Posted in English, Portuguese

Exercises (p60)

Trying the same as yesterday but this time I’m going to list all the verb/preposition combinations out before I start.

(While I was doing this, my sister-in-law, who is madeiran, came over and tried to do one of the questions in the opposite page. She couldn’t do them either, so I don’t feel so bad now)

The verbs to choose from today are

Agir

  • Agir contra = to act against
  • Agir por = to be motivated by
  • Agir segundo = to act in accordance with
  • Agir sobre = to act on something, produce an effect

Falar

  • Falar com =to speak with
  • Falar de = to make criticisms about
  • Falar sobre = to talk about, express opinions about
  • Falar em = to mention, refer to
  • Falar para = to speak on the telephone to someone in another location, to direct your speech toward
  • Falar perante = to speak on front of an audience
  • Falar por = to speak for someone, as a representative

Meter

  • Meter em = to put inside

Meter-se

  • Meter-se a = to dedicate oneself to, to roll up one’s sleeves and start doing something
  • Meter-se com = to direct one’s words at, to provoke, to challenge
  • Meter-se em = to dedicate oneself to something, to shut oneself in somewhere, to interfere in
  • Meter-se por = to go somewhere

Pensar

  • Pensar de = to have an opinion about
  • Pensar em = to reflect on something, to have an intention of
  • Pensar por = to do someone’s thinking for them
  • Pensar sobre = to think about, to have an opinion about

Saber

  • Saber a = to taste of
  • Saber de = to know about

Telefonar

  • Telefonar a = to phone someone
  • Telefonar de = to phone from somewhere
  • Telefonar para = to phone a place

Ter

  • Ter com = to have some relation with
  • (ir) Ter com = to meet with someone
  • Ter alguma coisa contra = to have something against
  • Ter de = to have to do something
  • Ter alguém por = to consider something (tenho-o por boa pessoa means you believe someone is a good person)
Grammar batman
Holy prepositions, Batman

This feels much easier than yesterday’s. The expressions aren’t so similar. Anyway, here we go with the questions.

  • A Isabel é de ideias fixas: há nove meses meteu-se a aprender russo e já fala muito bem ✔️
  • Estamos a pensar em fazer uma viagem à Índia, talvez em Setembro ✔️
  • Na cerimónia académica, o estudante mais velho falou pelos colegas de turma ✔️
  • O José queria ajudar o neto, mas não podia porque não sabia nada de informática ✔️
  • Vais ter com a Ulrike ao Chiado? É um sitio muito bom para passear ✔️
  • O professor de História é “um livro aberto”: consegue falar sobre todos os assuntos com facilidade. ✔️
  • Os meus vizinhos são escandalosos, andam sempre a se metem em complicações ✖️ meter-se em (meh, right verb, wrong tense)
  • A família do homem-bomba declarou que ele agia pelas suas convicções religiosas ✖️ agiu segundo
  • O que é que pensas deste primeiro ministro? Eu acho-o um competente.✔️
  • Tenho a Fernanda por uma pessoa leal e honesta. ✔️
  • A mãe telefonou para o consultório do médico, mas não conseguiu falar com ele. ✔️
  • As alunas chinesas queixam-se e dizem que os portugueses se metem constantemente com elas. Elas acham-nos muito atrevidos*. ✔️
  • O réu, acusado de homicídio, argumentou que agiu por legítima defesa e agiu sobre os interesses da família. ✖️ Agiu em/ agiu pelos
  • Pedro, tens de pensar seriamente no seu futuro, não podes continuar nessa indolência. ✔️
  • Mete o dinheiro no bolso porque podes perdê-lo ✔️
  • Tens de acabar o trabalho quanto antes, já estamos atrasados na entrega. ✔️ (the answer actually gives “temos” but I think this works if you imagine one person’s work holding up an entire project team..?)
  • Detestava ouvir falar de outros pessoas, sobretudo quando era crítica gratuita. ✔️
  • A que é que te sabem essas batatas fritas? Acho-as horríveis. ✔️
  • A nossa filha, no seu doutoramento, teve de falar perante uma audiência de mais de cem pessoas. ✔️
  • Tens de dar a tua opinião, não posso pensar por ti ✖️ falar por
  • É difícil provar que ele não agiu por má-fé. ✖️ Tenha agido de

*nice word: cheeky

Well, that was much better but still left a lot to be desired…

Posted in English

Mansplaining Pronouns to an Actual Linguist

A video drifted into my feed yesterday by someone I’d never heard of before and it looked interesting so I listened to it while I was getting ready to go out. The chap who made the video is a linguist and he decided to weigh in on the controversial topic of pronouns and how they are being used, mainly in English, mainly by younger people in relatively affluent communities. If you don’t know why pronouns are controversial, well, consider yourself lucky, but basically whether we refer to people as he or she or something else, and under what circumstances is currently occupying a lot of social media and traditional media output. Frankly I’m baffled, but middle-aged people being baffled by stuff the youngs are obsessed with isn’t exactly news, is it? 🤷🏼

Anyway, as weird as it is in English, it’s even weirder in languages like portuguese where gender-specific pronouns are ascribed not only to people but to pens, apples, books and the concept of liberty*.

I’ve written a few posts about pronoun shifts a while ago um… Now where did I leave those? I started with this one, and a few people said the pun on the word “neuter” was problematic but that doesn’t seem to have stopped me repeating the crime a few weeks later when I really expanded on the subject here and then for a little reprise here.

Anyway if that kind of thing is something that interests you, I can recommend the whole video: it’s full of thought-provoking stuff. On the other hand, if you’re not, no worries because I only wanted to focus on a few seconds in the middle anyway. So, let me at least tell you why I decided to contradict him despite the fact that he is an expert and I am not.

At around 8 minutes and 25-ish seconds, he is discussing instances of relatively new pronouns that have been drafted into languages, relatively late in their development and he says “Portuguese has the impersonal ‘a gente'”. Except he says it in a Brazilian accent so it’s more like “a Genchee”.

Why, Brazilians? Why?

Gente is a feminine, singular noun that refers to a group of people but it’s true that portuguese speakers do use “a gente” as a stand-in for a group of people in place of “we”. It makes the grammar simpler because you don’t have to wrap your tongue around the nós form of the verb, you can just conjugate it in the third person singular – “a gente fala…” in place of “nós falamos”. It sounds a bit odd to English speakers but it works. As far as I can tell, it’s much more common in Brazil but it does exist in Portugal too. Of course it’s very informal, but I think it’s wrong to say it’s a pronoun. Even though it’s playing a similar role in the sentence – filling in in place of what could be a list of names, you could say the same about other collective nouns. Take “The family” as in “The family are getting together for Christmas” which could easily have been “We are getting together for Christmas”. Or what about “guys” in situations like “It’s just the guys, together again” or “hello guys, and welcome to another video”. Definitely not pronouns, right, but they are really fulfilling the same role as “a gente”.

Using nouns as stand-ins for people happens in formal speech too. You will almost certainly have heard people addressing each other as “o senhor” or “a senhora” or even “o doutor” Again, these are behaving in a fairly pronoun-like way, but they’re both nouns. You’re just talking to the person in the third person. “How is the gentleman?” instead of “How are you?” It’s the same kind of thing.

I felt like I was being a but of a reply guy, challenging someone in their academic discipline. Luckily we are both dudes, so I can’t be accused of mansplaining but even so, it’s a bit… Well, let’s say “hubristic”.

The Results Are In, You Bastards

Mansplaining cat

So, I made a reddit poll to ask native speakers on r/português to tell me if I’m right in my thinking. To my huge annoyance, judging by the early results, ‘yes, it’s a pronoun” seems to be winning over “no, it’s just a noun”. It’s a pretty close result in Portugal but overwhelming in Brazil.

In my defence, democracy is overrated. But if that brilliant argument doesn’t convince you, the explanation someone gave is that although “gente” is a noun, “a gente” os technically known as “uma locução pronomial” with “the same value as the personal pronoun ‘nós'” só it’s not a pronoun per se, but it works like one. Meh, I can live with that form of words, I think.

Finally, a European speaker said he was taught never to use it as a pronoun because it was “extremamente errado” and whenever he used it his grandpa would say “A gente? Agente é da polícia!”

Preach it!


*Respectively: lady, lady, gentleman, lady, if you’re keeping score.

Posted in English

Divided by a Common Language

I wrote something the other day that included the word “ficámos” as a past tense of ficar, meaning “we stayed”, and a Brazilian guy has told me it should be ‘ficamos”. I’ve told him that I am pretty sure this is one of those differnces between PT-PT and PT-BR: Portugal uses an -ámos ending in the past perfect, but in Brazil -amos is used for both present and perfect (lol, no scope for confusion there!) but he’s insisting that no, his way is correct. I feel a little arrogant contradicting someone whose native language is portuguese but I’m pretty sure I’m right on this one so I’m just ignoring the bloke and carrying on regardless.

Priberam (portuguese) on the left vs conjugação.com (brazilian) on the right

As I mentioned a few months ago in my comparison of the two types of Portuguese, Brazil has a larger media and a more powerful cultural impact in the world so they don’t always notice the smaller group of people speaking the European variant across the atlantic. The same is true of the US media hegemony co-opting English. There’s no use complaining (*pauses to wipe away bitter British tears*), it just is what it is. So if you’re asking someone for advice or corrections, it’s best to say what variant you’re learning to avoid misunderstandings, but if someone tries to help and gets it wrong (like this bloke is doing, I think) you have to be sensitive in how you reply. Anyone who honestly tries to help someone online is a good person. If they get it wrong from time to time, that doesn’t make them bad: a gentle reminder should sort things out with no hurt feelings. I used to have a portuguese friend who would absolutely lay into Brazilian teachers who corrected European portuguese learners but I think she was being unreasonable and I’d always try to calm her down because it made me cringe to think that someone had tried to help me and was getting a verbal battering for their troubles. I definitely don’t want to do that, but I’m going to politely suggest that I think he’s mistaken!

Posted in English

Compound Verbs

Hard Mode Homework. From Português Outra Vez: using verbs with prepositions. Often the meanings of the verbs can change so radically with the choice of preposition that it basically acts as a compound verb. The base verbs it offers are these

  • Andar
  • Fazer
  • Ficar
  • Ficar-se
  • Vir
  • Voltar
  • Voltar-se

Each can use a variety of prepositions and I’m using the Guia Prático de Verbos com Preposições by Helena Ventura and Manuela Caseiro to pin down which is which. I often use some of these without quite realising why and it’s useful to spell it out.

Quite often, I’ll come across a feature of Portuguese and think it’s weird and unlike anything in English and then I realise that, no, we do have them, we just don’t notice them because nobody draws attention to their existence. Think of the difference between “Stick to”, “Stick out” and “Stick around” for example – or “Pass by”, “Pass over”, “Pass for” and “Pass out”.

Andar

  • Andar a (+inf) = to progressively achieve something (ando a ler Fernando Pessoa)
  • Andar com = to feel (anda com dor de dentes) OR to live with (ele agora anda com gente muito esquisita) OR to have something with you (ela anda sempre com o telemóvel)
  • Andar de = to use some form of transport (ando de bicicleta)
  • Andar em = to frequent (ela anda na Faculdade de Direito) OR to achieve (ela anda em grandes obras na casa de praia)
  • Andar para = to have an intention to do something (ando para ir ao cinema)
  • Andar por = to approach (o preço do carro anda por dez mil euros) OR to visit, pass through, hang out in (gosto muito de andar pelos parques)
  • Andar sem = to be without something (o Pedro anda sem atenção)

Fazer

  • Fazer com (que) = to force (fizeram com que o ministro aceitasse as reivindicações) OR to have a consequence (a avaria na EPAL fez com que alguns lisboetas ficassem sem água durante muitos dias)
  • Fazer de = to act like (o Pedro fazia de palhaço) OR to transform (os E.U.A. disseram que queriam fazer do Iraque uma pátria livre)
  • Fazer… Por… To do something for (or on behalf of) someone (a Patricia fez o trabalho pelo colega)
  • Fazer por (+inf) to make an effort (ela faz por gostar de bacalhau mas não consegue)

Ficar

  • Ficar a =to be in a place (Lisboa fica a cerca de 300 quilómetros do Porto) OR to stay somewhere (não fiquei a assistir ao espectáculo ao final)
  • Ficar com = to get, or keep hold of (fico com a blusa verde) OR to continue to feel (fico sempre com medo quando ouço barulhos estranhos)
  • Ficar de (+inf) =to promise to do something (ele ficou de passar por minha casa às nove horas)
  • Ficar em = to stay, to be situated – similar to ficar a (o Hospital fica em Lisboa, a atleta Rosa Mota ficou em primeiro lugar)
  • Ficar para =to be destined for something (o colar de pérolas fica para ti) OR to be deferred (a nossa conversa fica para amanhã)
  • Ficar por =to support (nas discussões ela fica sempre pelas mulheres) OR to substitute for someone (o meu colega ficou por mim) OR to cost (o fato ficou por cem euros) OR to remain uncompleted (as camas ficaram por fazer porque ela teve de sair à pressa) OR to stop (hoje ficamos por aqui)
  • Ficar sem =to lose or be deprived (ficamos sem água toda a tarde)

Ficar-se

  • Ficar-se por =to limit oneself to (na reunião com os seus apoiantes, o presidente ficou-se por um discurso breve)

Vir

  • Vir a =to attain an objective (se vice estudar muito, pode vir a falar português corretamente)
  • Vir de =to finally do something (era minha intenção saudar os alunos que vinham de chegar)

Voltar

  • Voltar a =to repeat an action (o telefone voltou a tocar)
  • Voltar para =to turn something toward (voltaram os olhos para o céu)

Voltar-se

  • Voltar-se para =to turn toward (voltei-me para ele e disse-lhe tudo o que oensava

The book lists several other combinations of verbs and prepositions but I don’t think they are different enough from their original meanings to bother defining like this. For example, vir normally means “come” and you can come to, come from, come by and so on. Voltar means return, and you can return to, from, whatever. It’s not rocket science.

OK, here we go… I’ll put my answers in brackets. When I get it wrong, I’ll cross out my answer and replace with the corrected version.

A Teresa (anda para ficou de) passar por minha casa hoje à noite para estudarmos juntas, espero que não falte. [hm, I don’t think my answer was too bad. Maybe not the best one, but doesn’t seem wrong either…]

Após muitos anos no estrangeiro p Zé, cheio de saudades, (voltou para) Portugal

Lisboa (fica a) cerca de 300km

O excesso de açúcar é de álcool (faz com) que as pessoas fiquem obesas

Quando eu morrer, o meu colar de pérolas (fica para) a minha neta Joana*

Para cá chegares mais depressaa, sugiro-te que (vir venhas pela) autoestrada.

De repente (voltou-se para) o chefe e disse-lhe tudo o que lhe ia na alma.

Costumas (andar de vir a) pé ou (andar vir de) autocarro para (andar vir para ) a faculdade? [The word “para”, just after “autocarro” is missing from the book but it doesn’t make any sense without it, so I’m not 100% sure but I think it should be there]

Porto Covo (fica na) costa vicentina, (fica ao no) litoral alentejano

Não gostava de (andar de) transportes públicos sobretudo, detestava (andar de) metro

Se estudares muito, podes (vir a) falar português fluentemente no futuro**

Eles (virão de ficaram de) pagar as dívidas às Finanças no prazo de seis meses, caso contrário vão a tribunal [OK I can see that makes sense]

Eu (ando a) ler um livro de Mário de Carvalho***: “A Arte de Morrer Longe”

Ele (fazia por) agradar ao chefe mas era sempre um esforço em vão.

O ministro, lacónicamente (ficou-se por) um breve discurso na tomada de posse

(Andamos para) fazer um passeio no Douro, já há dois anos, mas ainda não nos foi possível fazê-lo.

Depois da queda do muro de Berlim, muitos imigrantes da Europa de leste (vieram para) Portugal.

A empregada é incompetente: limpou mal a casa e as camas (ficam ficaram por) fazer. [I was umming and ahhing over the tense for ages and it looks like I plumped for the wrong one]

Carlos, (voltou voltaste a) casar? Não desistes, é a terceira vez!

Os lisboetas (ficaram sem) água durante toda a manhã. Foi o caos!

Por vezes, convém-me (fazer de) surda, para não ter de responder a certas pessoas

*Woah, this question from Português Outra Vez is almost exactly the same as the one in a the Guia Prática.

**Another one! Oh right, I’ve just realised Helena Ventura is a co-author of both so she’s probably recycling her own material

***Coincidentally, I have a different book by the same author, Ronda Das Mil Belas em Frol, on the arm of the sofa as I write.

Posted in English, Portuguese

Grammar Practice

Verb conjugations and prepositions from Português Outra Vez. The conjugations are easy enough, the prepositions, as usual, are confusing.

Não consigo tratar a Adelaide por “tu” (I can’t call Adelaide “tu”)

Os polícias caíram sobre os assaltantes que foram apanhadas em flagrante (The police fell upon the thieves, who were caught red handed)

A notícia correu em todos os jornais.(The news ran in all the papers)

As traseiras do prédio dão para o cemitério (The rear of the building faces the cemetery)

O Zé é tão parecido fisicamente com o pai. E em matéria de teimosia também sai ao pai. (José is so physically similar to his dad. And as for stubbornness too, he takes after his dad)

Costumo tratar com carinho as minhas empregadas, para que se sintam à vontade (i usually treat my employees with kindness so they feel at ease)

O estudante coreano saiu-se muito bem na prova oral de língua portuguesa (The Korean student did very well in the spoken Portuguese test)

Depois daquele escândalo, o político caiu em desgraça e foi esquecido por todos (After the scandal, the politician fell into disrepute and was forgotten by everyone)

Tento convencer-te mas vejo que não consigo levar-te a gostar de jazz. (I try to convince you but I see that I can’t make you like jazz)

Não resisti àqueles bombons de ginja: acabei com eles em dois tempos (I couldn’t resist those sour cherry sweets: I polished them off in two goes)

Posted in English

Queria? Já Não Quer?

I’ve just written a brief text in Portuguese about this which will probably end up being a blog post soon but I thought I’d expand on it in English in the meantime because it’s interesting!

So apparently there’s this joke that gets made a lot in Portuguese cafés. If you ask for a coffee by saying “queria um abatenado” (an abatenado is a kind of coffee) the waiter might reply “Queria? Já não quer?” if they are a bit of a smartarse. Why?

In English we don’t usually say “I want a cup of tea” because it sounds too blunt, so we go for something gentler like “I would like a cup of tea” instead. In the same way, the Portuguese have a fondness for tweaking the tense to sound more polite. They do this by saying “I was wanting a coffee”. And so, if you are a bored waiter you might decide to interpret this in the most literal way possible and reply with “Oh, you were wanting one, we’re you? So you don’t want one any more?” I know, hilarious, right?

I quite like it actually since it is both amusing and instructive for us learners but I think some people find it irritatingly pedantic, especially when it is repeated often. A recent article on Timeout Lisboa has taken waiters to task for this and for another literalism – namely when they reply to a request for a glass of water (“um copo de aqua”) by replying that they don’t have any glasses made of water, only glasses made of glass but if you want, they can give you a glass with water in (“um copo com água”). Marco Neves, in his blog, Certas Palavras, takes up the baton and gives a few other examples of nonstandard uses of verb tenses as well as some of his pet peeves. It’s a good read if you are at intermediate level or above.

Of course, as with most things, as soon as you noticed some weird feature of Portuguese, you realise English has exactly the same weirdness. I’ve already mentioned “I would like” as a politer version of “I want” but here are some other examples of verb tenses being used in weird ways in everyday English that are completely fine but would be confusing if you took them at face value.

Present tense for future events: I hope I don’t catch covid because I’m visiting my parents at the weekend.

Conditional tense for past events: When he was depressed he would spend his evenings drinking Drambuie and watching repeats of Peep Show with his cat.

Future perfect tense for things you assume to be true: Ah, Hamish, you’ll have had your tea

Present tense for historic events (the so called “historic present” or “narrative present” which was briefly both trendy and controversial a few years ago and basically dominates podcasting): “The Romans invade the Iberian Peninsula in the third century and are met with fierce resistance, not least from the Lusitanian tribes, led by Viriatus”

Studying another language has given me a new appreciation of my own.

Posted in English

The Sempei of Sempre

When I was about 11 or 12 and learning Latin at school, my mum told me a rhyme she had for remembering the meaning of the word “semper”, meaning “always”: She’d say “Semper, semper, always keep your temper”.

It still works, most of the time, for the latin-derived word “sempre”. It usually means “always”, but there are exceptions. The first one you learn is “Sempre em frente”, meaning “straight ahead”, and there are a few other little expressions like “até sempre” and “para sempre” where it works with another word to mean something related but slightly different.

But even in normal usage, not part of an expression, it seems like the word order matters and it can change what it means depending where it comes in the sentence. I have made a couple of mistakes around this lately so I’ve been pointed to some examples. Here are a couple, shamelessly stolen from Reddit

O João sempre passou nos testes

O João passou sempre nos testes

In the first one, sempre goes before the verb, so it means “João ended up passing the tests”. Maybe he wasn’t expecting to pass but he managed to pull it off. Or maybe you weren’t sure but then you found out that, yes, yes he did.

In the second, sempre goes after the verb so it means what you expect it to mean – João was a smarty pants and every time he took a test he always passed it.

This seems to be a quirk of European Portuguese. In Brazil, it just means what you expect it to mean, regardless of the order, but in Europe, where you put it makes all the difference!

So, for us anglos, we need to resist the urge to put sempre where we would put it in our own language. “He always passed always the test”

There’s a video about it here if you’d rather hear about this from the horse’s mouth.

Posted in English

Vivalma

With my Tony Soper mask on, creeping through the bushes in search of rare and exotic creatures in the Portuguese language, I came across this sentence in the book I’m reading. It’s part of a description of the video footage of the big dramatic confrontation between the incompetent policeman and the unrealistic villain (I feel like I’m giving spoilers for the book review I’m planning…)

Do you like the picture, by the way? My daughter showed me how to unblur a single sentence like this the other day and I’m delighted to have learned a new skill!

Anyway, “vivalma” was a new one on me. According to Priberam it’s a relatively new word composed of the two smaller words: viva, alma. Alive and soul respectively. The grammar of the sentence is a little complicated because you have the mystery-meat pronoun “se” which I always find a little difficult to deal with but it’s just triggering the passive voice: “não vira” = had not seen, “não se vira” = had not been seen.

So the whole thing means “For fifteen seconds, not a living should had been seen in the river”.

Posted in English

Gerunds

Parsing this paragraph which has two gerunds in it. Gerunds are rare beasts in european portuguese so I thought I’d try and unpick the grammar a bit for my own benefit.

