How to use it in PT

Hi All

It would be good to see a topic written on the use of “it” in Portuguese… I think it is a very confusing subject early on in the learning for native English speakers (maybe others)… e.g… the silent omissions, the use of pronouns in its place, the use of -la -lo etc… the use of dele dela etc as substitutions…

This still confuses me and makes me pause for thought (I am an early learner)…

I think an article on the use of “it” in PT would be very helpful… to explain how convery “it” accurately…



Olá, @dbuachalla. Your confusion is perfectly understandable! Since neutral pronouns simply don’t exist for us, for each context where they’d appear in English, you may see a number of possibilities in Portuguese, like you said:

Omissions (as mentioned in this introductory Learning Note - Portuguese Verbs and Personal Pronouns)

  • For example, in sentences where it is standing in for an undetermined or inexistent subject:
  1. It rained yesterday. = Choveu ontem.
  2. It is good to talk to you. = É bom falar contigo.
  3. It is so beautiful! = É tão bonito!

Using the omitted noun directly or using other personal pronouns/words contracted with pronouns

  • When it is replacing a known being/thing/concept (use a pronoun of the respective noun’s gender):
  1. Oh, that series! Did you like it? = Oh, essa série! Gostaste da série? = Oh, essa série! Gostaste dela? (3rd Person Possessives: De + Pronoun)
  2. The dog is large, but it is not aggressive. = O cão é grande, mas ele não é agressivo.
  3. I like the house. Is it for sale? = Eu gosto da casa. A casa está à venda? = Eu gosto da casa. Ela está à venda?

Using clitic pronouns (Introduction to Clitic Object Pronouns)

  1. You can fill a glass with water and drink it. = Tu podes encher um copo com água e beber a água. = Tu podes encher um copo com água e bebê-la. (Clitic Pronouns: 3rd Person).
  2. I love it. = Eu amo-o (Clitic Pronouns: 3rd Person).
  3. They teach it in school. = Eles ensinam-no na escola. (Clitic Pronouns: 3rd Person)

Using other word classes (if context allows)

  1. Do it! = Faz isso! (lit., do that)
  2. We can carry it. = Nós conseguimos carregar aquilo. (lit., we can carry that)
  3. I don’t like it. = Eu não gosto disto. (lit., I don’t like this) (Combining “De” with Demonstratives)

As you can see, it is not an easy topic to condense because it brings up a lot of related topics. Most/all of the information you need is already on the website, though. I’d say the key is exposure and practice practice practice. It takes time and patience to make sense of aspects like this, where there’s no correspondence at all between English and Portuguese. Feel free to ask any specific questions/go through some more examples, though :slight_smile:


Many thanks Joseph, this was great and also adding the relevant links is great… I am sure lots of others will find it useful.


Wow great curation of links on this topic, @Joseph!


Thank you too, @dbuachalla and @joelrendall :sunglasses: