Ali, aí, lá how to use

I can not figure out when-how to use them.

I’ll take a stab at this, if for no other reason than to test my knowledge and see what corrections are made.

As a native english speaker, here’s my mapping:

Lá - generic ‘there’, as opposed to Cá generic ‘here’.
Lá em Portugal o tempo está bem, mas cá, o tempo está mau.

Aqui, aí ali - here, there, over-there - describing where some tangible object is relative to the speaker and listener. And it’s worth noting that the pronouns change for these as well (Aqui - este/a(s), Aí - esse/a(s), Ali - aquele/a(s) )

If I’m holding a book and want to talk about it, I’ll say ‘This book here’ - Este livro aqui
If you’re holding the book, and I want to talk about it, I’ll say ‘That book there’ - Esse livro aí
If the book is on the table at the other side of the room, and I want to talk about it, I’ll say ‘That book over there’ - Aquele livro ali

Also note if the object in question is intangible, the pronouns change: Aqui : isto, Aí : isso, Ali : aquilo

Hopefully I haven’t confused this all and made things worse for you.


Thanks. That helps. Now, I need to make some kind of chart. Understanding your words and recalling them in context are different - for me anyway! And thanks for throwing in aquele and aquilo they are in the same confusing group.

I did this too - helped me quite a bit.

This is great :+1: Nothing to correct. I’ll just add that wherever “ali” is, it’s usually still more or less within sight. “Lá” is somewhere beyond that - depending on context, it could be anything from a different room in the house to a different country (or planet, or…!).


Can I throw in a question? Is “acolá” used, and if so, is it like “lá”?

When trying to teach Portuguese to my daughter when she was very little, I used to make up silly songs. For this particular subject I had one. You could put it to any singsong tune that you like.

Isto aqui
Isso alí
Aquilo acolá

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Yes! It’s one of adverbs covered in this Learning Note: Adverbs of Place: Here and There. It does remind me of children’s songs, where it seems to be used often :slight_smile: