Portuguese grammar – Important prefixes in Portuguese

Prefixes in Portuguese

Learn prefixes in Portuguese

Hello there and welcome to our Portuguese Basic Tips 87, about important prefixes in Portuguese

A prefix is placed at the beginning of a word to modify or change its meaning. For instance, listen: organizar (this is the verb to organize, in Portuguese). Now listen to this one: reorganizer (this means reorganize in Portuguese, to organize something again).

Click on the link to visit our previous episode about the word meio as an adverb

The simple fact that the prefix “re” was placed in front of the word gave that word another meaning. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what we are going to study today!


Well, now that you know that we use the prefix “re” to indicate that an action is taking place again, let’s exercise a little!

Let’s see another way of saying the following sentence:

  • Ele leu o livro novamente (He read the book again)

How do you think we can speak this sentence, using the “re” prefix?

Exactly! You made it: ele releu o livro!

 IN and DES

The prefixes in and des show us an idea of denial. It is the opposite of the first meaning. For instance:

  • Ele é uma pessoa atenta! (This means something like “he is a focused person”)
  • Ele é uma pessoa DESatenta! (He is a non-focused person).

You see? Quite the contrary of the first idea!

Now, tell me, how do you think we can say that someone is not happy, someone is not “feliz”?

No! Desinfeliz it’s wrong! You should say “infeliz”. Both, “des” and “in”, in those cases, are used with the same meaning.

Listen, knowing the meaning of some prefixes will help you to understand what people are saying in Portuguese. I suggest you don’t try to create a new word, a word that you never heard about.

Now, come with me:

Using the prefix “des”, let’s say that someone is not “informed”.

  • Ele é um desinformado! (He is not well informed)

Using the prefix “in”, let’s say someone is not well, someone is not “disposto”.

  • Ele está indisposto (He’s unwell).

Yeah! You made it again!


That’s our last prefix today. We use “pós” at the beginning of words to indicate something that happened after the first action.

For instance: pós-graduação (graduate specialization). This is something that happened after the guy or the girl completed the graduation.

Other examples, repeat with me:

  • Ela acaba de sair do pós-operatório (She just came out of the post-op.)
  • O período pós-guerra foi muito difícil para aquele país. (The post-war period was very hard to that country).

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That’s it for today.

I hope you like it.

See you soon.


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