Portuguese Language and Culture
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Learn Portuguese for Free - An Online Portuguese Course for Students and Teachers
Lesson 1: Getting Started

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The verb 'ser' (to be)

The verb 'ser' (to be) and the expression 'ser de', which means something like: to be from somewhere (e.g. from a certain country), are used in Portuguese to indicate one's nationality or a country of origin.

Eu sou americano.I'm American.
Tu és alemão?Are you German?
Eu sou de Itália.I'm from Italy.
Ele é de Milão.He is from Milano.
Você é brasileiro?Are you Brasilian?
Não, eu não sou brasileiro. Eu sou de Portugal.No, I'm not Brasilian. I'm from Portugal.

We now want to have a look at how this often used verb is conjugated:

1steu sou
(I am)
nós somos
(we are)
2ndtu és
(you are)
vós sois
(you are)
3rdele/ela é
(he/she/it is)
eles/elas são
(they are)

You have probably noticed that for the third person plural in Portuguese, we distinguish between masculine and feminine (eles = masculine, elas = feminine). In English, there is only one form, which is used for both these genders, namely 'they' (they are, they are from ..., etc..).

It is also important to know that in Portuguese, we have a so called formal address (which in English does not really exist anymore: everything is done with 'you'). The two additional pronouns, which you will have to learn in this context are 'você' (singular) and 'vocês' (plural). The good thing is that the verb forms for these pronouns are identical with those for ele/ela (você) or eles/elas (vocês), respectively.

Here are yet some more practical examples with the verb 'ser' (to be, to be from), which you can also use to talk about certain characteristics of someone or a person's job.

Vocês são turistas?Are you tourists? (formal address plural)
Brasília é a capitalBrasilia is the capital of Brasil. (characteristics of Brasilia)
Meu nome é Lucia.My name is Lucia.
Você é americano?Are you American (formal address singular)?

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