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How to Conjugate 5 Essential Portuguese Verbs


Learning Portuguese verbs is crucial to learning the language as a whole. Whilst there are thousands of verbs, and many more thousands of conjugations, if you focus on a few key verbs it will get you a long way in making yourself understood—especially if you practice them with a tutor. After the “to be” verbs, ser and estar, the five most important Portuguese verbs are probably ir, ter, fazer, poder, and querer. In this post, we’ll take a look at how to conjugate those verbs for the various personal pronouns in the present, past and future tense.


A Note on Second-Person Pronouns

The most common Portuguese second-person personal pronoun is você, or vocês in the plural. It is particularly common in Brazilian Portuguese; in Portugal it is considered somewhat incorrect and is often “swallowed.” When conjugating a Portuguese verb for você or vocês, the third person singular and plural forms are used respectively. Because it is grammatically irregular, it usually does not appear on Portuguese verb tables.


Ir

EN: To go


Present

Eu vou: I go / I’m going

Tu vais: You go / You’re going

Ele/ela vai: He/she/it goes / He’s/she’s/it’s going

Nós vamos: We go / we’re going

Vós ides: You go / you’re going (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas vão: They go / they’re going

Just like in English, these can be used as an irregular way of expressing the future tense, for example, eu vou fazer café (I’m going to make coffee). In this case, the infinitive form of the future tense verb is always used. Note that “I’m going,” “he’s going,” and so on can also translate as eu estou indo, el está indo, and so on. This usage is only to indicate that a person or object is currently traveling and can not be used to express the future tense.

Vamos can also mean “let’s go” or “shall we go?”


Past perfect

Eu fui: I went

Tu foste: You went

Ele/ela foi: He/she/it went

Nós fomos: We went

Vós fostes: You went (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas foram: They went

These conjugations of ir are exactly the same as the past perfect conjugations of ser, so eu fui, as well as meaning “I went,” can also mean “I was.”


Future indicative

Eu irei: I will go

Tu irás: You will go

Ele/ela irá: He/she/it will go

Nós iremos: We will go

Vós ireis: You will go (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas irão: They will go


Ter

EN: To have


Present

Eu tenho: I have

Tu tens: You have

Ele/ela tem: He/she/it has

Nós temos: We have

Vós tendes: You have (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas têm: They have


Past perfect

Eu tive: I had

Tu tiveste: You had

Ele/ela teve: He/she/it had

Nós tivemos: We had

Vós tivestes: You had (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas tiveram: They had


Future indicative

Eu terei: I will have

Tu terás: You will have

Ele/ela terá: He/she/it will have

Nós teremos: We will have

Vós tereis: You will have (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas terão: They will have


Fazer

EN: To do; to make


Present

Eu faço: I do/make

Tu fazes: You do/make

Ele/ela faz: He/she/it does/makes

Nós fazemos: We do/make

Vós fazeis: You do/make (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas fazem: They do/make


Past perfect

Eu fiz: I did/made

Tu fizeste: You did/made

Ele/ela fez: He/she/it did/made

Nós fizemos: We did/made

Vós fizestes: You did/made (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas fizeram: They did/made


Future indicative

Eu farei: I will do/make

Tu farás: You will do/make

Ele/ela fará: He/she/it will do/make

Nós faremos: We will do/make

Vós fareis: You will do/make (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas farão: They will do/make


Poder

EN: To be able to / can (modal verb)


Present

Eu posso: I can

Tu podes: You can

Ele/ela pode: He/she/it can

Nós podemos: We can

Vós podeis: You can (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas podem: They can

When a question mark is placed at the end of a poder sentence, it becomes a request for permission or a favour. For example, eu posso sentar? means “May I sit down?” and você pode fazer café? means “Can you make coffee?”


Past perfect

Eu pude: I could

Tu pudeste: You could

Ele/ela pôde: He/she/it could

Nós pudemos: We could

Vós pudestes: You could (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas puderam: They could


Future indicative

Eu poderei: I will be able to

Tu poderás: You will be able to

Ele/ela poderá: He/she/it will be able to

Nós poderemos: We will be able to

Vós podereis: You will be able to (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas poderão: They will be able to


Querer

EN: To want


Present

Eu quero: I want

Tu queres: You want

Ele/ela quer: He/she/it wants

Nós queremos: We want

Vós quereis: You want (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas querem: They want


Past perfect

Eu quis: I wanted

Tu quiseste: You wanted

Ele/ela quis: He/she/it wanted

Nós quisemos: We wanted

Vós quisestes: You wanted (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas quiseram: They wanted


Future indicative

Eu quererei: I will want

Tu quererás: You will want

Ele/ela quererá: He/she/it will want

Nós quereremos: We will want

Vós querereis: You will want (plural/formal; antiquated)

Eles/elas quererão: They will want


Putting it into PracticeNow that you’ve seen the various conjugations of our five Portuguese verbs, we’ll look at how to use them within sentences.


I'm going to the bank.

Eu vou ao banco. Or

Eu estou indo ao banco.


He's going to succeed.

Ele vai ter sucesso.


You go to the bank; I'll stay here.

Você vai ao banco, eu vou ficar aqui.

Or

Tu vais ao banco, eu ficarei aqui.


Let's go to the beach.

Vamos à praia.


She went to the shop.

Ela foi para a loja.


I'll go to the bank.

Eu irei ao banco.


You guys have a lot of furniture.

Vocês têm muitos móveis.


They had a big business.

Eles tinham um grande negócio.


He'll have a lot of money.

Ele terá muito dinheiro.

Or

Ele vai ter muito dinheiro.


You do it like this.

Você faz assim.

Or

Tu fazes assim.


You made coffee.

Você fez café

Or

Tu fizeste café.


Let’s make a plan.

Vamos fazer um plano.


He can lift a car above his head.

Ele pode levantar um carro acima da cabeça.


May I use the bathroom?

Eu posso usar o banheiro?


Can you take a photo?

Você pode tirar uma foto?

Or

Tu podes tirar uma foto?


They could do whatever they wanted.

Eles poderam fazer o que quisessem.


Will I be able to help?

Eu poderei ajudar?


We want the best results possible.

Nós queremos os melhores resultados possíveis.


He always wanted to tell her how he felt.

Ele sempre quis dizer a ela como se sentia.


I will want regular reports.

Eu quererei relatórios regulares.

Or

Eu vou querer relatórios regulares.


Learn More Portuguese Verbs

Learning how to use Portuguese verbs is a key factor in mastering the language. If you can conjugate them correctly for tense and pronoun, it will go a long way toward making your Portuguese sound polished and fluent. However, there is a lot of information to process, and the level of complexity can be difficult for native speakers of English, which has far fewer verb conjugations. If you learn with an expert tutor, your chances of success will be much higher.

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