EP word of the week (#78): Passagem de Ano

Hello, everyone!

This will be the last EP word of the week post of the year, so it makes sense to talk a bit about the celebrations related to New Year’s Eve in Portugal.

Here, New Year’s Eve is known either literally as [a] véspera do Ano Novo or as [a] Passagem de Ano. The latter means “the year’s passage (in the sense of moving from one year to the other), and it’s probably the most common term to describe the date and the events surrounding it together with the French borrowing [o] Réveillon.

In any case, it’s customary for people to gather with family or friends to celebrate the coming of the year. At midnight, twelve bell rings announce the new year and people traditionally eat 12 raisins – [as] passas – (one for each month, for luck and prosperity). The largest cities also have world-renowned fireworks displays – [o] fogo de artifício in Portuguese -:

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The EP Experience, now on Facebook!

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re enjoying yourselves :) If you’re already preparing to meet loved ones, congrats! Enjoy the best this season has to offer!

As a Christmas present to you (and a New Year’s Resolution for me), I decided to make sure the blog would be more open to new people and even more active, so I’ve made a FB page to improve its visibility – you can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/theepexp/

All new blog posts will be advertised there, and I’ll be able to post things I normally wouldn’t be able to (like news pieces, blog articles about languages and EP, some music). It’s supposed to a fun, more interactive way of doing things and should serve as a nice complement to the hard grammar/vocabulary articles I showcase here.

That said, this only makes sense if the blog remains active, so you should still be engaged here even if you starting following the blog’s page on FB :)

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year,


EP word of the week (#77): bolo rei

It would be impossible to speak about the December holidays in Portugal without mentioning one of our most traditional desserts, a cake known as [o] bolo rei (lit. king cake). It’s a round cake with a hole in the center, filled with different kinds of nuts, raisins and candied fruit. A version without the crystallized fruit (i.e. just with raisins and nuts) is known as [o] bolo rainha (lit. queen cake).

They are mostly sold and eaten in the month before Christmas and in the days after, until Epiphany (6 January, known as [o] Dia de Reis in Portugal, since the Three Wise Men are known as [os] Três Reis Magos), but you’ll still be able to find it in bakeries and supermarkets for other (mostly religious) holidays throughout the year.

Just as stated in the Wikipedia page, bakers used to add a fava bean ([uma] fava) and a small gift ([um] brinde) inside the dough of every cake; if you caught the bean you’d be obliged to buy the cake next year, while the gift was just a small token for children (now discontinued due to potential chocking hazards).

Today, instead of a picture, I give you a video with a recipe (with Portuguese subtitles)!

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EP words of the week (#76): rabanada[s] / fatia[s] dourada[s]

Christmas is very close, and I’m sure everyone in Portugal is already thing about [a] Consoada, which is our word for the day before Christmas (the 24th) – that’s when people gather with family to spend some time together, eat and drink (also, presents) :)

Amongst the many traditional dishes Portuguese cuisine has gifted us, there’s one really cheap, easy to make and practical dessert: we call them either [as] rabanadas or [as] fatias douradas (also [as] fatias paridas). Basically you use slices of bread (either stale bread or sliced, sandwich bread), dunk them in an egg and milk mixture and fry them until they’re brown and crunchy. Afterwards, they’re are usually sprinkled with cinnamon (and sometimes sugar or icing sugar) while still hot, and then served to your happy guests!

By the way, [a] fatia is the Portuguese word for slice, and it’s the word used when you’re referring to slices of bread, cake or ham (just to give a few examples). Fatia dourada means golden slice, which is suitable given the colour of the dessert once it’s finished!


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EP word of the week (#75): amnistia

To continue a discussion on broader issues that affect many people all over the word, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the Portuguese word for amnesty, which brings to mind the idea of freedom, and especially the work of Amnesty International, an organisation among many dedicated to bringing to light situations of human rights abuses throughout the world.

The thing is, even here EP and BP have their differences :) As you can see below, EP keeps the word similar to English (also just like the Latin/Greek word it derives from), making it [a] amnistia. In this case, you should make a syllable break between the m and the n, pronouncing both as fully fledged consonants /m/ and /n/ (that is, without any nasal sounds). This is sort of an exception to the larger rule, which is explained by the accommodation of the original Greek consonant clusters (the same process happens with ps, for example in [a] psicologia, psychology; and with other words with Greek origin with -mn-, like [a] mnemónica, mnemonic device).

In BP however, the word lost its m, becoming [a] anistia; the same process of language simplification helps explain the word Netuno (Neptune). What it doesn’t explain is the number of other words in a similar situation that don’t suffer any changes, including the two examples I gave before – [a] mnemônica suffers a change on the o, but as you know that’s a different rule – and a series of other words like [a] sinapse [synapse] or [a] amnésia [amnesia].



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Ask Luís! (#10): Clitic position in Portuguese

Hello, everyone! This time we have a question from Michael João, a Kiwi-Portuguese with some very pertinent questions about clitic pronouns:

Kia ora Luis!

Michael here from New Zealand again.

