With the Portuguese Conjunctions, You’ll Be a Better Speaker
We all love arguing.
Not in the sense of verbal fights, of course (though I do like it). What I have in mind is showing our peers our irrefutable logic through a well-chained speech.
It’s not for nothing that specialists still prove the importance of debates in the world.
And being able to put sentences together in a beautiful and logical way is essential.
Portuguese conjunctions and conjunctive phrases are chunks of language that you can use to link ideas.
It’s the glue you use to help get your ideas across.
Without them, you’ll come across as pithy or fuzzy. Not very complimenting.
With them you’ll be a better, more confident speaker.
Conjunctions Help with Clarity
If you can join sentences naturally, your ideas will be clearer, and you’ll be more admired. You’ll be that person who gets their idea across, commanding other people’s attention.
You want to know how to use the Portuguese conjunctions at the intermediate level so you can speak with fewer breaks — if any.
Of course, knowing vocabulary plays a role here. But, they don’t exist in a void. You must put them into a group of sentences that are related to one another.
Portuguese Conjunctions Will Make You a More Sophisticated Speaker
You want to speak in a way other people find beautiful and interesting. And doing that in Portuguese is particularly difficult.
First, because Portuguese hates short sentences and pithy remarks. Our average sentence length is 20 words, going up to whopping 60 (!) in scientific journals.
You need to know what you’re doing to link all those ideas together.
Types of Conjunctions
You can find two types of conjunctions.
The coordinating conjunctions and the subordinating conjunctions.
The coordinating conjunctions link two parts of “equal” value.
Heck, I never know what that means!
That’s why I prefer simplifying.
If you can say both sentences and they make sense on their own, then you can use this coordinating thing to link them.
I like pajamas. I also like jeans. = I like pajamas AND jeans.
Before you’re introduced to the subordinating conjunctions, let’s take a look at the coordinating ones first.
There are four main groups.
E (nem… nem…; tampouco; não só, mas também…)
- Gosto de arroz e de feijão. (I like rice and beans).
- Gosto não só de arroz, mas também de feijão. (I like not only rice but also beans.)
- Não gosto nem de arroz nem de feijão. (I don’t like [n]either rice [n]or beans.)
Mas (porém, entretanto, no entanto, contudo)
- Eu quero ir para a Disney, mas não tenho dinheiro. (I want to go to Disney but I don’t have money.)
Ou (seja… seja…, quer… quer…)
- Ou arroz ou feijão, não pode comer os dois. (Either rice or beans, you can’t have both.)
- Seja chinês ou japonês, vou estudar um idioma asiático. (Either Chinese or Japanese, I’m going to study an Asian language.)
Então (porque, portanto, por conseguinte, logo, por isso…).
- Estudo português, então posso falar português. (I study Portuguese, so I can speak Portuguese.)
- Penso, logo existo. (I think, therefore I am.)
Portuguese Subordinating Conjunctions
These are the ones that connect dependent and independent clauses.
You may have heard that in your English 101 course. The thing is, that definition helps nobody.
Subordinating conjunctions connect clauses that can’t exist on their own.
“When he broke his leg” sounds incomplete, even to my Brazilian ears.
You need something to go with it.
This is a dependent clause.
It depends on another clause to exist.
It’s a branch. You can’t have branches without having a tree (not a flourishing branch full of leaves, that is).
A Fun Fact Subordinating Conjunctions
Portuguese has few subordinating conjunctions… But many subordinating phrases (locuções subordinativas).
And most of them require the subjunctive to follow.
And there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
I know, it kills you when you need to use the subjunctive… it’s hard and painful. To alleviate the pain, you can take this medicine.
Subordinating conjunctions can express a wide array of meanings.
I’ve grouped the most common ones down below.
- Eu não saí, porque estava cansado. (I didn’t get out because I was tired.)
- Ela chorou, porque estava triste. (She she cried because she was sad.)
Por isso que: that’s why
- Ela não ouviu, por isso que gritei. (She didn’t hear, that’s why I yelled.)
- Estava anoitecendo, por isso que fui para casa. (The evening was coming, that’s why I went home.)
Visto que: because, but stronger
- Visto que já era tarde, ele decidiu ir para casa. (Because it was late, he decided to go home.)
- Visto que ela não tinha ouvido, ele gritou. (Because she hadn’t heard, he yelled.)
Já que: because, but not as a strong as “visto que”
- Já que ele estava cansado, decidiu dormir. (Because he was tired, he decided to go to bed.)
- Já que não tinha mais dinheiro, ela não comprou a bolsa. (Because she didn’t have any more money, she didn’t buy the purse.)
Tal qual: just like, a bit formal
- Ele é bonito, tal qual o pai. (His handsome just like his father.)
- Ela é inteligente, tal qual a mãe. (She’s intelligent just like her mother.)
Tanto quanto: as much as
- Ele comia tanto quanto um porco. (He used to eat as much as a pig.)
