Temporal Subordinating Conjunctions

Temporal subordinating conjunctions (conjunções subordinativas temporais) tell us when the action or event described in the independent clause has occurred or is occurring.
quando paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio when
enquanto paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio while
sempre que paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio whenever
assim que paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio as soon as

Examples:

Eles comem, quando há comida. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio They eat when there's food.
A mãe vai às compras, enquanto o pai fica com as crianças. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The mother goes shopping, while the father stays with the kids.
Sempre que ele está em Lisboa, nós jantamos juntos. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Whenever he's in Lisbon, we have dinner together.

Note:

In certain contexts, you may see words and phrases like these used to set up the conditions that must be met in order for a future action to occur. When that happens, they are followed by verbs in the futuro do conjuntivo (future subjunctive) tense. For example: Quando tiver fome, faço o almoço Play normal audio Once I'm hungry, I'll make lunch
This is a much more complicated topic that we will cover in a later unit, but if you’d like to explore it now, you can read more here: Future Subjunctive
For now, we’ll focus on getting familiar with the meaning of each of these conjunctions in the following lessons.

Comments

  • Are the commas in those Portuguese sentences necessary? In English they are rarely used unless essential for comprehension.

    • I think our formal writing requires more commas than in English, but in this Learning Note, I’d say that only the last example really needs the comma (Sempre que ele está em Lisboa, nós jantamos juntos).

  • Hi,
    a quick question please: in the expression ‘ vamos à festa quando eu decidir’, why is the infinitive used, and not the present indicative decido.
    Also, is it an example of use of the personal infinitive?
    Thanks

    • Olá, Terence. This is hard to spot, but it’s not the infinitive that’s used, but the future subjunctive – this verb has the exact same form in both cases!

      In this kind of sentence, you can actually conjugate the verb both ways (the future subjunctive “decidir” or the present indicative “decido”), with a different intention behind each of them.
      – “Vamos à festa quando eu decido” -> With the verb in the present tense (of the indicative mood), it feels like you’re describing a general case or rule. It’s as if you were saying that, in general, you go to parties when you decide.
      – “Vamos à festa quando eu decidir” -> With the verb in the future subjunctive, it feels like you’re talking specifically about an eventual situation that would happen right now/soon. It’s like saying “We will go to this specific party if/when I say so”. You’re not generalizing this to every other party you might be attending.

      • Hi, that’s a great help. As the infinitive form is so familiar, I missed that was actually the subjunctive and not the infinitive in this case. I’ll spot the future subjunctive more easily now.

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