If you’re like me and you hear the phrase Portuguese verb conjugation, you might start running for the hills. Relax, take a deep breath and stay calm.
Even though verb conjugation might seem difficult, this post will break down Portuguese verb conjugation into bite-sized chunks so you can learn at your own pace and not feel overwhelmed.
And the good news is that, once you’ve learned Portuguese verb conjugation, you can learn any other Romance language (Spanish, French or Italian) as they all follow the same conjugation logic.
So let’s get started!
By the way, if you're just getting started in Portuguese and want to get to conversational level fast – minus the heavy grammar – I have an awesome story-based beginner course launching soon! Click here to find out about Portuguese Uncovered as soon as it's released.
What Is Portuguese Verb Conjugation?
First things first: what is verb conjugation?
Verb conjugation is actually a very handy language tool that aligns the person who is doing the action (the pronoun- I, you, he, she, it, they, we) with the action word (the verb- to do, to be, to eat, to sleep, etc.).
- I do
- You do
- He/she/it does
- They do
- You plural do
- We do
So why do we need to learn verb conjugation? Because verb conjugation matches the pronoun in the sentence with the verb. And when these two categories of words work together, our sentences have better clarity and meaning.
For example, if someone said in English:
- She are going to school.
It sounds confusing right? Because the verb wasn’t conjugated correctly to match the pronoun.
So, when, learning Portuguese, we want people to be able to understand us, whether we’re speaking or writing. That's why learning correct verb conjugation will help us communicate better and more clearly.
In order to conjugate the verbs properly, you need to be familiar with both the pronouns and the verbs. So here are the pronouns that are most widely used in Brazilian Portuguese.
Also, it’s important to note that in some parts of Brazil, particularly in the south, they use tu instead of voce and vos instead of voces. It actually comes from European Portuguese.
But don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it quickly enough after hearing it a few times. Likewise, if you use você and vocês, they will understand you, but you’ll give away that you’re not from the region!
So, now that you know all the pronouns, you’re ready to conjugate!
Regular Portuguese Verbs: The Three Conjugations
So regular Portuguese verbs have three basic verb endings:
- Limpar (clean)
- Andar (walk)
- Comprar (buy)
- Comer (eat)
- Beber (drink)
- Escrever (write)
- Sorrir (smile)
- Dirigir (drive)
- Existir (exist)
When conjugated, these verb endings will change depending on two factors:
First, the pronoun, the person who is doing the action: I, you, he/she/it, they, you plural and we.
Second, the verb tense- whether the action takes place in the past, present, future (or if it is an imperfect, conditional or past/present participle verb).
Portuguese Verb Tenses
Just like we have different verb tenses in English, Brazilian Portuguese also has different verb tenses. In case you need a quick refresher on these tenses, here’s how they break down in English.
|To walk||Walk(s)||Walked||Will walk||Used to walk/Was walking||Would speak||Am speaking/Have spoken|
For this post, we’ll just focus on the Present, Past and Future tenses.
Regular Portuguese Verbs – Present Tense
Firstly, let’s go over the present tense of some regular Portuguese verbs:
So you take the base of the verb and then add the correct conjugation ending for each pronoun:
- Eu and + o = ando
- Você and + a = anda
- Ele/ela and + a = anda
- Eles/elas and + am = andam
- Vocês and + am = andam
- Nós anda + mos = andamos
So far, so good?
Next, let’s try a different verb ending:
- Eu com + o = como
- Você com + e = come
- Ele/ela com + e = come
- Eles/Elas com + em = comem
- Vocês com + em = comem
- Nós com + emos = comemos
- Eu sorri + o = sorrio
- Você sorri
- Ele/ela sorri
- Eles/elas sorri + em = sorriem
- Vocês sorri + em = sorriem
- Nós sorri + mos = sorrimos
Doesn’t seem so hard, right?
Regular Portuguese Verbs – Past Tense
Now, let’s go to the past tense. In English, we’re kind of spoiled when it comes to verb tenses. For the past tense, all you have to do is add an “ed” to the end of regular verbs and you’re done.
But in Portuguese, it’s a little bit more involved. So rather than applying a universal “ed” to the end of the verb, you need to conjugate the past tense differently for each pronoun. Additionally, the verb will be conjugated slightly differently depending on the verb ending (ar, er, ir), so pay close attention.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Eu fal + ei = falei
- Você fal + ou = falou
- Ele/ela fal + ou = falou
- Eles/elas fal + aram = falaram
- Vocês fal + aram = falaram
- Nós fal + amos = falamos
- Eu beb + i = bebi
- Você beb + eu = bebeu
- Ele/ela beb + eu = bebeu
- Eles/elas beb + erem = beberem
- Vocês beb + erem = beberem
- Nós beb + emos = bebemos
- Eu assist + i = assisti
- Você assist + iu = assitiu
- Ele/ela assist + iu = assistiu
- Eles/elas assist + iram = assistiram
- Vocês assist + iram = assistiram
- Nós assist + imos = assistimos
As you can see, the ending of the conjugated verb will change according to both the pronoun and the base verb ending (ar, er or ir). Making sense so far?
Regular Portuguese Verbs – Future Tense
As I mentioned before, we English speakers really have it easy when it comes to verb conjugation. The future tense is just adding a simple “will” in front of the word and it even works for those pesky irregular English verbs.
In Portuguese, however, you’ll have to dedicate some time to learning the correct future tenses. One break you get in the future tense, however, is that no matter the base verb ending (ar, er or ir) the verbs are conjugated the same way, with the only difference being between the pronouns.
So let’s conjugate some future tenses!
- Eu ganhar + ei = ganharei
- Você ganhar + á = ganhará
- Ele/ela ganhar + á = ganhará
- Eles/elas ganhar + ão = ganharão
- Vocês ganhar + ão = ganharão
- Nós ganhar + emos = ganharemos
- Eu correr + ei = correrei
- Você correr + á = correrá
- Ele/ela correr + á = correrá
- Eles/elas correr + ão = correrão
- Vocês correr + ão = correrão
- Nós correr + emos = correremos
- Eu insistir + ei = insistirei
- Você insistir + á = insistirá
- Ele/ela insistir + á = insistirá
- Eles/elas insistir + ão = insistirão
- Vocês insistir + ão = insistirão
- Nós insistir + emos = insistiremos
And there’s good news for those of you who like shortcuts. Because there's actually a great future tense shortcut in Portuguese.
In truth, in Portuguese, you can add the conjugated form of the word “will” in front of a verb to make it into the future tense, just like in English. And it’s actually a very common and acceptable way to express the future tense. The only exception would be if you were writing a formal letter or academic paper. Then you would need the future conjugated form.
For example, here's how this works using the verbs from above:
- Eles vão ganhar. (They will win)
- Eu vou correr. (I will run)
- Nos vamos insistir. (We will insist)
Irregular Verbs In Portuguese
Just like in English, Portuguese also has its fair share of irregular verbs. What makes them irregular is that they don’t follow the conjugation rules like the regular verbs I outlined above. And just as in English, some of the most used verbs in Portuguese are irregular.
For example, the verbs ser and estar (to be) are both irregular verbs.
The verb ser
|Eu sou||Eu fui||Eu serei|
|Você e||Você foi||Você será|
|Ele/ela e||Ele/ela foi||Ele/ela será|
|Eles/elas são||Eles/elas foram||Eles/elas serão|
|Vocês são||Vocês foram||Vocês serão|
|Nós somos||Nós fomos||Nós seremos|
The verb estar
|Eu estou||Eu era||Eu estarei|
|Você esta||Você era||Você estará|
|Ele/ela esta||Ele/ela era||Ele/ela estará|
|Eles/elas estão||Eles/elas eram||Eles/elas estarão|
|Vocês estão||Vocês eram||Vocês estarão|
|Nós estamos||Nós éramos||Nós estaremos|
Portuguese Verb Conjugation Tips
Though it may seem difficult to master verb conjugations in Portuguese, the more you expose yourself to the Portuguese language, the more intuitive the conjugations become. And the more fluent you become.
And there are lots of ways to practice conjugations.
- Start with a verb group (ar, er or ir) and a tense (present, past or future) and study those conjugations first. For example, focus just on the -ar ending verbs and the present tense. The, once you’ve mastered that, move onto the next verb group, and so on.
- Look at a magazine, book or printed out text written in Portuguese, for example a short story in Portuguese. Go through it and identify all the verbs you can. And then use a highlighter or pen to mark the verbs. Use a different colored highlighter or pen for present, past or future tenses.
- Make flashcards with the verb tenses, including irregular verbs.
- Get a Portuguese tutor or take a language course to help you master the language.
- Immerse yourself in Portuguese by watching Portuguese movies on Netflix or listening to podcasts in Portuguese.
Not So Scary After All
Verb conjugation is an important steppingstone on the way to language fluency. As you practice the Portuguese verb conjugations, you’ll become more comfortable with your communication.
That means you’ll be able to write better and have more complex conversations. So remember to take your time as you learn and go at your own pace. Keep practicing and you’ll get there in your own time.