Assim como: just like, but less formal than “tal qual”; as well as
- Patricia gostava de estudar, assim como sua irmã. (Patricia liked studying as well as her sister, just like her sister.)
- Luísa cozinha bem assim como sua mãe. (Lisa is a good cook just like her mother.)
Bem como: as well as
- Eduardo, bem como seu pai, era policial. (Eduardo, as well as his father, was a police officer.)
- Fabiana, bem como sua mãe, tinha três filhos. (Fabiana, as well as her mother, had three children.)
Como se: as if, and it requires the past imperfect subjunctive.
- Elias cantava como se fosse um artista. (Elias sung as if he were an artist.)
- Camila dirigia como se estivesse em uma corrida. (Camila drove as if she were in a car race.)
Mais… que: more than
- Aquela mulher é mais alta do que seu marido. (That woman is taller than her husband.)
- Gustavo ganha mais do que Celso. (Gustavo earns more than Celso.)
Menos… Que: less than, fewer than
- Bianca é menos interessada no trabalho que Diana. (Bianca is less interested in her job than Diana.)
- Roberto faz menos produtos que Gustavo. (Roberto makes fewer products then Gustavo.)
Embora: although, and it requires the subjunctive.
- Muito embora fosse pobre, comprou um carro. (Although he was poor, he purchased a car.)
- Deixou as luzes acesas, muito embora ainda fosse dia. (He left the lights on, although it was daytime.)
Ainda que: even if, and it requires the subjunctive.
- Ainda que estivesse com fome, não comeria a refeição. (Even if he was hungry, he wouldn’t eat the meal.)
- Ainda que chorasse, daria um sorriso. (Even if he cried, she would give her a smile.)
Mesmo que: even though, , and it requires the subjunctive.
- Precisava falar, mesmo que estivesse com vergonha. (He needed to talk, even though he was ashamed/embarrassed.)
- Mesmo que sentisse raiva, ele abraçou o colega. (Even though he felt angry, he hugged his colleague.)
Posto que: even though, but much less frequently used — it is hardly ever used in speaking
- Bebeu toda a água, posto que não estivesse com sede. (She drank all the water even though she wasn’t thirsty.)
- Denise saiu mais cedo, posto que ainda houvesse muito trabalho. (Denise got out earlier even though there was a lot of work to do.)
Se bem que: even though, and even though (!) It requires the subjunctive to go with it, Brazilian speakers tend to use it with the indicative.
- Se bem que ela falasse alto no telefone, seu marido não pode lhe ouvir a voz. (even though she spoke loudly on the phone, her husband couldn’t hear her voice.)
- Se bem que trabalhasse muito, não foi promovido. (even though he worked a lot, he wasn’t promoted.)
Apesar de que: although, but not as strong as “embora”
- Sou magro, apesar de que como muito. (I’m skinny although I eat a lot.)
- Ela é muito bonita, apesar de que sua família é feia. (She’s very beautiful although her family is ugly.)
Nem que: (not) even if — although I’m quite sure in English you wouldn’t use the not naturally. The basic meaning though is “even if”.
- Contarei a verdade, nem que isso me prejudique. (I’ll tell the truth, not even if it causes me harm.)
- Ela irá para a reunião, nem que a chuva aumente. (He’ll go to the meeting not even if the rain gets stronger.)
Contanto que: provided that, and it requires the subjunctive.
- Ele virá, contanto que você também venha. (He’ll come, provided that you will come to.)
- Você aprenderá matemática, contanto que estude todos os dias. (You’ll learn mathematics provided that you’ll study every day.)
Salvo se: save, future or past subjunctive.
- Faremos churrasco, salvo se chover. (We will do a barbecue save it rains.)
- Alice comprará a casa, salvo se não comprarem primeiro. (Alice will buy the house save other people don’t buy it first.)
Desde que: provided that, but less strong then “contanto que”
- Ela ficará bem, desde que tome todos os remédios. (He will be fine provided that he takes all his medicines.)
- Você pode ir brincar, desde que tenha terminado todo o dever de casa. (You can go play provided that you have finished all your homework.)
A menos que: unless, and it requires the subjunctive.
- Vamos para a praia, a menos que chova. (We will go to the beach unless it rains.)
- Marcela vai viajar, a menos que não tenha férias. (Marcela is going to rain unless she doesn’t have any holidays.)
A não ser que: unless, but in our mind, it is a stronger then “a menos que”
- Diego comerá o bolo, a não ser que comam primeiro. (Diego will eat the cake unless other people eat it first.)
- Ele vai brigar com você, a não ser que você peça desculpas. (He is going to argue with you unless you apologize.)
Tanto que: so much so that
- Elisa correu muito, tanto que ficou sem forças. (Elisa ran a lot, so much so that she lost all energy.)
- O bolo ficou gostoso, tal que não sobrou um pedaço. (the cake was delicious, so much so that not a slice was left.)
