ACUTE, CIRCUMFLEX or GRAVE?
Updated: Nov 9, 2021
Fantástico, os acentos em português!
Acute ´ e.g. café
Circumflex ^ e.g. avô
Grave ` e.g. às
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Here is a piece of good news! The grave accent is ONLY used in case of contraction of the preposition a with the feminine definite article a or as – a+a(s) = à(s); and in case of contraction of the preposition a with the demonstrative pronouns aquele/a/es/as and aquilo – a+aquele(s) = àquele(s), a+aquela(s) = àquela(s), a+aquilo = àquilo. Examples:
o Vou à mercearia. I am going to the grocer’s.
o Encontramo-nos amanhã às duas horas? Do we meet tomorrow at two?
o Ele referiu-se àquilo em voz baixa. He referred to that in a low voice.
To get started it is essential to bear in mind that there are three types of words, depending on where the stressed syllable falls (the stressed syllable is the one that is pronounced a little louder):
1. Oxytone words – the stress is on the last syllable. E.g. café, jardim, português
2. Paroxytone words – the stress is on the penultimate (second last) syllable. E.g. mesa, açúcar, fácil
3. Proparoxytone words – the stress is on the antepenultimate (third last) syllable. E.g. família, último, médica
A. When do I use the ACUTE accent and the CIRCUMFLEX in OXYTONE words?
-á -é -ó
-éis -éu -ói
fiéis chapéu(s) véu(s) herói(s) constrói constróis
têm convêm contêm
1. Use the ACUTE accent if the word ends in
· the stressed open vowels -á, -é and -ó, followed or not by -s – já, chá(s), é, és, café(s), só, avó(s), etc.
o Moreover, use the acute accent in verb forms when the final consonants -r,-s, -z fall out and the direct object pronouns -lo, -la, -los, -las are added – fá-lo, dá-la, aceitá-las, trá-los, etc.
· the open diphthongs -éis, -éu and -ói. The last two (-éu and -ói) may or may not be followed by -s – papéis, anéis, fiéis, chapéu(s), véu(s), herói(s) constrói, constróis, etc.
· -ém (except Present tense third person plural form of ter and vir and their derivatives, which take circumflex. See below.) and -éns. These words must always have two or more syllables – também, porém, armazém/armazéns, ninguém, parabéns, detém, provém, etc.
o Do not use the acute accent in one-syllable words – bem, cem, tem, etc.
· the vowels -í and -ú, followed or not by -s, when these are preceded by another vowel and together they are NOT a diphthong – aí, país, Luís, saí, caí, atraí, baú(s), etc. Note the difference between the pairs – ai/aí, pais/país (the first is a diphthong/the second is not a diphthong).
o Similarly, use the acute accent in verbs ending in -air and -uir when the -r falls out and the direct object pronouns -lo, -la, -los, -las are added – atraí-las, possuí-los, etc.
o Do not use the acute accent if the vowels -i or -u are followed by another consonant that is not -s – raiz, juiz, sair, cair, ruim, Raul, etc.
o Do not use the acute accent if the vowels -i or -u form a diphthong, i.e., -iu and -ui – saiu, distraiu, concluiu, instruiu, etc.
2. Use the CIRCUMFLEX
· if the word ends in the stressed closed vowels -ê and -ô, followed or not by -s – lê, lês, você(s), português, três, avô(s), pôs, robô(s), etc.
o Moreover, use the circumflex in the verb forms when the final consonants -r,-s, -z fall out and the direct object pronouns -lo, -la, -los, -las are added – fazê-lo, supô-lo, etc.
· in the third person plural forms which end in -êm in the Present tense of the verbs vir and ter and their derivatives – vêm, têm, convêm, contêm. This way, they are not confused with the singular forms (vem, tem, convem, contem).
· to distinguish pairs of words – porquê/porque; quê/que; pôr/por.
o Do not use the circumflex in verbs which derive from pôr – dispor, compor, etc.
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Next time we will talk about the accent in paroxytone and proparoxytone words. Brace yourself for more!