In Portuguese, verb phrases are known as locuções verbais. The definition of verb phrases varies in English, but in the Portuguese language, it refers to the use of an auxiliary verb + a main verb. More specifically, the formula “auxiliary verb + the main verb in the infinitive, past participle or gerund”. In such situations, the placement of the clitic pronoun is a bit more lax compared to the rules we’ve discussed in the past.
Let’s take a look at how to place clitic object pronouns when the main verb in is the infinitive or gerund form compared to how to place them when the main verb is in its past participle form.
When the main verb is in the infinitive or gerund
In the first example below, the pronoun comes after the main verb (mostrar) and this would be the most common way to place it. This is because there’s not a so-called “attractive” word that requires you to place it before the verb (such as an adverb or negative word). This usually happens in affirmative sentences.
What’s the difference between European Portuguese vs Brazilian Portuguese? For starters, European Portuguese is the variant spoken in Portugal and is more similar to the dialects spoken in Africa and Asia. (It is sometimes called Continental Portuguese, or even Portuguese Portuguese! 😄 ) Given the size and population of Brazil, however, the Brazilian Portuguese set of dialects are the most famous across the world, including online and in the entertainment industry.
Some compare the distinction between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese to that between American and British English, or between Latin American and European/Castilian Spanish. Practice Portuguese only teaches European Portuguese, but if you are arriving here with a background in Brazilian Portuguese, it can be helpful to understand the differences.
For native Portuguese speakers, the various dialects are mutually intelligible. As a non-native, hearing multiple versions can sometimes add extra confusion and complexity to the learning process, particularly when it comes to the pronunciation differences. If you’re planning to spend time in Portugal, or you just want to learn more about the Portuguese language as a whole, it’s important to understand the many unique characteristics of European Portuguese. We’ll take a look at some of the primary differences in spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.
As previously mentioned, the futuro do conjuntivofuture subjunctive allows us to talk about the conditions that must be met in order for a potential future action to occur, (i.e. “If this goes well, I will do that” or “When we get home, I will do that”). This tense appears in subordinate adverbial clauses (i.e. clauses which function like an adverb), as well as in relative clauses. It often goes along with the conjunction seif or others such as:
assim queas soon as, once
enquantowhile, as long as
With regular verbs, the futuro do conjuntivo is conjugated exactly the same as the
Another tense that makes up part of the conjuntivo is the imperfeito do conjuntivoimperfect subjunctive. You learned about the pretérito imperfeito do indicativo, which references past events that were ongoing. In the conjuntivo, however, the imperfect refers to:
past or future wishes and desires;
something purely hypothetical in the past or future:
i.e. imagining “what could have been” or “what could be” if things were or had been different;
As one of the tenses that makes up part of the conjuntivo (subjunctive) mood, the presente do conjuntivopresent subjunctive lets you talk about something that may or may not happen, but that is within the realm of possibility. This includes hopes, fears, doubts, and other hypotheticals. It tends to be paired with the presente do indicativo, such as in clauses beginning with:
Espero que…I hope that…
É importante que…It’s important that…
É bom que…It would be good if…, Literal – It is good that…
Receio que…I’m afraid that…
Duvido que…I doubt that…
Desejo que…I wish that…
Quer que eu…?Do you want me to…?
In the next lessons, we’ll focus on the presente do conjuntivo, but you
What in English is called the subjunctive mood, in European Portuguese is named modo conjuntivosubjunctive mode. While the indicativoindicative mood refers to actions that are certain or real, the conjuntivo, in contrast, indicates something possible, desired, hypothetical, or even unreal. It conveys the idea of uncertainty, doubt, or hope.
It is often found in sentences that contain the word seif or after a verb + quethat, as you will notice in many (but not all) of the examples.
You may have come across é que in a variety of Portuguese questions and wondered why these extra words are added. The pair of words is technically optional (the meaning stays the same with or without it), but including é que in Portuguese questions is so common that you should typically default to including it. This would be especially wise for beginners because there are not consistent rules for when it can be left out and excluding it can make certain sentences sound very strange.
Where to add é que
É que appears after the interrogative pronouns and adverbs you learned about previously, for example:
O que é que…?What is…?
Como é que…?How is…?, What is…?
Onde é que…?Where is…?
Quando é que…?When is…?
The rest of the question stays the same, continuing in subject, verb, object order, just like in English. É que basically translates to
There are a number of different ways to form questions in Portuguese. We’ll start with those for which the answers are either affirmative or negative. These are the easiest Portuguese questions to ask because very few changes have to be made to turn a statement into a question.
1. Add a question mark to the end of a statement
Tu estás em PortugalYou are in Portugal
Tu estás em Portugal?Are you in Portugal?
By adding a ‘?’ to a statement, all we have to do is change the intonation of the sentence and it becomes a “yes or no” question.
2. Add a phrase like “não é?” to the end of a statement
Ela é portuguesaShe is Portuguese
Ela é portuguesa, não é?She is Portuguese, isn’t she?, She is Portuguese, right?
The Basics: No & Not This is how to say no in Portuguese: The simplest way to make a sentence negative in Portuguese is just to place the word before the verb. This is the Portuguese equivalent of adding “no” or “not” to a sentence in English. Examples: Não is also used at the beginning […]
Reflexivepronouns tell you that an action is done to oneself (i.e. the object is the same as the subject). In English, we use words like myself, herself, and ourselves to express this idea. If you want to read more about Portuguese reflexive pronouns, we also cover them here. In order to make it easier to spot and understand the differences, we’ll be using the same examples throughout this Learning Note.
As you’ll see below, clitic pronouns (such as -me) are often used along with tonic pronouns (such as mim) to emphasize the object in reference: Desenhei-me a mim.I drew myself.
In some cases, it is also helpful to add the words próprioself or mesmosame to emphasize the reflexive nature of the verb even more and make the meaning less ambiguous: Ela desenhou-se a siprópria.She drew herself.
…but this is optional if you’ve already used a clitic pronoun, as in this example: Desenhaste-te a ti (mesmo).You drew yourself.
Explore the examples in each category below to help clarify these concepts:
Grammatically speaking, the pronouns si and consigo belong to the 3rd person subjects: ele(s)/ela(s). This is because they were initially only used as reflexive pronouns*, which are pronouns that refer to the same subject or thing as the verb. For example:
Ele levou a mala consigoHe took the suitcase with him
The sentence above is still correct and wouldn’t be confusing because the context makes it clear who consigo refers to. Nowadays, however, it’s more common to see si and consigo used with 2nd person formal subjects. Si and consigo can replace você, as using você in European Portuguese can sometimes be seen as disrespectful or too intense. For example:
Personal pronouns can be classified according to how they are used within a sentence. There are clitic pronouns (pronomes clíticos), which are unstressed, and tonic pronouns (pronomes tónicos), which are stressed. This learning note will serve as an introduction to tonic pronouns in Portuguese, however, let’s first see a recap of all the personal pronouns in order to compare them.
In this lesson we’re going to tackle past participles in Portuguese, i.e. particípios passadospast participles
What is a past participle? A past participle is a verb form that functions similarly to an adjective (e.g. “I am interested in that”), or that goes along with an auxiliary verb to form different verb tenses or use the passive voice (e.g. “The bill has been paid“, “The bill was paid“). Let’s look at a few examples to better understand how to use past participles in Portuguese:
Aquele filme? Já o tinha visto, sim.That film? I had already seen it, yes.
Tínhamos escrito ao professor para lhe pedirmos as notas.We had written to the professor to ask for our grades.
Notice that, in the two examples above, you needed to use another verb before using the past participles “seen” and “written”.
In this lesson, we’ll have a look at particípios passados duplosdouble past participles. ‘Double’ here means that some verbs can take the form of either a regular or an irregular participle, depending on the auxiliary verb being used with them.
Remember those verbs we marked off with an asterisk in the Irregular Participles learning note? They were ganharto win, to earn, gastarto spend, and pagarto pay. These are verbs that have double participles. Let’s see them in action:
Eles deviam ter ganhado o campeonato.They should have won the championship.
O campeonato foi ganho pela outra equipa.The championship was won by the other team.
In this lesson, we’ll have a look at particípios passados irregularesirregular past participles in Portuguese, i.e. past participles which behave in a unique and unpredictable way, instead of following the typical rules. Let’s see an example:
Eu abri a janela. A janela foi aberta.I opened the window. The window was opened.
If you are fresh off the previous lesson, perhaps you expected the past participle of abrirto open to follow the rule for -IR verbs, and be “abrida”. Right? But being a mischievous irregular verb, instead of “abrido”/”abrida”, the verb abrirbecomes “aberto”/”aberta”! Similarly, if we look at the past participle of fazerto do, to make we get:
Particípios passados regularesRegular past participles,
Particípios passados irregularesIrregular past participles, and
Duplos particípios passadosDouble past participles
In this lesson, we’ll have a look at regular past participles, that is to say, past participles which behave in a predictable way. These participles depend on the verb’s ending, i.e. they have a specific ending depending on whether they’re the past participle of an -AR, -ER or -IR verb.
For -AR verbs – andarto walk, falarto speak, amarto love, for instance – the regular ending of the past participle is ‘-ado’, which is added to the root of the verb. Examples:
Os alunos tinham andado até ao instituto.The students had walked up to the institute.
You’ve learned about irregular verbs and how to conjugate some of them in the present tense. If they’re irregular in the present, they’re usually irregular in other tenses too. There are no consistent rules to follow for this category, so the only way to learn the different conjugations is to study each one and practice, practice, practice! (Keep in mind, however, that there are some irregular verbs that follow the rules in most tenses, but are still called irregular due to the exceptions.)
In this episode, we once again analyze record audio clips from our brave listeners! We listen to the Shorty, “À Busca de Doces“, and explore how to make your Portuguese sound more native with pronunciation subtleties and word choice. We also clarify some other challenging concepts, such as the differences between “aí, ali, & lá”.
Interjections are words with an emotive function. They are used to express emotions, sensations, and moods. They can be just simple vowel sounds, like Ah! and Oh!, but most are either a free word or a phrase, in which case we call them locuções interjetivas.
The same interjeiçãointerjection can have different meanings depending on the context in which it appears, its purpose, and the speaker’s attitude. Even with simple vowel sounds, sometimes changing the tone and extending the sound will give it another meaning.
Ai! Bati com o joelho na mesa.Ah! I hit the table with my knee.
Ai! Já me estou a passar contigo.Ah! You’re getting on my nerves.
Interjections can be used as a standalone reply / affirmation, or they can be followed by a sentence.
Irra! Vocês não conseguem mesmo estar calados, pois não?Geez! You really can’t keep quiet, can you?
There’s practically an unlimited number of interjeiçõesinterjections, but below you will find the most common grouped by meaning/context.
In this learning note, we’ll discuss the pretérito imperfeito do indicativo, which is the Portuguese equivalent to the past continuous tense in English grammar (a.k.a. the past progressive). For simplicity, we’ll refer to it as the ImperfeitoImperfect.
This tense is used to describe something that took place in the past that was ongoing or did not have a clear endpoint. It imparts this idea of continuity that the other pretéritospast tenses don’t have, which makes it ideal to narrate past events, as well as to describe past habits.
Fui picado por mosquitos enquanto dormia.I was bitten by mosquitoes while I was sleeping.
Eu comia sopa todos os dias.I used to eat soup every day.
The first sentence mixes the Pretérito PerfeitoSimple Past (fui picado) with the ImperfeitoImperfect (dormia). We’ll compare both tenses further below in this article.
Conjugating Verbs in the Imperfeito
Conjugating regular verbs in the Imperfeito:
-ar verb ending
-er/-ir verb ending
Three examples of irregular verbs in the Imperfeito:
This learning note will cover the personal infinitive in Portuguese and how it is distinguished from the impersonal infinitive.
First let’s review what we mean by infinitive. The infinitivoinfinitive is one of the three formas nominaisnominal forms verbs can have. These nominal forms do not express the verb tense, mode, and person by themselves, as they are dependent on the context in which they appear. The infinitive expresses the idea of an action and it could be thought of as the base form of the verb.
There are two types of infinitives: impessoalimpersonal and pessoalpersonal. We’ll dive into each type below and explain the differences.
The infinitivo impessoalimpersonal infinitive is invariable, meaning it appears in its full form (without any conjugation) as it doesn’t have a subject.
É obrigatório lavar as mãos.Washing hands is mandatory.
The example above is not referring to anyone specific, just to the general idea of “washing”.
However, the infinitive can also appear as the subject of a sentence itself.
Errar é humano.To err is human.
Amar é viver.To love is to live.
Again, the verbs refer to the general idea of the action, rather than to a specific person doing the action.
The infinitivo pessoalpersonal infinitive differs because there is a known subject. It is formed by adding the following endings to the impersonal infinitive:
-des (vós), or
-em (eles, elas, vocês)
(Because the 2nd person plural vós is rarely used nowadays, we’ll focus our attention on the other three.)
The following table shows how the personal infinitive is conjugated with three different verbs.