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The Demonstratives Isto, Isso and Aquilo

edited July 2014 in Portuguese
Demonstratives are words that point to something. In English, this and these point to something near and that and those to something far. In Portuguese, as seen in the previous discussion: este(a) = this / estes(as) = these / esse(a) and aquele(a) = that / esses(as) and aqueles(as) = those.
The demonstratives isto, isso and aquilo have a similar function, but are used when the speaker doesn't know if what is being referred to is masculine or feminine. In that case, the neuter, invariable forms isto (this thing here), isso (that thing there, close to you) and aquilo (that thing over there) are used. 
O que é isto na calçada? What's this on the sidewalk?
O que é isso no pára-brisa do seu carro? What's that on the windshield of your car?
O que é aquilo flutuando no mar? What's that floating on the sea?
For more on demonstratives, go to Brazilian Portuguese Essential Lesson 8.

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