How is Rio de Janeiro Like a Country?

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First Published: 28th of November, 2020 by Patrick Carpen.

Last updated: November 28, 2020 at 16:13 pm

Rio de Janeiro is a city in the country of Brazil. But what if I told that in the context of learning Brazilian Portuguese, Rio de Janeiro is “like a country.” How is that so? No, Rio doesn’t have an independent Head of State or boast its own currency, and it is subject to the all laws as the other states of Brazil. So what exactly do I mean by “Rio de Janeiro is like a country”?

Allow me to explain myself. It has to do with the translation of the English word “from.” In many instances, while traveling, people may ask you, “where are you from?” And you would reply, “I am from…”

Here are some examples.

I am from the United States.
I am from China
I am from Canada
I am from Brazil
I am from Guyana
I am from Georgetown
I am from Australia
I am from New Mexico
I am from Mexico
I am from New York

In the English language, the word “from” remains constant in all of these examples because there are no masculine and feminine nouns in English, and the preposition doesn’t change to agree with the number. The same preposition is used whether the noun it relates to is singular or plural.

But in Portuguese, it’s a whole new ball game. Let’s take a look.

Eu sou dos Estados Unidos.
Eu sou da china
Eu sou do Canadá
Eu sou do Brasil
Eu sou da Guiana
Eu sou de Georgetown
Eu sou da Austrália
Eu sou do México
Eu sou de Nova Iorque
Eu sou do rio de janeiro

As you can see, the translation of the preposition “from” in Portuguese changed from “do” to “da” to de” and also “dos.” Don’t be intimated, the explanation will below will make it easy to understand.

When talking about where you are from in Brazilian Portuguese, bear in mind few rules:

If the country ends with “a”, use “da.” Examples:

Eu sou da China = I am from Canada

Eu sou da Guiana = I am from Guyana

If the country ends with “o” or “e” or a consonant use “do.”

Eu sou do Brasil
Eu sou do Mexico
Eu so do Chile

If the country ends has an “A” but the “A” has an accent mark, use “do.”


Eu sou do Canadá: I am from Canada

If the country is plural in nature, use “dos” or “das.”


Eu sou dos Estados Unidos = I am from the United States.

When referring to a city, you always use “de.” Here are some examples:

Eu sou de Boa Vista. I am from Boa Vista.

Eu sou de Manuas. I am from Manaus.

Eu sou de Campo Verde. I am from Campo Verde.

Eu sou de Rondonopolis. I am from Rondonopolis.

Eu sou de Primavera. I am from Primavera.

Eu sou do Rio de Janeiro. I am from Rio de Janeiro.

Huh? That last one stumped you, didn’t it? Like in every language, there are rules and there are exceptions to the rules. In this case, Rio de Janeiro is the exception to the rule. You use “de” while referring to all cities except Rio de Janeiro. In this context, Rio de Janeiro is treated as a country:

Eu sou do Rio de Janeiro. I am from Rio de Janeiro.

And that’s how Rio de Janeiro is like a country in the context of learning Brazilian Portuguese.

But it doesn’t stop there! Almost all the rules listed above have exceptions, even those referring to countries! That’s why it’s important to learn the translations by heart or risk making a mistake.

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