When pluralized, the words um/a and algum/a both translate into English as "some". Therefore, what is the difference between the following sentences?

Vou comer umas maçãs.

Vou comer algumas maçãs.

Which is the more common, and which is more correct?

  • o mais comum mesmo, seria: vou comer maças. Mas das opções, utilizo mais: vou comer algumas maças.
    – Peixoto
    Jan 30, 2018 at 13:11
  • No difference where I come from. e.g. "por que você não come umas bananas?" and "por que você não come algumas bananas?" There's no difference to me.
    – Centaurus
    Jan 30, 2018 at 15:51

2 Answers 2


There is not much of a difference between the two determinatives.

In the singular, the main difference that exists between um and algum is the fact that algum doesn't admit a [+specific] reading (i.e., a reading where the speaker has a specific entity in mind):

Vou comer uma maçã: a Fuji.
*Vou comer alguma maçã: a Fuji.

(Another difference is that algum, but not um, can be put after the noun in certain contexts, like não vou comer maçã alguma/*uma.)

In the plural this difference all but disappears:

Vou comer umas maçãs: as três Fujis.
Vou comer algumas maçãs: as três Fujis.

Algumas works more like a quantifier: the difference is small, but with algumas you're more clearly referring to small amount of apples. Therefore, with only two items, algumas is more awkward (as in vou comer algumas maçãs: esta e aquela). And if you explicitly request a count, alguns is clearly the better option, perhaps the only possible one:

— Quantas maçãs comeste?
— Comi algumas. / — ?/* Comi umas.

An alternative is to respond with comi umas poucas (literally a few).

  • comi umas poucas or comi umas tantas. There's also vou comer alguma melancia ("some watermelon"), whereas comer uma melancia would be glutony.
    – Jacinto
    Aug 20, 2019 at 17:22

In pt-BR, in a sentence like "I'll eat some apples", I'd say that umas is more common (algumas I'd probably translate in this case as a few). Also used is simply

Vou comer maçã.

But there's very little difference between them in this context. And which one of them sounds best is subjective and, in general, depends strongly on the sentence.

For instance,

Algumas obras de arte se perderam na guerra.

sounds better than

Umas obras de arte se perderam na guerra.

Notice also that "some of them" is almost always "alguns deles" or "algumas delas".

  • uns deles / umas delas são possíveis, embora menos frequentes: Foi divulgado na semana passada que um vereador do PMDB gaúcho não apenas propôs publicamente o assassinato de crianças ele próprio disse que tentou matar umas delas, passando o carro por cima
    – Artefacto
    Jan 30, 2018 at 15:31
  • @Artefacto Verdade. Corrigido.
    – stafusa
    Jan 30, 2018 at 16:28
  • bem visto que a few é uma melhor tradução para algumas
    – Artefacto
    Jan 31, 2018 at 15:14
  • I'd say in Portugal too, comer umas maçãs is more common than algumas maçãs
    – Jacinto
    Aug 20, 2019 at 17:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.