Good question! 🙂 A lot of students ask me about it and the answer is simple: THERE IS a difference. But the fact is that almost everybody don’t pay too much attention to it in everyday spoken. These two words are demonstrative pronouns in Portuguese, but there are also ISSO/ISTO and AQUELE/AQUELA
Let’s understand it better checking this chart about PRONOMES DEMONSTRATIVOS (Demonstrative Pronouns):
Notice that the pronouns agree in genre and number with the noun. And basically the difference is about the space and time. If something is close you should use: ESTE/ESTA (singular) or ESTES/ESTAS(plural). Look the pictures bellow:
We used “ESTA” because bola is feminine and the person is holding it, it’s close.
Here, the person is not holding the ball anymore, the object is not so close and the best option is the demonstrative pronoum “ESSA”.
Now look at this exemple using “AQUELA”:
The ball is not with the guy or close to him, so we use “AQUELA”. If we are talking about masculine so we should use “AQUELE”
Eg: De quem é aquele carro? (Whose is that car?)
If you take a look at the chart again, you can see that there are some neutral pronouns, such as:
It means they do not vary, they do not have plural, masculin or feminine. But is the same idea: ISSO or ISTO for something close(in space or time) and AQUILO when something is far. PAY ATTENTION – this is very important – ISTO, ISSO and AQUILO are never followed by a noun (person, animal, object). NEVER! 😉
But finally…Does it really matter?
Depends…As we said in the begining of this text, people do not worry about it in spoken language. However, if you are learning Portuguese it’s important to know that when you’re writing documents for business or school/college you need to follow the grammar rules and pay attention to these little details. But if you are just talking with your friends in informal situations don’t worry about it.
Is it clear now? 😉
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