In previous lessons, you got to learn the verb Ser, which we told you was an irregular verb. Because if learning 50 conjugations of a verb wasn’t enough, we also have to watch out for the dreaded irregular verbs 🙈
Why are they called that? Well, they are irregular because they don’t follow the same conjugation patterns as regular verbs. To make sure you’re all ready to face verbs in coming lessons, today we’ll be looking at both regular and irregular verbs in Portuguese. Hang on to your hats!
Irregular verbs happen in English too
Have you noticed that English also has irregular verbs? The verb “to be” is a good example – could you explain to a beginner why “you is” or “she am” is incorrect?
You can’t! The correct conjugations just have to be memorized, because they come from an irregular verb.
Irregular verbs in Portuguese
In Portuguese, when you conjugate a regular verb, you take the root (which doesn’t change throughout the conjugation) and you add a termination, which varies according to the subject, number, and tense. According to how the verb ends (-ar, -er or -ir) these terminations are always the same.
With irregular verbs, this doesn’t happen.
Some irregular verbs present changes in the root, others in the termination rules and others in both of them. But being classified as irregular doesn’t mean that the entire conjugation becomes weird and unfamiliar. Sometimes it’s only in certain conjugations forms and sometimes a Portuguese verb can be irregular in one tense (i.e. present tense) but regular in another… que confusão!
Changes in the root:
Eu meço (instead of “Eu medo”)
Eu trago (instead of “Eu trazo”)
Changes in the termination:
Ele faz (instead of “Ele faze“)
Termination should be: -e
Eu estou (instead of “Eu esto“)
Termination should be: -o
How can you tell whether a verb is regular or irregular?
Even if the infinitive form of the verb ends in -ER, -AR, and -IR, there is no way to know if the verb will be regular or not. Again, you just need to memorize them over time!
However, depending on how different an irregular verb is from what it should be, according to its termination, it is possible to group the irregular verbs into:
- Strong Irregular Verbs:
- Weak Irregular Verbs:
- Totally different Verbs:
You may have already seen some regular -AR verbs, like “falar”:
Now have a look at one of the most common irregular verbs:
Let’s compare the endings of the 2 verbs’ conjugations:
|Regular AR Ending||Actual Conjugation|
|-a||Ele / Ela / Você está|
|-am||Eles / Elas / Vocês estão|
Tip: As you start memorizing more irregular verbs, you may see patterns. For example, although the verb “dar” is also irregular, it happens to be conjugated in the same way as “estar”: