Personal pronouns in Portuguese are divided in singular and plural ones. There are “officially” three of each, but there is a variation which is also used. Keep reading to learn more.
The “official” personal pronouns are:
Eu – I
Tu – you
Ele – he
Ela – she
Nós – we
Vós – you
Eles/Elas – They
There is no equivalent for it in Portuguese, because it is allowed to have sentences without a subject.
People, in Brazil at least, use frequently the pronuns você instead of tu and its plural, vocês, instead of vós. The first pair (tu/você) is used interchangeably. Some people prefer tu, others use você. Tu is more common in the Southern region of Brazil (states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul), mainly in smaller cities. In Portugal, tu is much more common than você.
A “curiosity” about você is that, besides the fact it’s used in place of tu, it is considered third person in grammar and has it conjugation, whether in the past, present or future.
Let’s take the verb trabalhar (to work) as example. The conjugation for the second person in Present Tense is tu trabalhas. If we replace tu for você, it is now você trabalha (third person is ele/ela trabalha). Informally, however, people who use tu instead of você usually drop the ending -s and say tu trabalha.
Regarding to vós x vocês, it is much simpler: nobody uses vós. Well, not in Brazil, at least. I have never seen anyone saying vós trabalhais, which is the conjugation for the second person in plural. It is used only in Portuguese classes. People would say vocês trabalham instead (third person in plural is eles/elas trabalham).
Pronouns can replace nouns and other pronouns. For exemple, if we say Eu e minha irmã (I and my sister), this is the equivalent of nós. If we say Sandra e o namorado (Sandra and her boyfriend), it’s the same as eles (they).
To finish, there is a point to consider regarding the third person in plural (eles/elas): eles is the male form and elas is the female form. However, elas is used when we refer to a group that has only women/girls. If there is at least one men in the subject, it is used eles, even if there are 99 women and one man. Maybe it’s not fair, but it is how it works.
I hope you have enjoyed the post. If you have any questions, feel free to comment.