Do I always need to use the definite article before a given name or are there situations / constructions where I am allowed to leave them out?

Example: "Ele é o João."

2 Answers 2


Not always, it depends on context.

  • Ele é o João. ("Ele é João" sounds unusual, except in a few contexts)
  • Vou visitar o João. ("Vou visitar João" is equally acceptable)
  • Acabei de encontrar o João.

I wouldn't use the article at the beginning of a sentence if the listener and I had mentioned that person before. - João é um aluno muito aplicado. (but you could say "O João é...") - Elisabete é muito interesseira.

In addition to context, whether one uses the article or not largely depends on where one was brought up. My father was from another state in Brazil and his whole family wouldn't use the article: Vou visitar Maria, Fui à casa de Maria, Este carro é de Álvaro. In Rio de Janeiro it's more common to use the article in such sentences. (Vou visitar a Maria, Fui a casa da Maria, Este carro é do Álvaro.


Generally yes, but it depends on the context. Unfortunately, the contexts do not seem to be the same as the ones Centarus mentioned, so maybe the usage is different in Portugal.

You can sometimes omit it, but only in higher registers, and I can only think right now of two contexts:

  • If it's someone well known.

    Nem Salazar diria tal coisa.

    Using the article would also be possible, but it would be more informal and imply more familiarity.

  • When narrating.

    "Cala-te", ordenou Carla.
    Carla decidiu então aproximar-se do grupo.

    Same considerations.

  • 2
    Artefacto, tu dirias "nem o Passos Coelho..." ou "Nem Passos Coelho..."?
    – Centaurus
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 1:33
  • I agree with you that the article is best omitted when the person is well-known: Nem Hitler, nem Kennedy, Nem Saddam. Also when narrating. In Brazil I bet one would find a diversity of usages.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 1:37
  • 2
    @Centaurus Depende do registo. Informalmente, "o Passos Coelho", mas se estivesse a escrever um artigo num jornal, apenas "Passos Coelho" (e.g. "Antes de ser primeiro-ministro, Passos Coelho foi deputado da Assembleia da República").
    – Artefacto
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 7:51
  • Note that the question is tagged Brasil. Still, this answer is very useful.
    – ANeves
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 11:34

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