Thank you for your answer about the progressive tense and the use of the gerund in EU Portuguese.

I recently spent 6 weeks in Portugal, and managed to celebrate Santo Antonio in Lisbon and São João in Braga!! Era uma experiênca para a vida inteira!

tenho uma nova pergunta:

Clitics, or the time when the object is stuck to the end of the verb with a hyphen (technical term usage here)

I’d love to know when to use it, and when to put the object before the verb, if there is a rule or a guide, to make sure I can construct sentences like a native.

Memrise (Portuguese: Portugal) give me: “não tinha a intenção de magoá-lo, but then in the same lesson, “nunca me ouve” “magoaste-o”.

as this is something my 20,000+XP in duo never taught me, I’d really appreciate some help with this aspect of EP grammar and sentence formation, and I’m sure your other readers would too.

Thank you so much for this wonderful blog. You are such a great help to so many.

Yours on the other side of the planet

M. João Tavares.

Kia ora, Michael!

Thank you so much for your continued readership! It’s great to have a lusodescendente (the noun we use for the descendants of Portuguese people all over the world) who’s so engaged with learning more about the country and the language; it’s also amazing that you had a change to visit Portugal for so long – June really is one of the best months to visit!

Regarding your question, clitics truly are a beast in and of themselves, but there are a few rules about their placement. Unlike BP, regular affirmative sentences will have the clitic after the noun with an hyphen joining the two; to quote your examples:

  • Não tinha a intenção de magoá-lo. I didn’t intend to hurt him/it [masc.].
  • Magoaste-o. You hurt him/it [masc.].

Here the object pronoun changes (from -o to -lo) because there’s another rule that says that infinitives lose their -r after clitics (you can read about it in the article I wrote about object pronouns, especially under “Lo/La | Los/Las“).

The example you give of proclisis (when the clitic comes before the verb) is an exception, triggered by amongst other things:

  • After negative particles:
    • Ela nunca me ouve. She never hears me.
    • Eu não lhe disse que o amava. I didn’t tell him I loved him.
    • Nada me diz que isso seja verdade. Nothing tells me that’s true.
  • A subordinate clause:
    • A Maria disse que o Miguel a tinha convidado para sair. Maria said [that] Miguel had asked her out.
    • Ele avisou-me que lhe tinham roubado a carteira. He warned me that his wallet had been stolen.
  • After most adverbs:
    • Ele  me ligou depois das sete. He only called me after seven.
    • Nós  te comprámos a tua prenda de Natal. We have already bought your Christmas present.
    • Sempre me disseram que é bom ser bem educado. People have always told me it’s good to be polite.
    • Quando me dizem que estou gordo, finjo que não ouço. Whenever people tell me I’m fat, I pretend I’m not listening.
  • Optionally, with some prepositions like para (meaning to, in order to) or de followed by a second verb:
    • Fiz um bolo para lhe agradecer a ajuda. I baked him a cake to thank him/her for his help. (para agradecer-lhe would sound weird to some speakers, but not to all – and in any case, still acceptable)
    • Eu gosto de te ajudar. I like to help you. (same with ajudar-te).

These are probably the most significant cases; your question is obviously very pertinent – the language does seem a bit hectic when you see it without this filter – which I’m sure you’ll get with time and practice!

To clarify a few other things, clitics which would be written with -l[o/a/os/as] and -n[o/a/os/as] return to their base form when forced to go before the noun, and assumed mesoclitics become a normal, basic proclitic pronoun followed by the unbroken form of the verb – here is one example of each:

  1. Eu vou comprar-lhe uma cerveja para o felicitar pelo novo trabalho. I will buy him a beer to congratulate him on his new job. (regular form: felicitá-lo)
  2. Eu não lhe darei esta carta. I won’t give him this letter [in the affirmative, it would be Eu dar-lhe-ei esta carta].

If you have any other questions, please let me know in the comments!

Best from Portugal via Luxembourg all the way to New Zealand :)


EP word of the week (#74): SIDA/sida

Today we celebrate yet another public holiday (on this date in 1640, the Portuguese monarchy was restored after a period of 60 years of Union with the Spanish crown), but it’s also World AIDS Day – the fact that it falls on a holiday usually helps to get the message out there, with HIV/AIDS charities being able to reach people in the places of leisure/consumption, usually with red ribbons in tow.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to both bring attention to this day (as I’ve done a few times in the past, and will do so in the future) and also reveal how there are grammar and/or vocabulary to be learnt from them!

The EP word for AIDS is [a] SIDA (in recent years it has been incorporated into the language as a regular common noun, [a] sida). It’s an acronym formed by translating the name of the disease to Portuguese – Síndrome da Imunodeficiência Adquirida – and rearranging the initials. The HIV virus is also translated the same way, VIH, for Vírus da Imunodeficiência Humana. Together, they can also be joined just like in English, VIH/SIDA (HIV is also quite common when referring to the virus, but AIDS is never used in reference to the illness).

The word is read like a normal word with two syllables – si + da, therefore making it uma siglaaids-ribbon

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