Tenses Beyond The Present Indicative In Brazilian Portuguese

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Tenses Beyond The Present Indicative In Brazilian Portuguese

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Everything that I have discussed so far when it comes to verb conjugation has dealt with either the infinitive form of a verb or its form in the present indicative tense.

In this article we are going to move beyond these conjugations to discuss other tenses.

I want you to consider that there are thousands of verbs that exist in Portuguese and also consider that, combined, there are many tenses and moods as well, and each requires a different conjugation for every verb that exists.

If you can imagine for a moment what that really means as far as how much there is to memorize, it might make your head hurt.
The good news is that, in real life, these tenses, moods, and conjugations are more or less not of as of dire importance as you might at first think.

For example, if you were to simply use the infinitive form of any verb, and say something like, “eu estar feliz,” instead of the proper conjugation, “eu estou feliz,” there is not a Brazilian speaker alive who would not understand what you meant.

It would be like you saying in English, “I are happy.”
Though, you and I both know this is incorrect, we both still understand it to mean, “I am happy.”

The reason I am telling you this is because it is a great trick when you are in a pinch. If you cannot remember the conjugation for any verb, just resolve to using the infinitive form with as much context as you can.
I would recommend that you try to limit the use of this strategy whenever possible, but it is better to use the incorrect conjugation of a word than to use the wrong word altogether.

Given that there are so many different tenses and conjugations in Portuguese, the best way I can think to present this information to you is to simply show you the conjugated form of each tense that you are likely to use.

I will go ahead and use some regular verbs that you have already seen in my previous posts, as your familiarity with them should lend to a more natural understanding of the conjugations in other tenses.

Let’s have a look:

Conjugações Do Verbo, Dançar
  Tenses In The Indicative Mood:
ele, ela, vocêDança
eles, elas, vocêsDançam
  Imperfect Past:
ele, ela, vocêDançava
eles, elas, vocêsDançavam
  Past Preterit:
ele, ela, vocêDançou
eles, elas, vocêsDançaram

ele, ela, vocêDançara
eles, elas, vocêsDançaram
ele, ela, vocêDançará
eles, elas, vocêsDançarão
ele, ela, vocêDançaria
eles, elas, vocêsDançariam
  Tenses In The Subjunctive Mood:
que euDance
que eleDance
que nósDancemos
que elesDancem
se euDançasse
se eleDançasse
se nósDançássemos
se elesDançassem
quando euDançar
quando eleDançar
quando nósDançarmos
quando elesDançarem
  Tenses In The Imperative Mood:
(você) nãoDance
(nós) nãoDancemos
(vocês) nãoDancem
  Personal infinitive:
ele, ela, vocêDançar
eles, elas, vocêsDançarem
    Conjugações Do Verbo, Comer
  Tenses In The Indicative Mood:
ele, ela, vocêCome
eles, elas, vocêsComem
  Imperfect Past:
ele, ela, vocêComia
eles, elas, vocêsComiam
  Past Preterit:
ele, ela, vocêComeu
eles, elas, vocêsComeram
ele, ela, vocêComera
eles, elas, vocêsComeram
ele, ela, vocêComerá
eles, elas, vocêsComerão
ele, ela, vocêComeria
eles, elas, vocêsComeriam
  Tenses In The Subjunctive Mood:
que euComa
que eleComa
que nósComamos
que elesComam
se euComesse
se eleComesse
se nósComêssemos
se elesComessem
quando euComer
quando eleComer
quando nósComermos
quando elesComerem
  Tenses In The Imperative Mood:
(você) nãoComa
(nós) nãoComamos
(vocês) nãoComam
  Personal infinitive:
ele, ela, vocêComer
eles, elas, vocêsComerem
    Conjugações Do Verbo, Abrir
  Tenses In The Indicative Mood:
ele, ela, vocêAbre
eles, elas, vocêsAbrem
  Imperfect Past:
ele, ela, vocêAbria
eles, elas, vocêsAbriam
  Past Preterit:
ele, ela, vocêAbriu
eles, elas, vocêsAbriram
ele, ela, vocêAbrira
eles, elas, vocêsAbriram
ele, ela, vocêAbrirá
eles, elas, vocêsAbrirão
ele, ela, vocêAbriria
eles, elas, vocêsAbririam
  Tenses In The Subjunctive Mood:
que euAbra
que eleAbra
que nósAbramos
que elesAbram
se euAbrisse
se eleAbrisse
se nósAbríssemos
se elesAbrissem
quando euAbrir
quando eleAbrir
quando nósAbrirmos
quando elesAbrirem
  Tenses In The Imperative Mood:
(você) nãoAbra
(nós) nãoAbramos
(vocês) nãoAbram
  Personal infinitive:
ele, ela, vocêAbrir
eles, elas, vocêsAbrirem

After looking at all these conjugations, I expect your brain is probably feeling the weight of just how much there really is to learn here.
At least, that is certainly how I felt when I first came up against this.

But what would be the point of making this site if I were to simply leave you alone feeling that way?

No, no. I intend to teach you the strategies I have used in order to work through these conjugations in a practical way.

The very first thing I am going to do here is to tell you that you really only need to focus on three of these tenses right now.
All the others will come with time and experience.

The three that we are going to focus on are the past preterit, the future tense, and using the present progressive gerund.

You’ll notice I used the three verbs, “dançar, comer and abrir” to demonstrate the conjugations.
That is because these are all regular verbs.

Unfortunately, as you may have guessed, there is no clear pattern for conjugating irregular verbs in most of these other tenses and thus they will have to be something that you devote time and energy to learning and memorizing as you advance your studies beyond these lessons.

For the time being it is a bit beyond the scope of what I am teaching here.

Let’s discuss briefly the way in which these three tenses work and why they are useful to you.

We will start by looking at the past preterit tense.

For the verb, “dançar,” you saw it conjugated it as such:

ele, ela, vocêdançou
eles, elas, vocêsdançaram

In English, this would be the equivalent of saying, “danced.

I will explain with some examples:

EudanceiI danced
ele, ela, vocêdançouHe, she, you, it danced
nósdançámosWe danced
eles, elas, vocêsdançaramThey, you all, those danced

These are the suffixes you will see for regular, “ar,” verbs in the past preterit tense.

Now let’s look at an “er” verb.

In the past preterit, the verb, eat (comer,) becomes, “ate:”

EucomiI ate
ele, ela, vocêcomeuHe, she, you, it ate
nóscomemosWe ate
eles, elas, vocêscomeramThey, you all, those ate

These are the suffixes you will see for regular “er” verbs in the past preterit tense.

And, for “ir” verbs, they are as such:

EuAbriI opened
ele, ela, vocêAbriuHe, she, you, it opened
nósAbrimosWe opened
eles, elas, vocêsAbriramThey, you all, those opened

These are the suffixes you will see for regular “ir” verbs in the past preterit tense.

Obviously, knowledge of this tense will be very useful to master because it allows you to speak about things that happened in the past rather than just statements about the present.

The next tense we will look at is the future tense.
It goes without saying why this is important. So, let’s jump right in.

There a couple different ways to say that something is going to happen in the future, in Portuguese, but the easiest way to do so is to conjugate a verb in the future tense.

We will look again at the three verbs we have been using.

We’ll start by looking at an, “ar,” verb.

For the verb, “dançar,” we have the following conjugations:

EudançareiI will dance
ele, ela, vocêdançaráHe, she, you, it will dance
nósdançaremosWe will dance
eles, elas, vocêsdançarãoThey, you all, those will dance

As you can see, these suffixes essentially cause the statement, “will,” or, “is/am going to,” to be applied to the verb.

Looking at our, “er,” verb, “comer,” we get:

EucomereiI will eat
ele, ela, vocêcomeráHe, she, you, it will eat
nóscomeremosWe will eat
eles, elas, vocêscomerãoThey, you all, those will eat

And for an “ir” verb, “abrir,” we get:

EuabireiI will open
ele, ela, vocêabriráHe, she, you, it will open
nósabriremosWe will open
eles, elas, vocêsabrirãoThey, you all, those will open

If you look at the future tense suffixes for a moment you should notice that they did not change regardless of whether it was an, “ar,” “er,” or “ir” verb. That is the nice thing about the future tense, all you need to do is use the infinitive form of the verb and just tack on a couple letters to the end of it, after the “r.”

Another nice thing about the future tense is that even irregular verbs are included in this rule, so there are no crazy conjugations you need to memorize beyond, “ei”, “á,” “emos,” and “ão.”

For example, for the irregular verb, “ser,” which, again, means, “to be,” you can say, “I will be,” by saying, “serei.

The last tense that I believe is crucial to know is the present progressive gerund.
In Portuguese, in order to use a word that, in English, ends in, “ing,” in a present progressive sentence, you have to use some form of the verb, “to be,” (estar.)

For example, if you wanted to say, “I am running,” in Portuguese, you would have to say, “eu estou correndo.”

Which brings me to the next point; in order to use the present progressive gerund in Portuguese for any verb, both regular and irregular, we simply drop the, “r,” on the end of the infinitive form of the verb and add, “ndo.”

Let’s jump straight to the examples of using the present progressive gerund:

Using, “dançar,” drop the, “r,” and add, “ndo”:

Eu + estoudançandoI am dancing
ele, ela, você + estádançandoHe, she, you, it is dancing
Nós + estamosdançandoWe are dancing
eles, elas, vocês + estãodançandoThey, you all, those are dancing

Using, “comer,” drop the, “r,” and add, “ndo”:

Eu + estoucomendoI am eating
ele, ela, você + estácomendoHe, she, you, it is eating
Nós + estamoscomendoWe are eating
eles, elas, vocês + estãocomendoThey, you all, those are eating

Using, “abrir,” drop the, “r” and add “ndo”:

Eu + estouabrindoI amopening
ele, ela, você + estáabrindoHe, she, you, it is opening
Nós + estamosabrindoWe are opening
eles, elas, vocês + estãoabrindoThey, you all, those are opening

So, once again, in order to use the present progressive gerund, that is to say, a verb that, in English, ends in, “ing,” you simply take off the, “r,” in the infinitive form and replace it with, “ndo.” This is true for both Regular and Irregular verbs.

I will conclude this article on tenses here. It is very important that you do not let all these different conjugations bog you down at this point. From my experience, It can be very easy to lose interest in learning Portuguese when confronting all these conjugations, and if you are feeling that way, then I want to offer a suggestion… go ahead and just take a minute for yourself to relax, and then when you feel you are ready, go back and re-read my last few posts

In my previous post on troubleshooting your progress, I made mention of the fact that everything in language is connected, and these conjugations are no exception.

You will see, hear, and use them every time you immerse yourself in some Portuguese circumstance.
If you take the time to go back to the beginning and re-study these concepts you will be amazed at how much you have retained, and how much more sense it makes the second time around.

If you are looking for the best place to start with learning Brazilian Portuguese, then I have no higher recommendation than to head on over to Rocket Languages Portuguese to get started.

They have all the tools you need to fast track your learning journey and get you speaking like a native in record time!

Learn Portuguese Online with Rocket Languages

Good luck my friend, e até a próxima!

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