How to pronounce há vs. à vs. a

I realized earlier that I couldn’t tell the difference between “Eu cheguei há uma hora” and “Eu cheguei à uma hora”. Are “há” and “à” pronounced differently? What about “a”?

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and à have the exact same pronunciation (super open, like AH), but there is no context in which you could ever use them interchangeably, so if you know when to use each, there is no way you could confuse them.

This sentence, for example, is only correct with , which is an impersonal verb that we can generally use to refer to a past time (as is the case here), or as the Portuguese equivalent to the English there to be.

  • Há muitas pessoas aqui. (There are many people here)
  • Jantei há duas horas. (I had dinner two hours ago).

À is a contraction, which results from: a (preposition) + a (definite article) = à . It usually translates as to or at.

  • Eu dei este livro à minha mãe. (I gave this book to my mom)
  • Estamos sentados à mesa. (We’re sitting at the table)

A can be both a preposition and a definite article, depending on context. This is the only word of the three with a different pronunciation. and à are pronounced very openly, but A is closed, like UH.

Here are some examples of use as an article:

  • A casa é pequena. (The house is small)
  • A Joana é minha amiga. (Joana is my friend)

And as a preposition:

  • Vou a Lisboa. (I’m going to Lisbon)
  • Cheguei a casa! (I arrived home! // I arrived to my house!)
  • Ele vai sair daqui a uma hora. (He’s going to leave in one hour)
  • Tu trabalhas a horas tardias. (You work at late hours)
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Thank you, much clearer now!!

So…
“Eu cheguei há uma hora” - I arrived an hour ago.
“Eu cheguei à uma hora” - I arrived at 1:00

Is one of these incorrect? Or is this the one and only time they could be confused?

Oh, sorry, now I understand what you mean! When you first wrote “Eu cheguei à uma hora”, I also interpreted it as “one hour ago” and just wrote it off as a mistake. You actually meant “1pm” or something, in this case.

Yes, this is a situation where you might confuse the two. It becomes extra confusing for the fact that you can’t even be sure if people are using há or à correctly!

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Haha me too, I also saw it as an error instead of an actual correct usage :joy: Go Molly go!!

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Yes, it is stuff like this that will drive an estrangeiro nuts!!

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