Regular vs. Irregular Verbs

Regular vs. Irregular Verbs

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:

Medir To measure

Root: Med-

Eu meço (instead of “Eu medo”)

 

Trazer To bring

Root: Traz-

Eu trago (instead of “Eu trazo”)

Changes in the termination:

Fazer To do

Ele faz (instead of “Ele faze“)

Termination should be: -e

Estar To be

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:
    • Estar To be
    • DarTo give
    • SaberTo know
    • Fazer To do
    • Querer To want
    • PoderTo be able to
    • Dizer To tell
  • Weak Irregular Verbs:
    • Ouvir To hear
    • Perder To lose
    • Medir To measure
    • PedirTo ask
  • Totally different Verbs:

ser
to be (permanent condition)

Indicativo

Ser – Indicativo – Presente

Tu és uma boa pessoa.
You’re a good person.

  • eu sou
  • I am
  • tu és
  • you are
  • ele / ela é
  • he / she is
  • você é
  • you formal are
  • nós somos
  • we are
  • eles / elas são
  • they masc. / they fem. are
  • vocês são
  • you pl. are


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ir
to go

Indicativo

Ir – Indicativo – Presente

Nós vamos lá muito.
We go there a lot.

  • eu vou
  • I go
  • tu vais
  • you go
  • ele / ela vai
  • he / she goes
  • você vai
  • you formal go
  • nós vamos
  • we go
  • eles / elas vão
  • they masc. / they fem. go
  • vocês vão
  • you pl. go


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vir
to come

Indicativo

Vir – Indicativo – Presente

Nós vimos aqui relaxar.
We come here to relax.

  • eu venho
  • I come
  • tu vens
  • you come
  • ele / ela vem
  • he / she comes
  • você vem
  • you formal come
  • nós vimos
  • we come
  • eles / elas vêm
  • they masc. / they fem. come
  • vocês vêm
  • you pl. come


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-AR Verbs

You may have already seen some regular -AR verbs, like “falar”:

falar
to speak

Indicativo

Falar – Indicativo – Presente

Eu falo com ela todos os dias.
I speak with her everyday.

  • eu falo
  • I speak
  • tu falas
  • you speak
  • ele / ela fala
  • he / she speaks
  • você fala
  • you formal speak
  • nós falamos
  • we speak
  • eles / elas falam
  • they masc. / they fem. speak
  • vocês falam
  • you pl. speak


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Now have a look at one of the most common irregular verbs:

estar
to be (temporary or accidental condition)

Indicativo

Estar – Indicativo – Presente

Nós estamos quase lá.
We are almost there.

  • eu estou
  • I am
  • tu estás
  • you are
  • ele / ela está
  • he / she is
  • você está
  • you formal are
  • nós estamos
  • we are
  • eles / elas estão
  • they masc. / they fem. are
  • vocês estão
  • you pl. are


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Let’s compare the endings of the 2 verbs’ conjugations:

Regular AR EndingActual Conjugation
-oEu estou
-asTu estás
-aEle / Ela / Você está
-amosNós estamos
-amEles / 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”:

dar
to give

Indicativo

Dar – Indicativo – Presente

Eu dou as minhas roupas para caridade.
I give my clothes to charity.

  • eu dou
  • I give
  • tu dás
  • you give
  • ele / ela
  • he / she gives
  • você
  • you formal give
  • nós damos
  • we give
  • eles / elas dão
  • they masc. / they fem. give
  • vocês dão
  • you pl. give


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Other Common Irregular Verbs

odiar
to hate

Indicativo

Odiar – Indicativo – Presente

Os miúdos odeiam vegetais.
The kids hate vegetables.

  • eu odeio
  • I hate
  • tu odeias
  • you hate
  • ele / ela odeia
  • he / she hates
  • você odeia
  • you formal hate
  • nós odiamos
  • we hate
  • eles / elas odeiam
  • they masc. / they fem. hate
  • vocês odeiam
  • you pl. hate


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