A Trotinete Do Diogo

Jaime and Maria were strolling through the park talking about the good old days. Find out what their grandson did to shock them!


  • What would be the difference in meaning between, “Ontem estive a conversar com o Zé
    and “Ontem estava a conversar com o Zé?

    • Speaking in general terms, the simple past sounds more final than the imperfect. The simple past makes it clearer that you’re talking about an action that has already been completed in the past, while the imperfect adds a degree of vagueness as to whether or not the action ended and when. Depending on context, there’s not necessarily a difference in meaning, but in level of detail or focus, I would say. That’s the case here. Note that all of this applies more to the verbs ser and estar; not so much to all the others.

    • Here, the only difference is that “estive a conversar” is in the past continuous, so it’s more suggestive of a prolonged action than the blunt simple past “conversei” 🙂

  • Olá Joseph,

    I’m a bit confused which form would be actually called Past Continuous in Portuguese.
    On one hand websites like:
    conjugator.reverso.net and conjuga-me.net (for the verb “conversar”)
    don’t even include forms like: “estava a conversar” and “estive a conversar”.

    On the other hand this learning note:
    seems to indicate that “estava a conversar” (or “conversava” ?) would be the Past Continuous form in Portuguese.

    Would you say that “estive a conversar” is yet another version of the Past Continuous for conversar? Or is it yet another verb tense?

    • When I mentioned the past continuous in my previous comment, I was just giving you the closest match in English of that construction, “estive a conversar”. In Portuguese, I don’t think you’ll find a formal tense that really matches it. As far as I know, we would just call this “locução verbal” or “perífrase” (a kind of verb phrase).

      The structure consists of “estar + a + infinitive form of the main verb”. Only the auxiliary verb “estar” is conjugated, not the main verb. In general, I would say that “estava a + main verb” or “estive a + main verb” can both correspond to what in English would be the past continuous, yes.

      In Portuguese, we can think of “estava a conversar” as a cousin of “conversava” (past imperfect), and of “estive a conversar” as a cousin of “conversei” (simple past). This would also apply to other verbs in general.

    • You’re welcome. And you’re right about the past thing – that must be why “saudade” is such a popular concept… 🙂

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