Brazilian Portuguese: diminutive and augmentative forms

Written by: Daniel

Hi, everyone! My name is Daniel, I am originally from Brazil. When I was 16, I moved to China for four and a half years. I have an AA in Economics from the US and a B.A. in Accounting from a university in Brazil. I love to teach, especially kids because I love to see how they develop. I’ve taught Mathematics, Physics, Portuguese and English for the past 10 years and I love a new challenge. I am great at playing video games and use games in my lessons to help students enjoy learning even more! I love to see my students applying their knowledge outside the classroom in real-life situations. I can’t wait to meet you and to share my culture and language, Portuguese, with you!



Over the years, the development of the Portuguese language became a great mix of several other languages being adapted from the Galician-Portuguese (Old Portuguese) to even some words in Arabic. However, since it derived from Latin, Portuguese is a very peculiar language, especially when it comes to grammar. 

Portuguese has almost 40 types of verb conjugations, which confuses even Portuguese speakers sometimes, especially when reading older poems or more sophisticated articles. However, at the same time, it is one of the most ‘playable’ languages to speak because there aren’t very set rules to some parts of the grammar, for instance:

When we make questions in Portuguese, we don’t need to use any modal words (like in English) or add a particle – like ‘ma’ in Chinese, we just change the intonation of our statement, almost as if we were confused.

‘Você quer café.’ (You want coffee) is the same as ‘Você quer café?’ (Do you want coffee?)

However, one of the most amazing and most useful parts of Portuguese grammar is our diminutive and augmentative forms.

In Portuguese you can use ‘inho’ (for masculine words) and ‘inha’ (for feminine words) to indicated that something is small, for instance:

Eu tenho um carro. (I have a car.)

Eu tenho um carrinho. (I have a small car)

Ela tem uma casa. (she has a house)

Ela tem uma casinha. (she has a small house)

All you have to do is add the -inha or -inho at the end of the word and it becomes small and this has great uses when speaking.

By the same token, in Portuguese we can also use ‘ão’ (for masculine words) and ‘ona’ (for feminine words), which makes that word ‘bigger’.

Eu tenho um carro (I have a car)

Eu tenho um carrão (I have a big car)

Ela tem uma casa (she has a house)

Ela tem uma casona (she has a big house)

No need to add another word to change the size of what we are trying to say. However, you need to be careful to spot which words are augmentative and normal.

Let’s take the word ‘papel’ which means paper, the augmentative of ‘papel’ is ‘papelzão’, however, there is a word in Portuguese ‘papelão’, which means cardboard.

If you know any Portuguese word, trying adding -inho or -ão to them and see what happens… I guarantee you’ll enjoy it! 😉

Remember to sign up for an obligation free trial lesson with me by clicking on the link below! We can get to know each other and learn some Brazilian Portuguese at the same time! I am very excited to meet you!

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