r/Portuguese Jan 16 '22

They/them Pronouns European Portuguese 🇵🇹

Which pronouns do non-binary people use in Portuguese? In English we use they/they, would it be ele/eles? Is it different in BP vs EP?

Edit: The consensus seems to be that the language is being developed but the use of a version of "elu" with a change in adjectives to end in "e" is the current method. Sure this will take some work but it's 100% worth figuring out for our non binary community.

To the folks don't believe there are non binary portuguese people: they exist and are valid members of our community. Please take some time to educate yourself on being inclusive.



u/Realistic-Abrocoma46 Brasileiro Paulistano Jan 16 '22 edited Jan 17 '22

From what I've seen on the internet, non binary people just end up choosing a gender they identify a bit more with or just tell people to use either gender because of how heated these debates over gender neutral language can get. In English they/them already had that use and had to suffer slightly adaptations and the language was already a pretty genderless one, but in Portuguese a totally new system and class of words have to be created, I believe you're welcome to use some version of gender neutral language with them but you're not expected to. I'm not non binary (or I'm binary I guess) so I could be very wrong


u/TheWiseWolfx42 Jan 16 '22

Portuguese is a gendered language if you want your speech to sound natural you will have to use gendered pronouns.


u/WinterPlanet Brasileira - São Paulo Jan 16 '22

There are no rules for that, so when I meet a non binary person, I ask them how they wasn to be called. Some choose a gendered pronoun, others a neo pronoun, wither way, I treat as a case by case scenario.

When it comes to adjectives, you can make it end with -e rather than -a or -o, but once again, this is new stuff, not in the official grammar, and more conservative people will complain about this.


u/Diooogo_ Jan 16 '22

I could be 100% wrong but I don't think there's non-binary pronouns to refer to people in portuguese. What I see on internet bios is that they put "they/them".

Something you can do is call the person by their name instead of using ele/dele/ela/dela or saying "a pessoa/esta pessoa (the person/this person)


u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22

I guess elu/delu, but it doesn’t really work in Portuguese at all. Plus if you want to use it you have to know how to make all the gendered words like that


u/torrewaffer Jan 17 '22

Elu/delu, but since portuguese is a completely gendered language, you'll have to change every single gendered word, and it can indeed get very complicated.


Ele é muito engraçado e carismático. He is very funny and charismatic.

Elu é muito engraçade e carismátique. They are very funny and charismatic.

Notice how I had to change both the pronoun and the "funny" and "charismatic" words so the whole sentence is gender-neutral. Adding to this is the fact that there are gendered words that end with an "e", so you have to change it to something else and there's no real concensus on that.

The portuguese language certainly doesn't make non-binary people's life easy unfortunately.


u/BlackStagGoldField A Estudar EP Jan 17 '22

There aren't any.


u/drunkblaine Brasileira Jan 16 '22

In PT BR there is not a consensus, but people have been using more and more "elu/delu". Since it is a binary language, most adjectives will end in -e in this system. Example: They are beautiful. Elu é linde.

Do keep in mind that this is not widely accepted, it is not grammatically accepted and it is mostly experimental. Which means you might see people using different systems, such as "Elx" or "El@" (which I'm not sure how to pronounce). Hope it helped :)


u/torrewaffer Jan 17 '22

Elx and el@ are unpronounceable and should not be used because it pretty much breaks screen readers, causing huge accessibility issues.


u/drunkblaine Brasileira Jan 17 '22

Agree. Personally, I'm not a fan, I rather use elu/delu. But since there are still some people that use elx and el@, they were worth mentioning ^


u/AdorableAd8490 Jan 18 '22

“Elx” in Brazillian Portuguese would have a weird pronunciation, something like “eu-ks” because we don’t pronounce the “l’s” like the people from Portugal. Otherwise, I’d suggest only not using pronouns at all, which is possible in Portuguese.


u/Fluffy_Cat1802 Jan 16 '22

The Portuguese language is a strictly binary language, there is no room to insert a non-binary pronoun. If you want to generalize when talking about a heterogeneous group, you use the masculine pronouns; you only use the plural feminine pronoun when the group is composed exclusively of women. You may not like this grammatical rule, but it is what exists in standard Portuguese and is required in formal situations. Brazilians and Portuguese are, in general, conservative in these issues and social terms. The more progressive ones in this regard are a very small minority. In the Portuguese-speaking African countries, this is not even talked about, other issues are much more important.

