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Top 10 Portuguese Sentence Patterns You Will Actually Use

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Learning a language is a never-ending journey. Even our own mother tongue can be surprising at times! But let’s be honest: the language we use in the majority of our daily interactions tends to repeat itself. That’s why one of the smartest things to do when learning a new language is to cut to the chase and pick up the most common sentences.

No need to waste lots of time with grammar rules or perfecting each little sound. Instead, practice these common Portuguese sentence patterns and boost your communication skills! Once you have them down, each of your interactions with a native speaker or a fellow language-learner will fill you with more confidence and expand your vocabulary. All it takes to begin is getting comfortable with these straight-to-the-point sentence patterns in Portuguese.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover some easy Portuguese sentence patterns, as well as more complex and detailed ones; these will give you the flexibility to build your own Portuguese phrases. The examples we provide will help you understand the context in which each one is used. Practice these sentence patterns until they become second-nature to you. We guarantee that it will give you a big advantage in your language-learning journey as you continue improving!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. A is B
  2. The Current Moment
  3. I Want
  4. I Need
  5. I Like and I Love
  6. Asking Someone for Something: Please
  7. Asking for Permission
  8. Asking for Information
  9. Asking About the Time
  10. Asking About Location
  11. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. A is B

Sentence Patterns

This Portuguese sentence pattern is extremely versatile! Whether you want to link two nouns or a noun and an adjective, this is the structure you’ll use. This makes it handy for talking about, or describing, people and objects. 

The foundation for this type of sentence in Portuguese is the verb ser (“to be”). If you need a quick refresher, check the conjugation of the verb.

  • Eu sou alta. (“I am tall.”) [female]
  • João é simpático. (“João is nice.”)
  • Marta é minha esposa. (“Marta is my wife.”)
  • O médico é muito experiente. (“The doctor is very experienced.”)
  • Minha mãe era professora. (“My mother was a teacher.”)
  • O churrasco é amanhã. (“The barbecue is tomorrow.”)
  • Esta universidade era a melhor do país. (“This university was the best in the country.”)

As you can see, by using the different conjugations of the verb ser, you can add information about the subject. Following the verb, you can use a noun, an adjective, or an adverb.


2. The Current Moment

While in English, we use the verb “to be” to talk about both permanent and temporary characteristics, in Portuguese, there’s a difference. In the previous Portuguese sentence pattern, we already saw the verb ser being used. Now, let’s see the sentence structure used to talk about things in the current moment.

For this, let’s invite the verb estar (“to be,” impermanent). Estar is another one of those useful little verbs that appear all the time. It might be used to talk about something we are temporarily:

  • Eu estou confusa. (“I am confused.”)
  • Meu filho está com fome. (“My son is hungry.”)
  • O dia está nublado. (“The day is cloudy.”)
  • Nós estamos muito atrasados. (“We are very late.”)
  • O jantar estava uma delícia! (“The dinner was delicious!”)
  • Nós estamos no shopping. (“We are at the mall.”)

But it doesn’t stop there. The verb estar is also used to talk about things we are doing or the weather.

  • Nós estamos limpando a casa. (“We are cleaning the house.”)
  • Estou chegando. (“I’m arriving.”)
  • Está chovendo. (“It’s raining.”)
  • Você estará em casa amanhã? (“Will you be home tomorrow?”)
  • Ele estava correndo quando você ligou. (“He was running when you called.”)

When talking about actions that are happening in this moment, or that were happening in the moment you’re referring to, the gerund form is commonly used.

Someone Sitting on a Dock with an Umbrella

Está nublado. (“It’s cloudy.”)

3. I Want

Let’s say you’re walking around a famous city in Brazil, under the hot sun, and you see a juice stand with mouthwatering fruit juices. You want to get one ASAP! How can you let them know you want an ice-cold glass of juice?

The verb querer (“to want”) is used to express something you want. If you need to, you can check the conjugation of the verb querer.

  • Eu quero um suco de laranja gelado, por favor. (“I want a cold orange juice, please.”)
  • Eu quero comprar um (par de) sapato(s). (“I want to buy a pair of shoes.”)
  • Você quer ir no show? (“Do you want to go to the concert?”)
  • Meu pai quer ir no jogo de futebol. (“My dad wants to go to the soccer match.”)

There are also a couple of ways to express something similar: “I would like.” For that, use the verb gostar (“to like”) in the subjunctive mode.

  • Eu gostaria de um copo de água. (“I would like a glass of water.”)
  • Ela gostaria de te ver. (“I would like to see you.”)
  • Você gostaria de vir? (“Would you like to come?”)

That’s great, but what if you have to make sure the people at the juice stand don’t put sugar in your juice? For situations like this, you need to learn how to say you don’t want something. It’s very easy: simply put the word não (“no”) before your verb.

  • Eu não quero açúcar. (“I don’t want sugar.”)
  • Meu pai não quer ir ao jogo de futebol. (“My dad doesn’t want to go to the soccer match.”)

4. I Need

When things go up a notch, you might prefer making it clear that you need something! For this, you’ll use the verb precisar (“to need”). Regardless of what your needs are—food, drinks, shade on a hot day, a friend to go to the beach with—this verb has got you covered!

Notice that, when the verb precisar is followed by another verb, you don’t need any preposition in between them. Also, the verb that follows precisar is used in the infinitive form. For example:

  • Eu preciso dormir. (“I need to sleep.”)
  • Precisamos conversar. (“We need to talk.”) – the pronoun “we” is implicit in the sentence
  • Eu preciso voltar para a academia. (“I need to go back to the gym.”)

Now, you can also use the verb precisar with a nominal phrase, or in other words, a phrase without a verb. In these cases, you’ll need the preposition de (“of”). Here are a few examples of this Portuguese sentence construction:

  • Você precisa de algo? (“Do you need something?”)
  • Ela precisou de remédio. (“She needed medicine.”)
  • Vocês vão precisar de um carro. (“You will need a car.”)
A Little Girl Hugging Her Dog

Preciso de um abraço! (“I need a hug!”)

5. I Like and I Love

There are a couple of different ways to express the things you like, adore, and love in Portuguese. Some people would argue that there should be more words to cover the entire spectrum of love we feel, but for now, there are only three Portuguese sentence patterns you need to learn! 

The first is the sentence using gostar (“to like”):

  • Eu gosto de você. (“I like you.”) 
  • Ela gostava de fazer compras. (“She liked shopping.”)
  • Nós gostamos de gatos. (“We like cats.”)
  • Gosto muito de dançar. (“I like to dance very much.”)
  • Vocês gostam muito dessa cidade! (“You like this city a lot!”)

Two things to notice: 

1) The verb gostar is followed by a preposition. In most cases, the preposition is de (“of”).

2) As you can see in the last two examples, you can add the adverb muito (“very” or “a lot”) after the verb to amplify the intensity! This way, you can say that you like something a lot.

Now, if you really like something, you might use the verb adorar (“to adore”). It’s commonly perceived as being a bit more intense than gostar. Although the literal translation is “to adore,” unless you’re talking about a religious setting, it’s more correct to translate it to “like very much” or even “love.”

  • Ela adora comida italiana! (“She loves Italian food!”)
  • Nós adoramos a sua casa. (“We like your house very much.”)
  • Eu adoraria ir à festa. (“I would love to go to the party.”)
  • Eles adoram cozinhar. (“They love to cook.”)

Lastly, to express love or fondness for just about anything, use the verb amar (“to love”). But know that Brazilians are intense, and the verb amar is used very often. Saw a movie you liked? You can say you loved it. Your friend sent you a relatable meme? You can reply with amei (“loved it”)! Want to tell your best friend you love them? Yep, you would use the same verb.

  • Amo muito meus pais. (“I love my parents a lot.”)
  • Minha mãe ama meus amigos. (“My mother loves my friends.”)
  • Eles amavam comida mexicana. (“They loved Mexican food.”)
  • Eu te amo. (“I love you.”)

The last example is an interesting case: although in Brazil, the pronoun você (“you”) is most commonly used in speech, eu te amo is actually conjugated in the second person of the speech (tu). Don’t worry about it, though! Do as most Brazilians do, and say Eu te amo to that special person.

Note that in Portuguese, there’s another verb to express being in love: apaixonar.

  • Estou apaixonado por você. (“I’m in love with you.”)
  • Maria está apaixonada por João. (“Maria is in love with João.”)
A Woman Biting into a Chocolate Bar

Eu amo chocolate. (“I love chocolate.”)

6. Asking Someone for Something: Please

Por favor (“please”) is your go-to expression for asking for something politely. There are two places where you can place it: at the beginning or at the end of the sentence. 

When asking, place por favor at the end. When politely reminding someone of a favor or something you asked, it can go at the beginning or the end. Let’s take a look at some examples of possible Portuguese sentence structures:

  • Você pode pegar a caixa, por favor? (“Can you get the box, please?”)
  • Por favor, não esquece do bolo! (“Please, don’t forget the cake!”)
  • Mãe, por favor, bata na porta antes de entrar. (“Mom, please, knock on the door before coming in.”)
  • Me ajuda, por favor? (“Help me, please?”)
  • Fecha a porta, por favor. (“Close the door, please.”)

7. Asking for Permission

Use the verb poder (“can” or “may”) to talk about permission, both to ask for it and to grant it.

  • Eu posso entrar? (“May I come in?”)
  • Pode me dar um copo de água? (“Can you give me a glass of water?”)
  • Com licença, pode me ajudar? (“Excuse me, can you help me?”)
  • Posso pedir uma sobremesa? (“Can I order a dessert?”)
  • Podem entrar! (“You may come in!”)

An important expression is com licença, which translates to “excuse me.” If you need to stop somebody in the street to ask for directions, use the expression at the beginning. For example:

  • Com licença, pode me dar uma informação? (“Excuse me, can you give me some information?”)
Sentence Components

8. Asking for Information

Let’s go back to our imaginary juice stand on a hot day in Brazil. Very likely, you’ll find some different fruits, maybe even one you’ve never seen before. How can you ask for information about the fruit, or for its name? Let’s take a look at the various ways to ask “What is…?”

  • O que é isso? (“What is this?”)
  • O que temos para jantar? (“What do we have for dinner?”)
  • O que está acontecendo? (“What is happening?”)
  • Que fruta é essa? (“What fruit is this?”)
  • Qual é o seu nome? (“What is your name?”)
  • Quais são as regras do jogo? (“What are the rules of the game?”)

As you can see, there are some different words you can use to express “what.” Here are some tips to make it easier for you.

O queUse it before verbs or pronouns.O que é aquilo? (“What is that?”)O que você faz? (“What do you do?”)
QueUse it before nouns.Que cheiro é esse? (“What smell is this?”)
QualUse it when the answer is something other than an explanation or definition.It’s also used as “which.”Qual é seu número de telefone? (“What is your phone number?”)Qual é o seu carro? (“Which one is your car?”)
QuaisIt’s the plural form of qual.Quais eram as opções? (“What were the options?”)Quais são as suas caixas? (“Which ones are your boxes?”)

Once again, you can add com licença to the beginning of the sentence to be polite when approaching others!

  • Com licença, que horas são? (“Excuse me, what time is it?”)

9. Asking About the Time

To make sure you get to your appointments on time, you need to get comfortable with the question “When is…?” The Portuguese sentence pattern for asking about time is pretty straightforward. You only need the word quando, which can be used at the beginning or end of the sentence. Here are some practical Portuguese sentence examples:

  • Quando é seu aniversário? (“When is your birthday?”)
  • Quando começou a festa? (“When did the party begin?”)
  • Quando são as suas férias? (“When are your vacations?”)
  • Quando o avião chega? (“When does the airplane arrive?”)
  • Seus pais chegam quando? (“Your parents arrive when?”)

You can also use another sentence pattern: Que + unit of time + verb.

  • Que horas são? (“What time is it?”)
  • Que dia você viaja? (“What day will you travel?”)

10. Asking About Location

Another important set of Portuguese sentences to learn, especially when you’re in a foreign country, are questions for asking where something is. When talking about location, the words onde and aonde will be your best friends. 

  • Onde estamos? (“Where are we?”)
  • Onde fica o supermercado? (“Where is the supermarket?”)
  • Aonde vamos? (“Where are we going?”)
  • Onde você nasceu? (“Where were you born?”)
  • De onde você é? (“Where are you from?”)
  • Onde está minha chave? (“Where is my key?”)

Sometimes, even Brazilians have trouble differentiating between onde and aonde. Think of it like this: If you’re talking about “where to,” as in being in movement and going to a place, you can use aonde

  • Aonde você vai? (“Where are you going?”)
  • Onde você está? (“Where are you?”)
A Woman Checking Her Watch

Com licença, que horas são? (“Excuse me, what time is it?”)

11. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

With this guide to the most useful Portuguese sentence patterns, you’ll be ready to start conversations in Portuguese in a bunch of different contexts. Enrich your vocabulary and add details to your sentences and, in no time, you’ll be telling stories and making jokes in a foreign language!

Feeling more confident about speaking in Portuguese? Did we miss any useful patterns you want to learn? Let us know if the sentence patterns explained in this article are helpful to you! Don’t forget to come back to this article whenever you need to refresh your memory. 

Now is the time to continue your language-learning journey! There are more free Portuguese resources and a variety of vocabulary lists available on PortuguesePod101.com. Go ahead and choose your favorite tools to expand your learning opportunities.

If you want to take your learning experience further, members of PortuguesePod101.com get access to the largest language lesson library in the world, with thousands of real lessons by real teachers. Perfect for anyone who wants to learn from anywhere, feel motivated, and be ready to speak Portuguese with confidence. And in the meantime, continue exploring PortuguesePod101!

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