Prof. Cludia
One of my students recently asked me about the difference between aqui, ali and l. As you will see, it’s quite easy to understand the difference between aqui and l but what about ali?

Activity 1
Lets take a look at the lyrics for some Brazilian songs:
s vezes difcil esquecer: “sometimes it’s hard to forget
– Sinto muito, ela não mora mais aqui.” I’m sorry, she doesn’t live here anymore
Acrilic on Canvas, by Legião Urbana

“Ali o malandro na praa outra vez over there, the cunning man in the square again
Caminhando na ponta dos pés…” walking on tiptoes
A volta do malandro, by Chico Buarque

“Vou ler a carta que o Biel mandou I’ll read the letter sent by Gabriel
Pra voc, l do Brasil.” to you, from there, Brazil.
A carta, by Djavan

Aqui, as seen in the first song, means “here”, while l, seen in the third song, means “there”. Ali, however as seen in the second song, doesn’t always have a consistent meaning, it depends on the context. It can mean “over there”, as well as “not far”.

Activity 2
Let’s have a closer look at this difference. Imagine you are on the corner of Paulista Ave. and Augusta St. in São Paulo:

“O meu escritório aqui, na Avenida Paulista. my office is here, on Paulista Ave.
Eu costumo almoar ali, na Bela Cintra. I usually have lunch over there, on Bela Cintra St.
Como moro em Moema, nunca almoo l em casa.” as I live in Moema, I never have lunch there, at home.

Activity 3
Ok now for an exercise, try to place the correct word (aqui, ali or l) according to the context.

1. (man in a shop):
Com licena, vocs vendem balas nesta loja?
Com licena, vocs vendem balas …………?

2. (woman on Faria Lima, to a taxi driver)
Por favor, quanto tempo leva at o aeroporto em Cumbica?
Por favor, quanto tempo leva at ………….?

3. (child in Ibirapuera Park, near the lake)
Pai, olha o lago! Quantos patos!
Pai, olha ……….! Quantos patos!

Answers: 1. aqui 2. l 3. ali

See you next class!
Prof. Cludia

To read previous articles by Prof. Claudia click below
Portuguese Tips: Comparative and Superlative
Portuguese Tips: Adverbs in Portuguese
Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes

Prof. Claudia is available for private classes in São Paulo. She can be contacted at

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