EP word of the week (#105) / Grammar Tips (#21): [o] conjuntivo, the subjunctive mood

Continuing a thread started last Wednesday with vosso and on Sunday with A Portuguesa (the Portuguese national anthem), today’s Word of the Week will showcase another interesting and relevant EP-specific word, this time returning to Portuguese grammar.

This time, we’re talking about [o] (modo) conjuntivo, the EP word for the subjunctive (mood). As you’re probably aware by now, Portuguese has three distinct grammatical moods which clarify the intent of a given verb form: the indicative – [o] indicativo (expressing fact), the imperative – [o] imperativo (expressing a command) and the subjunctive – [o] conjuntivo (expressing a hope, a wish, a desire, a doubt, or a possibility, in relative clauses and if clauses). In Brazilian Portuguese, the word for subjunctive is [o] (modo) subjuntivo, similar to the term used in English, French, Spanish, German and other languages.

Click on the link below for a general explanation of the subjunctive and some tricks to figure out their tense endings, which doubles as a Grammar Tips lesson!

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EP word of the week (#104): A Portuguesa

Last Saturday (June 10th) we celebrated a national annual holiday in Portugal – it’s a very special day since it commemorates the death of Luís de Camões, one of Portugal’s greatest poets and writer of the sixteenth century national epic poem Os Lusíadas (published in 1572), about the role of the Portuguese during the Discoveries (Os Descobrimentos) enmeshed with stories of Portuguese history up until that point. Students in the 9th and 12th grades/forms (ages 14-15 and 17-18, respectively) are obliged to read and study the test for their Portuguese language curricula, which makes it a very important and respected book.

So, June 10th is known as [o] Dia de Camões (Camões’ day), but the holiday celebrates the country as a whole, the Portuguese language and Portuguese communities all over the world: its full name is [o] Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas.

Another important symbol of Portugal as an independent country is its national anthem – [o] hino nacional – ours is called A Portuguesa; the title is feminine because it’s implied that we’re talking about a song¹, since the word for song is feminine (a canção), therefore we get A [canção] portuguesa.

Sheet music for A Portuguesa. Pauta d’ A Portuguesa.

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EP word of the week (#103): vosso

Hey, everyone!

Today’s Word of the week is a possessive pronoun: our plural your; despite using vocês as a personal pronoun, European Portuguese uses vosso/vossa/vossos/vossas (which originates from vós), as a possessive!

This means that if something is owned by a plural you, you’ll probably call it by this pronoun:

  • O carro é vosso. The car is yours (addressing more than one person as the owners).
  • A vossa casa é bonita. Your house is pretty.

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EP word of the week (#102): terra batida

This week marked the start of the 2017 French Open, a very important tennis competition – one of the 4 Grand Slams of the sport -, also commonly known as Roland Garros (the name of the sports complex in Paris where all the matches take place).

As all tennis aficionados know, the French Open is only Grand Slam played on clay, one of the major surfaces in the sport. The second Grand Slam of the year is preceded by a long tour of different, lesser clay court tournaments, with it being seen as the culmination of the Spring clay court season (there are two smallest groups of clay court tournaments in the winter and in the summer, but in the spring is where the important tournaments take place).

In Portugal, the name we use for this surface (the setting where the game takes place) – clay in the contest of tennis – is [a] terra batida, a calque from French [la] terre battue. Both names allude to the ground, crushed rock (shale, stone or brick, with helps give it its common red colouring – there are some tournaments with green clay, though). Therefore, a clay court will usually be called [o] court de terra batida in the media and by professionals.

Rafael Nadal, conhecido como “o Rei da Terra Batida” pelo seu domínio nesta superfície, a jogar num court de terra batida. Rafael Nadal, known as “the King of Clay” for his dominance in the surface, playing in a clay court.

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EP word of the week (#101): lavandaria

A few weeks ago we discussed the different ways of saying clothes’ iron in Portuguese; this time, we’ll talk about the various Portuguese words for laundrette / laundromat, that is, a place with facilities to wash, dry and iron clothes, either a room in someone’s house or a business created for that effect (in the latter, both on a self-service basis or with the help of professionals).

