“Ir a” or “Ir para”

Little words are the most annoying ones when we try to learn a foreign language. Today we’re going to have a look at two of those little words: “a” and “para” when we used them with the verb “ir”.

When we want to say “I’m going to” we have two options in Portuguese: “Eu vou a “ or “Eu vou para”. Actually they are very similar, but we use “ir a” when we go to some place and we come back in a short period of time. Imagine you’re working and you remember you left your umbrella at home, if you go home to get it, you can say, in Portuguese: “Vou a casa”, because you know you go and you come back. But, by the end of your work day, you say “Vou para casa”, because you’ll stay there for, at least, the night.

If I say “Hoje vou a Lisboa”, I mean I’ll go there and then I’ll come back, but if I say “Hoje vou para Lisboa”, I would probably want to say that I will live there or, at least, stay there for a couple days.

Another thing you have to be aware of is that the preposition “a” can be contracted with the articles O /A / OS / AS, like this:

  • I’m going to the cinema. – Eu vou (A+O=AO) cinema. – Eu vou ao cinema.
  • I’m going to the beach. – Eu vou (A+A=À) praia – Eu vou à praia.
  • I’m going to the cinemas. – Eu vou (A+OS=AOS) cinemas. – Eu vou aos cinemas.
  • I’m going to the beaches. – Eu vou (A+AS=ÀS) praias – Eu vou às praias.


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