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Past, Present, Future: Learn About Portuguese Verb Tenses

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Grammar is generally not a favorite topic amongst Portuguese language learners. The sheer volume of topics, rules, and exceptions is enough to make anybody a bit overwhelmed. Verbs, in particular, make up an aspect of grammar that’s both super-important and quite complex. But don’t worry! We’re here to make it all a bit more digestible for you. In this article, we’ll break down Portuguese verb tenses into simpler terms to make the learning process a little smoother.

We’ll begin with an overview of Portuguese verbs, conjugation, moods, and tenses. Then, we’ll look closer at each of the tenses, using examples to make the concepts more understandable.

By learning the ropes of verb tenses, you’ll be taking a big step toward mastering Portuguese. It will give you the power to talk about the past, present, and future. You’ll be all set to tell stories, make plans, and enjoy each moment! 

Ready to conquer this hairy topic and become a master storyteller? Let’s go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. The Basics of Portuguese Conjugation
  2. Here and Now: Present Tenses
  3. What Once Was: Past Tenses
  4. Planning for Tomorrow: Future Tenses
  5. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. The Basics of Portuguese Conjugation

At first glance, this whole mess of verbs, tenses, moods, and conjugations can seem confusing. But try thinking of it this way: Grammatical tenses express the time at which a verb takes place. In other words, we’re talking about the past, present, and future.

But that’s not all. Tenses don’t exist in a vacuum—and there’s not much you can do with tenses by themselves. Verb conjugation in Portuguese requires moods (or modes) to actually work. 

So, what are grammatical moods? They’re inflections of verbs that allow them to express an attitude. The “attitude” can be an order or command, a statement of fact, a wish, or a plan.

When we combine tenses and moods with verbs, we can do a whole lot with the Portuguese language. 

1 – Moods

The moods we’ll look at in this article are:

  • Indicativo / “Indicative”
    Indicates a fact.
    Example: Ela dorme. / “She sleeps.”
  • Subjuntivo / “Subjunctive”
    Indicates a possibility, a wish, or something that we’re simply not sure about.
    Example: Talvez ela durma. / “Maybe she will sleep.”
  • Imperativo / “Imperative”
    Indicates a command or advice.
    Example: Durma agora. / “[You] sleep now.”
  • Condicional / “Conditional”
    Indicates what one could, would, or should do.
    Example: Eu dormiria agora. / “I would sleep now.”

2 – Tenses 

Remember: Each of the Portuguese verb tenses depends on the mood and vice-versa. So when we talk about tenses, we need to define the mood in which we’re conjugating the verbs.

Here’s a table with the basic tenses and moods:

Indicativo
“Indicative”
Presente / “Simple Present”
Préterito Perfeito / “Simple Past”
Pretérito Imperfeito / “Past Imperfect”
Pretérito Mais-que-perfeito / “Past Pluperfect”
Futuro do Presente / “Simple Future”
Condicional 
“Conditional”
Subjuntivo
“Subjunctive”
Presente / “Present Subjunctive”
Pretérito Imperfeito / “Imperfect Subjunctive”
Futuro / “Future Subjunctive”
Imperativo 
“Imperative”

Besides those tenses, there are other verb forms—called formas nominais (“nominal forms”)—you’ll encounter in Portuguese. These are:

  • The Infinitive

    The infinitive is the basic form of the verb, before any conjugation. You might see it coupled with auxiliary verbs in compound tenses.

    Example: Eu vou dormir muito. / “I will sleep a lot.”

  • The Past Participle

    A form of the verb that can be used with auxiliary verbs to form compound past tenses.

    Example: dormir → dormido / “to sleep” → “slept”

    Quando cheguei, ela tinha dormido. (“When I arrived, she had slept.”)

  • The Gerund

    Widely used in Brazil, it’s the equivalent of the “-ing” ending in English.

    Example: dormir → dormindo (“to sleep” → “sleeping”)

    Elas estão dormindo. (“They are sleeping.”)

3 – Auxiliary verbs

Did you notice that in the last examples above, there are two verbs? 

Elas estão dormindo. / “They are sleeping.”

These are compound tenses, which use an auxiliary verb alongside the main verb. These tenses are very commonly used in spoken Brazilian Portuguese. In the end, that’s good news: It means you can choose to use simple tenses or compound tenses—whichever you find easier!

Some of the most common auxiliary verbs in Portuguese are:

  • Ter / “To have”

    This auxiliary is used in several Portuguese compound tenses, including the preterite subjunctive compound, the pluperfect indicative compound, and the future indicative compound.

    The verb ter is conjugated in the correct tense and the main verb is in the participle form.

    Example: Eu tenho bebido chá verde em vez de café. / “I have been drinking green tea instead of coffee.”

  • Ir / “To go”

    We use this auxiliary to form the compound future, which is more commonly used than the simple future in Brazil.

    The verb ir is conjugated in the future indicative tense and the main verb is in the infinitive.

    Example: Eu vou beber muito suco de fruta. / “I will drink a lot of fruit juice.”

  • Estar / “To be” (temporary)

    This one is used to form the continuous tenses, such as the present continuous and past continuous (both of which are very widely used in Brazilian Portuguese).

    The verb estar is conjugated in the corresponding tense and the main verb is in the gerund form.

    Example: Eu estava bebendo água quando ela contou uma piada. / “I was drinking water when she told a joke.”

There’s much more to learn about verbs and their conjugation according to mood, tense, and person. To study the topic further, check out our guide on Portuguese verb conjugation!

Two Girls Talking about Something

Espero que você siga meu conselho. / “I hope you follow my advice.”

2. Here and Now: Present Tenses

If you need to talk about things happening now, the Portuguese present tense is exactly what you need. 

1 – Presente do indicativo / “Present indicative”

The present indicative is used to talk about things that you usually do. The indicative mood indicates a fact or certainty; coupled with the present tense, it’s perfect for talking about things you know or believe.  

Let’s see some examples:

Eu durmo cedo.“I sleep early.”

Ela sempre dorme muito.“She always sleeps a lot.”

Nós bebemos muita água.“We drink a lot of water.”

2 – Presente contínuo / “Present continuous”

If you want to talk about actions that are happening right now, you can use the present indicative of the verb estar (“to be,” temporary) with the action verb in the gerund form.

The present continuous is very commonly used in Brazil, so it’s an important one to learn!

Ela está dormindo.“She is sleeping.”

Você está bebendo suco?“Are you drinking juice?”

3 – Presente do subjuntivo / “Present subjunctive”

This tense is used to indicate a degree of uncertainty, express a possibility, or talk about a hypothetical situation. If you’re considering whether or not to do something now, or are talking about a request that’s not guaranteed to happen, use this tense.

Talvez eu durma agora.“Maybe I’ll sleep now.”

Sua mãe quer que vocês durmam cedo.“Your mom wants you to sleep early.”

4 – Imperativo / “Imperative”

The imperative is used to give commands, instructions, orders, or advice. In Portuguese, the imperative is undetermined in time, but it’s commonly associated with the present tense as it deals with the present or very near future. 

Durma agora.“Sleep now.”

Bebam água.“Drink water.”

A Mother Sleeping with Her Toddler

Elas dormem cedo. / “They sleep early.”

3. What Once Was: Past Tenses

The Portuguese past tenses can be a bit more complex, as there are different “types” of past one can talk about. Let’s dive into them. 

1 – Pretérito do indicativo / “Preterite indicative”

This tense is used to talk about past events that have already happened and are completed. The equivalent in English is the simple past.

Eu dormi muito bem.“I slept very well.”

Eles já beberam café hoje.“They already drank coffee today.”

2 – Imperfeito do indicativo / “Imperfect indicative”

This tense is used to talk about things that used to happen or to set a scene in some unidentified point in the past. You can use the imperfect to indicate what was happening when something else took place. 

Ela dormia tranquilamente quando alguém bateu na porta.“She was sleeping tranquilly when someone banged on the door.”
The imperfect can be translated to English in the form “was” + “verb” with the -ing ending.

Eu bebia muito quando era nova.“I used to drink a lot when I was young.”
Another way in which the imperfect can be translated to English is: “used to” + verb.

We can also talk about past events that were happening or set a scene by using the progressive imperfect. 

To use this form, conjugate the verb estar (“to be,” temporary) in the imperfect form and couple it with the gerund form of the main verb. This form might be a bit easier for English speakers to grasp, due to the similarities!

Ela estava dormindo tranquilamente quando alguém bateu na porta. “She was sleeping tranquilly when someone banged on the door.”

Eu estava dormindo no sofá.“I was sleeping on the couch.”

Você estava bebendo rápido demais.“You were drinking too fast.”

3 – Pretérito mais-que-perfeito do subjuntivo / “Pluperfect subjunctive”

You can use this tense to talk about possibilities in the past that didn’t happen or how one could have avoided something that did happen

This tense needs the verb ter (“to have”) and the main verb in the past participle.

Se eu tivesse dormido mais, teria acordado mais cedo.“If I had slept more, I’d have woken up earlier.”

Se você tivesse bebido menos, não teria dor de cabeça hoje.“If you had drunk less, you wouldn’t have a headache today.”

4 – Imperfeito subjuntivo / “Imperfect subjunctive”

If you want to talk about hypothetical or uncertain situations that could have happened in the past (but that, in reality, didn’t take place), you can use this tense.

Se eu dormisse cedo, conseguiria trabalhar de manhã.“If I were to sleep early, I would be able to work in the morning.”
Notice that the verb dormir (“to sleep”) is conjugated in the imperfect subjunctive, but the second verb conseguir (“to be able”) is conjugated in the conditional. Also, the sentence normally begins with se (“if”).

A Man Asleep on a Futon with Beer and Pizza Boxes Around Him

Eu comi, bebi e dormi. / “I ate, drank, and slept.”

4. Planning for Tomorrow: Future Tenses

Making plans or dreaming about what tomorrow could be like? Then the Portuguese future tense is indispensable! 

1 – Futuro do indicativo / “Future indicative”

This is equivalent to the simple future form in English, used to talk about something that will happen

Dormirei tarde hoje.“I will sleep late today.”

Beberei um chá antes de deitar.“I will drink tea before going to bed.”

However, in Brazilian Portuguese, it’s more common to talk about the future using the conjugated verb ir (“to go”) in the future indicative tense + the infinitive of the main verb.

Vou dormir tarde hoje.“I will sleep late today.”

Vou beber um chá antes de deitar.“I will drink tea before going to bed.”


2 – Futuro do subjuntivo / “Future subjunctive”

Use this tense to set possible scenes in the future or to talk about future events with some level of uncertainty.

Se eu dormir cedo, vou tomar café da manhã com você.“If I sleep early, I’ll have breakfast with you.”
Notice that the first verb—dormir (“to sleep”)—is conjugated in the future subjunctive, but the second verb is in the future indicative tense—vou tomar (“[I] will have”).

Enquanto você beber café, eu prepararei para você.“As long as you drink coffee, I’ll prepare it for you.”

3 – Futuro do Pretérito or Condicional / “Conditional”

The conditional tense is used to express surprise or uncertainty regarding the future, but in cases in which “would” or “could” are used in English. 

Eu dormiria cedo, mas tenho que trabalhar.“I would sleep early, but I have to work.”

Eu beberia tudo!“I could drink it all!”

A Grandmother Snuggling Her Granddaughter

Amanhã vou dormir na casa da vovó. / “Tomorrow, I’ll sleep at grandma’s house.”

5. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Hopefully this guide has provided you with useful information about the Portuguese tenses and when to use them, helping you progress even more in your Portuguese-learning journey. Don’t forget to come back to this article anytime you need a refresher lesson!

What did you think of this article? Did the examples help you grasp the different tenses in Portuguese? If we missed any aspect of Portuguese verb tenses, let us know in the comments. 

Now, don’t stop learning! 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!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Portuguese?

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Most aspiring language learners ask themselves this fundamental question at some point: How long does it take to learn Portuguese? 

Building knowledge is very fulfilling and leads to expectations of improvement, so it’s only natural to wonder what kind of time commitment you’re looking at. However, the answer to this question is quite subjective! 

For example, what’s your definition of “learning” in the first place? 

No, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. 

Everyone needs to master the same basic grammar concepts and learn the same essential vocabulary. There’s definitely a learning curve. But one of the biggest factors in how long it takes to learn Portuguese is the level of proficiency one wants to achieve. 

For example, some people are only seeking enough Portuguese fluency to interact with locals while traveling. Others want to achieve full fluency so they can work or go to universities in a Portuguese-speaking country, which demands a whole different level of knowledge.

In this article, we’ll take a look at additional factors to consider, discuss what language skills and abilities are expected at each proficiency level, and give you advice on how to learn Portuguese faster using the best tools. 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Just One Thing Before We Start
  2. Beginner Level
  3. Intermediate Level
  4. Advanced Level
  5. Conclusion

Just One Thing Before We Start

A Woman Raising Her Hand in Class

If you’re excited to start this learning journey, raise your hand!

This article will provide you with time estimates regarding how long it takes to reach each level of Portuguese, but these times can vary depending on numerous factors. Perhaps the number-one factor to consider is how similar one’s native language is to Portuguese

The timeframes given in this article are for English speakers looking to learn Portuguese. Because Portuguese is a Romance language and English is a Germanic one, there are considerable differences between the two (despite their having some shared influence from other languages, such as French). That said, the United States’ Foreign Service Institute (FSI) ranks Portuguese as a Category I language—this means that it’s relatively easy for native English speakers to pick up, compared to other more “distant” languages. 

As far as ease of learning goes, speakers of other Romance languages (Spanish, Italian, French, Romanian) will have the easiest time picking up the Portuguese language. Those who speak languages far outside the Romance language family (Thai, Japanese, Hungarian, Arabic, etc.) will have a more difficult time. English speakers tend to fall somewhere in the middle. 

The skills we’ve mentioned for each level of learning are based upon the required knowledge for levels A, B, and C of the EPE certificate of Portugal’s Instituto Camões. 

Beginner Level

An Answer Sheet Filled Out

Good resources can lead you to an A grade in the A-level test.

We all have to begin somewhere. For Portuguese learners, mastering levels A1 and A2 is the starting point.

In a nutshell, these are the skills needed for this level:

  • Understand everyday expressions and simple statements.
  • Formulate simple sentences and introduce yourself.
  • Know how to use the present tense.
  • Communicate in most basic everyday contexts. 

The estimated time it takes to reach this point is between 80 and 100 hours of active study. 

Study Tips 

Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips on how to learn Portuguese for beginners. 

  • Reading & Writing. 

    At this point, your reading skills should consist of being able to identify the key information of short texts on different topics. You should also be able to write down very basic sentences. You’ll need to build up a solid core vocabulary and become familiar with Portuguese syntax.

    Here are some useful resources from PortuguesePod101.com you can use to improve your beginner-level reading and writing skills:

    Portuguese Alphabet
    100 Core Portuguese Words
    Cracking the Portuguese Writing System! 

    Make sure to peruse our wide array of themed vocabulary lists and make use of our spaced repetition flashcards (or make your own) to maximize your study efforts. If you opt to go the traditional route, you can place your flashcards on the objects they identify to help you better associate each word with its meaning in context. Either way, we recommend you study them for at least 15 minutes a day!

  • Speaking & Listening. 

    As for speaking and listening, you should be able to interact with native speakers using simple phrasal structures. You should also be able to understand simple daily communication and identify the key information in dialogues.

    You can gain these basic skills by going through short listening exercises, practicing your pronunciation, and engaging in short conversations with native speakers (if possible).

    Here are a few resources on PortuguesePod101.com we recommend:

    Listening Comprehension for Beginners
    Ultimate Portuguese Pronunciation Guide
    Learn Portuguese in Three Minutes

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to learn Portuguese online. For example, there are some interesting flashcard apps such as AnkiDroid (for Android) and Anki (for PC). 

As a beginner, you should also focus your efforts on reading. PortuguesePod101 has several lessons with transcripts you can go over, and you can also check out some Portuguese-language children’s books or magazines. The digital GoRead platform is an interesting source for Brazilian magazines, for instance. 

Intermediate Level

An Up-close Shot of Someone Holding a Television Remote

Meet your new assistant for remote cultural research.

At the intermediate level (B1 and B2), students are able to identify primary and secondary information through both reading and listening. 

In a nutshell, these are the skills needed for this level:

  • Participate in daily interactions.
  • Explain ideas, present opinions, and participate in arguments. 
  • Know how to use different verb tenses.
  • Be familiar with different phrase patterns.
  • Recognize and use both the formal and informal register.
  • Express yourself creatively.

In essence, it’s time for some hard work—that pays off. So how long does it take to learn Portuguese up to the intermediate level? Around 350 to 400 hours of study.

Study Tips

As you approach and make your way through the intermediate level, there’s a lot of new ground to cover and the learning dynamics get more interesting. You’ll find yourself becoming more able to understand complex communication in various contexts. While there are no shortcuts in language learning, we do have some tips on how to learn Portuguese more easily at this stage. 


  • Speaking & Listening.

    There are two things that will immensely help your speaking and listening comprehension at this stage: dialogue-based lessons and Portuguese-language media.

    A good way to start is by watching Portuguese Netflix series, films, and YouTube channels with subtitles. Also, news podcasts are ideal for getting in touch with objective content and plain language, which is easier to understand. At the beginning of the intermediate level, you can focus on shorter podcasts with headlines and then move on to more complex ones.

    Watching and listening to this type of media is also really important because it will help you start grasping cultural context and information. A good Portuguese course will already introduce you to some of this cultural information, but seeing it applied in character and in realistic situations outside the classroom is something completely different.

    Here are some PortuguesePod101 resources for you:

    Intermediate Season 1
    Listening Comprehension for Intermediate Learners
    Must-Know Portuguese Holiday Words

Advanced Level

Suitcases Stacked Up and An Airplane Flying in the Background

Studying abroad can be very helpful for the advanced learner.

You’re almost there. You’re almost fluent in Portuguese.  

Advanced Portuguese fluency corresponds to levels C1 and C2, and this level of fluency is often required for those interested in working or studying abroad. Some people simply want to achieve total fluency for personal reasons or self-satisfaction! 

In a nutshell, these are the skills needed for this level:

  • Interpret and write complex texts using advanced grammar knowledge.  
  • Speak fluently in nearly all contexts. 
  • Be capable of flexible communication.
  • Have a comprehensive vocabulary.

To achieve the advanced level, the student needs 850 to 900 hours of studying. 

Study Tips

This is quite a time commitment, but we have some advice on how to learn Portuguese faster and more effectively. 

  • Reading & Writing. 

    As an advanced listener, you’re expected to comprehend both explicit and implicit information in messages. You must be able to distinguish between factual information and expressions of opinions, feelings, or arguments.

    In terms of writing, you should have enough knowledge of Portuguese grammar and syntax to develop coherent, complex texts on abstract, scientific, technical, and cultural themes.

    At this stage, you may find our Level 5 Portuguese lesson pathway quite useful as you continue to develop and hone your reading and writing skills. You can also continue to expand your reading to include larger books, more detailed magazines or blogs, or anything else you find interesting.

  • Speaking & Listening. 

    Because your speaking and listening skills should be fairly solid by now, you should start conversing with native speakers as often as possible (if you aren’t already!).

    One good way to do this is to visit online chats, forums, and language exchange programs that allow you to converse with native Portuguese speakers. You should also consider doing a student exchange program, which will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture firsthand.

    Culture and language deeply influence each other, so becoming familiar with Portuguese and Brazilian culture will work wonders for your speaking and listening abilities.

    Here are some resources for you:

    Listening Comprehension for Advanced Learners
    Video Culture Class: Brazil Holidays

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question: How long does it take an English speaker to learn Portuguese?

We also went into some detail about what’s expected of a learner at each proficiency level and gave you some useful tips on how to learn the Portuguese language effectively. 

Remember: If your goal is to learn Portuguese fast online, you can’t lower the bar. As presented, learning Portuguese isn’t too difficult for English speakers—but constant learning efforts and motivation are still important, as they can fuel the process to promote lasting results.

These factors, when combined with your learning tools of choice, will determine how well and how quickly you can learn Portuguese. 

PortuguesePod101 is an intuitive and well-structured website that delivers a range of Portuguese learning materials on many topics. Our grammar lessons, listening and reading comprehension exercises, and speaking/pronunciation practice tools are all organized and presented in bite-size chunks that help students learn Portuguese one step at a time. 

We combine video, text, and audio in the right doses to stimulate every learner to achieve their goals. Get access now to digital flashcards, a word bank, personal one-on-one teaching, and much more.

How fast can you learn Portuguese? As fast as you try PortuguesePod101.

Before you go, we’re curious: How likely are you to start learning Portuguese after reading this article? And if you’ve been learning a while, how long did it take you to reach your current level? 

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The Brazilian Wisdom of Portuguese Proverbs

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There’s something very satisfying about using a proverb that perfectly fits the situation. These gems of popular wisdom are passed from generation to generation, sometimes suffering alterations and adaptations, but always remaining witty or wise. Portuguese proverbs are no exception, carrying much meaning in a few words.

Proverbs are also a repository of local culture. Many times, a proverb only makes sense in one place or culture until explained, because it’s very closely tied to local traditions and mindsets. It’s also interesting to see how globalization, miscegenation, and cultural exchanges are reflected in proverbs.

Studying Brazilian proverbs will help you understand a bit more about the country and its people, and also increase your vocabulary. And who knows? It may even impart you with some age-old wisdom! 

In this article, we’ll dive into the curious world of Portuguese proverbs. With each proverb listed, we’ve included a literal translation, an equivalent in English (where one exists), and information about when you can use it. Hope you’re ready for a fun ride!

A Woman Stretching as She Gets Up in the Morning

Deus ajuda quem cedo madruga.
“God helps those who wake up early.”

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Proverbs About Relationships
  2. Proverbs About Work and Success
  3. Proverbs About Life and Wisdom
  4. Proverbs About Overcoming Adversities
  5. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. Proverbs About Relationships

Relationships make life all the more precious, but they can also be quite trying. Below are a few Portuguese proverbs about family, friendship, and romance to give you some cultural perspective on the topic! 

PortugueseDiga-me com quem andas e eu te direi quem és.
Literal translation“Tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
English equivalentA man is known by the company he keeps.
Language noteThe conjugation in this proverb is in second-person singular, which is considered more formal in most of Brazil. 
This saying means that the people we surround ourselves with is a good indication of our character. Another English proverb that comes to mind is, “Birds of a feather flock together.” 

Since people with similar values and dispositions tend to spend time together, we can know a lot about a person based on his/her friends. 

PortugueseCada macaco no seu galho
Literal translation“Each monkey on its own branch”
English equivalent“Every jack to his trade”
This is a witty way to say, “Mind your own business.” It indicates that each person has their place, and shouldn’t try to meddle in other people’s affairs.

Imagine that someone is feeding you some juicy gossip about one of your friends, and asks for your opinion. You could say: Cada macaco no seu galho, eu não sei. / “Each monkey on its own branch, I don’t know.”

PortugueseAmigos, amigos, negócios à parte.
Literal translation“Friends, friends, business aside.”
English equivalent“Business is business.”
This is a warning about the dangers of mixing friendship and money matters. When it comes to business, having a friend as a coworker or business partner can cause the demise of the friendship. 

This Portuguese proverb can be used for any similar situation, whenever professional and personal lives risk getting caught up in each other. For example, if you’re considering whether or not you should lend money to a friend, someone might tell you this proverb as a word of advice. 

PortugueseRoupa suja se lava em casa. 
Literal translation“Dirty laundry is washed at home.”
English equivalent“Don’t wash your dirty linen in public.”
Exactly like its English equivalent, this proverb means that one should not discuss private or family problems in public. 

Imagine a couple is in a shopping mall, and they begin a heated argument. One of their friends approaches and says: Agora não, roupa suja se lava em casa. / “Not now, dirty laundry is washed at home.”

PortuguesePor ele eu ponho minha mão no fogo.
Literal translation“For him, I put my hand on fire.”
Language noteYou can substitute the pronoun ele (“he”) for any other personal pronoun, or even the person’s name.
To ‘put a hand on fire’ for someone means you trust them completely—so much so that you would be willing to go through the terrible pain of having your hands burned for that person. Figuratively speaking, of course.

For example, if someone you trust very much is accused of doing something bad, you could say to everyone: Eu não acredito nisso, por ele eu ponho minha mão no fogo! / “I don’t believe it, for him, I put my hand on fire!”

PortugueseO que os olhos não veem, o coração não sente.
Literal translation“What the eyes don’t see, the heart doesn’t feel.”
English equivalent“Out of sight, out of mind.”
This proverb is common in several cultures, and can be applied to many scenarios. As long as the person doesn’t know about something, it can’t hurt them. 

The most traditional use, however, is to reference romantic relationships and affairs. 


PortugueseA união faz a força.
Literal translation“Unity is strength.”
English equivalent“United we stand, divided we fall.”
We all know it: When people come together, nothing can stop them! Or at least, that’s what this proverb means. It can be used when trying to finish a group project or when you need to convince your siblings to help you clean up quicker. 

PortuguesePimenta nos olhos dos outros é refresco.
Literal translation“Pepper on others’ eyes is a refreshing drink.”
English equivalent“Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else.”
Just like its English equivalent, this Portuguese proverb means that misfortunes can seem less serious—or even funny—when they’re happening to someone else.

Let’s imagine you’re telling your friend about an embarrassing experience you just had, and your friend starts laughing. You could say: Pimenta nos olhos dos outros é refresco, quero ver se fosse com você. / “Pepper on others’ eyes is a refreshing drink, I’d like to see if it were you.”

PortugueseAntes só que mal acompanhado.
English equivalent“Better alone than in bad company.”
Here’s another proverb that has a direct equivalent in English. Sometimes it’s preferable to be alone than to be with someone who causes us pain or wants to bring us down. 

If you have a friend who’s keeping bad company, don’t hesitate to tell them: Você tem que cuidar de si mesmo, lembra que antes só que mal acompanhado. / “You have to take care of yourself, remember that ‘better alone than in bad company.’ “

PortugueseFilho de peixe, peixinho é.
Literal translation“Son of fish is little fish.”
English equivalent“Like father, like son.”
This Brazilian proverb is used to highlight the similarities between parents and their children. Another English equivalent is, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Someone might say this when a child shows interest in the same career as their parent. 

    → Want to learn more sentences about friendship and relationships? Check out our vocabulary list on the Top 10 Quotes About Friendship and practice your pronunciation!

A Picture of a Monkey on a Tree Branch

Cada macaco no seu galho.
“Each monkey on its own branch.”

2. Proverbs About Work and Success

Hard work is an inescapable part of life, and we all hope that our efforts will bring us success. Here are some Portuguese proverbs to inspire and motivate you to be your best. 

PortugueseDeus ajuda a quem cedo madruga.
Literal translation“God helps those who wake up early.”
English equivalent“The early bird catches the worm.”
A similar idea is conveyed in proverbs around the world: wake up early to improve your odds in life. Note that religiosity is present in the Portuguese saying, unlike in its English equivalent.

You could imagine a mother saying this to her children after dinner: Hora de ir para cama. Deus ajuda quem cedo madruga. / “Time to go to bed. God helps those who wake up early.”

PortugueseNão deixe para amanhã o que você pode fazer hoje.
English equivalent“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
Procrastinators are sure to have heard this saying many times. Although one could argue whether this proverb holds a universal truth or not, it’s a good idea to become familiar with it. After all, we have the tendency to think that our schedules and to-do lists in the future will be emptier than they are now…but experience shows that’s not always the case.

Imagine you’re trying to convince a friend to finish his part of the group assignment. You might say: Você consegue fazer a sua parte bem rápido. Não deixe para amanhã o que você pode fazer hoje! / “You can do your part really quickly. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today!”

PortugueseDe grão em grão, a galinha enche o papo.
Literal translation“Grain by grain, the hen fills her belly.”
English equivalent“Little strokes fell great oaks.”
Slowly but surely, we can achieve our goals. With a bit of patience and persistence, we can finish big projects and get far in life. This Portuguese proverb paints a picture in our minds of a hen pecking away, one grain at a time, until she’s no longer hungry.

PortugueseA pressa é inimiga da perfeição.
Literal translation“Haste is the enemy of perfection.”
English equivalent“Haste makes waste.”
Doing things in a hurry can lead to many mistakes and sacrifice the quality of our efforts. Who can’t remember a time when they overlooked an important detail in order to deliver more quickly?

Imagine a mother has just asked her children to help wash the dishes. If they start doing it quickly and poorly, she would surely say: Lave os pratos com mais calma. A pressa é inimiga da perfeição. / “Wash the dishes more slowly. Haste makes waste.”

PortugueseQuem tem boca vai a Roma.
Literal translation“Who has a mouth goes to Rome.”
English equivalent“Better to ask the way than to go astray.”
There are actually two versions of this proverb, and there’s some debate as to which one is the correct and original version: 
  • Quem tem boca vai a Roma. / “Who has a mouth goes to Rome.”
  • Quem tem boca vaia Roma. / “Who has a mouth boos Rome.” 
The latter means that we need to speak up against wrong or negative attitudes.

Regardless, the first form is more widely used. It means that asking questions takes us a long way, so we should feel free to ask away! 

PortugueseO barato sai caro.
Literal translation“The cheap ends up expensive.”
English equivalent“You get what you pay for.”
Saving some money upfront when purchasing a product or service might come back to haunt us, especially if it means opting for a lower-quality version. 

For example, buying a cheap used car might be a good deal at first—but if the car comes with a lot of problems, the repair fees might be much more expensive than the car itself. In that case: O barato sai caro. / “The cheap ends up expensive.”


PortugueseNem tudo o que reluz é ouro. 
Literal translation“Not everything that shines is gold.”
English equivalent“All that glitters is not gold.”
This Portuguese proverb has the same meaning as: As aparências enganam. / “Appearances deceive.”

Just because something shines, it doesn’t mean it’s valuable. It could very well be a cheap imitation or even a wolf in sheep’s clothing. So be attentive and careful when making judgements about something’s value.

PortugueseCavalo dado não se olha os dentes.
Literal translation“In a given horse, we don’t look at the teeth.”
English equivalent“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”
This proverb (or a very close version of it) is present in English, French, Italian, and other languages. By looking at the teeth of a horse, it’s possible to determine its approximate age and thus avoid being swindled in a negotiation. An ill-intentioned seller could very well try to sell you an older horse by making it appear younger, but looking at the horse’s teeth would alert you of such a scam. 

However, when it comes to gifts, it isn’t polite to do that. This proverb means that you should never refuse a gift nor show dissatisfaction with it. 

Lots of Jewelry and a Golden Watch

Nem tudo o que reluz é ouro. 
“Not everything that shines is gold.”

3. Proverbs About Life and Wisdom

We all try to live our lives to the fullest and in the best way possible, and we require a good dose of wisdom to do so. Here are some Portuguese proverbs about life to give you that additional wisdom and insight! 

PortugueseCão que ladra não morde.
Literal translation“Dog that barks doesn’t bite.”
English equivalent“Barking dogs seldom bite.”
Dogs that are always barking are also the least likely to bite. Likewise, this proverb says that those who easily make threats rarely take action. But again, we could argue over the truth of this proverb since it might be better not to tempt a dog. 

You could hear this proverb in the context of a romantic relationship, in which one person is always saying they will leave. In this case, people might say: Duvido que ele vá terminar o namoro. Cão que ladra não morde. / “I doubt he is going to end the relationship. Barking dogs seldom bite.”

PortugueseQuem com ferro fere, com ferro será ferido.
Literal translation“Who hurts with iron, with iron will be hurt.”
English equivalent“Live by the sword, die by the sword.”
This is a way of saying, “What goes around, comes around,” in Portuguese. It means that a person’s bad deeds will come back to them in a similar fashion.

This proverb might come up in a conversation about a person who is always harming others. You could then say: Uma hora ele vai aprender que quem com ferro fere, com ferro será ferido. / “One day he will learn that who hurts with iron, with iron will be hurt.”

PortugueseCasa de ferreiro, espeto de pau. 
Literal translation“Blacksmith’s house, wooden skewer.”
English equivalent“The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.”
Just because someone has a specific skill or profession doesn’t mean they can put it into practice when it comes to themselves or their families. For example, imagine a teacher who never helps their own children with their homework or a doctor who smokes.

PortugueseSaco vazio não para em pé.
Literal translation“Empty sack doesn’t stand still.”
English equivalent“An empty sack cannot stand upright.”
We all know, intuitively, what this saying means: without food, we have no energy to do anything—just like how an empty sack will collapse onto itself when empty, but stand upright when full of potatoes!

You can use this proverb when your boss is holding you up, and all you want to do is have lunch: Daqui a pouco continuamos. Saco vazio não para em pé! / “We’ll continue soon. Empty sack doesn’t stand still.”

PortugueseO seguro morreu de velho. 
Literal translation“The safe person died of old age.”
English equivalent“Better safe than sorry.”
A person who plays it safe and takes care of possible issues before they even occur will die of old age, and not of a preventable disease or accident. Just be careful and protect yourself.

Another proverb with the same meaning in Portuguese is: Um homem prevenido vale por dois. / “A prepared man is worth two.” Its English equivalent would be: “A stitch in time saves nine.”

PortugueseMente vazia, oficina do diabo. 
Literal translation“Empty mind, devil’s workshop”
English equivalent“An idle brain is the devil’s workshop.”
This Portuguese proverb means that if you have nothing to do or to occupy your mind with, you’re more likely to do something bad or mischievous. 

Imagine a grandmother and her teenage grandson living together. The grandmother might think the grandson is spending too much time at home doing nothing productive, and say: Por que você não procura um trabalho? Mente vazia, oficina do diabo. / “Why don’t you look for a job? Empty mind, devil’s workshop.”


PortugueseDe médico e louco todo mundo tem um pouco.
Literal translation“Of doctor and crazy, everybody has a little.”
No one is completely sane, according to this proverb. Everybody has a bit of insanity within them, as well as a responsible side. Just like in the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, both sides of our personality exist. 

PortugueseEm terra de cego, quem tem um olho é rei.
English equivalent“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
This proverb means that you don’t need to be a genius to make the most of an opportunity. For example, having a little bit of knowledge or experience on a topic that those around you do not have can give you a leg up. 

Imagine your company has many technical employees. They’re good at coding, but no one is interested or experienced in business strategy. But if you, as a technical employee, did have this interest or experience, you could quickly climb the ranks. 

PortugueseQuem canta seus males espanta.
Literal translation“Who sings scares away his woes.”
Dom Quixote de la Mancha is known for using this famous saying. The proverb means that singing is good for the soul and will lift your spirits. Next time you’re feeling down, try and put it to the test!

PortugueseNão julgue um livro pela capa.
English equivalent“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Appearances don’t tell the full story of a person, so don’t judge somebody only by their looks or superficial interactions. Take time to read the book—or get to know the person—before making any judgements.

You might hear this proverb, for example, after meeting a very stern-looking person. A friend might tell you: Não julgue um livro pela capa. Ele é muito gentil e bem intencionado. / “Don’t judge a book by its cover. He is very kind and well-meaning.”

PortugueseMentira tem perna curta.
Literal translation“A lie has short legs.”
English equivalent“A lie has no legs.”
According to this proverb, lies are short-lived and can’t go too far before being discovered. This saying exists in several languages, including Italian and Spanish.

PortugueseNão adianta chorar pelo leite derramado.
English equivalent“It’s no use crying over spilled milk.”
This is a reminder that there’s no use stressing out or being sad about things that have already happened. If it can’t be changed or undone, it’s better not to worry about it.

This proverb is originally English, and it was recorded for the first known time in 1659 in the form: “No weeping for shed milk.” In Brazil, the proverb continues to be popular—you can still find children’s books including a story about a farmer girl who spills all the milk she intended to sell and, as you can imagine, cries over it.

PortugueseNão ponha a carroça na frente dos bois.
Literal translation“Don’t put the cart before the oxen.”
English equivalent“Don’t put the cart before the horse.”
This proverb is especially useful when dealing with a hurried person. The saying suggests that people shouldn’t try to hurry things too much, skipping important steps along the way just to complete tasks quicker. It also reminds us to let things run their natural course. 

It’s interesting how the English equivalent mentions horses, while the Portuguese one uses oxen. Although horses are used much more in Brazil as well, using oxen was common during colonial times and is still the norm in some parts of the country.

You could use this proverb when a friend starts telling you about his plans to buy a car and travel the world, before he’s even started working: E com que dinheiro você vai fazer isso tudo? Não ponha a carroça na frente dos bois. / “And with what money are you going to do all of that? Don’t put the cart before the oxen.”

A Man Singing while Listening to Music on His Headphones

Quem canta seus males espanta.
“Who sings scares away his woes.”

4. Proverbs About Overcoming Adversities

Sometimes life hits us hard, people hurt us, and things just don’t go our way. It’s important to remember that you’re never alone in your pain, and that things will always get better in the end. Below are some of the best Portuguese proverbs to help you (or a loved one!) get through tough times. 

PortugueseUm dia é da caça, outro, do caçador.
Literal translation“One day is the hunted’s, another is the hunter’s.”
English equivalent“Every dog has its day.”
We all have good days and bad days. Sometimes things work in our favor, and sometimes they don’t. That’s just a part of life. Keep that in mind when things look grim: a good day is never too far away.

This proverb can be used to cheer somebody up or to give them the motivation they need to continue working toward their goals. For example, imagine someone in your family didn’t get the job they wanted. You could tell them: Não desista; lembre que um dia é da caça, outro do caçador. / “Don’t give up, remember that one day for the hunted, another for the hunter.”

PortugueseQuem não tem cão caça com gato.
Literal translation“Who doesn’t have a dog, hunts with a cat.”
English equivalent“There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
It’s said that the original version of this proverb was: Quem não tem gato, caça como gato. / “Those without a cat, hunt like a cat.” In that case, it would mean that, when the situation requires, people might have to be sneaky and cunning like a cat hunting prey. 

Nowadays, the version we listed is overwhelmingly more popular. It suggests that we need to improvise and use whatever we have available to solve problems, even if the tools we have aren’t ideal.

PortugueseÁgua mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura.
Literal translation“Soft water, hard stone, beats until it punctures.”
English equivalent“Water dripping day by day wears the hardest rock away.”
The Roman poet Ovid wrote that “dripping water hollows out stone,” and this is the origin of similar proverbs in other languages.

The idea is that with perseverance and consistency, we can achieve even the hardest tasks.


PortugueseDeus escreve certo por linhas tortas.
Literal translation“God writes straight over crooked lines.”
Here’s another proverb with a strong religious connotation. This saying means that, even when facing adversities, you can expect some good to come of it. This might be because there’s a divine plan laid out for you, because of destiny, or simply because you’re an optimist…it’s up to you to decide!

PortugueseHá males que vêm para o bem.
Literal translation“There are evils that come for good.”
English equivalent“A blessing in disguise.”
Sometimes we don’t see it immediately, but the negative or difficult situations we face could have positive outcomes. 

Maybe you lost a job opportunity, just to find out later that it was all a scam. Or perhaps you were rejected by a love interest who wasn’t that good of a person. Sometimes, bad experiences turn out to be good things!

A Kitten and a Puppy against a White Background

Quem não tem cão, caça com gato.
“Who doesn’t have a dog, hunts with a cat.”

5. Continue Learning Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Now you’re ready to start using these smart-sounding Portuguese proverbs in a variety of situations! But don’t stop here! There are many more fun and interesting sayings used in Brazil, so you should continue learning Portuguese, expanding your vocabulary, and sounding profoundly wise!  

Did you find this article helpful? Did we miss any popular proverbs you know? Drop us a comment with your thoughts!

And now, it’s time to continue your Portuguese learning journey. You can read more in-depth articles about the language and culture on our blog page, or scour through our vocabulary lists or the other free resources on PortuguesePod101.com.

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!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese

Your Starting Point for Portuguese Grammar

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The word “grammar” can be a bit intimidating, especially when learning a new language. 

If you’re considering learning Portuguese but are worried about how complicated the grammar is, you are in the right place! This guide will give you an overview of the main Portuguese grammar topics and show you that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

By taking a quick look at the sentence structure, verbs, and grammatical gender and number, you’ll be prepared to handle whatever comes your way. Then, as you continue learning this amazing language, you can always use this overview as a handy reference. 

Buckle up for a fast-paced ride! It’s time to discover the ins and outs of Portuguese grammar.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. General Rules
  2. Sentence Structure
  3. Building Blocks
  4. Verbs
  5. Gender and Number Agreement
  6. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. General Rules

First things first: Learning the basic Portuguese grammar rules really isn’t that complicated. There are a few aspects that pose some challenge, and we suggest tackling those head-on. We’ll do our best to make even those complicated bits easier to understand. 

As an English speaker, you’ll be glad to learn that Portuguese and English have a lot in common! The languages share similar grammatical structures and even vocabulary, giving you an advantage. 

One similarity you’ll encounter from the beginning is the word order, which dictates how the sentence is structured. Both Portuguese and English follow the Subject + Verb + Object structure. 

Every sentence is composed of parts that make the whole, and here we find more similarities between the two languages. Many of the parts of speech we use in Portuguese will be familiar to you. These include articles, nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns, and more.

Verbs, in particular, can get a little tricky in Portuguese. We have regular verbs (and we love them!), but we also have to deal with irregular ones. Portuguese verb conjugation introduces different tenses, moods, and people to the mix. It’s a complex topic, but once you learn it, you will have conquered the bulk of Portuguese grammar!

There are a few unfamiliar concepts you’ll need to get a handle on when learning Portuguese grammar as an English speaker. One of them is the way grammatical gender changes the parts of speech. Words like articles and adjectives have to match the gender of the noun, which many new learners find a bit strange. Luckily, this aspect of grammar isn’t too complex and you’ll soon be comfortable with it.

Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these aspects.

A Green Apple and an Orange against a White Background

English and Portuguese are not all that different.

2. Sentence Structure

The sentence structure refers to the word order in a sentence. There are three main “building blocks” used to form sentences:

1. Subject: Indicates who or what performs the action in the sentence

2. Verb: Describes an action, state, or natural phenomenon

3. Object: Noun or noun phrase acted upon by the subject

Take this sentence as an example:

  • Eu acordo cedo. (“I wake up early.”)

As you can see, this basic sentence follows the same structure in both Portuguese and English. And, unlike other languages like French, you won’t be learning any complex inversions for asking questions in Portuguese. 

Unlike in English, however, subjects can be implied in Portuguese. Many sentences omit the subject, but people know who or what the subject is thanks to the way the verb is conjugated. 

  • Viu aquilo? (“Did you see that?”)

Another important difference to keep in mind is that, in Portuguese, the adjective usually follows the noun it refers to. For example:

  • Ela gosta de vinho tinto. (“She likes red wine.”) 

However, there are some situations where the adjective comes before the noun. 

The sentence structure we just saw is the most basic one. As we create more complex sentences and add information, we use modifiers such as adjectives, adverbs, numerals, and more. 

But as you begin your Portuguese learning journey, stick to the basics. As you progress, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to discover more.


Three Figure Skaters

Subject + Verb + Object

3. Building Blocks

There are several types of words that go into building sentences. After all, you can’t create a sentence with only verbs or only nouns. 

Luckily, the word types in Portuguese are familiar to English speakers. If you already know a Romance language, even better! 

The Portuguese word classes or types are:

  • Verbs indicate actions, occurrences, or states of being.
    Eu como muito. (“I eat a lot.”)
  • Nouns function as the name of objects, people, places, or ideas. Nouns have gender, as you’ll see later on.
    A cama (“The bed“)
  • Articles precede a noun. They can be definite or indefinite, and change according to gender and number. 
    Os carros (“The cars”)
  • Adjectives modify or describe a noun. Adjective placement may vary, but in most cases it comes after the noun.
    A casa pequena (“The small house”)
  • Possessive adjectives are words that indicate to whom a noun belongs.
    Meu irmão (“My brother”)
  • Adverbs modify words other than nouns and typically express manner, time, frequency, and place. You can identify Portuguese adverbs of manner by the ending -ente (similar to the English ending -ly).
    Ele caminha lentamente. (“He walks slowly.”)
  • Demonstrative pronouns are words that indicate what is being referred to. 
    Este livro (“This book”)
  • Pronouns are words that substitute for a noun to avoid repetition.
    Nós ganhamos o jogo. (“We won the game.”)
  • Conjunctions connect other words or phrases.
    Você quer café ou chá? (“Do you want coffee or tea?”)
  • Prepositions are words that express spatial, directional, and temporal relations between parts of a sentence.
    Ela jogou contra mim. (“She played against me.”)

These word classes all play a part in the language. As you advance in your lessons, you’ll enrich your vocabulary and learn words from all different classes, giving you a lot more freedom to build your own sentences.

A Pile of Colorful Legos

Every “building block” has a place in the sentence.

4. Verbs

Verbs and their conjugation are a vast world in Portuguese. You’ll encounter many rules and, as always, several exceptions while learning the topic. 

Here are some basic concepts to keep in mind.

1 – Verb Endings

Portuguese has three main verbal groups, characterized by their different endings. These verb endings are  -AR, -ER, and -IR. For example:

  • Amar (“To love”)
  • Correr (“To run”)
  • Discutir (“To discuss” / “To argue”)

Why are the verb endings important, you ask? Well, they’re helpful because regular verbs in a given group will conjugate the same way as other regular verbs in that group. The stems of the verbs remain the same in each of the different conjugations and the endings are predictable.

Of course, Portuguese also has irregular verbs which do not obey the same rules. Some of them even end in -OR, such as supor (“to suppose” / “to assume”). These derive from the second conjugation (-ER), having had their ‘e’ suppressed as the language evolved.

2 – Conjugation

Verbs change their form depending on several factors, including person, mood, tense, and voice.

Person and tense are the most basic factors you should keep in mind. When we talk about grammatical person, we are referring to the pronouns. 

1st person singularEuI
2nd person singularTu / VocêYou
3rd person singularEle / ElaHe / She
1st person pluralNósWe
2nd person pluralVós / VocêsYou (plural)
3rd person pluralEles / Elas  They (male) / They (female)

In Portuguese grammar, tenses are categorized as being simple or compound. The compound ones use another verb (called an auxiliary) alongside the main verb. As you learn Portuguese, you should focus first on the most-used tenses: the simple present, simple past, and simple future. 

By putting together the verb endings and the conjugation basics, we can get an idea of how regular verbs look in sentences.

  • Verb amar (“to love”), 1st person singular
    Eu amo este filme. (“I love this movie.”)
  • Verb correr (“to run”), 3rd person plural
    Elas correm todo sábado. (“They run every Saturday.”)
  • Verb discutir (“to discuss” / “to argue”), 1st person plural
    Nós discutimos ontem. (“We argued yesterday.”)

Here’s a more in-depth look at how regular verbs are conjugated based on their ending, in the simple present tense.

-AR verbs-ER verbs-IR verbs
EuStem + oAmoStem + oCorroStem + oDiscuto
TuStem + asAmasStem + esCorresStem + esDiscutes
Você/Ele/ElaStem + aAmaStem + eCorreStem + eDiscute
VósStem + amosAmamosStem + emosCorremosStem + imosDiscutimos
NósStem + aisAmaisStem + eisCorreisStem + isDiscutis
Vocês/ElesStem + amAmamStem + emCorremStem + emDiscutem


3 – The Verb “To Be”

Unlike English, Portuguese has two verbs that translate as “to be”: ser and estar. You can think about the difference between them in terms of permanence and impermanence. 

    → Permanent “to be”: ser

You can be tall, Canadian, or a doctor. Those are all qualities that are permanent or static in the long-term. 

For example: Eu sou loira. (“I am blonde.”)

The verb ser conjugates as follows in the simple present tense: 

Eu souNós somos
Tu ésVós sois
Ele / Ela / Você éEles / Elas / Vocês são

    → Impermanent “to be”: estar

You can be temporarily cold, in a location, or angry. Estar is used with qualities that are not lasting in the long-term.

For example: Ela está nervosa. (“She is nervous.”)

Here is how the verb estar conjugates in the simple present tense:

Eu estouNós estamos
Tu estásVós estais
Ele / Ela / Você estáEles / Elas / Vocês estão

Both verbs also act as auxiliary verbs in specific compound tenses. 

  • Vocês estão estudando? (“Are you [plural] studying?”)
  • Ela foi fotografada na praia. (“She was photographed at the beach.”)

There are many more auxiliary verbs you’ll often see in Portuguese, such as the verb ir (“to go”), ter (“to have”), and poder (“can”).


A Woman Stretching as She Gets Out of Bed in the Morning

Acordar (“to wake up”) is a verb of the -AR group.

5. Gender and Number Agreement

As hinted at before, some word classes need to agree with the nouns in gender and number. The concept of nouns having gender is a bit unfamiliar to English speakers. But don’t worry; with practice, you’ll get the hang of it without too much trouble!

1 – Nouns

Nouns can be masculine, feminine, or both. Some can even change gender depending on the context! Yes, even inanimate objects. 

Feminine nounsMasculine nouns
Faca (“Knife”)Garfo (“Fork”)
Cama (“Bed”)Colchão (“Mattress”)
Televisão (“Television”)Computador (“Computer”)
Mulher (“Woman”)Homem (“Man”)
Mãe (“Mother”)Pai (“Father”)

As a rule of thumb, nouns that end in –o tend to be masculine and nouns that end in –a tend to be feminine. Please note that this isn’t always the case, as in these examples:

  • Rádio (“Radio”) can be feminine or masculine, and each one has a different meaning even though the spelling of the word doesn’t change. How do you know which rádio is being referred to? Either by the article used or by the context.
    • Masculine: o rádio. Used to talk about the radio set, the object.
    • Feminine: a rádio. Used to talk about the radio transmitting station or the communication medium.
  • Criança (“Child”) is a noun with a set grammatical gender and works for both male and female children. Even though the feminine article is always used, it can be used to talk about a boy or a girl. 
    • Masculine: Ele é uma criança inteligente. (“He is a smart child.”)
    • Feminine: Ela é uma criança feliz. (“She is a happy child.”)
  • Colega (“Colleague”) is another noun that doesn’t change its spelling, but can be used to talk about males or females. However, the article and adjectives change depending on the gender.
    • Masculine: Ele é o novo colega. (“He is the new colleague.”)
    • Feminine: A Maria é a colega que teve um bebê. (“Maria is the colleague that had a baby.”)

2 – Articles

Portuguese nouns are preceded by definite or indefinite articles which vary depending on the gender of the noun. Likewise, different articles are used when a noun is plural.

Definite articleIndefinite article
Feminine singularA A cama (“The bed”) Uma Uma cama (“A bed”)
Feminine pluralAs As facas (“The knives”)Umas Umas facas (“Some knives”)
Masculine singularO O colchão (“The mattress”)Um Um colchão (“A mattress”)
Masculine pluralOs Os garfos (“The forks”)Uns Uns garfos (“Some forks”)

3 – Adjectives

Adjectives also have to agree with the noun in gender and number. 

Some adjectives will change depending on gender, while others don’t. For example:

  • Inteligente (“Smart” / “Intelligent”)
    Ela é inteligente. (“She is smart.”)
    Ele é inteligente. (“He is smart.”)
  • Bonita (“Beautiful” / “Pretty” / “Handsome”)
    Ela é bonita. (“She is pretty.”)
    Ele é bonito. (“He is handsome.”)

Once again, most of the feminine adjectives end in -a, while the masculine adjectives end in -o.

The plural form of the adjectives is very straightforward. Simply look for an -s at the end:

  • Os gatos são medrosos. (“The cats are fearful.”) – masculine
  • As modelos são altas. (“The models are tall.”) – feminine

Discover the top 50 most common adjectives in Portuguese with PortuguesePod101.

A Kite being Flown on a Sem-cloudy Day

A pipa, o céu. (“The kite, the sky.”)

6. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

We hope our overview of the Portuguese grammar basics was helpful to you, and that you’re now feeling more confident as you embark on this amazing language learning journey!

You can also use this page as a refresher or reference point whenever you need a quick explanation of a Portuguese grammar element. Feel free to come back to it as many times as you want.

Are you now ready to start learning more Portuguese? Do you think we forgot an important aspect that you would like covered? Let us know in the comments!

To boost your skills and take them to the next level, continue exploring PortuguesePod101.com. There are lots of free Portuguese grammar resources and themed vocabulary lists to get you started on the right foot. Go ahead and choose your favorite tools to increase 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. 

Happy learning!

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Is Portuguese Hard to Learn?

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Learning a new language is one of the best decisions a person can make. It widens one’s horizons, opens professional and social doors, and it even has health benefits! But we also know it comes with its challenges, so choosing the right language to learn is an important step. One of the questions you might be asking yourself right now is: “Is Portuguese hard to learn?”

The answer is…it depends. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but bear with me! It will all make sense really soon. 

One factor that can affect whether Portuguese is hard for you or not is what languages you already know. Portuguese is one of the Romance languages, so if you know another Romance language, you have a huge advantage! 

Another important aspect is how motivated you are to learn the language. Just think about how much easier it is to spend hours doing an enjoyable activity versus something that feels like a chore. Lastly, each person responds differently to various learning strategies. If you use the right resources for you, learning Portuguese will be so easy. 

In the end, as long as you have some strategies in place and motivation driving you to succeed, we can say with all confidence that learning Portuguese won’t be too hard!  

Don’t believe us? Just take a look at how the U.S. Foreign Service classified Portuguese. They’ve labeled it as Category 1, meaning it’s one of the easiest languages to learn! 

In this article, we’ll examine what factors might make the Portuguese language hard to learn and how to overcome those challenges. After all, it does have a few particularities and some annoying exceptions. But—and you can sigh with relief now—we’ll also see what the easiest things about the language are. And once we’ve covered the basics, we’ll talk about the best way to approach your Portuguese-learning journey, from where to start to how you can accelerate the process. 

