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Is there a rule for dropping the definite article in front of a demonstrative possessive?

e.g. "Aqui está a sua chave. / Aqui está sua chave."

I'm espacially interested how Brazilians handle this.

Thanks in advance

6

Small correction: what you call a demonstrative is actually a possessive. Demonstratives are words such as "esse", "este", "aquele", etc., which correspond to English "that" and "this".

Both forms you mention are considered correct in Standard Portuguese. As far as Brazilian Portuguese is concerned, I would say that, as a rule of thumb, including the article is more common in colloquial speech, while omitting it is preferred in a more formal setting. Even so, this "rule" is just a guideline, and by no means absolute; it is possible to find examples of both forms in both settings. Thus, the Brazilian constitution has several occurrences of the possessives "seu"/"sua", but only a few of them are preceded by an article. This is similar to how some authors prefer using non-abbreviated forms such as "does not" and "are not" in writing, as opposed to abbreviated ones such as "doesn't", "aren't", etc., even if both forms are accepted in Standard English.

Edit: It is worth pointing out that these words ("meu", "seu", etc.) can also serve as pronouns; in that case, the use of the article is mandatory. For example:

  • Eu gosto da sua
  • Ontem, ela viu o nosso,

etc. This usage corresponds to words such as "mine", "theirs", "ours", etc. in English.

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At a guess, the article is often joined to the verb (está + a) in the spoken language, so much so that we don't always hear it. Let's use a masculine object so as not to have that junction, and I think most people would include the article ("aqui está o seu carro"). Without the article the sentence wouldn't be wrong, but in the written language I would always use it.

Conclusion: in the spoken language, in Brazil, nobody cares whether you say "sua chave" or "a sua chave".

  • Your answer makes the opposite assertion about written vs. spoken as the answer by Arthur Azevedo De Amorim. Could you clarify? – ErikE Sep 10 '15 at 18:41
  • @ErikE We agree that both forms are correct. In the spoken language we tend to shorten sentences and most people would say "seu carro tá aqui" or "aqui tá seu carro" or "seu carro, senhor". We don't usually use a longer sentence when a short one is available. "Cadê seu carro, João?" "Me diz seu nome.". What I state here is not based on any rule, I have no references, except that I have lived more than half a centrury in Brazil and speak Portuguese daily. Then again Brazil is huge country. – Centaurus Sep 10 '15 at 18:55
  • N-grams and other search tools don't seem to apply to the spoken language. – Centaurus Sep 10 '15 at 18:57
  • Please see the comment on the other answer, where he disagrees with you about spoken vs. written. More comments? – ErikE Sep 10 '15 at 19:49
  • @ErikE It seems you didn't read all the words in my answer; It says:" I think, I would use..." And, as I said before, in the spoken language we hear both forms and nobody cares whether you omit the article or not. Although I myself wouldn't omit the article in the written language, I'm not saying it would be wrong if someone did. – Centaurus Sep 10 '15 at 21:37

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