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I have formerly studied Spanish, and now I have also been studing Portuguese for a short time. I am just a novice in my Portuguese studies, but I am really fond of the Brazilian Portuguese language, which is uma língua muita bela!

So, my question is about the word "chão", when used as an adjective.

Chão is masculine singular, so the plural is, I guess, chãos. But:

  • What are the feminine singular and plural forms of the word chão?

Muito obrigado pela resposta já de antemão, and many greetings da Finlândia bonita e nevada!

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    Welcome to Portuguese.StackExchange! :) I restructured your question, to try to make it clearer. If you don't like some or all of the edit, just edit it back to what you like. – ANeves thinks SE is evil Oct 25 '16 at 17:54
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    The question here is: Why you want to know the feminine of "chãos"? – Jorge B. Oct 25 '16 at 20:03
  • @ANeves I interpreted the orginal "my question is about the word "chão", if it is used as an adjective» as asking whether chão is used as an adjective. In your version that is not quite clear: it looks as though it is only asking for the plural and feminine. Hence Jorge's question. Jari, you alone can clarify this. – Jacinto Oct 25 '16 at 20:19
  • @JorgeB. See the original version of the question. I thought it was more than just the feminine form. That's how I answered anyway. – Jacinto Oct 25 '16 at 20:22
  • (We Finns, in the Finnish language, have no genders at all! We have no masculine or feminine words. We just have words. But still the Finnish language is one of the most difficult ones in the whole of the globe.) -I wanted to know the feminine forms of chão because I use the word chão in a little printed "poem."- I guessed that feminine could not be chãa! -But below there is the answer by Jacinto: The forms are chã - chãs, although chão is no more used in the present language. -Muito obrigado to everyone who answered! – Jari Lehtonen Oct 26 '16 at 18:15
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Chão (plural chãos, feminine chã, chãs) is indeed an adjective, but it’s hardly ever used these days, so it will give, to me at least, a nice, quaint touch to your speech if you use it. It is pretty much equivalent to ‘plain’; in fact both chão and plain come from the latin planus. Here’s what Aulete sayswith my translation in brackets:

1. Desprovido de saliência ou de reentrância; PLANO; LISO: “(...) terra mui chã (...).” (Pero Vaz de Caminha, Carta a El-rei D. Manuel) [without protuberances or cavities; FLAT “(…) very flat land (…) Pero Vaz de Caminha, Letter to King Manuel)
2. Raso, rasteiro [low lying]
3. Simples, direto (linguagem chã) [simple, plain, straight (plain language)]
4. Tranquilo, sereno (mar chão) [tranquil, quiet, calm (calm sea)]
5. Sem importância (discurso chão); COMUM; VULGAR; TRIVIAL [unimportant (unimportant speech); COMMON; ORDINARY; TRIVIAL]

I think I’ve seen chão as adjective in 19th century writers only. I am from Portugal, but I think it will be the same in Brazil. But after looking around I've managed to find some usage by living authors too. The most common usage these days is in the phrases arquitetura chã and estilo chão (Wikipédia), plain arquitecture in English, which are terms coined recently to refer to the plain and sober architectural style developed in Portugal in the 1500s. In other contexts usage is a lot rarer nowadays, but was quite common in the 19th century. Here are some examples of usage in Portuguese and Brazilian literature (emphasis mine):

Tesoureiro revolucionário para libertação das massas exploradas, ele se sentia, misturando Marx e Sartre, em contradição existencial, ou, em linguagem chã, enojado de saber que seu salário de repórter poderia alugar por mês dezenas, talvez até mais de cem daquelas bocas onde despejar seu gozo. (Domingos Pellegrini (Brazil, 1949 – ) Herança de Maria, 2011.)

A pintura de Vítor Meireles é bem mais enfática do que a prosa chã de Caminha.
(Donaldo Schüler (Brazil, 1932 – ), Na Conquista do Brasil, 2001.)

