Irregular Verbs in the Simple Past

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

dar
to give

Indicativo

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

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estar
to be (temporary or accidental condition)

Indicativo

Estar – Indicativo – Pretérito

Tu estiveste ausente demasiado tempo.
You were away for too long.

  • eu estive
  • I was
  • tu estiveste
  • you were
  • ele / ela esteve
  • he / she was
  • você esteve
  • you formal were
  • nós estivemos
  • we were
  • eles / elas estiveram
  • they masc. / they fem. were
  • vocês estiveram
  • you pl. were

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These are the only two irregular verbs in the simple past that end in -ar. Circundar encircle, for example, ends in dar, but it’s a regular verb, so its conjugation differs from the verb dar.
Verbs that end in ear are considered irregular, since they have an i added to the verb stem in the present tense. In all other tenses, however, including the simple past, the i is not added and they follow the rules for regular -ar verbs.

Common Irregular Verbs in the Simple Past

Let’s look at 4 of the most common irregular verbs in the simple past:

ter
to have

Indicativo

Ter – Indicativo – Pretérito

Tu tiveste a melhor ideia de sempre.
You had the best idea ever.

  • eu tive
  • I had
  • tu tiveste
  • you had
  • ele / ela teve
  • he / she had
  • você teve
  • you formal had
  • nós tivemos
  • we had
  • eles / elas tiveram
  • they masc. / they fem. had
  • vocês tiveram
  • you pl. had

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fazer
to do

Indicativo

Fazer – Indicativo – Pretérito

Eu fiz algumas coisas más.
I did some bad things.

  • eu fiz
  • I did
  • tu fizeste
  • you did
  • ele / ela fez
  • he / she did
  • você fez
  • you formal did
  • nós fizemos
  • we did
  • eles / elas fizeram
  • they masc. / they fem. did
  • vocês fizeram
  • you pl. did

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querer
to want

Indicativo

Querer – Indicativo – Pretérito

Ela quis assim, o que posso fazer?
She wanted it like that, what can I do?

  • eu quis
  • I wanted
  • tu quiseste
  • you wanted
  • ele / ela quis
  • he / she wanted
  • você quis
  • you formal wanted
  • nós quisemos
  • we wanted
  • eles / elas quiseram
  • they masc. / they fem. wanted
  • vocês quiseram
  • you pl. wanted

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dizer
to say

Indicativo

Dizer – Indicativo – Pretérito

Elas disseram-nos tudo!
They told us everything!

  • eu disse
  • I said
  • tu disseste
  • you said
  • ele / ela disse
  • he / she said
  • você disse
  • you formal said
  • nós dissemos
  • we said
  • eles / elas disseram
  • they masc. / they fem. said
  • vocês disseram
  • you pl. said

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You may have noticed that some of the verb endings are the same for irregular and regular verbs, despite the change in the verb stem. For example, the -eram ending for 3rd person plural is seen in both regular and irregular verbs. The most obvious differences tend to appear in the first and third person. Sometimes the first and third person even have the exact same (or a very similar) conjugation, as in:
Eu disse I said
Ela disse She said

Ser and Ir

Notice anything interesting about the simple past tense conjugations for ser and ir?

ser
to be (permanent condition)

Indicativo

Ser – Indicativo – Pretérito

Eu fui mau naquele dia.
I was mean that day.

  • eu fui
  • I was
  • tu foste
  • you were
  • ele / ela foi
  • he / she was
  • você foi
  • you formal were
  • nós fomos
  • we were
  • eles / elas foram
  • they masc. / they fem. were
  • vocês foram
  • you pl. were

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ir
to go

Indicativo

Ir – Indicativo – Pretérito

Ele foi de férias por um mês.
He went on vacation for a month.

  • eu fui
  • I went
  • tu foste
  • you went
  • ele / ela foi
  • he / she went
  • você foi
  • you formal went
  • nós fomos
  • we went
  • eles / elas foram
  • they masc. / they fem. went
  • vocês foram
  • you pl. went

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That’s right, they share the exact same conjugation. Interesting, but potentially confusing… One means a person was “something” or “someone” (ser) while the other means someone went somewhere (ir). The latter is combined with a preposition, which helps to distinguish them.
Eu fui pai. I was a father.
Eu fui com o meu pai. I went with my father.

Ver and Vir

Let’s look at another tricky pair.

ver
to see

Indicativo

Ver – Indicativo – Pretérito

Nós vimos o filme ontem.
We saw the film yesterday.

  • eu vi
  • I saw/watched
  • tu viste
  • you saw
  • ele / ela viu
  • he / she saw
  • você viu
  • you formal saw
  • nós vimos
  • we saw
  • eles / elas viram
  • they masc. / they fem. saw
  • vocês viram
  • you pl. saw

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vir
to come

Indicativo

Vir – Indicativo – Pretérito

Ainda bem que tu vieste.
It’s good that you came.

  • eu vim
  • I came
  • tu vieste
  • you came
  • ele / ela veio
  • he / she came
  • você veio
  • you formal came
  • nós viemos
  • we came
  • eles / elas vieram
  • they masc. / they fem. came
  • vocês vieram
  • you pl. came

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The two conjugations above are different, but only slightly. Aside from the first and third person singular, they only differ because vir uses the letter e in its past tense conjugation.

The Verb Pôr

We also have pôr, a verb in a category of its own. Although it ends in or, it’s considered part of the -er group, since it used to be “poer” long ago. Let’s see it in the simple past:

pôr
to put

Indicativo

Pôr – Indicativo – Pretérito

Ela pôs estas roupas de parte para ti.
She put these clothes aside for you.

  • eu pus
  • I put
  • tu puseste
  • you put
  • ele / ela pôs
  • he / she put
  • você pôs
  • you formal put
  • nós pusemos
  • we put
  • eles / elas puseram
  • they masc. / they fem. put
  • vocês puseram
  • you pl. put

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Derived Verbs

With so many different conjugations, it can be helpful to know a few shortcuts. Sometimes you’ll find that certain verbs which derive from other verbs are conjugated in the same way. Let us show you what we mean with the following examples:

Verbs that derive from “fazer”

  • Desfazer Undo
    • Ele fez He did Ele desfez He undid
  • Liquefazer Liquify
    • Eu fiz I did Eu liquefiz I liquified
  • Satisfazer Satisfy
    • Nós fizemos We did Nós satisfizemos We satisfied

Verbs that derive from “dizer”

  • Contradizer Contradict
    • Eu disse I said Eu contradisse I contradicted

Verbs that derive from “ver”

  • Antever Foresee
    • Eu vi I saw Eu antevi I foresaw
  • Prever Predict
    • Tu viste You saw Tu previste You predicted
  • Rever Review
    • Ele viu He saw Ele reviu He reviewed

Verbs that derive from “pôr”

  • Compor Compose, fix
    • Elas puseram They put Elas compuseram They composed
  • Decompor Decompose, break down
    • Pôs It put Decompôs-se It decomposed
  • Depor Testify
    • Nós pusemos We put Nós depusemos We testified

Let’s Practice!

With all these irregular forms to memorize, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, especially since many of the most frequently used verbs are irregular! When you get stuck, don’t forget that you can use our Verbs page to search for and quiz yourself on the conjugations of hundreds of verbs. Let’s start practicing some now in the following lessons!

Comments:

  • I really struggle with these so being able to make links between some of them really helps – thank you!

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