If you’ve been learning Portuguese for a while, and if you’ve done our unit on -ER Verbs, you may have noticed a glaring absence: the verb haver, one of the most essential Portuguese verbs.
haver Play slow audio Play normal audio
Haver may be common, but it’s an odd beast, as we shall see in the next two lessons. The verb haver is mainly used in three different ways: to indicate that something exists, to indicate that something has happened in the past, or to say that something will happen in the future.
When used as a main verb to indicate the existence of something, the verb haver is impersonal (meaning it has no subject), so you only see it in one form:
há Play slow audio Play normal audio there is
houve Play normal audio there was
havia Play normal audio there was, there used to be
haverá Play normal audio there will be
However, haver is also used as an auxiliary verb, in which case it can be conjugated in different tenses and persons. In practice, it is only used in this way in very few tenses.
For the purposes of this lesson, let’s take a quick look at some of the most common tenses of the verb haver in Portuguese:
The Verb Haver in the Indicative (Indicativo)
Now let’s cover some examples from each tense which highlight the most common uses of the verb haver.
Presente (haver de & há)
When the verb haver is used in the present tense in combination with the preposition de, haver is actually used to talk about the future. You won’t hear this very often, though, as it’s a quite formal usage.
Similarly, it can be used to make a request, implying “in the future, as soon as you have the time / it is convenient”.
- Sr. Pereira, há de me ver se tem o meu agrafador. Play slow audio Play normal audio Mr. Pereira, could you check whether you have my stapler?
The most common form you will see and hear is just há Play slow audio Play normal audio there is, which can actually be used to refer to the present or the past, depending on the context. As mentioned previously, in this case it is an impersonal verb, meaning it has no subject.
- Há leite no frigorífico Play normal audio There is milk in the refrigerator
- As piscinas fecharam há cinco minutosThe pools closed five minutes ago
- Não falo com os meus primos há muito tempo Play slow audio Play normal audio I have not spoken to my cousins in a long time
- Houve Play normal audio There was
- Quando nós nos conhecemos, houve uma atração imediata Play normal audio When we met there was an immediate attraction
- Havia Play normal audio There was, There used to be
- Havia um banco aqui Play normal audio There was a bank here, There used to be a bank here
Mark as complete to continue to the first lesson of Haver unit to practice some of the most common uses. We’ll learn more about this verb in this unit’s upcoming learning notes, or you can skip ahead to read about: