The diminutive form of nouns and adjectives is formed as follows:

With nouns and adjectives that end in unstressed -o, -a or -e, this final vowel is replaced with the ending -inho or -inha according to the gender of the word:

dedo ‘finger’ > dedinho ‘little finger’

casa ‘house’ > casinha ‘little house’

dente ‘tooth’ (masc.) > dentinho ‘little tooth’

fome ‘hunger’ (fem.) > fominha ‘slight hunger’

saco ‘bag’ > saquinho ‘little bag, sachet’

(NB: change of -c- to -qu- to preserve hard c sound)

bonito ‘handsome, good-looking’ > bonitinho ‘cute’

bonita ‘pretty’ > bonitinha ‘cute’

quente ‘warm’ > quentinho/quentinha ‘nice and warm’

brega ‘tacky, naff’ > breguinha ‘slightly tacky, naff’

(NB: change of -g- to -gu- to preserve hard g sound).

The ending -inho/-inha is also added to nouns and adjectives ending in -s or -z:

japonês ‘Japanese man’ > japonesinho ‘little Japanese guy’

voz ‘voice’ (fem.) > vozinha ‘little voice’.

With all other nouns, i.e. those ending in a stressed vowel, a nasal vowel, -l, -m, or -r, the ending -zinho/-zinha is added to the word. This also applies to nouns ending in -io or -ia:

papel ‘paper’ (masc.) > papelzinho ‘scrap of paper’

mão ‘hand’ (fem.) > mãozinha ‘little hand’

trem ‘train’ (masc.) > trenzinho ‘little/toy train’

(NB: change of -m to -n before the diminutive ending)

flor ‘flower’ (fem.) > florzinha ‘little flower’

tia ‘aunt’ > tiazinha ‘auntie’

melhor ‘better’ > melhorzinho/melhorzinha ‘a little better’.

259As the spoken stress is always on the i of the diminutive ending, any other written accents are dropped:

café ‘coffee’ > cafezinho ‘small black coffee’

só ‘alone’ > sozinho ‘all alone’

pássaro ‘bird’ > passarinho ‘little bird, birdie’.

With nouns ending in -l and those ending in -ão, the plural stem (plural form minus -s) is used before the diminutive ending when the diminutive itself is pluralized:

animal ‘animal’ > animalzinho ‘little animal’, but

animais ‘animals’ > animaizinhos ‘little animals’

pão ‘bread’ > pãozinho ‘bread roll’, but

pães ‘loaves’ > pãezinhos ‘bread rolls’

botão ‘button, bud’ > botãozinho ‘little button, little bud’, but

botões ‘buttons, buds’ > botõezinhos ‘little buttons, little buds’.