Verbs are the most variable words in the Portuguese Language, so they are much more complex than the English verbs. Portuguese verbs vary on mood, tense, voice, number and aspect.
Any verb that expresses a desire in some form can be used to introduce the subjunctive. Doubt, denial, emotion, wish, hope, suggestion, certainty, supposition, recommendation are other examples. It is also used after indirect commands. In Portugal, the subjunctive (subjunctivo) is called the conjunctive (conjuntivo). (More details below).
The Indicative Mood is the opposite and refers to statements of fact or certainty.
The Imperative Mood is used for commands.
The present, preterite, and future tenses refer to a fact that is occurring in the moment in which one is speaking, before the moment in which one is speaking, or after the moment in which one is speaking, respectively.
The aspect is the speaker's point of view of the action expressed by the verb. The word Imperfect comes from the Latin "imperfectum" which means not completed. This is often a source of confusion when studying Portuguese because this has no relation at all with what is considered the imperfect aspect of a verb.
Mood, Tense, and AspectEdit
The following table explains each of the the moods, tenses and aspects of Portuguese verbs. The first four columns represents a typology often found in Portuguese grammar books. As they are best understood when they are used together, the following table displays all the variations1:
|Mood||Tense||Aspect||simple/compound||Example in English||Verb in Portuguese||Explanation|
|Indicative||Present||N/A||N/A||I study today||estudo||Action in the present|
|Indicative||Preterite||Imperfect||N/A||I was studying while watching T.V. I used to study every day||estudava; estava estudando||Action began, continued and ended in the past. It relates to a continuous action or describes the state of things over a period of time in the past. Note: Also known as the Imperfect Indicative.|
|Indicative||Preterite||Perfect||simple||I studied last night. I have studied already.||estudei||A single action completed in the past. Note: Also known as the Preterite Indicative.|
|Indicative||Preterite||Perfect||compound||I have studied a lot lately. I have been studying since last week. I have repeatedly studied all semester.||tenho estudado; estiveram estudando||An action started in the past and continuing into the present. "Have studied" can only be translated as "tenho estudado" if there is a contextualizing element indicating the action is still continuing (I have studied all semester long; I have studied this since yesterday). There are other ways of forming this tense by using the present indicative (e.g. estudo) with other contextualizing elements in the sentence such as (e.g. Ha um ano que eu estudo portugues, Desde que..., Ha mais de dois anos...). See "Present Perfect" below for more information. Note: Also known as Present Perfect Progressive/Continuous Indicative.|
|Indicative||Preterite||Pluperfect||simple||Yesterday, I had studied before I went to school.||estudara||An action in the past before another action in the past. Largely a literary form. In English, only the compound form exists (see next item below) Note: Also known as Simple Pluperfect Indicative.|
|Indicative||Preterite||Pluperfect||compound||Yesterday, I had studied before I went to school.||Tinha estudado||An action in the past before another action in the past (just like in English). Note: Also known as Past Perfect or Pluperfect Indicative.|
|Indicative||Future||Of the Present||simple||I will study tomorrow. I'm going to study tomorrow||estudarei/vou estudar||An action that will happen in the future|
|Indicative||Future||Of the Present||compound||By 6:00pm tomorrow, I will have studied everything||terei estudado; vou ter estudado||An action in the future in relation to another action in the future. Note: Also known as the Future Perfect Indicative.|
|Indicative||Future||Of the Preterite||simple||I would/should study tomorrow||estudaria||An action intended in the future. Note: Some grammar books refer to this as the conditional mood or simple conditional or just conditional.|
|Indicative||Future||Of the Preterite||compound||If I had seen the test, I would have studied more.||teria estudado||An action intended in the future. Note: Also known as the Conditional Perfect.|
|Subjunctive||Present||N/A||N/A||I may study today. Maybe I will study today. I want/need you to study. I hope that I will study tomorrow. It is a shame that I study all the time. I hope that I will study tomorrow.||estude||desire, doubt, hope, emotion, suggestion, that one has now about a present or future action. Also for indirect commands.|
|Subjunctive||Preterite||Imperfect||N/A||I would like you to study with me today. I wanted you to study with me yesterday.||estudasse||desire, doubt, hope, emotion, suggestion, about an action in the past, present, or future. This is always used in the subordinate clause with the verb in the main clause usually being in the Imperfect Indicative, the Preterite Indicative, the Conditional, or Present.|
|Subjunctive||Preterite||Perfect||N/A||Maybe I had studied too much yesterday. I doubt that she had studied yesterday. I'm sorry that I hadn't studied more. You probably will have studied for your test by noon.||tenha estudado||desire, doubt, hope, emotion, suggestion, about a fact in the past supposedly concluded or a fact in the future terminated in relation to another fact in the future. Always conjugated with help of verb ter. Note: Also known as Present Perfect Subjunctive.|