A sua região preferida era o Ribatejo, a terra chã da leziria e do boi.
(Eça de Queiroz (Portugal 1845-1900), Correspondência de Fradique Mendes, 1925.)

Estamos na Idade Média. Arnês, gládio, armadura
Servem de compostura à sala vasta e chã
(Castro Alves (Brazil 1847-71), Espumas Flutuantes, 1870.)

[...] obra simples, feita de barro, igual aos tinteiros que a gente chã comprava nas lojas de papel daquele e deste tempo. (Machado de Assis (Brazil, 1839-1908), Jacó e Esaú, 1904.)

Como já deveis estar aborrecida da prosa chã e rasteira deste artigo, dou-vos uns lindos versinhos que li num álbum um destes dias.
(José de Alencar (Brazil, 1829-77) Ao Correr da Pena, 1874.)

Impressionou-me a sua eloquência chã, os seus ares graves, a compostura, um não sei quê mais sério que os seus anos, permita-me assim falar.
(Camilo de Castelo Branco (Portugal, 1825-90) A Queda de um Anjo, 1866.)

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    Priberam lists the feminine and plural versions. – ANeves thinks SE is evil Oct 25 '16 at 17:46
  • @ANeves It does. But I don't like Priberam's entry as it confusingly includes noun meanings (10-13) under the headline 'adjetivo'. – Jacinto Oct 25 '16 at 18:18
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    Now I know how Vila Chã got its name... – Rodrigo de Azevedo Oct 25 '16 at 21:30
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    @Rodrigo I though of that. I think there are a couple of Vila Chãs in Portugal alone. My hunch is that they were named so because they were built in flat, low-lying land. But that's just a hunch. – Jacinto Oct 25 '16 at 21:52
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    @Jacinto It's by the ocean. Pretty flat. I am referring to the one close to Vila do Conde, but there are many more Vila Chãs. – Rodrigo de Azevedo Oct 26 '16 at 8:40
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Welcome to PLSE. My answer covers what is current usage of "chão" in pt-BR.

"chão" (noun) translates as "ground" in English. It's masculine and singular as you mentioned. Even though you may find a feminine and a plural form in most dictionaries, they are not current usage. You'll never hear anyone say "chã" or "chãos" in Brazil, either as a noun or as an adjective. The only exception is "chã-de-dentro", a cut of beef that you buy at food stores. However, I don't think anyone in Brazil can recognize that word for what it is: the feminine of "chão". That's because most of us are not aware there is a feminine form.

Instead of using "chão" as an adjective, we use other adjectives that have a similar meaning:

  • "ground floor" - "andar térreo"
  • "ground plan" - "planta baixa"
  • "ground crew" - "equipe de terra"
  • "ground wire/lead" - "fio-terra"
  • "ground water" - "lençol freático"

So if you are among native speakers of pt-BR, don't use "chão" as an adjective for fear that you are taken for an alien from another planet. If you use it as a noun, stick to the masculine and singular form, and you'll be safe.

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  • Yes, once more , as usually, we really are able to see that languages are not math but something more creative and more artistic, more living and so also more interesting! Even oneself´s mother tongue is always a kind of expedition like the river Amazon. Never can we conquer! -Kiitos paljon! = Muito obrigado! – Jari Lehtonen Oct 26 '16 at 18:29
  • Alguns cidades do Nordeste do Brasil levam a palavra Chã em seus nomes. – André Lyra Oct 31 '16 at 15:35
  • @AndréLyra E se eu visse seus nomes eu não imaginaria que "chã" pudesse ser o feminino de "chão". E vc, André, caso seja brasileiro, há quanto tempo sabe que chão tem um feminino? – Centaurus Oct 31 '16 at 21:09
  • Por certo achava que fosse um regionalismo ou gíria sem sentido "Chã de Alegria / PE", "Chã de Cruz / PE". Estou conhecendo aqui. E sem um contexto não perceberia. Mas pelos nomes das cidades, pensaria em "Terra da Alegria". – André Lyra Nov 1 '16 at 10:44

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