In previous lessons, you got to learn the verb “ser”, which we told you was an irregular verb. (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, 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 an ending, which varies according to the subject, number, and tense. According to how the verb ends (-ar, -er, or -ir) these endings 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 necessarily mean that the entire conjugation becomes weird and unfamiliar. Sometimes it’s only in certain conjugation 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:
I measure = Eu meço (instead of “Eu medo”)
I bring = Eu trago (instead of “Eu trazo”)
Changes in the ending:
He does = Ele faz (instead of “Ele faze“)
I am = Eu estou (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 need 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 into:
- 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:
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 with the same endings as “estar”:
Other Common Irregular Verbs
Remember, you can always reference our Verbs section for help with conjugating regular and irregular verbs in different tenses.