In Portugal, the most common word for such a place/business is [a] lavandaria; Brazilians usually prefer the term [a] lavanderia or [a] tinturaria. In Portugal and European Portuguese, [a] tinturaria is specifically a business dealing with fabric colouring, i.e. of dyeing as an industrial activity.

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EP word of the week (#100): pirilampo

It has been a long road to get here – almost 16 months – but it feels amazing to present to you the 100th EP word of the week!

Today, we go into the animal kingdom for a lesson of comparative entomology: different words for firefly in Portuguese! In Portugal, the most common word for this beautiful, bioluminescent insect is [o] pirilampo; in Brazil, you’ll hear more the word [o] vaga-lume; but the other may be used in regionalisms (that is, pirilampo in Brazil and vaga-lume in Portugal). Another interesting regionalism is [o] luze-cu, which literally means “shine-ass/arse” or “shiny ass“, a funny reference as to how light seems to come from fireflies’ backsides :)

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EP word of the week (#98): ferro de engomar

When you’re learning a foreign language, you develop an almost instinctive desire to know words for different objects, especially those you use on your daily life. Have you ever wondered what’s the European Portuguese word for clothes’ iron? If your answer was yes, then your quest (provided you didn’t remember checking it in a dictionary) is over!

In Portugal, our most common word for the iron is [o] ferro de engomar; [o] ferro means iron (the mineral, just like in English) and engomar is the verb, to iron. It’s actually a quite interesting formulation since the verb refers to [a] goma, the starch used in the ironing process to stiffen parts of the fabric. Nowadays that’s not so common anymore (and some irons allow you to go both processes at once), so it’s used only in the sense of ironing.

In Brazil, the most common term is [o] ferro de passar. You’d probably hear this in Portugal too, but since we also say passar a ferro as a synonym of engomar (even more so the former than the latter, I suppose), it would sound a bit redundant ([o] ferro de passar a ferro) – to my ears at least.


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EP words of the week (#97): baloiço / balancé

Today’s EP word of the week is all about nostalgia! Unless you still use swings on a regular basis – I won’t judge; some parks are built with adults in mind too – it’s probably something you remember fondly from your youth! I was never a big fan of swings (always too afraid to fall), but I obviously recognize how fun they are :)

In European Portuguese, any kind of swing is known as [o] baloiço; in Brazilian Portuguese, the preferred word is [o] balanço. In EP, the latter means swing in the sense of motion (the sway of something back and forth, like a boat), rhythm (as song or dance’s groove); tomar balanço means to swing your body before starting a run (“to gain momentum” in English).

I’ve heard some people use [o] balanço in Portugal, so it could be a regionalism somewhere. I wouldn’t use it as much because it’s too similar to [o] balancé, our word for seesaw/teeter-totter. In Brazil, they use [a] gangorra – a word I’d never heard before until I started preparing this article!

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EP words of the week (#96): Estou? [and other ways of picking up the phone]


Hi, everyone! Sorry for greeting you pic first, but given today’s topic, I could see no other way of introducing myself properly!

In Portugal (and therefore EP), we have a series of different words and expressions you can use when starting a conversation after you’ve received a phone call from someone – when performing a translation, these would all be replaced by the simple, yet powerful “Hello” (just follow the sage guidance of Adele and Lionel Richie on this one) :)

The simplest forms are Estou? and Sim? The first is nominally a form of verb estar (literally it would mean Am I?); the second, as you all know, just means Yes?

Other ways of starting a call include Estou sim? (a combo of the two); Está lá? (something like Is anyone there?). A common follow-up expression could be Quem fala? (Who’s speaking?, in the sense of Who is this?).

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EP word of the week (#95): ginásio

Spring is now full swing all around temperate climates in the Northern Hemisphere, and I can’t find a better time to start doing some exercise! I very much prefer outdoor activities, particularly tennis, but doing some cardio at the gym has never hurt anyone (unless you’re lazy like me – then it hurts you quite a lot).

Well, awkward revelations aside, let’s say going to gym is also a different experience on both sides of the Lusophone Atlantic (and not just because it’s Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere!); yes, you’ve guessed it already, we have two different words for gym! In Portugal, you can call them [o] ginásio or [o] clube de fitness; in Brazil, the common terms are [a] academia or [a] academia de ginástica.

Pessoas a fazer exercício no ginásio. People working out at the gym.


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