There is an interesting difference between the way we express certain opinions using the verb gostar (to like) in Portuguese and in English. The verb gostar has several details that you need to learn if you want to use the verb correctly. I talk about these details in a different Portuguese Lesson. Here I am going to show you something that is super simple, yet it has the power to make your Portuguese instantly better as you will avoid a very common mistake.
The dressing room situation: How to use the verb Gostar correctly
(I have updated this blog post after publishing the video lesson. The blog post has additional examples and explanations that you don’t want to miss.)
Imagine that you are at the mall shopping with your Brazilian friend Camila. Camila tries on a dress, comes out of the dressing room, and asks if you like it. What do you answer?
The correct answer is NOT: Eu gosto = I like it.
The correct way to express your opinion in this situation is to use the simple past of the verb Gostar: Gostei. = I liked it.
Or, if you do not like it: Não gostei. = I did not like it.
So, there you have it. This is really simple, but it makes a difference in the quality of your Portuguese.
That is true for other verbs too
In this dressing room situation, you can express your opinion in other ways. You will still use the past tense:
- Ficou ótimo em você. = It looks great on you.
- Não ficou muito bom, na minha opinião. = It doesn’t look so good, in my opinion.
- Caiu super bem. = It fits great.
Use the present tense with the verb Estar
Here are other ways to share your opinion about the dress:
- Tá lindo. = It looks great.
- Tá perfeito. = It’s perfect.
- Tá um pouco estranho. = It looks a little strange.
- Acho que tá um pouco grande em você. = I think it is a bit too large for you.
- Não tá muito apertado? = Isn’t it too tight?
You may have noticed that I dropped the first syllable of the verb Estar in the examples above. I did this to reflect how we usually speak in Brazil.
We also use the simple past to share our opinion in other situations and to ask for opinions
Here is a situation: My friend Camila has been talking about this new singer she is in love with. She plays one of his songs to see how I like it. Then our dialogue goes like this:
Camila: E aí? O que achou? Gostou? = So? What did you think? Did you like it?
Me: Adorei. A música é linda. = I loved it. The song is very beautiful.
In the dressing room example, Camila would also ask for opinions using he past tense:
- Gostou? = Did you like it?
- Ficou bom? = Does it look good? (free translation; not a literal translation)
To express general likes and dislikes, use the present tense
When expressing general likes and dislikes, use the verbs in the present tense. Here are examples:
- Adoro chocolate. = I love chocolate.
- Não gosto de cogumelo. = I don’t like mushroom.
- Gosto muito de café. = I like coffee very much.
- Adoro Marisa Monte. = I love Marisa Monte.
- Não gosto muito de correr. = I don’t like running so much.
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Obrigada Luciana! Meu marido e Brasileiro e ele sempre fala “Eu te amo. (Voce) sabia?”. Nao entendi muito por que em ingles, nos falamos “I love you. You know this, right?” (presente nao passado). Pode me explicar esse?
What your husband is saying is closer to “Did you know I love you?” So sweet 🙂