In previous lessons, you learned the verb ser to be - permanent, a common irregular verb. (As 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 ready to face more verbs in the coming lessons, let’s look 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 an ending, which varies according to the subject, number, and tense. Depending on how the verb ends (-ar, -er, or -ir), these endings are always the same for regular verbs.
With irregular verbs, it’s more complicated.
Some irregular verbs present changes in the root, others in the termination (ending) rules, and others in both. However, being classified as irregular doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire conjugation becomes weird and unfamiliar. Sometimes it’s only in certain forms and sometimes a Portuguese verb can be irregular in one tense (i.e. present tense) but regular in another… Que confusão! What a mess!
Changes in the root:
- Medir To measure – Eu meço I measure (instead of “Eu medo”)
- Trazer To bring – Eu trago I bring (instead of “Eu trazo”)
Changes in the ending:
- Fazer To do – Ele fazHe does (instead of “Ele faze“)
- Estar To be – Eu estouI am (instead of “Eu esto“)
How can you tell whether a verb is regular or irregular?
There is no way to know if the verb will be regular or not just by looking at the infinitive form of the verb. Again, you just have to memorize them over time!
However, depending on how different an irregular verb is from what it “should” be, it is possible to group the irregular verbs in Portuguese into the following groups:
Strong Irregular Verbs examples:
Weak Irregular Verbs examples:
Totally Different Verbs examples:
An example with -AR Verbs
You may have already seen some regular -AR verbs, like falar:
Now have a look at one of the most common irregular -AR verbs in Portuguese:
Let’s compare the endings of the 2 verbs’ conjugations:
|Regular -AR Ending||Actual Conjugation of “Estar”|
|-a||Ele / Ela / Você está|
|-am||Eles / Elas / Vocês estão|
Tip: As you start memorizing more irregular verbs, you may see some patterns. For example, although the verb dar to give is also irregular, it happens to be conjugated with the same endings as estar to be - temporary
Other Common Irregular Verbs
You can see more common examples of irregular verbs in Portuguese here: Irregular -ER Verbs & Irregular -IR Verbs
Remember, you can always reference our Verbs section for help with conjugating regular and irregular verbs in different tenses. 😌