Adjectives in Portuguese

Louva-a-deusAdjectives are words used to describe everything that exists in the world: people, animals, nature and its phenomena, and things. In Portuguese, an adjective must agree in gender and in number with the word that it is describing. Most of the time it is accompanied by a form of verb to be: Ser or Estar.

As we mentioned in our post about nouns, in Portuguese there are two genders which are used to represent not only people and animals, but also things. Then, when you want to use an adjective to describe a word in Portuguese, you need to take into consideration whether it’s in the masculine or feminine form and whether it’s in the plural or singular while making the necessary adjustment.

Another thing to consider is the form of to be you’re going to use. If you’re describing an intrinsic quality or characteristic – which is something that is part of the noun you’re talking about, you need to use verb Ser. If you’re describing a temporary condition or state of the noun you’re talking about, you need to use Estar.

Here are some examples of an intrinsic quality:


  • O louva-a-deus é verde.* ~ The praying mantis is green.
  • João é um cabeça-dura. ~ João is stubborn.

*With some colors like verde, azul (blue), bege (beige), marrom (brown), lilás (lilac), there is only a form for both the masculine and feminine. But they will need to change to make the plural, except for lilás because it ends in s.


  • Os olhos da Marina são azuis. ~ Marina’s eyes are blue.

When you’re talking about people, in the case of an intrinsic quality you can also use verb ter (to have).


  • Marina tem olhos azuis. ~ Marina has blue eyes.


Here are some examples of a temporary condition or state:


  • As crianças estão doentes.  ~ The children are sick.
  • O cachorro está alegre. ~ The dog is happy.


I’m glad you’re here! If you’re just starting on your journey of Portuguese learning, be sure to check out the Starter Guide.



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