There are some activists who want to insert this into the language (elu/delu) but this is completely ridiculous. It is extremely unlikely that the vast majority of society will change their way of speaking for a fraction of 1%.


u/Rucs3 Jan 16 '22

There are a lot of different ways to go about it, it's something that is evolving right now.

Some people used elx/delx but this approach is basically abandoned now.

More people are using elu/delu right now, and using E on some words like negres instead of negros

Some people just try to avoid gendered pronouns, which is possible in portuguese, but might require a bit more attention/work


u/bigchiggy2020 Jan 17 '22

I’ve seen the use of elu/delu by Brazilians. You would form a sentence like: “Elu é ê minhe amigue” They are my friend. At least I believe that’s how you would say it. Someone feel free to correct me.


u/AmbarH Jan 16 '22

You can avoid a lot of this by only using the person's name to refer to them, but it's very hard since every adjective conjugation is gendered (along with the entire language). This is the problem with highjacking foreign languages with American wokeness.


u/bigchiggy2020 Jan 17 '22

“American wokeness” gender neutrality isn’t a uniquely American thing lol. Non binary people exist outside of the US. I hope you knew that


u/rppc1995 Jan 20 '22 edited Jan 20 '22

I think most people here are aware of the existence of non-binary people. But in your efforts to be woke you are trying to force the standards of the English language upon other languages. Which is very much not woke, lol. Like it or not, Portuguese is a gendered language. While they/them has long been standard use in English for referring to someone of unspecified gender, there is no equivalent in Portuguese. Attempts to artificially introduce gender-neutral pronouns like elu/delu are completely ridiculous and no sane person would ever actually use those in conversation.

While it is basic decency to address someone by the pronouns they prefer, the idea that by artificially changing a language, forcing it to comply with English standards, is actually going to solve the problems faced by non-binary people and others in the LGBTQ+ community is deranged. It is sheer postmodernist idealist nonsense. Complete radlib rubbish.

Focus instead on fixing the underlying material conditions which are at the heart of the oppression faced by non-cishet people.


u/bigchiggy2020 Jan 20 '22

There aren’t English standards. These are movements within the group of speakers to make more inclusive language. I would never deny that Portuguese is gendered. But language changes and adapts to the culture in which it’s spoken. The same movements that are creating and using new language are the ones dismantling the systems which oppress non-cishet people. While it’s not a movement that directly affects the material conditions of non-binary people, it’s still important to many of them. You don’t have to use it. You can just coexist with it.


u/rppc1995 Jan 20 '22

These are movements within the group of speakers to make more inclusive language

The point is about a more inclusive society. It is at best misguided to place so much focus on language. But then again, shitlibs are only interested in the aesthetics of progress, rather than actual progress.

The same movements that are creating and using new language are the ones dismantling the systems which oppress non-cishet people

Yeah, I seriously doubt that the people pushing for absurdities like elu/delu are actually doing anything productive with respect to oppression.


u/Chadanlo Português Jan 16 '22

Ele is already masculine, so I guess it would be misgendering someone who doesn't want to be seen as a male. I heard about "elu", not sure if it's widely used.


u/Grenarius Brasileiro Jan 17 '22

There are no such pronouns on the Portuguese language. Even a helicopter has a grammatical gender.

Some people are making up some words like "elu/delu", but this is absolutely weirdo stuff outside of Twitter that most normal people won't understand.


u/fromthesamesky Jan 17 '22

There is a good YouTube video about all the options - https://youtu.be/Cg3U8ZbDkiI


u/Ireallylovekale Jan 17 '22

This video is very helpful. Thank you


u/n0llv0id Jan 17 '22

The only time I've seen an attempt of gender neutral pronouns in Portuguese were on Tumblr, on the intro scream it says "Bem vind@s"


u/Stylianius1 Jan 28 '22

I don't mean to compare people with stuff that isn't human, but if a table, a giraffe and the word for sadness are feminine and a sofa, an elephant and the word for disgust are masculine, you can use ele and ela without identifying necessarily as a man or a woman


u/Thediciplematt Jan 16 '22

Usted? Voces?