Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We, the people

In Portuguese, "gente" means people.

But it doesn't only mean people.

It is commonly used to refer to multiple people in the first, second or third person.

Let me try to explain.

"A gente" should mean "the people" in the third person. But in Portuguese, "a gente" is another way to refer to "we."

One would think that "A gente vai" would translate to "the people are going." But in context, it would mean "we are going."

It can also be used in the second person, especially if you are trying to get the attention of a large group of people.

You can yell "oh, gente," and everyone would ideally turn and listen to what you are saying. This would be the equivalent of saying "Hey folks."

Then you can also have the standard third person meaning of "people."

I had some trouble the first few times I heard these constructions, but eventually I picked up on it enough to start using it myself.

I have tried to think of examples of English words that can refer to the first, second, or third person, but my English is really weak these days. None came to mind.

1 comment:

Rubes said...

I can only think of words that combine second- and third-person, such as "y'all" or the slang, "yous"