|Subjunctive||Preterite||Pluperfect||N/A||I would be happier if I had studied before I went to work. If I had studied more, I would have scored better. I would not have cheated if you had studied with me.||tivesse estudado||desire, doubt, hope, emotion, suggestion, about an action in the past before another action in the past or a past condition in relation to a fact in the past that hasn't occurred. Also, what you would have done in the past if things had been different. Note: Also known as the Past Perfect Subjunctive or Pluperfect Subjunctive.|
|Subjunctive||Future||N/A||simple||If I study tomorrow, I will know everything||estudar||desire, doubt, hope, emotion, suggestion, about the eventuality of a future action.2 It can also be used for uncertain present reality (details below).|
|Subjunctive||Future||N/A||compound||Tomorrow I will be ready if ,by then, I have studied everything. When/As soon as I have studied everything, I will go to Brazil.||tiver estudado||desire, doubt, hope, emotion, suggestion, about the eventuality of a future action. Note: Also known as the Future Perfect Subjunctive.|
|Imperative||Present||N/A||N/A||Study the book, students!||estudem||commands|
|N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||I will be studying during class tomorrow!||estarei estudando||Future Progressive/Continuous. An action starting in the future and continuing in the future usually in relation to some other future event.|
|N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||I had been studying during classes all day yesterday!||tinha estado estudando||Past Perfect Progressive/Continuous. An action starting in the past and continuing in the past and ending in the past usually in relation to some other past event. These longer constructions are not very natural-sounding and occur infrequently.|
|N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||I have studied for this test already!||(ja) estudei||Present Perfect. An action starting in the past and continuing up to the present where it stops but still has some sort of effect. This tense is best explained here.There is no correspondence in Portuguese so the simple preterite is used sometimes preceded by "ja". The only exception to this is "should have studied" -- devia ter estudado|
1 There are some special treatments of participles (see below).
2 The future subjunctive is formed by taking the 3rd person past tense form of any verb and dropping the "am". For the 1st person plural add "mos" and for the 3rd person plural add "em".
More on the Subjunctive MoodEdit
It is first important to understand the difference between a main clause and subordinate clause in order to understand when the subjunctive is used. More on clauses can be found here. Usually the subordinate clause is used after que, other conjunctions (e.g. embora, porque, se, quando, etc.) or relative pronouns (cujo, quem, qual, onde, etc.).
- The subjunctive is used in the main clause when the verb in the clause expresses a curse or a wish or when it begins with the word "maybe" (talvez)
- Any wish, intention or purpose in the main clause that expresses the desire to influence the action in the subordinate clause necessitates the use of the subjunctive.
- When the verb in the main clause expresses denial, doubt or uncertainty, presupposition, or emotion about the action in the subordinate clause, the verb in the subordinate clause must use the subjunctive.
- Certain conjunctions introducing a subordinate clause require the indicative to be used in the subordinate clause (e.g. visto que (given that), porque (because), dado que (given that), ja que (now that), assim como (in the same way that)). Others require the use of the subjunctive. (e.g. the following require the use of the present or imperfect subjunctive: caso (in case), antes que (before), ainda que/posto que (although or even if), unless (a nao ser que or a menos que), a que (to), in order to (a fim de que), unless or without (sem que), para que (so that, in order to), even if (mesmo que, nem que), although (embora), provided that (contanto que), as soon as (logo que/assim que)).
- You can use the indicative or the subjunctive in sentences where the following verbs are negated (preceded by nao): achar, crer, sonhar, revelar, mencionar, alegar, aununciar, confirmar, comunicar, contar, informar.
SOME SPECIFICS BASED ON THE GENERAL RULES:
- If the verb in the main clause is in the indirect command form or expressing desire or emotion in the present, the verb in the subordinate clause will be in the present subjunctive.
- I hope (desejo: present indicative) that you accompany (acompanhem: present subjunctive) me. – these are indirect commands or verbs that express a desire or emotion somewhow. They require the use of the present subjunctive after them (e.g. I hope that…, I want that…, I need that…, I suggest that..., I recommend that..., I insist in that..., I permit that, It is important that..., It is better that..., It's a pity that..., It's sad that...It's ridiculous that..., It's strange that..., I'm upset that..., I deny that...).
- Use with verbs such as sugerir (to suggest), permitir (to permit), recomendar (to recomend), insistir em (to insist), É preciso que... (it is nesscessary that), É importante que...(it is important that), É melhor que... (it is better that) and others.
