Where’s the AT in Portuguese?

at the store

in the restaurant

on the subway

For some reason I just can't stop thinking about prepositions of place: in, on & at

Right in the middle of a hike. In the middle of my friend telling some crazy story about getting arrested on New Year's eve here (Rio de Janeiro).

O quê?

I must have missed that day in 5th grade, but now I wanted to know all about prepositions. It all started when I realized that: in Portuguese you rarely get to say at. That's because it usually gets wrapped into a contraction.

She's at the bank > Ela está no banco.
We're at the beach. > Nós estamos na praia.

The confusing thing is that the no and na can also mean in the or, on the as well.

He's in the office right now. > Ele está no escritório no momento.
Your caipirinha's on the table. > Sua caipirinha está na mesa.

The confusion comes from the fact that the word (actually, a preposition of place!) em cam mean in, on or at! And, as we know: em contracts with the articles o and a to make no and na.

Let's look at these three possibilities:


We're in the theater. > Estamos no cinema.


I'm on the bus now. > Estou no ônibus agora.


She's at the farmer's market. > Ela está na feira.

So the next question is - when do we get to see at naked - on it's own, not in some contraction?

She's at home. > Ela está em casa.
At what moment did you realize you were lost? > Em que momento você percebeu que estava perdido(a)?

Can you think of any others?