alguma coisa : Something in Portuguese

In Portuguese, expressing something, nothing, and anything can be confusing 😵‍💫. In this post I will show you how to navigate the phrases and words in-context that Brazilians use daily to express these "indefinite pronouns".

In English, it's pretty simple: something or nothing.

The Portuguese options are (surprise) numerous and confusing. Let's break-these-down and make them more user-friendly.

You've learned alguma coisa, right? And that's clear: alguma (some) coisa (thing) = something.

But you rarely hear Brazilians say that. There are other options they favor - most depend on what the something is. I'm tempted to list here all of the different ways they'll express something, anything, nothing but that's more frightening than helpful. Let's look at the main, most-used ways these are said.

These are called, Indefinite Pronouns BTW 😉

Something in Portuguese

If you're just saying something - not referring to anything at all, use alguma coisa.

Dúvida: What about alguma coisa vs. algo?
Resposta: Don't worry about whether to use "algo" or, "alguma coisa" -- USE EITHER.

Eu preciso fazer algo. OU: Eu preciso fazer alguma coisa. ➜ I have to do something.
Fale alguma coisa! OU: Fale algo! ➜ Say something!

It's more common that you're talking about something specific. In this case you probably also know what the gender: some work, some beer, some girls, some people. Brazilians like to use the pronoun "a". When used in the plural the meaning shifts. Like this:

uma coisa = a thing
umas coisas = some things
uma praia = a beach
umas praias = some beaches
uma pessoa = a person
umas pessoas = some people

The "a" turns into a "some" in the plural. We don't have a plural "a" in English. We actually say "some".

um homem = a man
uns homens = some men
um político = a politician
uns politicos = some politicians
um táxi = a taxi
uns taxis = some taxis

The second common way is to use, algum. Like this:

some men = alguns homens
some people = algumas pessoas

If you can get used to these above forms you're golden.

Examples of alguma coisa & uma coisa

Nothing in Portuguese

If you're just saying nothing - not referring to anything at all, use nada.

Ele não tem nada para falar. ➜ He has nothing to say.

As a second choice or, to add emphasis:

Tem coisa nenhuma para comprar! ➜ There's nothing here worth buying here.

I would just default to nada - even in this example:

Não tem nada para comprar aqui! ➜ There's nothing worth buying here.

Anything in Portuguese

Always use qualquer coisa with variations. Like this:

Fale qualquer coisa! ➜ Say anything!
Ela gosta de qualquer coisa doce. ➜ She likes anything sweet.
Pode usar qualquer um. ➜ You can use any one (referring to a masculine thing).

And what about somewhere, anywhere and nowhere?