- If the verb in the main clause is in the present or imperative, the verb in the subordinate clause will be in the present subjunctive or the imperfect subjunctive depending on whether the verb in the main clause refers to a present event or a past one respectively.
- I doubt (duvido: present indicative) that they speak (falem: present subjunctive) very well. – This refers to a present situation so the present subjunctive is used.
- They doubt (duvidam: present indicative) that my mother was (estivesse: imperfect subjunctive) at the house. – This refers to a past situation so the imperfect subjunctive is used.
- Study (estude: imperative) now so that you can learn (aprenda: present subjunctive) more Portuguese.
- The imperfect subjunctive or pluperfect subjunctive is used after "como se" (as if).
- My friend was speaking (falava: imperfect indicative) as if he was (fosse: imperfect subjunctive) an important person.
- They speak (falam: present indicative) as if they are (fossem: imperfect subjunctive) lawyers.
- My sister ate (comeu: preterite indicative) as if she hadn't eaten (tivesse comido: pluperfect subjunctive) in three years.
- If the verb in the main clause is in the future, the verb in the subordinate clause will be in the present subjunctive or the future subjunctive.
- Before I see (veja: present subjunctive) him, I will tell (direi: future indicative) my husband everything.
- When she comes (vier: future subjunctive), I will be (estarei: future indicative) in California.
- When the if-clause refers to a future occurrence, the future subjunctive is used in the if-clause:
- If I have (tiver: future subjunctive) a boyfriend, I will take (farei: future indicative) him to brazil.
- If you can (puder: future subjunctive), arrive (chegue: present subjunctive) as late as possible to the party.
- "While" followed by a reference to a future situation requires future subjunctive in the while-clause.
- While you are (estiver: future subjunctive) not feeling well, stay (fique: present subjunctive) with me.
- Doubt about a present reality sometimes necessitates the future subjunctive:
- I'm not sure if you want to or not (...se voce quiser...)
- I'm not sure if you can or not. (...se voce puder...)
- If she perfers... (Se ela preferir...)
- As you wish...(Como voce quiser...)
- Wherever you wish....(Onde voce quiser)
- "When" followed by a reference to a future situation requires future subjunctive in the when-clause:
- When you know (souber: future subjunctive) the day of the test, tell (diga: present subjunctive) me.
- The translation of wherever, whenever, whoever, and whatever require the use of the Future Subjunctive:
- You can love whoever you wish (quiseres: future subjunctive).
- The future subjunctive is also used with "as soon as you wish" (assim que quiseres/logo que) and "as you wish" (como quiseres).
- If the the verb in the main clause is in the past (e.g. preterite indicative, imperfect indicative) or the simple conditional, the verb in the subordinate clause will be in the imperfect or the past perfect.
- I would like you (queria: conditional) to have dinner (viesses jantar: imperfect subjunctive) with me tomorrow or next week.
- I wanted (quis: preterite indicative) you to have dinner (viesses jantar: imperfect subjunctive) with me last week.
- I didn’t believe (acreditei: preterite indicative) that he had sold (tivesse vendido: past perfect subjunctive) everything.
- I wanted (desejava: imperfect indicative) him to be (estivesse: imperfect subjunctive) with me everywhere.
- If the "if" condition can't be met (i.e. doesn't imply a real fact) and the sentence refers to a present situation, the imperfect subjunctive is used in the if clause and the conditional or imperfect indicative is used in the main clause:
- If I had (tivesse: imperfect subjunctive), I would take (faria or fazia: conditional or imperfect indicative) a vacation in Rio de Janeiro.
- If the "if" condition can't be met (i.e. doesn't imply a real fact) and the sentence refers to a past situation (what could have been), the past perfect subjunctive is used in the if-clause and the conditional perfect (or simple pluperfect indicative) in the main clause:
- If I had had (tivesse tido: past perfect subjunctive) a girlfriend, I would have taken (teria feito or tinha feito: conditional perfect or pluperfect indicative) her to Brazil.
More on ParticiplesEdit
The verb forms with participles are those with "estudado" listed above. Here are two important topics regarding participles:
- The participle stays the same in the active voice (like #1) but agrees with the subject in the passive voice (#2 and #4) except when using the passive voice with ter or haver (#3, #5, #6).
- A professora ja tinha ido.
- Algumas pessoas foram atingidas pelo meu carro.
- Os cavalos nos quais eu tinha andado estavam vividos.
- A rua foi feita um ano atras.
- Os problemas tinham partido da minha alma.
