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Most pronouns in Portuguese are connected by gender to their objects. However, the demonstrative pronouns isto, isso, and aquilo are not gender-specific. Instead, they remain the same for both masculine and feminine objects. For this reason, they are called “invariable.” However, you still need to choose the correct one for your Portuguese sentences. The functions of invariable demonstrative pronouns are based upon the distance between the speaker and the object to which the speaker is referring, and also the second speaker, the person who is listening to the sentence. Sound confusing? Let’s take a look at the words and some examples to clear up the mystery. Like everything else you learn, it becomes easy once you break it down into manageable parts.

1. In Portuguese the invariable demonstrative pronouns are isto, isso, and aquilo.

2. Isto and isso mean this, and aquilo means that.


A.  When the object is near the speaker, use isto.

Question:     O que é isto?
Answer:            É um livro.  |  É uma formiga.

B.  When the object is nearer the person to whom you are speaking, use isso.

Question:     O que é isso?
Answer:            É um livro de contos. |  É uma rosa de papel.

C.  When the object is far from both speakers in the conversation, use aquilo.

Question:     O que é aquilo?
Answer:           É um carro. |  É uma árvore.

Now when you create your Portuguese sentences, you will be able to choose the right word. Practice what you have learned and soon the correct choices will become automatic, and that is what leads to fluency! For more practice and other programs we also offer European Portuguese Online.  Boa Sorte!  😆

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