In this post we’ll have a look at the words meio and meia, which can generate some confusion amongst students.
When thinking about the words meio and meia, it’s important to know what function they have in the sentence:
The word meio can be used as an adverb of intensity, meaning a little or a bit. In this case, it is invariable, i.e. it will never change to a plural or feminine form.
O menino está meio cansado.
The boy is a bit tired.
Os meninos estão meio cansados.
The boys are a bit tired.
A menina está meio cansada.
The girl is a bit tired.
As meninas estão meio cansadas.
The girls are a bit tired.
As an adjective, meaning half, the word is variable, so it will have a feminine form.
Bebi meio copo de cerveja.
I drank half a glass of beer.
The word copo (glass) is masculine.
Bebi meia garrafa de vinho.
I drank half a bottle of wine.
The word garrafa (bottle) is feminine.
The word dia (day) is masculine.
The word noite (night) is feminine.
👉 The word meia is also often used in speech for the number six (especially with telephone numbers), in order to avoid confusion with the number three – três – which can sound similar to six – seis. This use of meia comes from meia dúzia (half a dozen).
The words meio and meia can also be nouns, therefore variable.
meio ambiente = environment
Precisamos cuidar do meio ambiente.
We need to look after the environment.
meios de transporte = means of transportation
Hoje vamos aprender os meios de transporte em português.
Today we’re going to learn the means of transportation in Portuguese.
meios de comunicação = media
Hoje vamos estudar diferentes meios de comunicação que operam no Brasil.
Today we’re going to learn the different media that operate in Brazil.
meia(s) = sock(s)
Acho que perdi as minhas meias azuis.
I think I lost my blue socks.
Now that you know how to use ‘meio’ and ‘meia’, test your knowledge with the exercise below: