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Future Subjunctive

July 27, 2020

As previously mentioned, the futuro do conjuntivo future subjunctive allows us to talk about the conditions that must be met in order for a potential future action to occur, (i.e. “If this goes well, I will do that” or “When we get home, I will do that”). This tense appears in subordinate adverbial clauses (i.e. clauses which function like an adverb), as well as in relative clauses. It often goes along with the conjunction se if or others such as:

  • assim que as soon as, once
  • sempre que whenever
  • quando when
  • enquanto while, as long as
  • como how
  • o que what

Verb Conjugation

Regular Verbs

With regular verbs, the futuro do conjuntivo is conjugated exactly the same as the

Imperfect Subjunctive

July 27, 2020

Another tense that makes up part of the conjuntivo is the imperfeito do conjuntivo imperfect subjunctive. You learned about the pretérito imperfeito do indicativo, which references past events that were ongoing. In the conjuntivo, however, the imperfect refers to:

  • past or future wishes and desires;
  • something purely hypothetical in the past or future:
    • i.e. imagining “what could have been” or “what could be” if things were or had been different;
  • something that is or was unlikely to take place.


Present Subjunctive

July 27, 2020

Presente do Conjuntivo

As one of the tenses that makes up part of the conjuntivo (subjunctive) mood, the presente do conjuntivo present subjunctive lets you talk about something that may or may not happen, but that is within the realm of possibility. This includes hopes, fears, doubts, and other hypotheticals. It tends to be paired with the presente do indicativo, such as in clauses beginning with:

  • Espero que… I hope that…
  • É importante que… It’s important that…
  • É bom que… It would be good if…, Literal – It is good that…
  • Receio que… I’m afraid that…
  • Duvido que… I doubt that…
  • Desejo que… I wish that…
  • Quer que eu…? Do you want me to…?

In the next lessons, we’ll focus on the presente do conjuntivo, but you

The Subjunctive Mood in Portuguese (Conjuntivo)

July 27, 2020

Conjuntivo: What is it?

What in English is called the subjunctive mood, in European Portuguese is named modo conjuntivosubjunctive mode. While the indicativoindicative mood refers to actions that are certain or real, the conjuntivo, in contrast, indicates something possible, desired, hypothetical, or even unreal. It conveys the idea of uncertainty, doubt, or hope.

It is often found in sentences that contain the word se if or after a verb + que that, as you will notice in many (but not all) of the examples.

The conjuntivo can appear in

Common Herbs & Spices in Portuguese Cuisine

June 24, 2020

Before we go any further, it’s best to explain the difference between ervas herbs and especiarias spices. Simply put, herbs are leaves while spices are seeds, bark, roots, and flowers. If you love food like we do, or want to understand the menu at a Portuguese restaurant, we think you’ll enjoy this guide to vocabulary for herbs and spices in Portuguese cooking. Thanks to Relish Portugal magazine for suggesting this great idea!

Depending on the type of herb, you can buy them in many different forms:

Using “é que” in European Portuguese Questions

June 24, 2020

You may have come across é que in a variety of questions and wondered why these extra words are added. The pair of words is technically optional (the meaning stays the same with or without it), but including é que in Portuguese questions is so common that you should typically default to including it. This would be especially wise for beginners because there are not consistent rules for when it can be left out and excluding it can make certain sentences sound very strange.

Where to add é que

É que appears after the interrogative pronouns and adverbs you learned about previously, for example:

  • O que é que…? What is…?
  • Como é que…? How is…?, What is…?
  • Onde é que…? Where is…?
  • Quando é que…? When is…?

The rest of the question stays the same, continuing in subject, verb, object order, just like in English. É que basically translates to

Asking Questions in Portuguese

June 18, 2020

Yes/No Questions in Portuguese

There are a number of different ways to form questions in Portuguese. We’ll start with those for which the answers are either affirmative or negative. These are the easiest Portuguese questions to ask because very few changes have to be made to turn a statement into a question.

1. Add a question mark to the end of a statement

Tu estás em Portugal You are in Portugal

Tu estás em Portugal? Are you in Portugal?

By adding a ‘?’ to a statement, all we have to do is change the intonation of the sentence and it becomes a “yes or no” question.

2. Add a phrase like “não é?” to the end of a statement

Ela é portuguesa She is Portuguese

Ela é portuguesa, não é? She is Portuguese, isn’t she?, She is Portuguese, right?

This type of question is used when

Saying No

May 19, 2020

The Basics: No & Not The simplest way to make a sentence negative in Portuguese is just to place the word before the verb. This is the Portuguese equivalent of adding “no” or “not” to a sentence in English. Examples: Não is also used at the beginning of sentences, when replying “no” to a question:

Learn Portuguese by Cooking

May 17, 2020

How about a lesson that ends in a tasty reward? For all you omnivores out there, let’s explore some vocabulary in context for different types of meat, vegetables, and other ingredients with these family receitas recipes contributed by one of our team members and his mother. Thanks Eduardo and Fernanda! 🙌

Learn the vocabulary in the ingredients list and then challenge yourself to remember it in the recipe steps.

Carolos à Moda da Beira-Alta (Beira-Alta Style Carolos)


Reflexivity with Tonic Pronouns

May 5, 2020

Reflexive pronouns tell you that an action is done to oneself (i.e. the object is the same as the subject). In English, we use words like myself, herself, and ourselves to express this idea. If you want to read more about Portuguese reflexive pronouns, we also cover them in the Clitic Pronouns unit here. In order to make it easier to spot and understand the differences, we’ll be using the same examples throughout this Learning Note.

As you’ll see below, clitic pronouns (such as -me) are often used along with tonic pronouns (such as mim) to emphasize the object in reference: Desenhei-me a mim. I drew myself.

In some cases, it is also helpful to add the words próprio self or mesmo same to emphasize the reflexive nature of the verb even more and make the meaning less ambiguous: Ela desenhou-se a si própria. She drew herself.

…but this is optional if you’ve already used a clitic pronoun, as in this example: Desenhaste-te a ti (mesmo). You drew yourself.

Explore the examples in each category below to help clarify these concepts…

The Pronouns Si & Consigo

May 5, 2020

The Pronoun Si: Then and Now

Grammatically speaking, the pronouns si and consigo belong to the 3rd person subjects: ele(s)/ela(s). This is because they were initially only used as reflexive pronouns*, which are pronouns that refer to the same subject or thing as the verb. For example:

Ele levou a mala consigo He took the suitcase with him

*We’ll talk more about reflexive tonic pronouns in an upcoming Learning Note, but you can read more about reflexive clitic pronouns here.

The sentence above is still correct and wouldn’t be confusing because the context makes it clear who consigo refers to. Nowadays, however, it’s more common to see si and consigo used with 2nd person formal subjects. Si and consigo can replace você, as using você in European Portuguese can sometimes be seen as disrespectful or too intense. For example:

Using Tonic Pronouns with Prepositions

May 5, 2020

In this Learning Note, we’ll explore each tonic pronoun and see some examples of how it is used along with different prepositions.

Me and You(Informal)

The tonic pronouns that correspond to eu I, me and tu youinf. are mim and ti . Let’s see how they are used in sentences:

Tens medo de mim? Are you scared of me?

Faço isso por mim I do that for me

Não é bom para ti It’s not good for you

Agora vivo mais perto de ti Now I live closer to you

When mim or ti go along with com with, the pronouns become comigo with me and contigo with youinf..

Introduction to Tonic Pronouns

May 5, 2020

Personal pronouns can be classified according to how they are used within a sentence. There are pronomes clíticos clitic pronouns, which are unstressed, and pronomes tónicos tonic pronouns, which are stressed.

This learning note will serve as an introduction to tonic pronouns, however, let’s first see a recap of all the personal pronouns in order to compare them.

Subject Pronouns Clitic Pronouns Tonic Pronouns Tonic Pronouns + “Com”
eu me mim comigo with me
tu te ti contigo with you informal
ele/ela lhe, se ele



com ele with him

com ela with her

consigo with him, with her, with you formal

nós nos nós connosco with us
vocês* vos vocês convosco with you plural
eles/elas lhes, se eles


com eles with them masc.

com elas with them fem.

consigo with them

Past Participles & Auxiliary Verbs

April 27, 2020

In this lesson we’re going to tackle one of the most seemingly arcane subjects of the Portuguese language: particípios passados past participles.

What is a past participle? A past participle is a verb form that can be used similarly to an adjective (e.g. “I am interested in that”), or that can be used along with an auxiliary verb to form different verb tenses or use the passive voice (e.g. “The bill has been paid“, “The bill was paid“). Let’s look at a few examples to better understand how past participles are used in Portuguese:

Aquele filme? Já o tinha visto, sim. That film? I had already seen it, yes.

Tínhamos escrito ao professor para lhe pedirmos as notas. We had written to the professor to ask for our grades.

Notice that, in the two examples above, you needed to use another verb before using the past participles “seen” and “written”.

Double Past Participles

April 26, 2020

In this lesson, we’ll have a look at particípios passados duplos double past participles. ‘Double’ here means that some verbs can take the form of either a regular or an irregular participle, depending on the auxiliary verb being used with them.

Remember those verbs we marked off with an asterisk in the Irregular Participles learning note? They were ganhar to win, to earn, gastar to spend, and pagar to pay. These are verbs that have double participles. Let’s see them in action:


Eles deviam ter ganhado o campeonato. They should have won the championship.

O campeonato foi ganho pela outra equipa. The championship was won by the other team.


Irregular Past Participles

April 26, 2020

In this lesson, we’ll have a look at particípios passados irregulares irregular past participles, i.e. past participles which behave in a unique and unpredictable way. What do we mean by “unique and unpredictable”? Let’s see an example:

Eu abri a janela. A janela foi aberta. I opened the window. The window was opened.

If you are fresh off the previous lesson, perhaps you expected the past participle of abrir to open to follow the rule for -IR verbs, and be “abrida”. Right? But being a mischievous irregular verb, instead of “abrido”/”abrida”, the verb abrir becomes “aberto”/”aberta”! Similarly, if we look at the past participle of fazer to do, to make we get:

Regular Past Participles

April 26, 2020

In Portuguese, there are three types of past participles:

  • Particípios passados regulares Regular past participles,
  • Particípios passados irregulares Irregular past participles, and
  • Duplos particípios passados Double past participles

In this lesson, we’ll have a look at regular past participles, that is to say, past participles which behave in a predictable way. These participles depend on the verb’s ending, i.e. they have a different ending depending on whether they’re the past participle of an -AR, -ER or -IR verb.

-AR Verbs

For -AR verbs – andar to walk, falar to speak, amar to love, for instance – the regular ending of the past participle is ‘-ado’, which is added to the root of the verb. Examples:

Os alunos tinham andado até ao instituto. The students had walked up to the institute.

Idiomatic Expressions 2

April 13, 2020

In this Learning Note we’re going to show you a few more Portuguese idioms.

És uma cabeça de alho chocho. You’re a knucklehead.

This expression literally means “you’re a head of spoiled garlic”, which means you are not very bright. Although originally meant for people who are easily distracted or forgetful, it has a become an endearing way of calling someone dumb.

O negócio ficou em águas de bacalhau. The deal fell apart.

In the past, Portuguese fishermen sailed all the way to Greenland and Newfoundland looking for cod. While fishing in those “cod waters”, many of them lost their lives, boats, and cargo and that is, supposedly, the origin of this expression. It can mean that after a great deal of work, nothing happened, something was lost, or that an agreement could not be reached.

A pensar morreu um burro. Decide-te! A donkey died thinking. Make a decision!

This is an expression used when someone says they’re thinking, but all they really need to do is to take some action. The word burro can also be used as an insult for someone you think is stupid or not very bright, but that’s not the meaning of the word in this context.

Irregular Verbs in the Simple Past

April 13, 2020

You’ve learned about irregular verbs and how to conjugate some of them in the present tense. If they’re irregular in the present, they’re usually irregular in other tenses too. There are no consistent rules to follow for this category, so the only way to learn the different conjugations is to study each one and practice, practice, practice! (Keep in mind, however, that there are some irregular verbs that follow the rules in most tenses, but are still called irregular due to the exceptions.)

Irregular -AR Verbs


to give


Dar – Indicativo – Pretérito

Tu deste um presente à tua mãe ontem.
You gave a present to your mom yesterday.

  • eu dei
  • I gave
  • tu deste
  • you gave
  • ele / ela deu
  • he / she gave
  • você deu
  • you formal gave
  • nós demos
  • we gave
  • eles / elas deram
  • they masc. / they fem. gave
  • vocês deram
  • you pl. gave


The Letters S and C

January 16, 2020

As is the case with most languages, the same letter can be associated with different phonemes — that is to say, the same letter can be pronounced in many different ways. You’ve probably noticed that Portuguese is no exception. Two of these letters that have many variations are S and C:

  • Sucesso Success – In this example, different letters/digraphs (s, c, and ss) have the same sound.
  • Concessão Concession  – Here we have the same letter (c), but two different sounds.

In this Learning Note, you’ll learn how to pronounce these letters by paying attention to how they are positioned within a word or phrase.

The Letter S

Depending on where it’s placed, and the letters surrounding it, s can have 3 different sounds: se , ze , or sh

The Gender of Portuguese Words

January 11, 2020

Unlike English, most Portuguese words have a gender.

Sometimes you’ll notice patterns, like the -o ending in many masculine words and the -a ending in many feminine words. There are many, many exceptions, however, so you can’t always rely on that rule. Furthermore, some words take on different forms for each gender and others only have one form. It comes down to using the patterns as a guide and memorizing the exceptions over time as you hear them in context.

We can split Portuguese words into at least four groups when it comes to gender.

Minimal Pairs

December 10, 2019

Have you heard of Minimal Pairs? A minimal word pair consists of two words that vary by only a single sound.

For example, conta calculation and conto tale – the only difference is in the final sound (the vowel sounds represented by a and o).

Practicing with minimal pairs is a great way to perfect your pronunciation and comprehension because it teaches you to hear the subtle differences between similar sounding words. As you’ll see in the examples below, even a tiny change in pronunciation means you could be saying something much different from what you intend to say!

While we’re at it, let’s also make a distinction between minimal pairs, homophones, and homographs.

  • Homophones are words with the same exact pronunciation but different meanings
  • Minimal pairs are words that have the same pronunciation except for only a single sound, also known as a fonema (phoneme). That single sound difference is the only thing that lets you know they are two different words – they are minimally different.
  • Homographs are words that are written the same exact way but pronounced differently. Some minimal pairs can also be homographs but that’s not the norm.

Let’s dive into some minimal pairs!

Open vs. Closed Vowels

à vs. a

  • give da of
  • às to as the
  • para – para stop – to
  • falámos we spoke falamos we speak

Portuguese Slang

November 3, 2019


You have been learning to speak and write proper Portuguese, but not every Portuguese person speaks perfectly 100% of the time. Depending on the context, we might prefer using simpler terms to save time, explain something in a different way, joke around, or even fit in with a group. That’s where gíria popular – or just gíria slang comes in. Let’s take a look at some of the most common words.


Ya, eu vou ter convosco Yeah, I’ll meet you guys

Ya – also found written as – is often, but not exclusively, used by young people. It simply means Sim Yes, but can also replace, or be replaced by, Claro Of course, Certo Right, or even Uh-huh.

Eu não sei, ! I don’t know, man!

is one of the trademarks of the European Portuguese dialect. It can be used at the end of sentences to emphasize what’s being said, as in the example above. It can also be used in place of  “uhh…”, the sound you make when you’re thinking.