placement of object pronouns

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US English
I was curious if object pronouns are usually placed before or after the verb committing the action. I've searched on the internet but have come to no avail on rules as to placement.

I have heard that it is general practice in Brazilian Portuguese to place all object pronouns before the verb, is that accurate?

My confusion stems from example sentences like these:
Nós lho venderíamos (We would sell it to him) and:
dão-nos ao professor (They give them to the professor).

The first example has object pronouns preceding the verb, the second following it. When do object pronouns precede the verb and when do they follow it? Are compound objects like lho even used?

Obrigado de antemão!
  • Dom Casmurro

    Senior Member
    Brazil Portuguese
    This is indeed a very tricky problem. In Brazilian Portuguese, as opposed to Portuguese from Portugal, we have a tendency to place pronouns before the verbs in as many situations as possible. The example that comes to mind is the way people say "I love you" . Brazilian people say "Eu te amo", or just "Te amo" (formally wrong as far as grammar goes, but quite effective anyhow, trust me), whereas the Portuguese will say "Amo-te". The difference here is so deep that I believe most Brazilians would feel very awkward (and definitely un-romantic) saying "Amo-te".

    There certainly are rules governing the position of pronouns, and in some cases the Brazilians don't care much about them. As I implied when I wrote "Te amo", it is wrong, in Portuguese (as opposed to Spanish), to place the pronoun in front of everything else, in the absence of the personal pronoun ("Eu") and before the verb ("Amo"). Nevertheless, we keep saying "Te amo" in a very unabashed way, even when we are educated enough to know it is not the right thing to do. We are prone to sacrifice grammar for the sake of fluency and to attain a form of expression that fits our way of thinking and feeling. Portuguese people, on the contrary, are much more disciplined when it comes to pronoun positioning. They are comfortable with the rules all the time. This is not always true for the Brazilians.

    As for the examples you chose, be aware that no Brazilian will ever utter the words "Nós lho venderíamos" and "dão-nos ao professor", however absolutely correct they are. The more natural rendition for the first sentence would be "Nós venderíamos isso a ele"; and for the second one, "Eles dão (tais coisas) ao professor."

    Perhaps our Potuguese friends on this forum will add something on this. I look forward to it.


    Senior Member
    Portugal . Portuguese
    One calls pronouns placement the whole rules reporting the placement of personal pronouns, “oblíquos” (a) and “átonos” (b) that works as “complementos”: me, te, se, o, lhe, a, nos, vos, se, os, as, lhes.
    In what concerns the verb, from which it depends th placement before (próclise), in the middle of (mesóclise) or after (ênclise) it.

    (the whole text here from the original source)

    PRÓCLISE (c) – It’s a rule with
    • words with negative sense:
    ‘Ninguém me ama, ninguém me quer’ (Nobody loves me, nobody wants me).


    Senior Member
    Portugal . Portuguese

    With Mesóclise (d) – It is a rule
    With the future of the present and with the future of the past if there is no condition for the próclise.
    “Dir-meá o leitor que a beleza vive de si mesma!” (M.A.) (The reader will tell me that the beauty lives from itself);
    “Dar-me iam água para lavar as mãos?” (G. Ramos) (They would give me water to wash my hands)


    Senior Member
    English - England
    Eu observo que em português do Brasil as pessoas omitem muitas vezes o object pronoun. Por exemplo: Ele não é tão bom com dinheiro que eu e costuma gastar sem pensar. Quero colocar o lo : gastá-lo mas não sei se soa bem/normal. Também não sei se seria melhor dizer tem tendência a o gastar como me chamo (Br) vs. chamo-me (Eur).
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