De da do na no em ao ou When to use

I am having trouble finding when and how to use these For example: Ele mora perto ?-- cinema.
I would love someone to be able to explain the rules for these, so thanking anyone and everyone that can help in advance. :slight_smile:

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Hi @Kellie.williams
I know it’s a tricky one but we somehow manage to do it :slight_smile:

First, it’s important to distinguish de from em.

“De” is used when we want to talk about origins, materials, and ownership. Sentences like “Sou de Lisboa” (I’m from Lisboa), “A garrafa é de plástico” (The bottle is made of plastic) and “O livro é do Diogo e a garrafa é da Kellie” (the book belongs to Diogo and the bottle belongs to Kellie).
Then we use “do” in masculine names and “da” in feminine, Diogo and Kellie.

“Em” is used about being in places and specifics transportation.
Sentences like “Estou em Lisboa” or “Estou em casa” (I’m in Lisboa / I’m home") and have the same rule about masculine and feminine.

It’s a tricky one, especially if you’re not used to talking with masculine and feminine names all the time as English natives do.

I hope it helped a little bit.


What about the other words, which are also confusing?


Half of those words can be considered masculine/feminine variations, as @DiogoCarvalho already said. We’re really just talking about 3 different prepositions, and understanding that should make it more manageable already.

  • de (of/from/to…) - base preposition

    • do = de + o (masculine definite article) - used when followed by a masculine noun
    • da = de + a (feminine definite article) - used when followed by a feminine noun
  • em (in/on/at…) - base preposition

    • no = em + o (masculine definite article) - used when followed by a masculine noun
    • na = em + a (feminine definite article) - used when followed by a feminine noun
  • a (to…) - base preposition

    • ao = a + o (masculine definite article) - used when followed by a masculine noun
    • à = a + a (feminine definite article) - used when followed by a feminine noun

Ou is not a preposition, but a conjunction. It means or (as in “this or that”) and it’s used just like you would use the English counterpart, so that one should be easy to handle. As for the others, because each one of them can be used in so many different ways, it’s hard to provide a thorough explanation without it becoming long and overwhelming. For now, I’ll defer to some useful Learning Notes that have already been written on the subject:

Hopefully, these will already be a good help, @Kellie.williams . I can then clarify things further, if you still have some specific questions. I can tell you that in your example, you would say “Ele mora perto do cinema” :wink:


Thanks, Yes I am understanding it, I think, but will need to keep reading and going over it to get it fixed in my mind. :slight_smile:

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That is excellent and I think easy to understand, I will look at the links tomorrow, It’s past my bedtime now.
I was going to ask if there was a search facility to find specifics throughout the site.

Então, muito obrigada


Hi Kellie! It’s not perfect, but we’ve been improving some of the browsing and searching on the site. For now, you can start on a page like our Learning Notes, which are what we call these grammar articles:

Then you’ll notice that the search filters are pre-populated to display only Learning Notes:

Most of the filters currently apply to the other content types like Podcasts, Videos and our new, stealthfully-released Shorties, but you can use the Search box there to search within these Learning Notes, or even adjust that “Type” filter to search across all content types.

That might be a bit nerdy, but we wanted to have the power there for those who really wanted to drill down into the types of content we have. We’ll be improving this in the near future as well.

What do you think?


The learning notes are helpful, but I have found better how to use the site now and am working through the units.
I am back tracking too, so that I complete each unit 100% before moving onto the next, I think, it is helping to keep what I am learning in my head… or at least I hope it is.
Thank you all so much for this site, it is helping me more than the classes I am currently taking where I can’t even remember what I learned by the time I get home, so again Thank you all x


You may have a point here. Backtracking does help a bit. Otherwise it is a bit hard to remember everything we have read. The hardest is to understand the spoken word. If there is a written sentence to go along, it is easier to understand the spoken. Otherwise the spoken gets lost in the overbearing slurring of speech.


Glad to hear you’re making great use of the Learning Studio, Kellie. We are finalizing some updates that will bring more visibility to the Learning Notes (which can easily be overlooked in the Lesson tabs), so hopefully that will help. Some may notice we have been restructuring some of the Units, which also has some Learning Notes shifting around… just like our fabulous members’ Portuguese, we’re always working hard to evolve :innocent::nerd_face:

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I find using em vs no/na very confusing at the moment. Thanks for clarifying them a bit!