By the end of this guide, we’re sure you’ll be convinced that you can take on this amazing challenge and master Portuguese!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. The Real Deal: The Hardest Things About Portuguese
  2. A Reason to Celebrate: The Easiest Things in Learning Portuguese
  3. Getting Started with Portuguese
  4. Advice for the Road
  5. Why is PortuguesePod101 Great for Learning Portuguese?
  6. Get Down to Business with PortuguesePod101

1. The Real Deal: The Hardest Things About Portuguese

Let’s rip off the Band-Aid quickly. What are the hardest parts about learning Portuguese? After all, we can’t deny that there are some challenges along the way, especially when you first start the process of learning this beautiful language. 

But because the best part of language-learning is improving every day and seeing our capabilities constantly expanding, we’re also going to show you how to make those challenges manageable.

1 – Listening challenges: What are they saying? 

About 280 million people speak Portuguese, and in Brazil alone, there are 207 million native Portuguese-speakers. Just imagine the variety of accents, local differences, and expressions you can encounter! Brazilian Portuguese is full of colloquialism and has an always-expanding vocabulary that includes slang and even internet-born sayings. 

It’s no surprise, then, that when listening to Portuguese-speakers, you might become confused and overwhelmed. An accent can make a big difference, and if you’re used to one particular accent, you’ll need some time to adapt to other ways of speaking Portuguese. 

So yes, listening to native speakers can be hard. But on the other hand, it’s the only way to really learn how real-life Portuguese is spoken! Besides, listening also helps to improve your speaking abilities. 

There are a few tips you can follow to mitigate this difficulty. Even if you choose a particular Portuguese accent to learn, you should make the effort to listen to Portuguese-speakers from other regions from time to time. You can find YouTube videos, look for Brazilian movies and songs, or participate in a language exchange. If you hear any unfamiliar expressions, take note and look them up online. 

Lastly, if you’re interacting with a native speaker, don’t be afraid of asking them to speak slowly. Brazilians love to help foreigners speak Portuguese, and they’ll be happy to explain anything that might be confusing you!

And remember, some things can be challenging even for Brazilians, so don’t worry too much about it. 

For example, there are words that make sense to people from the North of Brazil, but might not mean anything to someone from the southeast or south of the country.

As long as you feel comfortable looking things up or asking questions, you’ll easily get over the difficulties!

2 – A fork, a knife: Word gender.

Oh, gender. This can be the source of many mistakes and confusion. But Portuguese-learners aren’t the only ones who have to suffer through this. French and Spanish, for example, also present this challenging aspect. 

Basically, nouns in Portuguese have a grammatical gender, and this will affect the articles used with said nouns. For example:

  • A casa (“The house”) – feminine word
  • O carro (“The car”) – masculine word
  • Uma cadeira (“A chair”) – feminine word
  • Um avião (“An airplane”) – masculine word

Luckily, there’s a rule you can follow to know whether a word is feminine or masculine. Unfortunately, there are always exceptions. Obviously, you can’t memorize all of the feminine and masculine words in Portuguese. But as long as you try to follow the rule and are open to learning whenever you come across an exception, you’ll do very well.

So what is this rule we keep mentioning? Look for the letter at the end of the noun. If the word ends in -a, chances are it’s a feminine word. If it ends in -o, it’s likely a masculine word. 

  • O gato (“The cat,” masculine)
  • A gata (“The cat,” feminine)
  • Um livro (“A book”) – masculine word
  • Uma escova (“A brush”) – feminine word

Similarly, if the word ends in -or, it’s probably masculine; -ora endings indicate feminine words:

  • O cantor (“The singer,” masculine)
  • A cantora (“The singer,” feminine)
  • O escultor (“The sculptor”)
  • A escultora (“The sculptress”)

Take a look at this list of the 50 most common nouns in Portuguese for more examples.

3 – All those sounds: Pronunciation.

Portuguese pronunciation is hard for English-speakers—and even for Spanish-speakers—to get the hang of. This is because Portuguese has some difficult sounds, like the infamous nasal sounds, which are present in common words like:

  • Não (“No”)
  • Mãe (“Mother”)
  • Manhã (“Morning”)

As you can see, the tilde (~) indicates the nasal sound.

Some other complicated sounds are the -lh and –nh combinations. They sound a bit different from anything in the English language, but not so different that you can’t approximate them using familiar sounds. For example:

SoundAppears inSounds similar to
LhAlho (“Garlic”)
Ilha (“Island”)
Mulher (“Woman”)
Lh in “silhouette”
NhCaminho (“Way,” “Path”)
Minha (“Mine,” “My”)
Dinheiro (“Money”)
Gn in “lasagna”

This guide has even more details about Portuguese pronunciation and how to master it. It’s a great resource to begin with. Follow it up with lots of listening, and record yourself speaking in Portuguese; listening to yourself can really help you identify particular aspects you need to work on!

4 – Not quite sure: The subjunctive mode.

The subjunctive mode in Portuguese is used to convey doubt or uncertainty. It’s yet another one of those cases where even Brazilians make mistakes.

What you need to know about the subjunctive mode is that it indicates something that’s not entirely real. It might be an assumption about something, a hope, or a dream. There are three subjunctive tenses: present, past, and future. The verbs will be conjugated according to the tense being used. We won’t really dive into the subjunctive mode in this article, but we will give you a few tips. 

First and foremost, take your time with it! It’s not one of the first things you should learn. Although it’s useful for communicating in cases of uncertainty, it’s not the most common grammatical aspect of Portuguese. 

Secondly, learn the rules of the subjunctive mode—but instead of focusing too much on the theory, try to create your own sentences using it. If you have a native or advanced speaker to help you along the way, all the better! 

And lastly, don’t worry if you make mistakes. As we said, the subjunctive mode can be intimidating even for Brazilians, and they’ll understand your struggles!

Yes, There are Some Challenges. But with a Bit of Help, you Can Conquer Them!

2. A Reason to Celebrate: The Easiest Things in Learning Portuguese

Rejoice! We’re done with the hardest parts of Portuguese, and now we can look at the easiest aspects of this language. You’ll see that, compared to other languages, Portuguese has some advantages!

1 – The fundamentals are easy.

There are some core structures you have to learn, but once you get the hang of those, you can begin communicating in most situations. 

Portuguese word order is straightforward, and in fact, similar to that of English: Subject Verb Object. This makes Portuguese much easier to grasp than languages with different word order patterns! So, you’ll encounter sentences like:

  • Pedro dorme muito. (“Pedro sleeps a lot.”)
  • Nós perdemos nossos livros. (“We lost our books.”)

See how you can translate word-for-word? The sentence structure is straightforward most of the time, and similar to English. 

The truth is, if you learn the structure for affirmative and negative statements and questions, you already know enough to start conversations in Portuguese!

2 – A big happy family: Romance languages.

Portuguese is one of the Romance languages (yay!). This is great, because if you already know how to speak Spanish, French, Italian, or even Romanian, you have a huge advantage. The shared roots of these languages will give you a head-start in your vocabulary and grammar knowledge! 

It’s true that the similarities can, in some cases, generate confusion. But the advantages far surpass the disadvantages in this regard. 

And even if you don’t speak any Romance languages, it still makes things easier for you. Considering how many people speak Romance languages, you’ve probably been in contact with at least one such language through the internet, movies, TV shows, and more. For example, chances are that you’ve heard more Spanish or French in your lifetime than Korean or Russian. 

3 – No need to invert, Baby.

Step aside, English and French. We don’t need your complicated inversions to ask simple questions! In Portuguese, you don’t have to worry about inverting the subject and verb to ask questions like:

  • Você foi à festa? (“Did you go to the party?”)

In fact, all you have to do is use the same affirmative statement structure and add a question mark at the end.

We can also make direct questions by using question words. These are fairly straightforward too, requiring only a question word at the beginning of the sentence. For example:

  • Quando você vai viajar? (“When will you travel?”)

Super-simple!

4 – The Brazilian charm.

Lastly, we need to mention it: Most Brazilians are very supportive of foreigners learning their language. Strangers will be more than happy to help you, give you some tips to improve, and encourage you. 

Even if you don’t have the opportunity to talk with native Portuguese-speakers on a daily basis, it’s still very easy to find a Brazilian online to chat! Data from 2019 shows that Brazil is the country with the fourth-largest number of Internet users! In other words, you’ll have an easy time finding someone willing to speak in Portuguese with you online. 

This also means that there’s an abundance of resources for you to practice your listening and reading skills. Brazilians produce much content in the form of YouTube videos, podcasts, articles, and social media accounts for you to follow.

Português é Fácil! (Portuguese Is Easy!)

3. Getting Started with Portuguese

Now that we’ve shown you how hard Portuguese is to learn (and why it’s easier than you think!), we hope you’re excited to begin! To guarantee your success, we’ve put together the four main things you should focus on in the beginning. 

1 – Build your vocabulary.

One of the reasons why starting a new language can be so frustrating is the lack of vocabulary. There are so many things we want to say and express! But even if we know the sentence structure, we can feel stuck if we don’t have the words to fill in the blanks.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to begin by learning the most common and helpful words—those you’ll use pretty much every day. Generally, these include verbs, nouns, adjectives, and pronouns, as well as some adverbs. 

Jotting down important words in a notebook or a digital flashcard deck is very useful! Take a look at some vocabulary lists and start becoming familiar with the Portuguese vocabulary.

2 – Conquer the pronunciation.

Remember when we mentioned that pronunciation can be a difficult aspect for Portuguese-learners? Although this is true, it only applies to a small fraction of Portuguese pronunciation. Most of the sounds in Portuguese are actually familiar to English-speakers! 

Thankfully, words in Portuguese are spelled the way they’re pronounced. There’s a silent letter here and there, but they’re not very common! Therefore, as soon as you recognize how the syllables are pronounced, you can read Portuguese sentences out loud—even before you know what they mean!

As for the challenging parts of Portuguese pronunciation, the sooner you get familiar with them, the better. Start listening to how native speakers pronounce nasal sounds, and begin slowly practicing them yourself. 

3 – Listen to native speakers.

Continuing the thread of the previous point, it’s never too early to start listening to Portuguese-speakers. Become familiar with the rhythm and intonation of the language, the different sounds, and the common sentences. You can do this by listening to music, finding amazing movies and TV shows, listening to podcasts during your commute, finding a buddy to practice with… Resources abound! 

Why is this important? Well, not only will it offer you new and useful vocabulary, but it will also show you how Portuguese is spoken in real life. In some cases, you might learn the grammatically correct version of a sentence, but find out that native speakers use a different structure. You can only learn about these nuances through lots of listening! 

It’s also an opportunity to find out about the different accents in Brazil, and in other Portuguese-speaking countries! 

4 – Speak often.

Listening is great, and definitely super-helpful! But don’t stop there. Make an effort to speak Portuguese right from the beginning. 

Yes, we know it might be intimidating, especially when you don’t have a solid vocabulary yet. But trust us, it’s okay. Put whatever you know into practice. You can speak and record yourself or, better yet, talk to native speakers. In the early stages, it’s especially helpful to have a tutor (like the one you’ll get with our MyTeacher feature) to help you overcome shyness or fear, and give you helpful feedback. 

Remember, learning a new language is all about being able to communicate. Why would you learn Portuguese and not use it to talk to someone? At the same time, it’s totally acceptable to make mistakes when you’re learning, as the main goal is to get the message across and improve along the way!

Engage in Portuguese Conversations at Every Opportunity.

4. Advice for the Road

Here are a few things to keep in mind to make it easier for you to learn Portuguese. 

1 – Feedback is your friend.

Humans don’t really like being corrected all that much. As such, it’s only natural that we try to avoid making mistakes. If you’re a perfectionist, you might feel this even more strongly. 

However, you have to remember that it’s impossible to learn without making mistakes. And if there’s someone who can point out those mistakes for you, it will really accelerate your learning process! 

Whenever possible, try to frame feedback and corrections as a tool, an ally that allows you to increase the pace of your learning. With time, you’ll become more appreciative of them, and you’ll soon be glad for every opportunity to improve!

2 – Make it fun.

Tell us if you’ve ever had this experience:

You decide to focus on learning something: an instrument, a new drawing technique, a recipe, a complex math challenge… You start working on it and when you finally look at the clock, hours have gone by! “Where did the time go?” you think to yourself. 

This is what happens when you’re in a state of flow, enjoying the process so much that you’re completely involved in it. Those moments of flow normally happen when we’re doing something we like, something challenging but engaging.  

You can apply this concept to your Portuguese-learning, as well! Start by thinking about why you want to learn Portuguese. Whatever your reason is, make it part of your language-learning journey. Here are some examples.

  • Let’s say you want to learn Portuguese because you like the culture of a Portuguese-speaking country. As part of your listening practice, discover a new song every day and listen to it a couple of times.
  • Do you have friends or family from that country? Write a short message talking about your day or asking for news about their life in Portuguese, and send it their way!
  • Maybe you plan to live in a Portuguese-speaking country at some point. Take some time to watch a video about living there, learn about their celebrations and holidays, or visit the official websites for different cities. 

By adding something that makes your heart flutter a little, the process will be much more fun. You can also include some Brazilian jokes, comedy sketches, funny expressions, and hilarious podcasts in your routine, if you’re looking to add some laughs and humor to your learning!

3 – Persistence and consistency are key.

Those two words might be the most important of them all if you’re just starting to learn Portuguese. 

You will have ups and downs. At some points, you might lose your motivation, be short on time, or just want to give up. It’s totally understandable, and we all go through it. 

However, to master any new skill, constant practice is essential. Even if there are days when you only practice one new word, keep going! Your motivation will eventually return, and you’ll be so happy you didn’t give up.

Remember: A little effort every day will take you a long way!

Do You Dream of Visiting a Portuguese-speaking Country?

5. Why is PortuguesePod101 Great for Learning Portuguese?

By now, we hope you’re ready to embark on the exciting, challenging, and fun journey of learning this language. It’s not always going to be easy, but you’re going to love it. If you want an easy way to learn the Portuguese language, PortuguesePod101 might be exactly the ally you need!

1 – Freebies

Regardless of your current Portuguese knowledge, you can benefit from the free content available on PortuguesePod101.com. Every day, you can get a Daily Dose of Portuguese sent straight to your email inbox! As we mentioned before, consistency is an essential part of your language-learning journey, and daily contact with it is very helpful. 

Our vocabulary lists are also a great tool, as they help you practice your pronunciation and listening skills. Learn key phrases and the most common words in Portuguese, all for free.

2 – Tailor-made lessons

With PortuguesePod101, you can find lessons that suit your specific needs and current abilities. Advance your learning journey with pathways and lessons that fit your preferences. Are you looking to accelerate your reading & writing skills? There’s a pathway for you. Perhaps you prefer using only video resources? You can filter your lessons and find exactly the type of activity that works best for you. 

Most importantly, we offer lessons that include different skills, so you can approach Portuguese learning in a holistic way!

Whether you’re a beginner or are looking to get back into the groove of learning Portuguese, you can find useful resources on PortuguesePod101.com.

3 – Mobile app 

Do you like to learn on the go? You can find PortuguesePod101’s app in the major app stores, like Google Play and the App Store, and on Kindle Fire. 

This will allow you to take notes, track your progress, and continue learning from anywhere! Even if you need to be offline, you can still access your lessons thanks to the Download Manager integrated into the app.

4 – MyTeacher service

If you’re ready to take your Portuguese to the next level, you might want to consider the premium personal coaching offered through MyTeacher. This service connects you to a private Portuguese tutor who will help you advance more quickly. By offering personalized feedback, exercises that fit your current abilities, and opportunities to improve where you need to, MyTeacher is guaranteed to give you a push.

Put your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills into practice with a native Portuguese tutor with this exclusive service!

Ready to Speak Portuguese and Have a Great Time?

6. Get Down to Business with PortuguesePod101

Hopefully, this guide has shown you how easy learning Portuguese can be, even though there are a few challenges along the way. Being motivated and consistent, and most importantly, having fun, are sure to make the process more enjoyable and manageable for you! 

Learning Portuguese is an amazing decision, and we hope to help you do it. If you feel you’ve learned something new after reading this guide, tell us in the comments! Do you feel ready to start or get back to learning Portuguese now? Did we miss some important aspect you wish we had covered? We want to hear from you. 

Be sure to check the free Portuguese resources available on PortuguesePod101.com. There are plenty of vocabulary lists to train your ears! 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 offered through MyTeacher. Perfect for anyone who wants to learn from anywhere, feel motivated, and be ready to speak Portuguese with confidence.

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The Top 10 Common Mistakes in Portuguese to Avoid

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Most people would agree that Portuguese is a complicated language. Add to this the sheer number of people speaking the language around the world, and making mistakes in Portuguese is actually pretty common! Even native speakers confuse certain grammar rules or use the wrong word when trying to show off their vocabulary. As you move along in your Portuguese-learning journey, you’re bound to make some errors yourself…and that’s part of the process! 

Mistakes are actually an important part of improving your language skills, and they also provide an amazing opportunity to engage with native speakers and get feedback. Besides, the entire process of understanding why something is wrong and working to address it is a valuable skill you can use in other domains of your life! So see the mistakes for what they are: a completely normal and essential part of learning Portuguese. 

This article will help you understand what some of the most common mistakes are and how to correct them. From pronunciation tips to grammar rules and vocabulary mishaps, we’ll cover every mistake in Portuguese you need to know and how to fix or avoid them! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Pronunciation Mistakes
  2. Vocabulary Word Mistakes
  3. Word Order Mistakes
  4. Grammar Mistakes
  5. In the Real World
  6. The King of All Mistakes
  7. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Stressed Woman Holding Her Head with Her Hand

Worried about Portuguese mistakes? Don’t sweat it!

1. Pronunciation Mistakes

Most sounds in Portuguese are familiar to English-speakers. That’s great news! But a few peculiar Portuguese sounds can be challenging to master, and therefore, pronunciation mistakes are quite common for foreigners. However, this kind of error in Portuguese is fairly easy to spot, so you should have no problems as you work to improve your pronunciation skills and get over these common mistakes. 

1 – Nasal Sounds

Nasal sounds are all about…you guessed it, the nose. More specifically, the air released through the nose. If it sounds odd, just think about what happens when you hum: you naturally force the release of air through the nose, as you make the sound. That’s exactly what should happen when you pronounce a nasal sound, only now, your mouth should be open.

In Portuguese, you’ll encounter nasal sounds in certain situations:

  • When the ~ (til) is used: Ã and Õ
       For example: maçã (“apple”), pão (“bread”), leões (“lions”)
  • When a vowel is followed by an M or N.
       For example: mentira (“lie”), cantar (“to sing”), atum (“tuna”)

The best way to get the hang of nasal sounds is to do a lot of listening and speaking practice. 

2 – Open and Closed Vowels

A single vowel can have both open and closed sounds in Portuguese. Sometimes, the accent mark used will clearly indicate how to pronounce it, although that’s not always the case.

VowelExamplePronounce as in the word
APapa (“Pope”)“Father”
EMel (“Honey”)Chapéu (“Hat”)“Get”
Closed EVocê (“You”)Mesmo (“Same”)“Way”
IIlha (“Island”)“Penny
OPorta (“Door”)Órbita (“Orbit”)“Got”
Closed OFolha (“Leaf”)Robô (“Robot”)“Most”
ULuz (“Light”)“Flu

When you see the acute accent (´), like in the word chapéu (“hat”), expect to encounter an open vowel sound. On the other hand, the circumflex accent (^), like the one in você (“you”), indicates a closed vowel sound. In this case, the vowel should be pronounced with the lips slightly more closed. 

Another thing to keep in mind when you encounter accents is that they indicate which syllable should be stressed or emphasized when pronouncing it.

3 – Intonation

Intonation is particularly important in differentiating between questions and statements. In Portuguese, it’s possible to use the same sentence structure to do both things, changing only the intonation.

If your question uses any of the question words—such as quem (“who”), quando (“when”), onde (“where”), and others—it’s easier to identify a question. Of course, intonation is still an important aspect even in those cases. But it really bears weight when you don’t use question words at all.

Luckily, the intonation you have to adopt is the same as in English: raise your voice at the end of the sentence to make it sound like a question. If you’re curious to learn all the details and nuances of Brazilian Portuguese intonation and sound very scholarly next time you discuss the topic, here’s an entire academic study about it!

A Group of Friends Chatting with Drinks

Master Portuguese pronunciation and feel confident!

2. Vocabulary Word Mistakes

Another type of mistake Portuguese-learners and native speakers alike make relates to vocabulary. Sometimes, we’re just excited to use a new word and don’t really understand its nuanced meaning. Let’s see how to avoid some of the most common Portuguese vocabulary mistakes.

1 – False Friends

There are many Portuguese words that might look familiar to an English-speaker, and in some cases, those similar words have the same meaning. For example, família translates to “family,” universo means “universe,” and elefante is “elephant.”

Unfortunately, not every word that looks the same actually has the same meaning. That’s exactly the case with false friends. Those tricky words appear to be the same or very similar, but their meanings are different. Here are some common examples of false friends to keep in mind.

False friendsWhat you should say instead
Amassar = “to crush”Acumular = “to amass”
Entender = “to understand”Pretender = “to intend”
Pretender = “to intend”Fingir = “to pretend”
Assumir = “to take over”Presumir = “to assume”
Avisar = “to warn”Aconselhar = “to advise”
Advertir = “to warn”Anunciar = “to advertise”
Pular = “to jump”Puxar = “to pull”
Puxar = “to pull”Empurrar = “to push”
Suportar = “to withstand,” “to tolerate”Apoiar = “to support”
Assistir = “to watch”Ajudar = “to assist”
Enrolar = “to roll up”Inscrever = “to enroll”
Recordar = “to remember,” “to recall”Gravar = “to record”
Resumir = “to summarize”Continuar = “to resume”
Noticiar = “to inform,” “to report”Reparar, Perceber = “to notice”
Procurar = “to look for”Obter, Adquirir = “to procure”

False friends continuedWhat you should say instead
Balcão = “counter”Sacada = “balcony”
Taxa = “rate,” “fee”Imposto = “tax”
Recipiente = “container”Beneficiário = “recipient”
Atualmente = “currently”Na realidade = “actually”
Costume = “habit”Fantasia = “costume”
Educado = “polite”Instruído = “educated”
Estrangeiro = “foreigner”Estranho = “stranger”
Parentes = “relatives”Pais = “parents”
Novela = “soap opera” Romance = “novel” 
Êxito = “success”Saída = “exit”
Lanche = “snack”Almoço = “lunch”
Legenda = “subtitles”Lenda = “legend”
Injúria = “insult”Ferimento = “injury”
Livraria = “bookshop”Biblioteca = “library”
Esperto = “clever”Especialista = “expert”

2 – Similar Portuguese Words

One letter or one extra space can make all the difference in meaning. Some pairs of words are prone to causing a lot of confusion, especially when writing. Check them out:

Mas = “but”Mais = “more,” “plus”
Mal = “badly” – an adverb or nounMau = “bad,” “evil” – an adjective
Bem = “well” – antonym of mal Bom = “good” – antonym of mau
Agente = “agent”A gente = “us,” “we”

Besides the pairs listed above, there’s a group of similar words that gets people confused:

  • Por que = “why”
    Por que não vamos no cinema hoje? (“Why are we not going to the movie theater today?”)
  • Porque = “because”
    Porque seu pai está doente. (“Because your father is sick.”)
  • Por quê = “why” – at the end of the sentence or as a stand-alone sentence
    Você desistiu, por quê? (“You gave up, why?”)
    Por quê? (“Why?”)
  • Porquê = “the reason why”
    O porquê eu não sei. (“The reason why, I don’t know.”)

And as a bonus, if you want to really impress your Portuguese-speaking friends, you can explain to them the difference between these expressions that sound exactly the same:

  • Acerca de = “about”
  • Há cerca de = “about this long ago” (state how long right after)
  • A cerca de = “the fence of” (yes, as in a physical property limit)
A Man in a Suit Holding a Question Mark Sign in Front of His Face

False friends and similar-looking words can cause a lot of confusion.

3. Word Order Mistakes

Putting words in the right order is just as important as choosing the right words! 

As a quick recap, remember that Portuguese follows the Subject + Verb + Object structure. That said, let’s jump right into the most common word order mistakes.

1 – Adjectives

Most of the time, the adjective comes after the noun it refers to. For example:

  • Eu gosto de vinho tinto. (“I like red wine.”)
  • Ela não come comidas picantes. (“She doesn’t eat spicy food.”)

If you inverted the word order in those examples, the sentences wouldn’t make sense. However, because Portuguese is never completely straightforward, there are some exceptions! 

Sometimes, the adjective can come before the noun. Below are a couple of tips to help you know where the adjective should go.

  • When the adjective is adding an objective or direct attribute to the noun, place it afterwards:
    Ganhei um presente grande. (“I got a big gift.”) – a large gift
  • When the adjective is adding a more subjective, connotative, or even poetic attribute to the noun, it can be placed beforehand:
    Ganhei um grande presente. (“I got a great gift.”)

Unfortunately, this is not a rule that works every time. 

  • Seu livro antigo (“Your old book”)
  • Seu antigo livro (“Your old book”)

As you can see above, both sentences work and the meaning does not change. With time and practice, knowing the position of the adjective will become more natural to you. But in case you have any doubts, opt to place it after the substantive!

2 – Position of Reflexive Pronouns

When we use certain verbs in Portuguese, it’s necessary to use reflexive pronouns. Because many Portuguese reflexive verbs are not reflexive in English, this causes some confusion. Thus, the improper placement of reflexive pronouns is an error Portuguese-learners make often! 

In Brazil, you’ll usually hear people placing the reflexive pronoun before the verb. However, it’s also correct to place the pronoun after the verb, and this is very common in Portugal. Compare both forms below:

  • Eles se banharam. (“They bathed.”)
  • Eles banharam-se. (“They bathed.”)

We suggest that you learn and use the first form, as it’s simpler and will be widely understood. So, remember that the pronoun goes immediately before the verb.

  • Nós nos conhecemos na festa. (“We met each other at the party.”)
  • Eu não me arrumei. (“I didn’t get ready.”)
  • Eles se odiaram assim que se conheceram. (“They hated each other as soon as they met.”)

A Chef about to Cut a Yellow Cake

Um bolo amarelo (“A yellow cake”), not um amarelo bolo.

→ Discover more about the Top 5 Portuguese Mistakes to Avoid on PortuguesePod101.com!

4. Grammar Mistakes

Oh, grammar. Not the coolest kid on the block, we have to admit. But by understanding and avoiding these common mistakes, your Portuguese will improve by leaps and bounds!

1 – Gender Agreement

Nouns in Portuguese can be masculine or feminine, even when it doesn’t really make sense—who says a knife is female? Regardless, this is how Portuguese grammar works. Keeping this gender factor in mind, the article that comes before the noun has to agree with the gender.

As a rule of thumb, most words that end in -a are feminine, and most words that end in -o are masculine. Take a look: 

Feminine words
  • A mesa (“the table”)
  • A casa (“the house”)
  • A ideia (“the idea”)
  • Uma cama (“a bed”)
  • Uma escova (“a brush”)
  • Uma máquina (“a machine”)
Masculine words
  • O barco (“the boat”)
  • O pato (“the duck”)
  • O tronco (“the trunk”)
  • Um colchão (“a mattress”)
  • Um garfo (“a fork”)
  • Um livro (“a book”)

Of course, there are always exceptions in Portuguese. For example:

  • Dia (“day”) is masculine → O dia (“the day”)
  • Planeta (“planet”) is masculine → Um planeta (“a planet”)

If the words don’t end in -a or -o, it’s a matter of looking it up online and trying to remember as best as you can!

  • A colher (“the spoon”)
  • O mar (“the sea”)
  • A cruz (“the cross”)
  • O rapaz (“the guy,” “the boy”)

You might also come across words that have both genders or vary in gender depending on their meaning. 

  • Mascote (“mascot”) may have either gender → A mascote (feminine); o mascote (masculine)
  • Rádio (“radio”) changes gender → A rádio (“the radio station,” feminine word); o rádio (device used to listen to radio stations, masculine word)

It might look a bit complicated at first, but don’t give up! With time, it will become easier and easier to master the gender of words in Portuguese.

2 – To Be or Not to Be: Ser vs. Estar

Unlike in English, in Portuguese, we have two verbs that mean “to be”: ser and estar. At first, it may be quite confusing for you, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never make this mistake again!

Here’s the trick: Think of the difference between the two verbs in terms of permanence and impermanence.

You can be something permanently (or at least for a long time): a nationality or profession. In this case, use the verb ser.

  • Eu sou médico. (“I am a doctor.”)
  • Eu sou alta. (“I am tall.”)

Or you can be something for a short period of time (temporarily): you can be cold, you can be sunblind, or you can be in school. In this case, use the verb estar.

  • Você está bem? (“Are you alright?”)
  • Eu estou nervosa. (“I am nervous.”)

The verb estar is also commonly used as an auxiliary verb in continuous tenses, when you want to say that you “were doing” or “are doing” something.

  •  Eu estou saindo agora. (“I am leaving now.”)
  • Você estava contando uma história. (“You were telling a story.”)

3 – Irregular Comparatives and Superlatives

When making comparisons in Portuguese, there are some rules you should follow:

  • More than → mais [adjective] que
  • Less than, fewer than → menos [adjective] que 

However, some of the most common comparative adjectives are irregular. On the positive side, they’re not all that different from the irregular comparatives in English.

  • Bigger than → maior
  • Smaller than → menor
  • Better than → melhor que
  • Worse than → pior que

Now you know you should never say mais bom!

What about the superlatives? In some ways, handling these can be easier in Portuguese than in English. Instead of having different superlatives for each adjective, you can add one of the following expressions:

  • O mais [adjective] O mais alto (“The tallest” – male)
  • A mais [adjective] → A mais alta (“The tallest”- female)
  • O menos [adjective] → O menos engraçado (“The least funny” – male)
  • A menos [adjective] → A menos engraçada (“The least funny” – female)

The exceptions are the same adjectives mentioned before:

  • The biggest → o maior
  • The smallest → o menor
  • The best → o melhor
  • The worst → o pior 

Portuguese does have more superlatives than those listed above. However, they’re not frequently used in colloquial conversation, so for the scope of this article, we won’t discuss them.

A Girl Trying on Shoes at a Shoe Store

Preciso de um sapato maior. (“I need a bigger shoe.”)

5. In the Real World

When covering common Portuguese mistakes, we also have to address some of the real-life situations you might face. Like every other language, Portuguese is constantly evolving and changing. As you travel around Brazil and meet native speakers from different parts of the country, you might notice that spoken Portuguese has many “incorrect” formations. 

There’s a rich and complex discussion around this topic, with experts and researchers arguing that there’s no one right way to speak a language, and that there’s no one way that’s better than another. 

Why is this important? Well, you might be puzzled when hearing some grammatically incorrect phrases from native Portuguese-speakers, and it’s important to recognize when they’re acceptable.

To highlight this point, take the case of using tu and você. Both words translate to “you” and both are second person singular pronouns. However, when using você, verbs are conjugated in the third person singular. 

  • Você é alto. (“You are tall.”)
  • Tu és alto. (“You are tall.”)

The examples above are officially correct. But in some parts of Brazil, like the state of Rio Grande do Sul, tu is conjugated in the third person singular (like você). Although not dictionary-perfect, we can hardly say that they’re making a mistake. This is just an historical evolution in the spoken Portuguese of the region. 

Depending on where in Brazil you want to go or which form (and accent) of Portuguese you prefer learning, you might end up discovering interesting variations of the spoken language. 

6. The King of All Mistakes

We’ve covered all kinds of common Portuguese mistakes so far, from pronunciation to word order and grammar. 

But you know what? The biggest mistake of them all is being afraid of making mistakes. Many studies have already shown that making mistakes is essential in improving one’s learning. So when the fear of making mistakes stops you from trying, experimenting, saying the wrong thing, or using the wrong word order…you’re actually robbing yourself of another learning opportunity. 

Just think about it. When we make mistakes, our attention focuses on how to correct those errors. It also makes us want to understand why it was incorrect and focus our efforts on improving. On the other hand, when we’re right, there’s a sense of not having to be in our sharpest state of mind. 

This is true in many different areas of our lives, but this is especially true when it comes to learning a new language. After all, we need to use different mechanisms in our brain, such as recalling things from memory and associating words and sounds with images in our mind. This requires practice—lots and lots of practice. 

So if there’s one main takeaway from this article, let it be this: Go forth and make mistakes! Afterwards, try to understand those mistakes and work hard to overcome them…and then make other mistakes!

If this concept still makes you cringe a little, here are three handy tips to help you feel better and bounce back quicker when you make mistakes.

1. Welcome corrections. Whenever you get a chance to talk with other Portuguese-speakers, ask them to point out your mistakes. Since you’re asking for corrections, it will feel more comfortable. 

2. Try to use the correct form after identifying a mistake, to solidify the correct form in your mind.

3. Talk openly about errors. By talking about your most common difficulties and mistakes with peers, you’ll encourage them to adopt a positive mindset about mistakes and feel better about your own.

Young People Having a Celebration Party

Celebrate your mistakes! They’re an important part of your journey.

7. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

We really hope this article helped you identify some common Portuguese mistakes you might be making. But even more importantly, we hope it has changed the way you think about making mistakes! Be proud of your errors—and the improvement that follows as you continue on your language-learning journey. Come back to this article whenever you need some encouragement or want to refresh your memory.

What did you think about the mistakes we covered today? Do you think we forgot an important aspect? Tell us in the comments!

To take your skills to the next level, continue exploring PortuguesePod101.com! There are lots of free Portuguese resources and vocabulary lists to prepare you for any situation. 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. 

Happy learning!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese

Asking and Answering the Top 10 Questions in Portuguese

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Asking interesting questions is one of the secrets to a good conversation. Regardless of the language, questions are an essential tool in your conversation toolbox. They can help you learn basic information about the person you’ve just met or dive deep into what makes them unique! Pretty cool, huh?

That’s why knowing how to ask and answer a question in Portuguese will take you a long way toward mastering the language. By practicing the sentences and patterns you’ll see in this article, you’ll begin to feel comfortable during interactions with native speakers. Simply ask interesting questions every now and again, and see how smoothly your conversation will flow.

To help you navigate the world of questions in Portuguese, we’ll introduce you to the top ten questions you can ask, alongside the translation of each word used in the sentences. You’ll also see how to answer them, broken down by the pattern so you can create your own answers. And of course, there will be plenty of examples along the way, to make sure you really grasp the concepts. Ready?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. The Building Blocks
  2. The Top 10 Portuguese Questions and Answers to Learn
  3. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Man Giving a Speech

Get ready to ask and answer questions like a pro!

1. The Building Blocks

Before we see how to ask questions in Portuguese, let’s take a quick look at the building blocks to do so: the question patterns and the Portuguese question words. By learning these elements, you’ll better understand the sentences in this article, and you’ll also be able to create your own questions in the future.

1 – Portuguese Question Words

These are the most common question words in Portuguese that you can use to form direct questions.

“What”O que
O quê
(if it’s at the end of the sentence)
O que você quer comer? (“What do you want to eat?”)
Você quer comer o quê?
(“What do you want to eat?”)
“Why”Por que
Por quê (if it’s at the end of the sentence)
Por que vamos sair? (“Why are we leaving?”)
Vamos sair por quê? (“Why are we leaving?”)
“Where”Onde (used if the subject is not moving)
Aonde (used if the subject is moving)
Onde está meu remédio? (“Where is my medicine?”)
Aonde você vai? (“Where are you going?”)
“When”QuandoQuando é a festa? (“When is the party?”)
“Who”QuemQuem era aquele homem? (“Who was that man?”)
“How”ComoComo elas chegaram aqui? (“How did they get here?”)
“Which” Qual
Quais (plural)
Qual é o seu sabor de sorvete favorito? (“What is your favorite ice cream flavor?”)
Quais são os seus livros? (“Which ones are your books?”)
“How much” / “How many”Quanto (male singular form)
Quanta (female singular form)
Quantos (male plural form)
Quantas (female plural form)
Quanto custa esse livro? (“How much does this book cost?”)
Quanta água você tem? (“How much water do you have?”)
Quantos bebês nasceram hoje? (“How many babies were born today?”)
Quantas pessoas vieram? (“How many people came?”)
“Whose”De quemDe quem é esse carro? (“Whose car is this?”)

2 – Portuguese Question Patterns

There are two main patterns for asking questions in Portuguese that you need to be familiar with.

Question word + subject + verb + complement

Using this pattern, you can ask a huge variety of questions. It follows the same word order as a declarative sentence does. The difference is that you add a question word to the beginning and a question mark at the end. Most of the sample Portuguese questions we saw in the previous table feature this sentence pattern.

Examples:

  • Quando vocês chegam? (“When do you arrive?”) – plural
  • Onde posso deixar minha mala? (“Where can I leave my luggage?”)

In some cases, you can also see the question word at the end of the sentence, instead of at the beginning. For example:

  • A festa é quando? (“The party is when?”)

Subject + verb + complement

This sentence pattern is basically a statement followed by a question mark. Intonation is an essential aspect of asking questions with this pattern, since it’s the only thing differentiating it from a declarative statement. 

The intonation is fairly similar to the one used to ask questions in English. Simply raise your voice slightly at the end of the sentence.

Examples:

  • Você vai sair hoje? (“Are you going out today?”)
  • Podemos começar? (“May we begin?”)

Regardless of the question pattern, keep in mind that, sometimes, the subject is implicit. This happens fairly often in Portuguese, and you might see question examples in which the subject doesn’t appear. In cases like this, the subject can be inferred by looking at the verb. Take this sentence, for example:

  • Vamos sair agora? (“Are we leaving now?”)

The subject in this sentence is nós (“we”), as the conjugation of the verb indicates. You can opt to include the word nós in the sentence or leave it out.

Group of Students Studying on Lawn

Vamos estudar? (“Let’s study?”)

2. The Top 10 Portuguese Questions and Answers to Learn

From the more basic Portuguese questions you can ask during a first meeting to questions that can take the conversation to the next level, you’ll see it all in this article. Pay attention to how the answers normally use elements from the questions—this can help you get your bearings when you’re asked a brand-new question!

1 – What’s your name?

First Encounter

This is probably the first question you’ll hear or ask a Portuguese-speaker. Take your time to learn this question by heart. 

Question

  • Qual é o seu nome? 
Qualéo seunome?
What (in this case, qual translates to “what,” and not “which”)isyourname?
  • Como você se chama?
Comovocêse chama?
Howdo youcall yourself?

Answer

  • Meu nome é [nome].
Meunomeé[nome].
Mynameis[name].

You can use this same structure to answer what your nickname or family name is.

  • Meu apelido é [apelido]. (“My nickname is [nickname].”)
  • Meu sobrenome é [sobrenome]. (“My family name is [family name].”)
  • Eu me chamo [nome].
Eume chamo[nome].
Icall myself[name].

Putting it all together

  • Q: Qual é o seu nome? (“What is your name?”) 
  • A: Meu nome é Maria. (“My name is Maria.”)
  • Q: Como você se chama? (“What are you called?”)
  • A: Eu me chamo Gustavo. (“I’m called Gustavo.”)

2 – Where are you from?

Here’s another great icebreaker question for getting to know people!

Question

  • De onde você é?
Deondevocêé?
Fromwhereyouare?
  • De onde você vem?
Deondevocêvem?
Fromwhereyoucome?

Answer

  • Eu sou de [local].
Eusoude[local].
Iamfrom[place].
  • Eu venho de [local].
Euvenhode[local].
Icomefrom[place].

Note that, in both cases, the preposition de (“of” / “from”) should agree with the following word in gender and number. Check it out:

  • Eu sou de Portugal. (“I am from Portugal.”)
  • Eu venho da África do Sul. (“I come from South Africa.”)
  • Eu sou dos Estados Unidos. (“I am from the United States.”)

You can also answer the question by stating your nationality:

  • Eu sou brasileiro. (“I am Brazilian.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: De onde você é? (“Where are you from?”)
  • A: Eu sou do Rio de Janeiro. (“I’m from Rio de Janeiro.”) 
  • Q: De onde você vem? (“Where do you come from?”) 
  • A: Eu venho da Índia. (“I come from India.”)

3 – Do you speak Portuguese?

People in Brazil will likely be very curious to know more about your Portuguese-learning experience. Expect to hear some questions about it!

Question

  • Você fala [idioma]?
Vocêfala[idioma]?
YouspeakPortuguese?

You can also add more details to your question at the end of the sentence. For example:

  • Você fala inglês fluentemente? (“Do you speak English fluently?”)
  • Você fala francês há muito tempo? (“Have you spoken French long?”)

Answer

  • Eu falo [idioma].
Eufalo[idioma].
IspeakPortuguese.

You can begin the sentence with sim (“yes”) or não (“no”), and then complete your answer with the pattern above.

  • Sim, eu falo Português. (“Yes, I speak Portuguese.”)
  • Não, eu não falo Espanhol. (“No, I don’t speak Spanish.”)

And, just like before, you can add more details to your answer using adverbs and adjectives.

  • Eu falo um pouco de Português. (“I speak a bit of Portuguese.”)
  • Eu falo Espanhol muito bem. (“I speak Spanish very well.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você fala Italiano? (“Do you speak Italian?”)
  • A: Sim, eu falo Italiano. (“Yes, I speak Italian.”)
  • Q: Ela fala português? (“Does she speak Portuguese?”)
  • A: Não, ela não fala português. (“No, she doesn’t speak Portuguese.”)
Different Language-learning Books

Você fala todas essas línguas? (“Do you speak all of those languages?”)

4 – How long have you been studying Portuguese?

After successfully explaining what languages you speak, it’s time to show off your skills. After all, it takes a while to master a new language, and you deserve to brag a little!

Question

  • Você estuda [idioma] há quanto tempo?
Vocêestuda[idioma]quanto tempo?
YoustudyPortuguesehave beenhow long?

The translation you see above might confuse you a bit, so let’s unpack it. When we use the verb haver (“to have”) with another verb in the present tense (like estuda), it describes an action that started in the past and continues in the present.

The verb haver can be substituted by the verb fazer (“to make”), which in this case, will have the same meaning as haver:

  • Você estuda [idioma] faz quanto tempo?

It’s also common to see this question pattern inverted:

  • Há quanto tempo que você estuda [idioma]?
  • Faz quanto tempo que você estuda [idioma]?

Answer

You can answer this Portuguese question in a more complete way by repeating part of the question, or in a more direct way, just using the verb and the amount of time.

  • Eu estudo [idioma] faz / há [tempo].
Euestudo[idioma]faz / há[tempo].
IstudyPortuguesefor[time].
  • Faz / há [tempo].
Faz / há[tempo].
For[time].

Note that, regardless of the number of years or months you answer with, the verb is always in the singular form. That happens because, when referring to actions that started in the past and continue in the present, the verb doesn’t vary in number.

  • Faz um ano. (“For one year.”)
  • Eu estudo inglês faz dez anos. (“I have been studying English for ten years.”)
  • Eu estudo japonês há um ano. (“I have been studying Japanese for one year.”)
  • Há dez anos. (“For ten years.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você estuda coreano faz quanto tempo? (“How long have you been studying Korean?”)
  • A: Faz três anos. (“For three years.”)
  • Q: Você estuda português faz quanto tempo? (“How long have you been studying Portuguese?”)
  • A: Eu estudo português há dois meses. (“I have been studying Portuguese for two months.”)
Introducing Yourself

5 – Have you been to [place]?

Traveling is always an interesting topic for conversation, and some of the most common Portuguese questions for foreigners are related to this topic.

Question

  • Você já foi para [lugar]?
Vocêfoipara[lugar]?
Youalreadyhave beento[place]?

After the preposition para (“to”), it might be necessary to add articles that agree with the gender and number of the place.

  • Você já foi para São Paulo? (“Have you been to São Paulo?”)
  • Você já foi para o Rio de Janeiro? (“Have you been to Rio de Janeiro?”)
  • Você já foi para a China? (“Have you been to China?”)
  • Você já foi para os Países Baixos? (“Have you been to the Netherlands?”)

Answer

This question can be answered with a simple sim (“yes”) or não (“no”). However, to really make it count, you can add information about how many times you’ve been or when you went there. You can add this information at the end of the sentence.

Sim / Não,eu(não) fui[complemento].
Yes / No,Ihave (not) been[complement].
  • Sim, eu fui uma vez. (“Yes, I’ve been once.”)
  • Não, eu nunca fui. (“No, I’ve never been.”)
  • Sim, eu fui lá ano passado. (“Yes, I went there last year.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você já foi para Roma? (“Have you already been to Rome?”) 
  • A: Sim, eu fui para Roma várias vezes. (“Yes, I’ve been to Rome several times.”)
  • Q: Ele já foi para o nordeste? (“Has he already been to the northeast [of Brazil]?”) 
  • A: Não, ele não foi. (“No, he has not.”)

→ Explore more travel-related vocabulary and essential phrases with PortuguesePod101!

Woman Taking Photo of Something in Paris

Você já foi para Paris? Sim, já fui! (“Have you been to Paris? Yes, I’ve been!”)

6 – Do you like [country’s] food?

You can’t talk about traveling without bringing up all of the delicious local cuisine! And you can bet that Brazilians will ask you about your thoughts on Brazilian food

Question

  • Você gosta da comida de [país]?
Vocêgosta dacomidade[país]?
Do youlikefoodofBrazil?

Once again, the preposition de (“of”) has to agree with the country or place. 

  • Você gosta da comida do Brasil? (“Do you like Brazil’s food?”)
  • Você gosta da comida da França? (“Do you like France’s food?”)

Instead of using “de + country,” you can also use the adjective that refers to that country. For example:

  • Você gosta da comida brasileira? (“Do you like Brazilian food?”)
  • Você gosta da comida francesa? (“Do you like French food?”)

If you want to make the question more specific, you can add adjectives after the word comida (“food”):

  • Ela gosta da comida tradicional japonesa? (“Do you like traditional Japanese food?”)
  • Você gosta da comida vegetariana da Índia? (“Do you like vegetarian Indian food?”)

Answer

The answer pattern here is very similar to the one we saw for the previous question. You can start with sim (“yes”) or não (“no”), and then add more information to make your answer complete.

Sim / Não,eu(não) gosto[complemento].
Yes / No,I(don’t) like[complement].
  • Sim, eu gosto. (“Yes, I like it.”)
  • Sim, eu gosto da comida peruana. (“Yes, I like Peruvian food.”)
  • Não, eu não gosto muito. (“No, I don’t like it very much.”)
  • Não, eu não gosto da comida daqui. (“No, I don’t like the food from here.”) 

To emphasize how much you like (or don’t like) the local food, you can use stronger verbs than gostar (“to like”).

  • Sim, eu adoro. (“Yes, I adore it.”)
  • Sim, eu amo a comida da Colômbia. (“Yes, I love Colombian food.”)
  • Não, eu odeio a comida alemã. (“No, I hate German food.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você gosta da comida da Tailândia? (“Do you like Thailand’s food?”) 
  • A: Sim, eu gosto da comida tailandesa. (“Yes, I like Thai food.”)
  • Q: Você gosta da comida do Chile? (“Do you like Chile’s food?”)
  • A: Não, eu odeio. (“No, I hate it.”)

7 – How is ___?

This is a versatile question pattern for you to learn. Let’s say you just made a delicious batch of cookies and offered some to your brand-new acquaintances. Now, you want to know what they think about them. What do you say?

Another scenario: You’re going to visit a friend in another city, but before packing, you want to know what the weather is like there. How can you ask? 

In both cases, the question is about how something is at the moment. For this reason, you should use the temporary form of the verb “to be” in Portuguese: estar.

  • Como está o / a [complemento]? 
Comoestáo / a[complemento]?
Howisthe[complement]?

Use this question pattern to ask how a singular thing or event is. The articles will change depending on the gender of the thing or event. Take a look at the examples:

  • Como está o bolo? (“How is the cake?”)
  • Como está a comida? (“How is the food?”)
  • Como está o clima aí? (“How is the weather there?”)
  • Como está a festa? (“How is the party?”)
  • Como estão os / as [complemento]?
Comoestãoos / as[complemento]?
Howarethe[complement]?

Use this second pattern to talk about plural things or events. Once again, make sure the article agrees with the thing or event.

  • Como estão os biscoitos? (“How are the cookies?”)
  • Como estão as férias? (“How is the vacation?”)

But what about asking a question about the essence or a permanent characteristic of something? In this case, you should use the permanent “to be” verb, which is ser

  • Como é o/a [complemento]?
Comoéo / a[complemento]?
Howisthe[complement]?
  • Como é a casa nova? (“How is the new house?”)
  • Como é a sua vizinha/ o seu vizinho? (“How is your neighbor?”)
  • Como é o gato? (“How is the cat?”)
  • Como são os/as [complemento]?
Comosãoos / as[complemento]?
Howarethe[complement]?
  • Como são as pessoas da cidade? (“How are the people of the city?”)
  • Como são os móveis novos? (“How is the new furniture?”)

If you need to refresh your memory, check the conjugation for the verbs ser and estar.

Answer

It’s fairly simple to answer these types of questions. Use the same verb that was used in the question (paying attention to the conjugation), and add the adjectives and/or adverbs you want. To make it more complete, you could also add the subject before the verb.

Sujeitoverbocomplemento.
Subjectverbcomplement.
  • Está boa. (“It’s good.”)
  • A comida está boa. (“The food is good.”)
  • Estão gostosos. (“They’re tasty.”)
  • Os biscoitos estão gostosos. (“The cookies are tasty.”)
  • É fofo. (“It’s cute.”)
  • O gato é fofo. (“The cat is cute.”)
  • São simpáticas. (“They’re friendly.”) 
  • As pessoas são simpáticas. (“The people are friendly.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Como está o namoro? (“How is the relationship?”)
  • A: Está muito bem, obrigado! (“It is very well, thank you!”)
  • Q: Como são os novos colegas? (“How are the new colleagues?”)
  • A: São muito simpáticos. (“They’re very friendly.”)
  • Q: Como está a sopa? (“How is the soup?”)
  • A: A sopa está muito salgada. (“The soup is very salty.”)
Child Eating Ice Cream

Como está o sorvete? (“How is the ice cream?”)

8 – What are you doing?

Here’s another versatile Portuguese question that, with just a few tweaks, can be used in a variety of situations.

Question

  • O que você está fazendo?
O quevocêestáfazendo?
Whatyouaredoing?

By adding more information at the end of the sentence, you can ask more-specific questions. 

  • O que você está fazendo agora? (“What are you doing now?”)
  • O que você está fazendo hoje? (“What are you doing today?”)
  • O que você está fazendo sozinho aqui? (“What are you doing alone here?”)
  • O que você está fazendo na sala? (“What are you doing in the living room?”)

In Portuguese, you can use this exact pattern to ask what someone is making in the kitchen:

  • O que você está fazendo para o almoço? (“What are you making for lunch?”)
  • O que você está fazendo no forno? (“What are you making in the oven?”)

You don’t need to be stuck with the verb fazer (“to do” / “to make”). By using other verbs in the gerund form, you open up many more possibilities:

  • O que você está assistindo? (“What are you watching?”)
  • O que você está cortando? (“What are you cutting?”)
  • O que você está ouvindo? (“What are you listening to?”)
  • O que você está assando? (“What are you baking?”)

Answer

To answer, you’ll need to describe the action you’re doing in the gerund form.

Euestou[verbo no gerúndio][complemento].
Iam[verb in gerund form][complement].
  • Eu estou lendo um livro. (“I am reading a book.”)
  • Eu estou limpando o quarto. (“I am cleaning the room.”)
  • Eu estou assando um bolo. (“I am baking a cake.”)
  • Eu estou tomando banho. (“I am taking a shower.”)
  • Eu estou correndo. (“I am running.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: O que você está fazendo? (“What are you doing?”) 
  • A: Estou arrumando a garagem. (“I am organizing the garage.”)
  • Q: O que você está fazendo no quarto? (“What are you doing in the bedroom?”) 
  • A: Estou estudando. (“I am studying.”)
  • Q: O que vocês estão fazendo? (“What are you doing?”) – plural
  • A: Estamos assistindo um filme. (“We are watching a movie.”)
Group of Guys Watching a Soccer Game on TV

Estamos assistindo futebol. (“We are watching soccer.”)

9 – Are you all right?

This is certainly an essential question in our daily interactions with friends, colleagues, loved ones, and relatives!

  • Você está bem?
Vocêestábem?
Youarealright?

If you want to ask this question about somebody else, it’s easy: simply use the name or the pronoun instead of você (“you”).

  • Ela está bem? (“Is she alright?”)
  • Luís está bem? (“Is Luís alright?”)

You may also hear a simple: Tudo bem? (“Alright?”). It means the same thing!

Alternatively, there’s another question you can ask to discover how a person is. The pattern might look familiar to you.

  • Como você está?
Comovocêestá?
Howyouare?

Once again, you can ask the same question using other subjects:

  • Como ele está? (“How is he?”)

Answer

Euestou[complemento].
Iam[complement].

It’s common to see these sentences without the subject, as well.

  • Estou bem. (“I’m alright.”)
  • Eu estou muito bem. (“I am very well.”)
  • Ela está bem. (“She is alright.”)
  • Eu estou triste. (“I am sad.”)
  • Eu estou meio doente. (“I’m a bit sick.”)

If the question was Você está bem? (“Are you alright?”), you can also add sim (“yes”) or não (“no”) before the rest of the sentence.

  • Sim, estou bem. (“Yes, I am well.”)
  • Não, eu estou mal. (“No, I’m not well.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Você está bem? (“Are you alright?”) 
  • A: Sim, eu estou muito bem! (“Yes, I am very well!”)
  • Q: Tudo bem? (“Alright?”)
  • A: Não, não estou muito bem. (“No, I’m not very well.”)
  • Q: Como você está? (“How are you?”)
  • A: Estou preocupada. (“I’m worried.”)

10 – How much is it?

When shopping, eating out, or hiring a service, this is a must-ask question.

Question

  • Quanto custa?
Quantocusta?
How muchdoes it cost?
  • Quanto é?
Quantoé?
How muchis it?

These are very simple Portuguese questions for asking how much something costs. If you’re holding an item and showing it as you ask, it’s clear enough what you’re referring to. But if you need to make it more specific, add the name of the product or service at the end of the sentence.

  • Quanto custa esse livro? (“How much does this book cost?”)
  • Quanto é a massagem? (“How much is the massage?”)
  • Quanto custa a fatia de bolo? (“How much does the slice of cake cost?”)
  • Quanto é esse anel? (“How much is this ring?”)

Answer

To answer, you can simply state the value, or start the sentence with one of the verbs used in the question:

Custa / é[valor].
It costs / it is[value].

Remember that, in Brazil, the currency is the Real (R$). So when you’re talking about monetary values, you have to use the word reais and centavos (“cents”).

  • Custa cinco reais e cinquenta centavos. (“It costs R$5,50.”)
  • É vinte reais. (“It’s R$20,00.”)
  • Custa um real. (“It costs R$1,00.”)

Putting it all together

  • Q: Quanto custa o quadro? (“How much does the painting cost?”) 
  • A: Custa 150 reais. (“It costs R$150,00.”)
  • Q: Quanto é a mensalidade da academia? (“How much is the gym monthly fee?”) 
  • A: É 80 reais. (“It’s R$80,00.”)
Couple Grocery Shopping Together

Quanto custa esse iogurte? (“How much is this yogurt?”)

→ Want to practice your pronunciation? Listen to the Top 25 Portuguese Questions on PortuguesePod101!

3. Learn More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

This was a long lesson, but hopefully it gave you everything you need to know about asking Portuguese questions. Before you know it, you’ll be spouting them left and right! So take your chances and satisfy your curiosity by putting these questions into practice. Remember, they can be of great help when you’re feeling stuck in a conversation.

Did you like the way the questions and answers were presented? Did we leave out any questions you were hoping to see? Tell us what you think in the comments below! And feel free to come back to this article whenever you feel like it.

Now is the time to continue on 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.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese

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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Portuguese Adverbs: 100+ Adverbs to Dominate the Language

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When learning a new language, vocabulary can be a problem. But using the different “tools” to form coherent sentences can also be a really difficult feat. Verbs and their multiple forms, adjectives that make the sentences more colorful, and…adverbs.

Portuguese adverbs can give verbs power and intensity. Using them correctly will allow the speaker to communicate complex details, a sense of time, and much more abstract information.

Portuguese is a tough language, no doubt. But with this list of 100+ adverbs, we’ll not only help you learn about adverbs in Portuguese vocabulary, but we’ll also show you how to more clearly express ideas and give descriptions.

student looking focused

After some practice, you’ll be able to naturally incorporate Portuguese adverbs into your conversations and writing. This will help you communicate more easily and even add some style!

Let’s learn about adverbs in Portuguese grammar.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. How to Identify Adverbs in Portuguese
  2. Placement of Portuguese Adverbs in a Sentence
  3. Portuguese Adverbs of Manner
  4. Portuguese Adverbs of Intensity
  5. Portuguese Adverbs of Denial
  6. Portuguese Adverbs of Doubt
  7. Portuguese Adverbs of Time
  8. Portuguese Adverbs of Place
  9. “Useless” Adverbs
  10. The Case of Inho in Portuguese Adverbs
  11. Comparisons and Superlatives
  12. Conclusion

1. How to Identify Adverbs in Portuguese

Hopefully, the sentences we’ll study will give you some insight into Portuguese adverbs. Still, you may notice that this class of words can be very confusing to identify, since they’re somewhat more abstract than adjectives.

Indeed, some adverbs feel like they’re in a grammatical threshold of words. This impression is captured in Brazilian grammarian Evanildo Bechara’s interesting definition of adverbs:

It is the expression that denotes a state (of place, time, mode, intensity, condition etc.) and performs the function of an adverbial adjunctive in the sentence. (…) It constitutes of a word of nominal or pronominal nature (…)

This definition provides a pretty solid base to help you learn about adverbs in Portuguese grammar. It’s interesting because it exposes not only the function of adverbs, but also their “root.”

They “play the part” of pronouns and nouns in a phrase and intensify certain aspects of verbs at the same time.

Man working on the train

A key tip to identify nominal adverbs is that many of them are formed by adjectives + the -mente suffix. The -mente suffix corresponds to the ending “-ly” in some English adverbs, such as “quickly.”

Here are some examples:

  • Rapidamente (rápida + mente): “Fast”
  • Pessimamente (péssima + mente): “Nastily”
  • Otimamente (ótima + mente): “Excellently”

Please note that the nominal adverbs usually carry the feminine form of the adjectives (rápida instead of rápido, for instance). The items above are all adverbs of manner (see more examples of this type below).

On the other hand, pronominal adverbs are harder to detect. They don’t have a “formula.”

A good way to identify them is to know their main functions:

  • Demonstrative: Aqui, acolá, ,
  • Relative: Onde, quando, em que, como
  • Interrogative: Onde? Quando? Como? Por quê?
  • Indefinite: Muito, pouco, que

Let’s look at some more essential information about Portuguese language adverbs before moving on to our list.

2. Placement of Portuguese Adverbs in a Sentence

Top verbs

Portuguese is a quirky language, and rules always have tons of exceptions. To simplify, adverbs modify verbs and are normally positioned after the verbs. For example:

  • Eu gosto de ir naquele restaurante atrás da rua.

“I like to go to that restaurant behind the street.”

  • Talvez eu queira ir naquele restaurante atrás da rua.

“Perhaps I’d like to go to that restaurant behind the street.”

Portuguese adverbs can be placed anywhere in a sentence, as they don’t have a typical position. But it should be noticeable if an adverb doesn’t concord with the verb.

But let’s keep things simple for now, so that you can move forward in learning Portuguese. For now, just keep in mind that you’ll generally find adverbs at the end of a sentence, and that they modify the verb. 

Now, let’s finally take a look at our Portuguese adverbs list with examples!

3. Portuguese Adverbs of Manner

It’s interesting to notice that whereas many adjectives in English can also be used as adverbs (fast, slow, just, ugly, cowardly, late, low), this doesn’t usually happen with Portuguese adverbs of manner. When it does happen, it’s usually in an informal context.

  1. Bem (“Well”)
  2. Mal (“Badly”)
  3. Assim (“Like this”)
  4. Pior (“Worse”)
  5. Melhor (“Better”)
  6.  Depressa (“Fast”)
  7. Vagarosamente (“Slow”)
  8. À toa (“For nothing”)
  9. Às pressas (“In a hurry”)
  10. À vontade (“Comfortably”)
  11. Rapidamente (“Quickly”)
  12. Calmamente (“Calmly”)
  13. Apenas (“Just”)
  14. Infelizmente (“Unfortunately”)
  15. Realmente (“Indeed”)
  16. Igualmente (“Likewise”)
  17. Enquanto isso (“Meanwhile”)

Here are a couple of example sentences using some of the Portuguese adverbs above:

  • Infelizmente, ela não conseguiu comprar novas calças de veludo.

“Unfortunately, she didn’t manage to buy new velvet trousers.”

  • Seria melhor resolver esta questão calmamente.

“It would be better to calmly solve this question.”

4. Portuguese Adverbs of Intensity

This class of Portuguese adverbs may demand more attention from the learner than others. Adverbs of intensity are likely to combine with other adverbs, since they’re often used for comparative purposes.

woman writing

Also, they present the few cases in which adverbs in European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese differ. Read more about these variations later in this article.

  1. Muito (“Many”)
  2. Pouco (“Little”)
  3. Bastante (“Enough”)
  4. Demais (“Too much”)
  5. Tão (“So”)
  6. Tanto (“So much”)
  7. Com frequência (“Often”)
  8. Ele diz que tem trabalho demais.

“He says he’s been working too much.”

  1. Homero toca violão com frequência.

“Homero often plays the guitar.”

5. Portuguese Adverbs of Denial

Our next set of Portuguese adverbs are those of denial. These are adverbs frequently used when making a negative statement or denying something. 

  1. Não (“No”)
  2. Absolutamente (“Absolutely”)
  3. Nada (“Nothing”)
  4. Tampouco (“Neither”)
  5. Nem (“Nor”)
  6. Nunca (“Never”)
  7. De modo algum (“Not at all”)
  8. De forma alguma (“Not at all”)
  9. Porém (“However”)
  10. Eu nunca voei de asa-delta, porém não descarto possibilidades futuras.

“I have never flown with a hang-glider. However, I don’t rule out future possibilities.”

  1. Não servimos mingau aqui.

“We don’t serve oatmeal here.”

6. Portuguese Adverbs of Doubt

  1. Talvez (“Maybe”)
  2. Possivelmente (“Possibly”)
  3. Provavelmente (“Probably”)
  4. Quiçá (“Perhaps”)
  5. Acaso (“In case of”)
  6. Porventura (“Perhaps”)
  7. Provavelmente o casal saia cedo da festa.

“The couple will probably leave the party early.”

  1. Acaso queiras comprar o disco, posso reservá-lo.

“In case you want to buy the music record, I can save it for you.”

7. Portuguese Adverbs of Time

  1. Agora (“Now”)
  2. Hoje (“Today”)
  3. Ontem (“Yesterday”)
  4. Cedo (“Early”)
  5. Tarde (“Late”)
  6. À tarde (“In the afternoon”)
  7. À noite (“In the night”)
  8. (“Already”)
  9. No dia seguinte (“On the next day”)
  10. Amanhã (“Tomorrow”)
  11.  De manhã (“In the morning”)
  12. Jamais (“Never”)
  13. Nunca (“Never”)
  14. Sempre (“Always”)
  15. Antes (“Before”)
  16. Dantes (“Before”)
  17. Depois (“After”)
  18. Durante (“During”)
  19. Brevemente (“Briefly”)
  20. De repente (“Suddenly”)
  21. De vez em quando (“Once in a while”)
  22. Às vezes (“Sometimes”)
  23. Imediatamente (“Immediately”)
  24. Logo (“Soon”)
  25. Primeiro (“First”)
  26. Outrora (“Once”)
  27. Cedo (“Soon”)
  28. Ainda (“Still”)
  29. Antigamente (“In the old days”)
  30. Doravante (“Hereafter”)
  31. Então (“So”)
  32. Ora (“Well”)
  33. Enfim (“Finally”)
  34. Afinal (“After all”)
  35. Constantemente (“Constantly”)
  36. Primeiramente (“Primarily”)
  37. Provisoriamente (“Provisionally”)
  38. Sucessivamente (“Successively”)
  39. Atualmente (“Currently”)
  40. Finalmente (“Finally”)
  41. Postumamente (“Posthumously”)
  42. Você tem que tomar esta decisão mais cedo ou mais tarde.

“You need to make this decision sooner or later.”

  1. Atualmente tudo anda tão cinza.

“Currently, everything feels so gray.”

More essential verbs

8. Portuguese Adverbs of Place

  1. Aqui (“Here”)
  2. Ali (“There”)
  3. Abaixo (“Below”)
  4. Acima (“Above”)
  5. (“Over there”)
  6. Acolá (“There”)
  7. Perto (“Near”)
  8. Longe (“Far”)
  9. Atrás (“Behind”)
  10. (“There”)
  11. (“Here”)
  12. Dentro (“Inside”)
  13. Fora (“Outside”)
  14. Além (“Beyond”)
  15. Adiante (“Forward”)
  16. Distante (“Distant”)
  17. Em cima (“On”)
  18. Acima (“Above”)
  19. Ao lado (“Beside that”)
  20. À direita (“To the right”)
  21. À esquerda (“To the left”)
  22. Em algum lugar (“Somewhere”)
  • Em algum lugar perto daqui há uma área para piqueniques.

“Somewhere nearby, there’s an area for picnics.”

  • Odeio quando falam para eu “pensar fora da caixa.”

“I hate it when they tell me to ‘think outside the box.’”

9. “Useless” Adverbs

There are cases in which it’s more difficult to learn about adverbs in Portuguese grammar intuitively. This is the case with adverbs used as an expressive particle.

This type of particle is an adverb that doesn’t have a real semantic value—it just emphasizes the tone of a piece of information within a phrase. This effect sometimes gets lost in translation:

1) Eu não sei!

2) Eu sei !

Sentence 1 literally means “I don’t know.”

Sentence 2, though, has no literal translation. A quick analysis might confuse a foreign speaker, because usually works as an adverb of place. Additionally, the sentence holds no explicit adverb of denial or any sign of denial whatsoever. A literal translation of the sentence would result in “I know there!”

The true translation would have to employ some analogic resource to recreate the expressive particle. Something along the lines of “I have no clue!” or “The heck I know!”

Here are other useful examples to learn about adverbs in Portuguese sentences. The expressive adverb is in bold. They’re followed by their literal and “correct” translations:

  • Vejam que coisa! 
    • : typically equivalent to “only”

Bad translation: “Look only what thing!”

Note: que coisa is also an idiomatic expression in Portuguese.

Good translation: “Well, look at that!”

  • Oh! Que saudade que eu tenho! 
    • que: sometimes equivalent to “which” or “how”

Bad translation: “Oh! How I long which I have!”

Good translation: “Oh! How I long for that/him/her!”

10. The Case of Inho in Portuguese Adverbs

Another tip that will help you avoid a lot of suffering is to learn how to use the -inho suffix.

This diminutive form is largely used in Portuguese-speaking countries in informal contexts, and its meaning may vary.

man writing in a journal

When used with adjectives, the meaning of this diminutive will be easier to figure out, even if it may sound absurd—as in the case of azulzinho (“little blue”).

In the case of adverbs, the oddness of inho can escalate and achieve bizarre levels of confusion. Consider the following sentence:

  • Ela saiu agorinha.

Literally, “She went out little now.”

What you need to know is that when added to adverbs, inho will work as a superlative in the phrase. So, Ela saiu agorinha corresponds roughly to “She went out right now.” Here’s another opportunity to learn about adverbs in Portuguese sentences—this time, with the use of inho

  • É bom andar devagarinho.

“To walk really slow is a good thing.” or “It is a good thing to take it easy.”

  • Ele acordava cedinho e só voltava à noitinha.

“He’d wake up very early and would only come back late in the night.”

There’s also a classic use of inho in European Portuguese adverbs:

  • Obrigadinho!

“Thank you very much!”

11. Comparisons and Superlatives

Now that we’ve gone through the inho effect, let’s move on.

Adverbs can “change” adjectives sometimes. This is the case with absolute analytic superlatives and relative superlatives.

Absolute analytic superlatives are formed by placing adverbs of intensity (muito, bastante, pouco) before the adjective to intensify its idea.

Example:

“The food is very hot.”

The relative superlative combines a defined noun, an adverb, and an adjective to highlight a quality of someone or something at its highest level. 

For instance:

  • Este carro é o mais feio que eu já vi

“This car is the ugliest I’ve ever seen.”

In the latter type of superlative, there’s a noticeable difference between the adverbs in European Portuguese and the Brazilian Portuguese adverbs. The forms “the biggest” and “the smallest” follow the rule for this superlative in Portugal, while they’re irregular in Brazil.

  • Portugal: O mais grande 
  • Brazil: O maior
  • Portugal: O mais pequeno 
  • Brazil: O menor

12. Conclusion

This collection of words and tips of various types will hopefully be useful to you while you learn about adverbs in Portuguese. But this is just a glimpse of a huge amount of material available online.

PortuguesePod101 offers many resources for students to learn about adverbs in Portuguese sentences, and much more, in a simple and fun way! Remember to continue practicing and studying all the material you can; it will pay off.

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about using Portuguese adverbs now. Are there any adverbs in Portuguese you still want to know? We look forward to hearing from you!

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The Portuguese Conjugation Guide for Beginners

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Learning about verbs is a crucial step when studying another language. They open up so many possibilities!

With verbs, you can tell stories, understand what’s on the news today, give and follow orders, and imagine the future. Pretty much every interaction needs verbs. But just knowing the verbs by themselves doesn’t do the job. We need to modify them a bit so they can express things like time, the number of people performing an action, and mood. 

That means it’s time to explore the ins and outs of Portuguese conjugation. 

The all-important topic of conjugation is like the spice that brings out the flavors of the Portuguese language. By learning it, you’ll be able to talk about things that have happened, things that could happen, things that will definitely happen, things that are happening…you get the idea. 

group of friends chatting over drinks

Conjugation allows you to tell amazing stories!

Portuguese verb conjugation is a vast world of rules and exceptions. Take it slow and, most importantly, practice a lot. Read, listen to native speakers in conversations, and talk whenever possible. That’s how you’ll really come to understand Portuguese conjugation. 

In this article, we’ll examine how verbs are modified depending on person, number, mood, tense, and voice. It’s a long list, but there are some conjugations that are much more widely used than others, so don’t worry!

Have you noticed that we just mentioned verbs so far? Don’t let this fool you: adjectives and adverbs also have to be modified depending on the word they relate to. This is called agreement. This happens when adjectives and adverbs are changed in order to agree in number (singular or plural) and gender (feminine or masculine). We won’t dive too deep into the nitty-gritty of that, but this article will cover a few examples.

Ready to get familiar with some new rules? Let’s make this ride as enjoyable as possible, with some handy Portuguese conjugation tables for you to study. By the end of this article, you’ll better understand how our rebel irregular verbs and friendly regular verbs behave. In addition, you’ll get plenty of practice and exposure with examples and a Portuguese conjugation quiz to test yourself.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. The Three Verb Ending Groups
  2. What Affects Conjugation
  3. Conjugation Charts
  4. Putting Conjugation to the Test
  5. Continue Learning More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

1. The Three Verb Ending Groups

Top verbs

If you read our article on the 100 most common Portuguese verbs, you’re already familiar with the verb endings. As a refresher, there are three main Portuguese verb groups:

  • Verbs ending in -AR
  • Verbs ending in -ER
  • Verbs ending in -IR

Knowing these verb endings and how they conjugate is useful, because pretty much all regular verbs within each group behave in the same way. The stem of the verb remains the same, and the endings all do their thing—following the same pattern! 

This means you can learn by heart one verb from each group, and that will serve as a guide on how to conjugate every other regular verb in Portuguese.

2. What Affects Conjugation

More essential verbs

As we said before, verbs can change depending on several factors, like person, number, mood, tense, and voice. In order to keep everything under control, let’s break it down. Shall we?

1 – Person and Number

In Portuguese conjugation, verbs change for each person in the sentence. We can divide the persons into two groups based on the number, which is either singular or plural. 

The table below shows all of the existing persons in Portuguese.

1st person singularEu“I”
2nd person singularTu“You”
3rd person singularVocê / Ele / Ela“You” / “He” / “She”
1st person pluralNós“We”
2nd person pluralVós“You”
3rd person pluralVocês / Eles / Elas“You” (plural) / “They” (m.) / “They” (f.)

Although there are six persons to learn, in Brazilian Portuguese you only need to focus on four: 

  • Eu (“I”)
  • Você / Ele / Ela (“You” and “He/She,” which conjugate in the same way)
  • Nós (“We”)
  • Vocês / Eles / Elas (“You” in the plural, “they” masculine, “they” feminine)

You might have noticed that você and vocês are both second person pronouns, as they translate to “you” (singular and plural, respectively). However, they use the third person conjugation. For this reason, in this article, você is grouped with ele/ela. Similarly, vocês is grouped with eles/elas.

Regional Differences
Tu is also used in some parts of Brazil. In some places, it’s used with the “correct” conjugation, while in others, tu is conjugated as a third person singular pronoun (as você). For this reason, we suggest that you learn how to recognize it, but don’t worry too much about using it. Você will be understood regardless of the region of Brazil you’re in.
In Portugal, however, tu is widely used in informal situations, while você is formal but very rarely used.

2 – Mood

Another thing you need to know: Portuguese verbs are moody. What we mean is that verbs are divided into moods (also called modes). According to Portuguese verb conjugation rules, the verbs can be conjugated in each of the different modes, and hence, convey a different mood. The existing modes are:

  • The Indicative mode, which indicates a fact. 

Example: Eu comi. (“I ate.”) 

  • The Subjunctive mode, which expresses a possible action, a wish, or something that we’re not sure about. It always needs an adverb, another verb, or other particles that help make sense of it. 

Example: Talvez eu coma. (“Maybe I will eat.”)

Example: Fale com ele. (“[You] talk to him.”) 

  • The Conditional mode, which indicates what one could, would, or should do. Some grammar books classify the conditional as part of the indicative mode. 

Example: Eu falaria com ele. (“I would talk to him.”)

3 – Tenses

Tenses refer to the moment in time when the action conveyed by the verbs occur. Each of the modes we saw above has different tenses. 

In Portuguese, some tenses are simple and some are compound. Compound tenses use another verb, called an auxiliary, alongside the main verb. 

There are a lot of tenses to learn—and they often are nightmare topics for Brazilian children in school. But there is some good news! In day-to-day life, you’ll probably stick to just a handful of them. Another piece of good news is that there’s often more than one way to say what you want. That means you can use the tenses that you’re more comfortable with. 

For example, to talk about the future in the indicative mode, you can use the simple future or the compound future. The compound is much more common and, in our opinion, easier to learn. 

  • Simple future: Comeremos cedo hoje. (“We will eat early today.”)
  • Compound future: Nós vamos comer cedo hoje. (“We are going to eat early today.”)

The verb ir is the auxiliary verb in the compound future tense. It’s a verb that you will inevitably learn to conjugate, since it’s so commonly used. Then, by using the compound future form, you don’t have to learn the individual future conjugation for each action verb. Instead, pair the conjugated auxiliary verb with the infinitive form of the main verb. 

The same applies to the pluperfect tense. The compound pluperfect is formed with the auxiliary verb ter (“to have”), and you can use it instead of the simple pluperfect. The compound pluperfect is much more common than the simple form, which is extremely rare in Brazilian Portuguese.

  • Simple pluperfect: Ela vendera o carro. (“She had sold the car.”)
  • Compound pluperfect: Ela tinha vendido o carro. (“She had sold the car.”)

Here are all the basic tenses and moods:

IndicativePresente (“Simple Present”)
Pretérito Perfeito (“Simple Past”)
Pretérito Imperfeito (“Past Imperfect”)
Pretérito Mais-que-perfeito (“Past Pluperfect”)
Futuro do Presente (“Simple Future”)
Conditional
SubjunctivePresente (“Present Subjunctive”)
Pretérito Imperfeito (“Imperfect Subjunctive”)
Futuro (“Future Subjunctive”)
Imperative

In addition to the tenses above, we have some other verb forms that you should be familiar with:

  • The infinitive is the most basic form of a verb, without any conjugation. You might see it coupled with auxiliary verbs. 

Example: Eu vou dançar muito! (“I will dance a lot!”)

  • The past participle is a verb form that can be used with auxiliary verbs to form compound past tenses.

Example: ver → visto (“to see” → “seen”)

Você tem visto seu irmão? (“Have you seen your brother?”)

  • The gerund form, which is very common in Brazil, is the equivalent of the “-ing” ending in English.

Example: estudar → estudando (“to study” → “studying”)

Elas estão estudando inglês. (“They are studying English.”) [f.]

4 – Voices

Finally, conjugation in Portuguese also depends on the two voices that exist in Portuguese: active and passive. 

Use the active voice conjugation when the subject performs the action.

  • Ana serviu o jantar. (“Ana served dinner.”)

Use the passive voice conjugation when the action happens to the subject. In this case, we use the past participle.

  • O jantar foi servido pela Ana. (“Dinner was served by Ana.”)
woman giving a toast

A noiva fez um brinde. (“The bride made a toast.”)

3. Conjugation Charts

Take a deep breath, the theoretical part is behind us. Now, let’s make everything a bit more clear by looking at the actual conjugation and real-life examples. 

In this section, we’ll see the Portuguese verb conjugation for all of the simple tenses of the indicative and subjunctive, as well as for the imperative and conditional forms. By becoming familiar with the simple conjugations now, you’ll be able to conjugate the compound forms later on.

Also, remember what we said earlier: not all tenses and persons are as common in Brazilian Portuguese. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Don’t worry too much about the conjugations for tu and vós.
  • Same applies to the pluperfect tense. 
  • The future tense can also be overlooked for now, if you prefer using the compound future tense.

Be aware that they exist, but you probably won’t need them in daily interactions!

To ease our way into the examples, we’ll begin with the regular verbs. Remember the main idea behind conjugating regular verbs: the stem remains the same, and the ending will be modified. Then, use the following examples to spot the repeating patterns.

1- AR verbs

The first verbal group includes verbs such as:

  • Cantar (“To sing”)
  • Falar (“To talk,” “To say”)
  • Andar (“To walk”)
  • Deitar (“To lay”)
  • Amar (“To love”)
  • Gostar (“To like”)

Falar (“To talk”)

EuTuVocê / Ele / ElaNósVósVocês / Eles / Elas
IndicativePresentfalofalasfalafalamosfalaisfalam
Simple Pastfaleifalastefaloufalamosfalastesfalaram
Imperfectfalavafalavasfalavafalávamosaláveisfalavam
Pluperfectfalarafalarasfalarafaláramosfaláreisfalaram
Futurefalareifalarásfalaráfalaremosfalareisfalarão
Conditionalfalariafalariasfalariafalaríamosfalaríeisfalariam
SubjunctivePresentfalefalesfalefalemosfaleisfalem
Imperfectfalassefalassesfalassefalássemosfalásseisfalassem
Futurefalarfalaresfalarfalarmosfalardesfalarem
Imperativefalafalefalemosfalaifalem
Past participlefalado
Gerundfalando

Examples:

  • Nós cantamos em uma banda de MPB. 

“We sing in a Popular Brazilian Music band.”

  • Os professores falaram que não podemos mudar o dia da aula. 

“The teachers said we couldn’t change the class day.”

  • Espero que minha namorada ame este presente. 

“I hope my girlfriend loves this gift.”

  • Seus primos acordariam muito tarde sem o despertador. 

“Your cousins would wake up very late without the alarm clock.”

  • Se eu andasse até o trabalho todos os dias, estaria em forma. 

“If I walked to work every day, I’d be in shape.”

  • As novas vizinhas estão gostando muito do bairro. 

“The new neighbors are liking the neighborhood a lot.”

Notice the way the adjective novo (“new”) has been modified in the last example. In order to agree with the noun vizinhas, which is plural and feminine, the adjective has to be plural and feminine as well. 
This vocabulary list is a great resource if you want to refresh your memory and practice how to pronounce the most common Portuguese adjectives.

2- ER verbs

The second Portuguese verbal group includes verbs like:

  • Beber (“To drink”)
  • Comer (“To eat”)
  • Viver (“To live”)
  • Correr (“To run”)
  • Escrever (“To write”)
  • Aprender (“To learn”)

Comer (“To eat”)

Examples:

  • Eu comeria todo este bolo delicioso, mas tenho que dividir. 

“I would eat all of this delicious cake, but I have to share it.”

  • Se eles bebessem mais água, não teríam este problema. 

“If they drank more water, they wouldn’t have this problem.” 

[In this case, “they” is in the masculine form.]

  • Corra para não perder o ônibus! 

“Run so you don’t miss the bus!”

  • Nós vamos escrever um livro juntos. / Nós escreveremos um livro juntos. 

“We are going to write a book together.”

  • Você aprendia inglês na escola? 

“Did you use to learn English in school?”

  • Quando ela viver sozinha, vai ver como é difícil! 

“When she lives by herself, she will see how hard it is!”

3- IR verbs

A few verbs in the third and final Portuguese verbal group are:

  • Partir (“To leave,” “To break”)
  • Abrir (“To open”)
  • Dormir (“To sleep”)
  • Assistir (“To watch”)
  • Decidir (“To decide”)
  • Confundir (“To confuse”)

Abrir (“To open”)

The past participle for this verb is irregular. If we take a couple of other examples from the third group, we can see how it differs:
Dormir → dormido (“Sleep” → “slept”)Partir → partido (“Break” → “broken”)Decidir → decidido (“Decide” → “decided”)

Here are some examples of sentences using the third group verbs:

  • Abram os presente pequenos primeiro! 

“Open the small gifts first!”

  • O bebê dormia muito pouco. 

“The baby slept too little.”

  • Vamos assistir esta série hoje. / Assistiremos esta série hoje. 

“We are going to watch this TV show today.”

  • Quando eles decidirem, vão nos ligar. 

“When they decide, they will call us.”

[masculine]

  • Se eu confundisse os nomes, perdia pontos no jogo. 

“If I confused the names, I lost points in the game.”

two old ladies celebrating a birthday together

Minhas avós comemoraram juntas. (“My grandmothers celebrated together.”)

4 – The Most Important Irregular Verbs

As much as we love the regular verbs, we have to devote some time to learning the irregular ones. They are everywhere in Portuguese—and they’re also very useful! 

Here are Portuguese conjugation charts for the four most important irregular verbs, which also act as auxiliary verbs: ser, estar, ir, and ter.

Ser (“To be,” permanent)

Ser is an auxiliary verb when a sentence is in the passive voice, as you can see in the last example.

Examples:

  • Eu serei a pessoa mais velha na festa. / Eu vou ser a pessoa mais velha na festa. 

“I will be the oldest person at the party.”

  • Vocês são engraçados! 

“You are funny!”

  • Sua mãe sempre foi a melhor professora. 

“Your mom was always the best teacher.”

  • Já sabe, se for no Brasil, me avisa. 

“You know already, if you go to Brazil, tell me.”

  • Mesmo que eles fossem mais rápidos, não chegariam a tempo. 

“Even if they were faster, they wouldn’t arrive in time.”

[“they” is masculine]

  • O ator foi reconhecido no supermercado. 

“The actor was recognized in the supermarket.”

Estar (“To be,” impermanent)

Estar is an auxiliary verb in all of the continuous tenses. In other words, when you want to say you “were doing” or “are doing” something, use estar as the auxiliary verb alongside the main verb.

Examples:

  • O policial estava dirigindo muito devagar

“The police officer was driving too slow.”

  • Meus pais estiveram aqui ontem. 

“My parents were here yesterday.”

  • Eu estaria na praia, se pudesse. 

“I would be at the beach, if I could.”

  • Espero que elas estejam em casa. 

“I hope they are home.”

[feminine]

  • Quando o médico estiver pronto, vai chamar vocês. 

“When the doctor is ready, he will call you all.”

Ir (“To go”)

As we mentioned before, ir is an auxiliary verb in the future tense, in the widely used compound future tense.

Examples:

  • Os convidados vão chegar mais cedo. 

“The guests will arrive earlier.”

  • Eu já vou! 

“I’m going!”

  • Talvez ele vá na viagem. 

“Maybe he will go on the trip.”

  • Elas foram para o Rio de Janeiro de férias? 

“They went to Rio de Janeiro for their vacation?”

[“they” is feminine]

  • Vamos logo, antes que chova! 

“Let’s go, before it rains!”

  • É verdade que ele ia pedir demissão? 

“Is it true that he was going to resign?”

Ter (“To have”)

Ter is used to form the perfect tenses. Take a look at the following sentences, as the last ones show some examples of ter as an auxiliary verb.

Examples:

  • Nós tivemos uma boa chance de ganhar. 

“We had a good chance of winning.”

  • Quando ela tiver uma bicicleta, vai se exercitar. 

“When she has a bike, she will exercise.”

  • Tenha paciência, criança! 

“Have patience, child!”

  • Se tivesse sobremesa, eles teriam comido mais. 

“If there was dessert, they would have eaten more.”

[“they” is masculine]

  • Eu tenho tido sorte nas minhas viagens. 

“I have had luck in my travels.”

  • Você tem dormido cedo? 

“Have you been sleeping early?”

a kitten mewling loudly

Nós temos um gatinho fofo. (“We have a cute kitten.”)

Good job! Now you’re familiar with the conjugation for regular verbs, as well as the most important irregular Portuguese verbs. You can put yourself to the test and try to conjugate the verbs in this vocabulary list. As a bonus, you’ll be able to practice their pronunciation!

4. Putting Conjugation to the Test

To keep you on your toes, it’s time to practice with this quick Portuguese verb conjugation quiz. 

Complete the sentence by filling in the gap with the correct conjugation of the verb (shown between parentheses). Afterwards, scroll down for the correct answers and an explanation. Try to fill it in before checking the answers!

  1. Minha filha (adorar) _____________ conhecer vocês.

(“My daughter would love to meet you.”) 

  1. Todos os dias, nós (beber) ______________ um copo de suco de laranja.

(“Everyday, we drink a glass of orange juice.”)

  1. Eles (sair) ______________ de casa quando o telefone tocou.

(“They were leaving the house when the telephone rang.”

[where “they” is masculine]

  1. A casa deve estar limpa quando sua avó (chegar) _____________.

(“The house must be clean when your grandmother arrives.”)

  1. Ele (ser) _____________ a estrela do show.

(“He was the star of the show.”)

Did you write your answers down? Let’s see what the correct conjugations are and why.

1. Minha filha adoraria conhecer vocês. (“My daughter would love to meet you.”) 

Since we’re talking about something that the daughter would love, it’s a possibility. Therefore, we use the conditional
Adorar is a regular verb of the -AR group, so we have to conjugate it in the same way as the verb falar (“to talk”). Another thing to note is that “my daughter” is a third person singular subject. You can see the entire conjugation for the verb adorar, but since it’s a regular verb, you can just substitute the stem of the verb:

Falariaadoraria

2. Todos os dias, nós bebemos um copo de suco de laranja. (“Everyday, we drink a glass of orange juice.”)

In this case, the action happens everyday. Hence, the verb should be in the present tense of the indicative. 

Beber is a regular verb of the second conjugation, and the person in the sentence is nós, the first person of the plural. Once again, you can use the same pattern from the conjugation of the verb comer (“to eat”), and just change the stem.

Comemos bebemos

3. Eles saíam de casa quando o telefone tocou. / Eles estavam saindo de casa quando o telefone tocou. (“They were leaving the house when the telephone rang.”) [masculine]

This is an interesting sentence because there are two ways you could say it. The fact is, the action of leaving the house was happening in the past when it was interrupted. 

In the first answer, we used the past imperfect tense, and the verb is conjugated in the third person plural. Sair is an irregular verb, but its conjugation is fairly similar to that of the -IR group. For effects of comparison, see how the regular verb abrir (“to open”) is conjugated for the same tense and person: 

Abriam saíam 

The second answer uses the past continuous tense, with the auxiliary verb estar (“to be”) and the gerund form of the main verb (sair). It conveys the idea that something was happening when another action occurred. Again, you can compare the gerund form below.

Abrindosaindo

You can listen to this lesson on PortuguesePod101.com for more examples on how to use the past imperfect tense.

4. A casa deve estar limpa quando sua avó chegar. (“The house must be clean when your grandmother arrives.”)

The verb chegar has to be conjugated in the future of the subjunctive, since it implies an action that will happen, but we’re not quite sure when. The presence of the adverb quando (“when”) serves as an indication that the subjunctive mood is used. 

Then, conjugate the verb in the third person singular, exactly as we did with the verb falar.

Falarchegar

5. Ele foi a estrela do show. / Ele era a estrela do show. (“He was the star of the show.”)

This is a tricky one! Depending on the context, the answer changes a bit.

If the show was a one-time event that is already over, we use the simple past tense. In this case, the verb refers to an action that already happened and is done with. 

  • Ele foi a estrela do show.  

“He was the star of the show.”

Now, if the action happened over an indefinite period of time (e.g. during this person’s whole adulthood), we use the imperfect past tense. Let’s say, for example, that the show was running for years, and the subject of the sentence was continuously the star of the show. In this case: 

  • Ele era a estrela do show. 

“He was the star of the show.”

If you want to dive a little bit deeper into the differences between foi and era, there’s a very interesting discussion here.

someone writing in a journal

Vamos continuar a praticar! (“Let’s continue to practice!”)

5. Continue Learning More Portuguese with PortuguesePod101

Hopefully this guide provided the information you need to understand Portuguese conjugation and progress even further in your language-learning journey. Don’t forget to come back to this article, or the article about the 100 most common Portuguese verbs, whenever you need to practice. 

Ready to go out into the world and put all you learned into practice? Did the examples help you grasp the different ways to use the verbs? If we missed any aspect of Portuguese verb conjugation, tell us in the comments. 

Now, don’t stop learning! 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.
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