

    Fizeste turns to Fizesse, Foste turns to Fosse, etc.
    Maybe that's why este turned to esse?
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