Portuguese Verbs: How to Conjugate

portuguese verbsLearning how to conjugate Portuguese verbs may seem challenging at first, but with a basic knowledge of the rules, you can start to build your Portuguese vocabulary and be on your way to learning the language.

Portuguese Verbs Basics

There are three different classes of Portuguese verbs: verbs ending in “ar”, verbs ending in “er,” and verbs ending in “ir”.

When conjugating regular verbs in Portuguese, you just have to preserve the root of the verb and replace “ar”, “er” or “ir” with the appropriate verb ending.

Let’s take a look at some examples of how to conjugate Portuguese verbs to get a better sense of how to approach them. With a basic understanding of Portuguese verb conjugation in the present tense, you will be able to build your Portuguese vocabulary and continue to learn how to conjugate more verbs and in different tenses.

Let’s Get Started!

But first, in order to know how to conjugate Portuguese verbs, it is necessary to know Portuguese pronouns. Once you know the pronouns, it will be easier to understand the different verb conjugations, and when to use which ones. Let’s take a look!

Portuguese Pronouns

Eu [ehoo] – means “I” or “me.”

Tu [too] – means “you” in an informal way (such when you talk to friends or family). This form is not commonly used in Brazil, but it is useful to know all of the pronouns.

Você [vo-seh] – means “you” as well, but in formal way in Portugal and Africa. In Brazilian Portuguese, because you don’t use”Tu,” you would use “Você” instead to say “you” in an informal way.

Ele [ay-lee] – means “he” and “him.”

Ela [ay-lah] – means “she” and “her.”

Nós [nosh]– means “we” or “us.”

And then you have the plural forms of pronouns:

Vocês [vo-se-sh] –means “you,” as in “you guys,” a group.

Eles [ay-leesh]– means “they” and “them” (as a group of males or mixed gender – males and females).

Elas [ay-lash]– means “they” and “them” (as a group of females only).

And that’s all you need to know about pronouns when you learning Portuguese verbs!

Basic Verb Conjugation

Now that we know the pronouns, let’s take a look at how to use them when learning to conjugate basic Portuguese verbs.

In Portuguese, the conjugation of verbs in the Present Tense is fairly simple. An “I” form of a verb always ends in “o.” The “you,” “he,” “she,” and ‘”it” verbs all end in “a.” The “we” verbs end in “amos.” The “they” verbs end in “am.”

The present tense in Portuguese is the form of the verb that may be used to express: action at the present, a state of being; an occurrence in the (very) near future; or an action that occurred in the past and continues up to the present.

First, let’s look at the present tense conjugation of the “ar” verb “amar,” which means “to love”:

Eu amo. (I love.)

Ela ama. (She loves)

Ele ama. (He loves)

Você ama. (You love)

A gente ama. (We love)

Nós amamos. (We love)

Eles amam. (They love)

Vocês amam. (You love)

Notice how the root am- remains, and the appropriate verb endings are added on, depending on the pronoun.

Now, let’s take a look at a breakdown of the present tense conjugation of “ar,” “er,” and “ir” verbs. Use this chart as a handy reference when learning to conjugate the regular forms of these classes of verbs.

Person                            Amar                           Comer                      Abrir

(to love)                       (to eat)                    (to open)

Singular

Eu                                        amo                             como                         abro                        Ele/Ela/Você a gente  ama                             come                         abre

Plural               Nós          amamos                   comemos               abrimos Eles/Elas/ Vocês          amam                         comem                    abrem

“Ir” Verbs Explained

Now that we have a basic understanding of how to conjugate regualr Portuguese verbs in the present tense, let’s take a look at other rules of conjugating Portuguese verbs, such as “ir” verbs that must be conjugated differently, depending on the spelling. Once we cover this area, you will have a basic yet thorough understanding of how to conjugate common Portuguese verbs in the Present Tense. If this seems confusing, at first, don’t worry, it isn’t! It is easier to understand after going over some examples. Let’s take a look!

Verbs ending in “ir” having the vowel “e” at the second-to-the-last syllable have the root changed when they are conjugated in the present tense. The vowel “e” is changed for “i” just for the first person“eu”. The other conjugations follow the same pattern that is presented in the previous chart. Let’s look at the verb “mentir,” meaning “to lie:”

Eu minto. (I lie)

Ela mente. (She lies)

Ele mente. (He lies)

Você mente. (You lie)

A gente mente. (We lie)

Nós mentimos. (We lie)

Eles mentem. (They lie)

Vocês mentem. (You lie)

Now, let’s look at “mentir” and “vestir,” which means “to wear,” on a chart similar to the previous one, to get a clearer understanding of how to conjugate these types of verbs.

Person                                             Mentir (to lie)                      Vestir (to wear)

Singular

Eu                                                      minto                                      visto                                 

Ele/Ela/ Você a gente              mente                                      veste

Plural

Nós                                                  mentimos                              vestimos

Eles/Elas/ Vocês                      mentem                                   vestem

Another rule to remember with “ir” verbs is this: Verbs ending in “ir” having the vowel “o” at the second-to-the-last syllable also have the root changed when they are conjugated in the present tense. With these verbs, the vowel “o” is changed for “u” just for the first person “eu.

Let’s take a look at the conjugation of the Portuguese verb “dormir,” which means “to sleep.”

Eu durmo. (I sleep.)

Ela dorme. (She sleeps.)

Ele dorme. (He sleeps.)

Você dorme. (You sleep.)

A gente dorme. (We sleep.)

Nós dormimos. (We sleep.)

Eles dormem. (They sleep.)

Vocês dormem. (You sleep.)

Now, let’s look at the conjugations of the verbs “dormir” and “descobrir,” which means “to discover,” side by side on a chart to get the hang of conjugating these verbs! You may also find incorporating language learning methods may help you to better retain learning Portuguese verbs and a new foreign language.

Person                                       Dormir (to sleep)         Descobrir (to discover)

Singular

Eu                                                durmo                             descubro                                    

Ele/Ela/ Você a gente         dorme                             descobre

Plural

Nós                                          dormimos                    descobrimos

Eles/Elas/ Vocês               dormem                        descobrem

Common Portuguese Verbs

Following is a list of common regular Portuguese verbs and their pronunciation. Try to memorize these verbs and their conjugations, because they are words that are used daily and important to learning to communicate in the language.

Verb (English)                     Portuguese Verb              Portuguese Pronunciation

Arrive                                     Chegar                                   Che-gar

Ask                                           Pedir                                      Ped-eer

Be                                             Estar                                       Es-tar

Bring                                       Trazer                                    Tra-zair

Buy                                          Comprar                               Comp-rar

Call                                          Chamar                                  Sha-mar

Clean                                       Limpar                                   Lim-par

Practice, practice, Practice!

Portuguese verbs are the nucleus of the language. Practice and learn Portuguese verbs well so that you will start to speak Portuguese correctly and be able to express your thoughts and feelings in Portuguese with confidence!

Portuguese verbs give action to nouns, and if you learn Portuguese verbs, you will be able to place an action in a certain moment in time. We covered conjugating Portuguese verbs in the present tense here.

Once you have a firm understanding of the Present Tense, it will be easier to continue to learn how to conjugate Portuguese verbs in other tenses, including the Past Tense and Future Tense.

Saying, for instance, “you go to the cinema,” is not the same thing as saying “you went to the cinema,” or “you would go to the cinema.” Therefore, learning different verb tenses will make it possible for you to express yourself in Portuguese and well!

Information about how to approach learning a foreign language may also prove helpful on your journey to learning Portuguese. Give it a try!