Isto vs Este

What is the difference between the words “Isto” and “Este”? Both mean “This”, so when do we use “Isto” and when do we use “Este”?

We use “Este” (and remember that “Este” can become “Esta”, “Estes” and “Estas” depending on the gender of the following word) if the next word is a noun. Confused? Let’s have a look at some examples:

  • This room is small.              –           Este quarto é pequeno. (masc., sing.)
  • This kitchen is small.           –           Esta cozinha é pequena. (fem., sing.)
  • These rooms are small.      –           Estes quartos são pequenos. (masc. plural)
  • These kitchens are small.   –           Estas cozinhas são pequenas. (fem., plural)

But when you use “Isto” you need a context because you won’t mention the name of the thing you’re talking about, you can, for instances point to what do you want to say or hold it in your hands.  Imagine you want to ask your friend if a pen you’ve just fond belongs to him.

  • Is this yours? (you see, you didn’t mentioned the word “pen”, because you’re probably holding it)

In Portuguese this is:

  • Isto é teu?

Or when you ask, ” What’s this?” in Portuguese is “O que é isto?”.


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