- A carta que eu havia escrito foi longa.
- Some verbs have two particple forms. Examples of verbs with two participles are:
aceitar - aceitado - aceito
acender - acendido - aceso
contundir - contundido - contuso
eleger - elegido - eleito
entregar - entregado - entregue
enxugar - enxugado - enxuto
expulsar - expulsado - expulso
imprimir - imprimido - impresso
limpar - limpado - limpo
murchar - murchado - murcho
suspender - suspendido - suspenso
tingir - tingido - tinto
findar - findado - findo
isentar - isentado - isento
matar - matado - morto
salvar - salvado - salvo
segurar - segurado - seguro
soltar - soltado - solto
benzer - benzido - bento
morrer - morrido - morto
prender - prendido - preso
suspender - suspendido - suspenso
emergir - emergido - emerso
expelir - expelido - expulso
exprimir - exprimido - expresso
inserir - inserido - inserto
omitir - omitido - omisso
submergir - submergido - submerso
juntar - juntado - junto
trazer - trazido - trago
- ter/haver in front of the verb to form the perfect tenses use the first form (e.g. juntado).
- ser/estar in front of the verb (more adjectivial in nature) use the second form (e.g. junto).
These are forms of a verb that are characterized by not having an indication of time or of mood depending always on the context in which they're found. In these nominal forms, the verbs can themselves function as nouns, adjectives, and adverbs.
|Infinitive||Infinitivo||When expressing the idea of the action of the verb, the infinitive is used. Just like in English, it is also used as the name of the verb. This comes in two forms, the personal and the impersonal. The former is when it refers to a subject and the latter when it doesn't.|
|Participle||Particípio||Used to form compound tenses. This represents the result of the action expressed by the verb and accumulating the characteristics of the verb as an adjective. You have eyes buried...(poetically). Tens os olhos encovados...|
|Gerund||Gerúndio||A type of Present Participle which is using in special conjugations called Conjugações Perifrásticas. This is the function of the verb being expressed as an adverb or adjective. Chegando a manha, continuamos.|
More on the Infinitive:
The infinitive has many uses. The impersonal infinitive has one form: the one you see in the dictionary that ends in –ar, -er, or –ir. Here are some uses of the impersonal infinitive:
- Driving (Dirigir) is fun. – when it is the subject of clauses
- I need to drive (dirigir). I am going to drive (vou dirigir) – coupled with other verbs.
- I am learning now. (estou a aprender). This is another form of the present continuous and is the same as “estou aprendendo”.
- I am happy being (ficar) with you. – Complementing nouns and adjectives.
- They were forced to stop. (Eles foram forcados a parar). – verb in the passive voice with preposition is followed by the impersonal infinitive.
- I stated that I was prepared (disse estar preparadas) for the examination.-- When the main and subordinating clauses have the same subject.
- And he yelled, “Stop” (Parar) – substituting for the imperative
There are also Personal Infinitives which are less used in spoken language than in writing. They are used when there are infinitive verb constructions but the subject of this verb is not very clear. Therefore the infinfitive is "personalized" to make clear who the subject is. It is formed by:
- Adding a subject in front of the singular infinitive forms:
- Eu sair -- Before I leave, I want to talk to her.
- Voce sair -- Before you leave, I want to talk to her.
- Adding endings to the plural infinitive forms:
- infinitive + mos for first person plural
- infinitive + em for third person plural
Here are some uses for the personal infinitive:
- They regret that we are (estarmos) not here. When the main and subordinating clauses have different subjects.
- It’s necessary for me to buy (eu comprar) another car. It’s easy for them to arrive (elas chegarem) early. It’s impossible for you to leave now (voce entrar) – Used after impersonal expressions. In these sentences “for” is not translated.
- When they opened (Ao abrirem eles) the card, they saw the picture. Used after ate, antes de, depois de, ao (translated as when or upon), a fim de, sem, para
|In English||In Portuguese||Description|
|Active Voice||Voz Ativa||The subject performs the action expressed in the verb. Eu te vejo. I see you.|
|Passive Voice||Voz Passiva||The direct object of the active voice corresponds to the subject of the passive voice. Pedro foi dirigido por Miguel. (Peter was driven by Miguel).|
|Reflexive Voice||Voz Reflexiva||The direct object or the indirect object is the same person as the subject:
Eu me feri. I wounded myself. Eu me firo. I wound myself.
|In English||In Portuguese||Description|
|Singular||Singular||Used when the subject of the verb is one person or thing, e.g. I, you, he, she|
|Plural||Plural||Used when the subject of the verb is more than one person or thing, e.g. we, you(plural), they|