Grammar Tips (#11): Turning English words into Portuguese (2): adjectives

In the second installment of this guide, we’ll take a look at some patterns on how to turn English adjectives (borrowed from French) into Portuguese, especially taking into account changes in endings and their relationship with Portuguese grammar gender.

#1: English adjectives (and derived nouns) borrowed from Latin (via French) that end in -ant/-ent become Portuguese two-gendered adjectives ending in -ante/-ente

  • mutant > [o/a] mutante
  • elegant > elegante
  • efficient > eficiente
  • eminent > eminente

#2: English adjectives (and derived nouns) borrowed from Latin (via French) that end in -ous become Portuguese regular adjectives ending in -oso/-osa (according to the gender of the referent noun)

  • fibrous > [o/a] fibroso/a
  • curious > [o/a] curioso/a
  • mysterious > [o/a] misterioso/a

#3: English adjectives (and derived nouns) borrowed from Latin (via French) that end in -ic usually become Portuguese regular adjectives ending in -ico/-ica (according to the gender of the referent noun)

  • academic > académico/a
  • democratic > democrático
  • magnetic > magnético/a

Notice the accent on the third to last vowel in all these words.

#4: English adjectives borrowed from Latin (via French) that end in -l/-r have the same ending in Portuguese (and are two-gendered)

  • lateral > lateral
  • casual > casual
  • factual > factual
  • lunar > lunar
  • solar > solar
  • vascular > vascular

Unlike English, their stress is on the last syllable (as in all words ending with -r or -l, unless there are other diacritics that overrule that natural rule).


Exceptions: adjectives ending in -chal/-cal that also have a form ending in -c (see rule #3):

  • monarchical (or monarchic) > monárquico/a

#5: English adjectives borrowed from Latin (via French) that end in -ile become Portuguese two-gendered adjectives ending in -il

  • febrile > febril
  • futile > fútil (in Portuguese, this is a false friend meaning frivolous, shallow [i.e. vain, vacuous])
  • vile > vil

#6: Most English adjectives borrowed from Latin (via French) that end in -ble become Portuguese two-gendered adjectives ending in -vel

  • acceptable > aceitável
  • credible > credível
  • memorable > memorável
  • visible > visível

Notice the accent on the second to last vowel (before the ending -vel); that’s a rule too.

 

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