Posted in English

Key Learnings 5 – Gender Rannygazoo

I haven’t blug for a while. Blug is the past tense of blog, right? Anyway, while I have been in silent mode, I’ve been involved in a group discussion on Hellotalk run by a Portuguese friend. There are a few Portuguese-learners in there and it’s interesting to see how the conversation evolves.

Now, normally, I mention my own failings in conversation, but in this case, someone else made a mistake that I thought was really interesting and I definitely would have made it too if I’d been trying to say the same thing, so I’m writing about it to help cement the knowledge in my brain. What he said was

Eu tenho dupla nacionalidade, Americano e Português

The correction came back as

Eu tenho dupla nacionalidade, Americana e Portuguesa

Weird. He’s a bloke, so why is it “Americana” and not “Americano”? Well, the answer is that nacionalidade is a noun in its own right and the way the sentence is structured, it’s his nationality that is described as American, not him. Since nacionalidade is feminine, it becomes “Americana”. If he had said

Eu tenho dupla nacionalidade. Sou Americano e Português

that would have been OK, because in that sentence the adjective is applied to him directly. I was taken aback at first, because we anglophones are so used to not having to think about this stuff, but when you think about it, it makes sense, and opens up a little window into how the language works.


Just a data nerd

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