Augmentatives In Portuguese
The suffix -ão is often used in Portuguese as an augmentative. An augmentative increases the quality of the original word, often indicating a larger size. For example:
- forte (strong) – fortão (very strong)
- centro (centre) – centrão (big centre)
Augmentatives are very popular in Brazil. An important football championship is the Brasileirão and some famous football stadiums are the Minerão in Belo Horizonte, the Barradão in Salvador, and the Engenhão in Rio de Janeiro. Names of stores also commonly adopt augmentatives, like Drogão, Feirão, Ponto Frio Bonzão and there is a popular Sunday TV programme called Domingão do Faustão. The most common augmentatives are the masculine -ão and the feminine -ona. For example:
- um jogo (a game) – um jogão (a great game)
- uma mesa (a table) – uma mesona (a big table)
Strangely enough, the masculine augmentative can also sometimes be used with a feminine noun. The noun then becomes grammatically masculine with a feminine meaning. For example:
- uma mulher (a woman)
- um mulherão (a big/hot woman) (normally used by men rather than women to describe a woman).
Diminutives In Portuguese
A diminutive is a word formed by adding letters to the end of a word to show that something or somebody is smaller. In Portuguese, the most common diminutives are formed by adding the masculine suffix -inho, and the feminine suffix -inha.
- Livro (book) – livrinho (little book)
- Casa (house) – casinha (little house)
The suffixes -zinho and -zinha are normally added to words that end in stressed vowels.
- Café (coffee) – cafezinho (small coffee)
- Irmã (sister) – irmãzinha (little sister)
Diminutives are very popular in Brazil. Noun and adjective diminutives are the most common, but they can also be formed with other parts of speech. They are often used to convey intimacy, endearment and affection, but they can also have many different meanings or connotations. Here are just a few examples:
- Oi, amorzinho! – Hi, honey! (For somebody you love.)
- Seu bebê é tão bonitinho. – Your baby is so cute. (Showing affection.)
- Vamos tomar uma cerveja bem geladinha. – Let’s have a really nice cold beer. (To emphasize the quality of the adjective, meaning ‘nice and …’)
- Nós temos um probleminha. – We have a small problem. (Often meaning it’s a huge problem.)
- Vou tomar um uisquinho. – I’m going to have just one little whisky. (Maybe trying to hide a vice.)
- Vou fumar um cigarrinho. – I’m going to smoke just one little cigarette. (Maybe trying to hide a vice.)
- Vou dar uma saidinha. – I’m just going to pop out. (Implying a quick return, which is not always the case.)
Diminutives can also change the meaning of the word. For example:
- Curso – a course (in school).
- Cursinho – a preparatory course specifically for the university entrance examination (which is called the vestibular in Brazil).
fofinho: this means “cute,” or “cutie pie.”
bonitinho: this means “pretty” or “cute.”
amorzinho: this literally means “little love,” used to express a person you adore.
anjinho: this means “little angel.”
baixinho: this literally means “little small person,” commonly used to describe a short person or a young child.