To make requests and give tips, advice, and instructions in Portuguese you need a specific verb conjugation often called Commands in Portuguese textbooks.
Say you want to record a voice mail greeting that says “Leave your message after the beep”; you need this conjugation. If your friend is going to Brazil and you want to tell her “Eat pão de queijo, tapioca, and brigadeiro in Brazil!”, you need this conjugation.
I am talking about the Imperative or Commands.
It is an easy conjugation, and that’s what you will learn with this lesson.
I will show you a trick to help you master this conjugation faster, including irregular verbs.
At the end of the lesson you will be able to download a handout with this lesson in Portuguese and practice exercises.
In the Commands form, the stronger syllable is the second to last (just like in the present tense).
Commands in Action
Observe the sentences below. The verbs in bold are conjugated in the Commands form:
- Deixe seu recado após o sinal. = Leave your message after the beep.
- Coma muitas frutas no Brasil. = Eat lots of fruits in Brazil.
- Assista a filmes brasileiros para aprender mais. = Watch Brazilian movies to learn more.
Commands Conjugation: Regular Verbs
It is very 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:
Remove the final –AR and add an E
|Deixar (to leave)||Deixe|
Ex: Deixe seu recado após o sinal. = Leave your message after the beep.
2. Verbs ending in –ER
Remove the final –ER and add an A
|Comer (to eat)||Coma|
Ex: Coma muitas frutas no Brasil. = Eat lots of fruits in Brazil.
3. Verbs ending in –IR
Remove the final –IR and add an A
|Assistir (to watch)||Assista|
Ex: Assista a filmes brasileiros para aprender mais. = Watch Brazilian movies to learn more.
Notice the crisscross between AR and ER. They exchange their vowels. Then IR verbs imitate ER verbs. These little tricks can help us memorize rules.
So now you have the Commands conjugation for Você. It is what we usually need when we are using the Commands. But you certainly want to learn the conjugations for the other persons of speech, right? Then follow step 2.
Step 2: Follow the pattern for the other conjugations
You already know that we use patterns to conjugate verbs. Here is the conjugation pattern for the Commands:
Person of speech
Pattern for verbs
|Pattern for verbs
ending in ER
Pattern for verbs
And here are the conjugations for the verbs that we used in the opening examples:
|Deixar (AR)||Comer (ER)||Assistir (IR)|
|Deixe (você)||Coma (você)||Assista (você)|
|Deixemos (nós)||Comamos (nós)||Assistamos (nós)|
|Deixem (vocês)||Comam (vocês)||Assistam (vocês)|
Commands Conjugation: Irregular Verbs
There is an easy trick that works for stem-changing verbs and almost all the irregular verbs:
- It all Starts in the Simple Present for Eu
- All you need to do is change the very last vowel according to the pattern in Step 1 for regular verbs.
|Infinitive||Simple present for Eu||Command (você)|
|Ter (to have)||Tenho (I have)||Tenha|
|Fazer (to do, make)||Faço (I do, I make)||Faça|
|Dizer (to say, to tell)||Digo (I say)||Diga|
- Tenha paciência, por favor. = Have patience, please.
- Faça suas tarefas de casa. = Do your homework.
- Diga a verdade. = Tell the truth.
To get the other conjugations (nós, vocês), follow the same pattern that we showed for the regular verbs.[Tweet “Check out this Portuguese lesson: Commands conjugation”]
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.
|Seja (você)||Esteja (você)||Dê (você)|
|Sejamos (nós)||Estejamos (nós)||Demos (nós)|
|Sejam (vocês)||Estejam (vocês)||Deem (vocês)|
|Saiba (você)||Vá (você)||Queira (você)|
|Saibamos (nós)||Vamos (nós)||Queiramos (nós)|
|Saibam (vocês)||Vão (vocês)||Queiram (vocês)|
Where Is the Conjugation for Eu?
The Imperative mode 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.
How We Use the Conjugation for Nós
We can use the Imperative conjugation for Nós as we use Let’s + verb in English.
At a dinner party we are all at the table ready to eat. The host may say:
- Comamos! = Let’s eat!
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 can hear it from your friends, too.
What is Correct: Diz or Diga?
I get this question a lot. 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, but it is easy to speak correctly:
|Deixar||Você deixa||Deixa (tu) / Deixe (você)|
|Comer||Você come||Come (tu) / Coma (você)|
|Assitir||Você assiste||Assiste (tu) / Assista (você)|
|Fazer||Você faz||Faz (tu) / Faça (você)|
|Dizer||Você diz||Diz (tu) / Diga (você)|
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 spoken Brazilian Portuguese.
To make it easier, we recommend that you use the conjugation for Você.
Learn from Examples
All the examples below use the conjugation for Você.
Apague a luz e feche a porta ao sair.
= Turn off the light and close the door when you leave.
Preencha esse formulário e depois clique em Enviar.
= Fill out this form and then click on Send.
Faça o que eu digo, mas não faça o que eu faço.
= Do as I say, but don’t do as I do.
Viva, ame, ria.
= Live, love, laugh.
Durma cedo porque amanhã o dia vai ser longo.
= Sleep early because tomorrow will be a long day.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have a regular practice if you truly want to feel comfortable speaking Portuguese. There is only so much that apps can do for you. If your goal is to be conversational, book a Trial Lesson now to see the difference it makes when you learn with the professional instructors at Street Smart Brazil.
Download Your Lesson w/ Practice Exercises
We prepared a handout for you with this lesson entirely in Portuguese to give you extra practice.
The handout contains:
- This lesson nicely formatted and all in Portuguese
- Additional info and different examples using Commands
- Practice exercises to help you master this useful verb conjugation
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