Posted in English, Portuguese


I used this text to ask a question about a book I’m reading. It’s about the difference between “seu” and “dele” – which are both ways of expressing possession but they’re used slightly differently. Thanks to Butt Roidholds for the correction and to the assembled Reddit multitudes for the answers.

Será que alguém me* pode ajudar? Estou a ler um livro, no qual o protagonista fica obcecado com um músico que se chama Luís Stockman. Na página 91, vai a uma sala de concertos à espera de falar com o Stockman e tem no seu bolso os óculos dele (que foram perdidos num outro concerto e que o protagonista conseguira obter).

Descrevendo a aparência do Stockman o autor diz: “Reparou que tinha uns óculos novos, de armação mais grossa do que a dos seus (ou, no fundo, dos dele), e um cachecol preto em volta do pescoço.”

Custa-me compreender esta frase. Entendo todas as palavras, sem problema, mas o qual é o significado dos parênteses? A diferença entes “dos seus” e “dos dele” neste contexto?

*”que” is attractive so the pronoun has to go first

So I get the general point of “seu” (meaning his, her or its) and dele being a way of saying “of him”. The first one changes with the gender of the owned object (becoming sua for feminine objects), whereas the second changes with the gender of the owner, (becoming dela if it relates to a woman or a girl, say) so it can be useful for making an ambiguous sentence clearer. If a man and a womam go somewhere to get her in “seu carro”, whose car is it, but if its OK “o carro dela” Then you know its the woman’s car.

This one is a little weirder because there no gender problem to untangle but nonetheless the author is trying to be emphatic. He’s saying “He noticed he was wearing new glasses, the frames of which were thicker than his (or rather, of him) and a scarf around his neck.”

Opinion seems to be that it was just underlining the fact that he was referring to the original subject of the sentence – ie, Stockman, not the protagonist.

More about seu and dele on Ciberduvidas


Just a data nerd

2 thoughts on “Óculos

  1. In portuguese, o SEU é a possessive pronoun and neutral one for gender speaking. Its diferent to english ones with pronouns for men and women ways of speaking.


    1. Thanks. When I said it changes with the owned object I just meant it would become sua if you were taking about his pen for example – “sua caneta”. I’ve changed the text slightly to make that clearer since if it confused you it will probably confuse non-native speakers too!


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