Book Review: Basic Portuguese

Basic Portuguese, by Sue Tyson-Ward

It is always interesting to me to see how different books approach the issue of learning languages.  How does one learn best?  This particular book does a good job at presenting a goodly bit of vocabulary in a short fashion.  The result is highly entertaining and also very instructive.  I have to say that this particular book did appeal to me, and it had a lot of worthwhile vocabulary as well as a solid organization.  Not all books are as appealing, but I tend to think that language books are something that can be appreciated by people on an individual basis based on their own preferences.  Not all people do well learning other languages, and not everyone learns well from the same sort of language tips, and so a book like this is something that must be taken based on one’s own preferred individual approach and it cannot be assumed that because one person does well with it that others will not, or vice versa.  Obviously, then, I view my own interest in a book like this as something that cannot necessarily be translated to others, but all the same if you happen to be interested in the Portuguese language this is a book well worth checking out.

This book is a bit more than 200 pages long and is divided into 50 small chapters.  The author begins with subject pronouns and family (1), moves to ser (2) and estar (3), then regular verbs ending in -ar (4) and -er (5) as well as irregular verbs dealing with weather (6) and politics (7) in the present tense.  The author then discusses regular (8) and irregular (9) verbs ending in -ir as well as those verbs of that kind with spelling changes (10).  Then the author looks at Ter (11) and Haver (12) and what it means to have as well as reflexive verbs (13) in one’s daily routine.  There are chapters about expressing the future using ir + infinitive (14), knowing by saber and conhecer (15), as well as definite (16) and indefinite (17) articles.  The author discusses nouns (18), adjectives (19), colors (20), demonstratives (21, 22), possessives (23, 24), relative pronouns (25), comparisons (26), and superlatives (27).  After that the author discusses more comparisons relating to the countryside (28) as well as numbers and measurements (29), telling the time (30), prepositions (31, 32, 33), including those dealing with verbs combined with prepositions (34), current events with com + pronouns (35), and prepositions + pronouns (36).  The author then looks at idioms relating to por (37) and para (38), adverbs (39), negatives (40), interrogatives (41, 42), direct (43) and indirect object pronouns (44).  Finally, the author closes the book with a look at the position of pronouns (45), algum and nenhum (46), todo and outro (47), muito, pouco and tanto (48), as well as expressions relating to languages and nationalities (49) as well as quantities and packages (50), after which there is a glossary and an answer key.

For me, at least, some of the appeal of this book lies in the connection that is made in its pages between different grammatical matters and different situations that one could find oneself in, and I think that the order of when these appear is worthwhile as well, focusing first on those things that might be more commonly encountered and then ending up with areas of interest that one may hope never to encounter (illness or the media).  The end result is a book that provides some practice but also a handy resource for areas that people might wish to know and which might be of help for those who need to speak in Portuguese in ordinary circumstances.  The author even notes areas that may be more common if one listens to a sermon, where the second person plural is likely to be encountered more often than it otherwise would be.  And as someone who is likely to encounter a lot of that, I appreciated the little touches that showed an author aware of the different circumstances in which one encounters a language.  And that happens to be something I consider of particular importance.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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