Commands in Portuguese: Expressing Tips, Advice, and Instructions

Commands or Imperative conjugation - Expressing Tips, Advice, and Instructions in Portuguese.png

Ever found yourself lost for words when trying to make a simple request in Portuguese? Mastering Commands in Portuguese is essential when you want to effectively make requests, provide recommendations, or give instructions. Whether you’re setting up a voicemail to say, “Leave your message after the beep”, or encouraging a friend to savor local Brazilian delicacies with “Eat pão de queijo, tapioca, and brigadeiro in Brazil!”— it’s the Imperative mood, often referred to as Commands in language learning, that you’ll be using.

In this lesson, I’m going to simplify the Imperative for you. It’s a straightforward conjugation that’s pivotal for clear communication in Portuguese, and I’ve got a handy trick that’ll have you using it like a pro, even with those tricky irregular verbs.

Commands in Action

Let’s see how Commands come to life in everyday Portuguese. The verbs in bold are conjugated in the Commands conjugation:

  1. Deixe seu recado após o sinal. = Leave your message after the beep.
  2. Coma muitas frutas no Brasil. = Eat lots of fruits in Brazil.
  3. Assista a filmes brasileiros para aprender mais. = Watch Brazilian movies to learn more.

Commands Conjugation: Regular Verbs

It is easy to conjugate regular verbs in the Imperative. Simply follow two quick steps.

Tip: Have you learned the present subjunctive? The Imperative conjugation is the same, except for Tu.

Step 1: Drop the ending and switch the vowel

1. Verbs ending in –AR:

For verbs ending in –AR, remove the final –AR and add an E:

  • Deixar -> deixe

Ex: Deixe seu recado após o sinal. = Leave your message after the beep.

2. Verbs ending in –ER

For verbs ending in -ER, remove the final –ER and add an A:

  • Comer -> coma

Ex: Coma muitas frutas no Brasil. = Eat lots of fruits in Brazil.

3. Verbs ending in –IR

For verbs ending in -IR, remove the final –IR and add an A:

  • Assistir -> assista

Ex: Assista a filmes brasileiros para aprender mais. = Watch Brazilian movies to learn more.

Memory Hacks for Command Conjugations in Portuguese

Ease your learning journey with these simple memory hacks.

First, pay attention to the vowel swap between AR and ER verbs—they trade places.

Then, IR verbs follow the pattern set by ER verbs.

These mnemonic devices are designed to make the conjugation rules stick in your mind with ease.

So now you’ve got the Commands conjugation for “você” down pat, which is the conjugation we often use.

But you’re likely eager to learn commands in Portuguese for other pronouns too, aren’t you? Let’s move on to the next step and expand your command of Portuguese.

Step 2: Follow the pattern for the other conjugations

You already know that we use patterns to conjugate verbs. And here are the Command conjugations for the verbs that we used in the opening examples. The part in bold is the pattern that you will follow to use Commands in Portuguese:

Deixar (AR)

Deixe (você)

Deixemos (nós)

Deixem (vocês)

Comer (ER)

Coma (você)

Comamos (nós)

Comam (vocês)

Assistir (IR)

Assista (você)

Assistamos (nós)

Assistam (vocês)

Commands in Portuguese: Irregular Verbs

There is a simple trick that works for stem-changing verbs and almost all irregular verbs:

  1. Start in the Simple Present (presente do indicativo) for Eu
  2. Just change the last vowel according to our vowel swap trick in Step 1 above.

Here are three examples:

1) Tenha paciência, por favor. = Have patience, please.

  • Infinitive: ter
  • Simple present: eu tenho
  • Command: tenha

2) Faça suas tarefas de casa. = Do your homework.

  • Infinitive: fazer
  • Simple present: eu faço
  • Command: faça

3) Diga a verdade. = Tell the truth.

  • Infinitive: dizer
  • Simple present: eu digo
  • Command: diga

To get the other conjugations (nós, vocês), follow the same pattern that I showed you for the regular verbs.

Verbs That Are Truly Irregular in the Imperative

There are only six verbs that are irregular in the Commands conjugation. This means that the trick above will not work. You need to memorize these verbs.

Ser

Seja (você)
Sejamos (nós)
Sejam (vocês)

Estar

Esteja (você)
Estejamos (nós)
Estejam (vocês)

Dar

Dê (você)
Demos (nós)
Deem (vocês)

Saber

Saiba (você)
Saibamos (nós)
Saibam (vocês)

Ir

Vá (você)
Vamos (nós)
Vão (vocês)

Querer

Queira (você)
Queiramos (nós)
Queiram (vocês)

How about the Conjugation for Eu?

Wondering where the ‘eu’ conjugation is in Commands? You’re not alone.

The Imperative mood, a.k.a. Commands, does not have a conjugation for Eu. We don’t usually give commands or tips to ourselves. When we do, we use the conjugation for Você.

Commands in Portuguese can be equivalent to “Let’s” in English

Just like “Let’s” in English, the Commands form for “nós” invites action and inclusion..

Examples:

1) At a dinner party we are all at the table ready to eat. The host may say:

  • Comamos! = Let’s eat!

2) The conference room is full. The lecturer takes his place and says:

  • Comecemos. = Let’s get started.

This form is more formal than the equivalent “vamos + verb“. But you may hear it from your friends, too.

Diz or Diga? Which one is right?

This is a common question, and it is a great question. I have just told you that the Command form for the verb Dizer is Diga. I gave you the example:

  • Diga a verdade. = Tell the truth.

But you will also hear Brazilians saying:

  • Diz a verdade. = Tell the truth.

Both are correct. They are simply different conjugations for different persons of speech.

  • Diga is the conjugation for Você.
  • Diz is the conjugation for Tu.

Another common example is:

  • Venha cá! (você) = Come here!
  • Vem cá! (tu) = Come here!

Brazilians will use both interchangeably without necessarily thinking about the conjugation.

The Conjugation for Tu

In affirmative commands, the conjugation for Tu is the same as the conjugation for Você in the present tense.

I know this sounds confusing at first. Here are examples:

1) Deixar

  • Present tense: você deixa
  • Command: deixa (tu)

2) Comer

  • Present tense: você come
  • Command: come (tu)

3) Assistir

  • Present tense: você assiste
  • Command: assiste (tu)

4) Fazer

  • Present tense: você faz
  • Command: faz (tu)

5) Dizer

  • Present tense: você diz
  • Command: diz (tu)

The negative imperative is different. The conjugation for Tu is the same as the present subjunctive conjugation. However in general this rule is not observed in everyday spoken Brazilian Portuguese.

To make it easier, we recommend that you use the conjugation for Você.

Pronunciation Tip for Commands in Portuguese

Pronunciation can make or break your command of Commands in Portuguese. Remember, the stress is on the second to last syllable.

Additional Examples of Commands in Portuguese

All the examples below use the conjugation for Você.

1) Apague a luz e feche a porta ao sair. (Turn off the light and close the door when you leave.)

2) Preencha esse formulário e depois clique em Enviar. (Fill out this form and then click Send.)

3) Faça o que eu digo, mas não faça o que eu faço. (Do as I say, but don’t do what I do).

4) Viva, ame, ria. (Live, love, laugh.)

5) Durma cedo porque amanhã o dia vai ser longo. (Sleep early because tomorrow will be a long day.)

Mastering Commands in Portuguese opens a new world of communication. Practice is key, and our experienced teachers can guide you every step of the way. Book your Trial Lesson now to see the difference it makes when your learn with experienced Portuguese teachers.