Portuguese Preposition de


The Portuguese preposition de shows up everywhere. As you know, I DISLIKE digging into linguistics unless it's necessary to move forward / to understand something. *I don't actually dislike studying the nature, structure, and variation of language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, sociolinguistics, and pragmatics (!!!). It's that it doesn't really help you get to fluency. In fact, knowing too much about the grammar structure of Portuguese can actually slow you down. It's just too much to take in and is best enjoyed over a caipirinha and some Bossa Nova.

The Semantica approach is to make the point with examples.

A preposition is a word that ties others together. Each language has a few prepositions that are super stars: their presence changes meaning.

The Portuguese preposition de can change the meaning of the sentence.

One very useful way that de can be used is to express: BY.

de ➜ BY

Let's go by car. ➜ Vamos de carro.

You're literally saying: Let's go of car.

She's going by train. ➜ Ela vai de trem.
I'm going by bus. ➜ Eu vou de ônibus.

*Note that in English you could translate these various ways: I'm going by bus OR, I'm going to catch or take the bus. If you wanted to say to take rather than, by this becomes:

I'm going to catch the bus. ➜ Eu vou pegar o ônibus.

de ➜ TO WEAR

Watch how de can be used when talking about what to wear(!)

I'm going in a skirt. ➜ Eu vou de saia.

You're literally saying: I'm going of skirt.

I'm going in tennis shoes. ➜ Eu vou de tênis.
Can I wear shorts? ➜ Posso ir de shorts?
I'm  wearing a watch. ➜ Estou de relógio.

de ➜ TO & FROM

LONGE + de / PERTO + de

When you add the de to words like longe, perto, ao lodo, em frente, atrás, em baixo, em cima... It means of/from/to. These are called adverbs of position, place & location. The de makes it clear where something is positioned or located.

The airport is far from here. ➜ O aeroporto fica longe daqui.

*daqui = de + aqui

We live close to him. ➜ Nós moramos perto dele.

The same goes for lots of other words:
to the side of ➜ ao lado de
in front of ➜ em frente de
behind ➜ atrás de
below ➜ em baixo de
on top of ➜ em cima de
And so on.

ANTES + de / DEPOIS + de

The same goes for TIME as it does for space. The de is usually placed after antes, depois to express before and after.

I'm going to drink coffee before working. ➜ Vou tomar café antes de trabalhar.

*Notice that de trabalhar translates as working. This is explained well in the post about the use of the infinitive tense. If you had used antes do trabalho instead you would be saying, I'm going to drink coffee before work. *The DE + VERB IN THE INFINITIVE = ING (working, running, sinking, drinking). Now you will recall that we use ESTAR + VERB IN PRESENT PROGRESSIVE to say things like, I'm working (estou trabalhando) - this is it's own tense called the Present Progressive that was actually "invented" by Brazilians as the language evolved away from the original Portuguese of Portugal. As a matter of fact, in Portuguese Portuguese (of Portugal) the way you say I am working is, Eu estou DE TRABALHAR. I've probably lost you here and don't break your head over this it's really a nerdy linguistic thing 🙇🏼‍♂️.

I'll call you after I eat. ➜ Depois de comer eu vou ligar para você.

Verbs that usually combine with de

There are several verbs that you almost always see together with de or, that have to be used with de by LAW!


You'll (almost) never see GOSTAR without a de. It's the law. I understand it like this: When you like something, you like of something.

Eu gosto de você. ➜ I like you.

If there's an article after the de they combine (contract):

Você gostou do filme? ➜ Did you like the movie?

*The only way you can avoid using the de is to speak super-succinctly:

Você gostou do filme? Gostei!

GOSTAR + de is such a big deal that it's got its own post.


When you need something, you need of something:

Eu preciso de dinheiro. ➜ I need money.

This is not a LAW like GOSTAR de is. The only time the de is not needed is when it's immediately followed by another verb:

Eu preciso ganhar dinheiro. ➜ I need to earn money.

More about PRECISAR.


ACABAR means to finish, to end. Without a de, it's used to say things like:

Minha paciência acabou. ➜ My patience is up.

When you include the de it takes the meaning of, "to have just" :

Ela acabou de chegar. ➜ She just arrived.

More about ACABAR.

MUDAR + de

MUDAR means to change. Using it without a de you can say things like:

Mas agora tudo mudou. ➜ But now, everything has changed.

Using it with the de you can say for example:

Vamos mudar de assunto. ➜ Let's change the subject.
Ela mudou de ideia. ➜ She changed he mind.

More about MUDAR.


There are plenty of others such as TROCAR that you also see used together with de.

Preciso trocar de roupa. ➜ I need to change clothes.


The last one I'm going to present here is ESQUECER.

Não vou esquecer de comprar pão. ➜ I'm not going to forget to buy bread.

I'm fascinated by the way DE can be used together with verbs in the infinitive to say things that aren't at all intuitive! Freshen up your caipirinha and step into this all at your own risk.

I dare you to try.

Portuguese preposition de
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Portuguese preposition de

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