Tão… Que: so… That…
- O bolo ficou tão gostoso, que todos quiseram comer mais de um pedaço. (The cake was so delicious that everybody wanted to eat more than one slice.)
- O pássaro é tão bonito, que todos olharam para ele. (The bird is so beautiful that everybody looked at it.)
De forma que, de modo que, de maneira que: so that
- Ele estudou muito, de forma que tirou uma nota boa na prova. (He studied a lot, so that he got a very good grade on the examination.)
- Comecei a estudar português, de forma que agora posso falar com meu marido. (I started to study Portuguese so that now I can speak with my husband.)
Para que: so that (but this one takes the subjunctive.)
- Ela acordou cedo para que não se atrasasse. (She woke up early so that she wouldn’t be late.)
- Elisa começou a estudar português para que pudesse falar com a esposa. (Elisa started to learn Portuguese so that she could talk with her wife.)
A fim de que: so that, sometimes used interchangeably with “para que.” But “a fim de que” sounds more formal.
- Fábio passou a se vestir melhor a fim de que conseguisse encontrar uma namorada. (Fábio started dressing in a better way so that he could find a girlfriend.)
- Carla comprou um filme, a fim de que ela e os amigos pudessem assistir. (Carla bought a movie so that she and her friends could watch it.)
À medida que: as
- Natália foi ficando feliz à medida que ganhava mais dinheiro. (Natália got happier as she made more money.)
- À medida que o dia passava, Pedro comia mais e mais. (As the day went by, Pedro ate more and more.)
Ao passo que: as, but less formal
- Torquarto emagrecia ao passo que ia malhando. (Torquato lost weight as he’d work out.)
- Elizabete ganhava muito dinheiro ao passo que vendia mais carros. (Elizabete made a lot of money as she’d sell more cars.)
Quanto mais/menos: the more… the more… It takes the future subjunctive. But Brazilians tend to ignore this fact and use it with the indicative.
- Quanto mais esperarmos, mais ele fica com raiva. (The more we wait, the angrier he’ll get.)
- Quanto menos brigarmos, menos tempo perderemos. (The less we fight, the less time we’ll lose.)
Antes que: before. It takes the subjunctive.
- Preciso ir antes que o trem saia. (I need to go before the train leaves.)
- Ela chegou antes que ele fosse embora. (She arrived before he’d go away.)
Depois que: After — if talking about the future, it takes the future subjunctive; other tenses go with the indicative mood… or the past subjunctive, if needed.
- Almoçaremos depois que a mamãe voltar. (We’ll have lunch after mom comes back.)
- Ele ligou a televisão depois que a energia voltou. (He turned the TV on after the power came back.)
- Nós íamos fazer isso depois que ele chegasse… mas ele não chegou. (We’d do it after he would arrive… but he didn’t.)
Até que: until, takes the subjunctive.
- Juntos até que a morte os separe. (Together, until death do you apart.)
- Ficaremos nesse país até que o ano termine. (We’ll stay in this country until this year ends.)
Logo que: As soon as, takes either the subjunctive or the indicative.
- Voltaremos para casa logo que anoitecer. (We’ll go back home as soon as it is evening.)
- Teresa nasceu logo que sua avó morreu. (Teresa was born as soon as her grandmother died.)
Sempre que: Whenever — sometimes it takes the subjunctive, sometimes the indicative.
- Ela dormia sempre que davam seis horas da noite. (She would sleep whenever it was six PM.)
Assim que: as soon as, at the right moment when… with this meaning, it can also be used with the indicative. The second example uses a different kind of subjunctive – the perfect future subjunctive. If you don’t understand the notion of grammatical perfect-ness, you can see it in more detail in our free report.
- Cátia saiu assim que Fernando chegou. (Catia left as soon as Fernando arrived.)
- Josefa vai pagar a dívida assim que tiver recebido o dinheiro. (Josefa will pay her debt as soon as she’ll have received the money.)
Desde que: Since, meaning the starting point in time of something.
- Eles moram naquela casa desde que eram crianças. (They’ve lived in that house since they were children.)
- Meus pais estão casados desde que minha irmã nasceu. (My parents have been married since my sister was born.)
Of course, the list above is by no means exhaustive.
Grammarians have written reams and reams of grammatical fluff to describe all that in minute detail.
What you have here is a practical guide to the most common Portuguese conjunctions.
You’ll encounter more, for sure. But you’ll be good to go with the aforementioned conjunctions.
Oh, and before I forget — it’s a good habit to ask yourself whether this or that conjunction requires the subjunctive.
I’ve said so whenever applicable, pointing which conjunctions and conjunctive phrases must be followed by the subjunctive.
But again, you’ll see exceptions and rules being bent everywhere.
If you want to have more of an edge when studying Portuguese conjunctions, believe me, you’ll want to understand the Portuguese verb tenses properly.
It’ll give you the confidence most speakers don’t have — they lack a proper, structured approach that makes the most out of their limited time.