“A long time ago” began Andreia, causing Marta to sigh with frustration, as she realised that the the revelation would be delayed, “wars between peoples were fought body-to-body, steel against steel, eye to eye. Technology kept evolving and automatic weapons arose, like rifles and wars began to be fought at a distance. “

Fazendo com que:

There are a lot of compound verbs in portuguese, where a standard verb (usually a common one like dar or fazer), gets used with a preposition and takes on a different meaning.. Fazer com que means to provoke or cause something (check this ciberdúvidas article for more background). In this case, it’s in the gerund form, meaning it’s just scene-setting: The dialogue is being described and the author is just letting you know what effect it’s having on the listeners

Foi evoluindo

Using Ir + gerund like this is a way of describing something that keeps/kept happening, continuouly over time. For some reason the main example of this I can think of is a clip of a brazilian dancer in a tik-tok video compilation…. OK, OK, it’s a guilty pleasure. Leve me alone! At about the 4:35 mark, she tells you “abre e cruza e vai acelerando” (Open and close and keep speeding it up)

So “Foi evoluindo” means it kept evolving.

Posted in Portuguese

A Incontornável Vírgula de Oxford

Virgula

This text is in defence of the Oxford Comma, which is actually called Vírgula de Oxford or in Brazil, Vírgula de Oxónia. I’ve put notes at the bottom containing some of the more interesting corrections.

Geralmente prefiro evitar erros de pontuação se for possível. Não sou muito picuinhas mas se vir um erro, corrijo. Mas há excepções. Se uma regra resulta numa frase ambígua ou pouco clara, antes quebrar a regra que deixar o leitor com dúvidas. É por isto, na minha opinião, que devemos exigir of uso da temível Vírgula de Oxford.

Quando se usa? Normalmente escrevemos listas assim: o primeiro item, o segundo item e o último. Não precisamos de usar uma vírgula entre o segundo e o último porque há um “e” mas considere-se a seguinte conversa:

Que* tipos de sandes** tens?

Queijo e fiambre, queijo e cebola e doce de framboesa e manteiga de amendoim.

Há uma certa ambiguidade: provavelmente há três opções: “queijo e fiambre”, “queijo e cebola” e “doce de framboesa e manteiga de amendoim” mas também pode ser “queijo e fiambre”, “queijo e cebola e doce de framboesa e manteiga de amendoim” ou “queijo e fiambre”, “queijo” e “cebola e doce de framboesa e manteiga de amendoim” ou várias outras combinações.

É provável que a maioria de nós já saibamos mas não é cem por cento óbvio, portanto o escritor tem a oportunidade de colocar uma vírgula antes do último item na lista, e antes do “e”.

Igualmente, ao escrever listas que contenham*** títulos ou qualquer coisa mais complicada do que uma única palavra, vale a pena inserir uma vírgula. Ainda que não seja certinha, qualquer coisa que ajude o leitor ou que faça com que o texto se leia melhor o texto é útil e ser claro é mais importante do que ser certinho.

* I used qual. I generally think of qual as meaning whic (which one is it?), as opposed to que, meanining what (what is it?) so I guess I was thinking which kind of sandwiches but in reflection that doesn’t really sound right does it, and maybe I was influenced by the fact that I was taking about sandw(h)iches. More about Qual vs Que here, on Ciberdúvidas.

**Side-note about sandes and sanduíches: bother are fine but sandes is more normal. It is a reduction of sanduíche, the latter being obviously an “estrangeirismo” based on an English word and therefore not very Portuguese-sounding but of course its tempting for us to use the more familiar word. Just to complicate matters further, technically sandes should be plural and sande the singular form, but “uma sandes” seems to be the default. In case you need more incentive to avoid saying sanduíche, consider this: sanduíche has the incredibly irritating characteristic of changing its gender across the Atlantic. It’s feminine in European Portuguese and masculine in Brazilian Portuguese. Whaaaaaaat? Sandes, people, don’t forget.

***Here and in the rest of the paragraph I completely failed to get I to subjunctive mode and blew all the grammar. It’s a good example of expressing an idea that has a lot of reliance on subjunctive tenses.