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Past Continuous Tense

September 2, 2019

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 Imperfeito Imperfect.

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 pretéritos past 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 Perfeito Simple Past (fui picado) with the Imperfeito Imperfect (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
eu -ava -ia
tu -avas -ias
ele/ela/você -ava -ia
nós -ávamos -íamos
eles/elas/vocês -avam -iam

Three examples of irregular verbs in the Imperfeito:

Regular -AR Verbs in the Simple Past

May 16, 2018

The English simple past tense (e.g. “I went”, “We ate”, “You finished”) corresponds to the Portuguese pretérito perfeito simple past.

As with the present tense, conjugating regular Portuguese verbs in this tense is easier once you learn the patterns for each verb group.

Examples of some regular verbs in the -AR group include falar to speak, gostar to like, and andar to walk.

Let’s see the conjugations for the latter: