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In Portuguese (Brazil) we have nouns that end in -aria and nouns that end in -eria. Are there rules / patterns / an etymological explanation of when we use each?

-aria:

  • a chapelaria
  • a estrebaria
  • a sapataria
  • a mercearia

-eria:

  • a lavanderia
  • a sorveteria
  • a joalheria
  • a cafeteria
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  • Those endings are not regularly used in Portugal, but they exist and they are correct. We use lavandaria, gelataria, joalharia and cafetaria instead of lavanderia, sorveteria, joalheria e cafeteria.
    – ANeves
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 16:45
  • @Lawrence de facto "state of the art" reference for this is "Gramática Derivacional do Português". I wanted to write an answer but didn't have the necessary time.
    – bad_coder
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 20:42
  • This Gramática is really interesting. It says much about nouns ending in -aria, but nothing about nouns ending in -eria.
    – Jacinto
    Commented May 10, 2020 at 12:27

1 Answer 1

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Houaiss dictionary has detailed entries for the suffixes -eria and -aria. The only rule appears to be: wait until usage establishes one form, the other, or both. The form -aria is a lot more common; when an -eria word exists it usually has an -aria twin; some -eria words were adapted from or influenced by Spanish -ería or French -erie, but they have been around since the 15th century. I now quote the Houaiss dictionary (Lisbon, 2002; original abbreviations expanded into full words; English translation below):

-aria sufixo importa remontá-lo a duas fontes, -IA (ver) e -EIRO (ver), donde resultaram -eria e este -aria, sendo que -eria tanto pode ter tido formação portuguesa interna (à analogia e, por vezes, influência do espanhol -eria e do francês -erie), como pode ter sido desde o início concorrente de -aria pelas influências referidas;

The entry goes on to explain that this suffix -aria was highly productive, and lists over 300 words, and the list is not exhaustive. I especially resent the omission of gataria.

-eria sufixo do francês -erie, em curso no português já no século XV, vem sendo objeto de rejeição didática purista, mas apresenta certos casos em que o sufixo -aria, ver, canónico poderia ser fonte de ambiguidade, como em bateria, galeria, sobranceria; em vários casos são registadas as duas formas, como amideria/amidaria, bijuteria/bijutaria, bilheteria/bilhetaria, charcuteria/charcutaria, engraxateria/engraxataria, glutoneria/glutonaria, guasqueria/guascaria, grosseria/grossaria, infanteria/infantaria, joalheria/joalharia, leiteria/leitaria, lavanderia/lavandaria, loteria/lotaria, mamposteria/mampostaria, parceria/parçaria, pedanteria/pedantaria, peleria/pelaria, selvageria/selvajaria, sorveteria/sorvetaria, talabarteria/talabartaria, tolderia/toldaria, uisqueria/uiscaria, vozeria/vozaria; a forma -eria é, em certo sentido, coonestada pelo sufixo conexo de agente     -EIRO, ver

Again, this list is not exhaustive. In entry -aria we can still find (all these have an -aria twin): chocolateria, carniceria, gendarmeria, barganteria, galanteria, guacheria, carroceria. Cafeteria and cafetaria don’t appear in either list (they have their own entries though).

Houaiss entries translated

-aria suffix it is important to trace them to two origins, -IA (see) and -EIRO (see), from which     -eria and this -aria resulted; -eria may have been internally formed in the Portuguese language (by analogy to and, sometimes, influenced by, Spanish -ería and French -erie) as well as a competitor from the beginning to -aria under the aforementioned influence.

-eria suffix from French -erie, already in use in Portuguese in the 15th century, it keeps being the target of purist, didactical objection, but there are certain cases where the canonical suffix   -aria, see, could give rise to ambiguity, as in bateria, galeria, sobranceria; in various cases both forms have been recorded [word list]; the form -eria is, in some sense, made to look honest/legitimated by the related agency suffix -EIRO, see

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  • Thank you for this! In the cases where the two forms exist, is one more prevalent in Brazilian Portuguese?
    – user8139
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 16:29
  • @Lawrence, I'm from Portugal; my hunch is it will depend on the word. I looked up the words Houaiss lists in Michaelis, a Brazilian dictionary, and it has the -eria form only or in -aria just tells you to look up -eria (which I take to mean -eria is prevalent) in bilheteria, bijuteria, carroceria, grosseria, joalheria, leiteria, lavanderia, loteria, parceria, selvageria, sorveteria [all fairly common words] uisqueria [common?], mamposteria [had never heard of it]; it's the opposite with >>
    – Jacinto
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 20:24
  • >> charcutaria, infantaria [common words], chocolataria, galantaria, vozaria [so-so], amidaria, carniçaria, gendarmaria, bargantaria, talabartaria, toldaria [I think all of these are pretty rare]. So if this sample is anything to go by, where a common word has both forms, more often than not, the -eria form is more common. Which of course still leaves some where -aria is more common. What is clear is that -eria words are more common in Brazil than in Portugal. I Portugal we use grosseria, parceria (had never heard the other variant); carroceria, galanteria, bijuteria >>
    – Jacinto
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 20:38
  • >> compete with the -aria form. In all other cases we use only the -aria form, except for the rare words, which I have no idea about.
    – Jacinto
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 20:42
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    @bad_coder, poupo-te o trabalho: a morfologia vem no volume III, que ainda não foi publicado! Pelo andar da carruagem, não faço quando será.
    – Jacinto
    Commented May 10, 2020 at 12:25

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