The easiest way to say There is/There are in Portuguese is using the verb Ter. I say it is the easiest way because Ter is one of the first verbs that you learn when you start speaking Portuguese and it is a verb that you will use in many different situations.
Therefore, when you use the verb Ter to say there is and there are in Portuguese, you are using a verb you already know and/or absolutely need to know well.
In a previous Portuguese lesson I showed you how to conjugate and correctly pronounce and use the verb Ter in the present tense.
In another lesson, I taught you how to use the verb Ter to say that you have to do something.
Now you are going to learn another super useful use of the verb Ter in Portuguese.
At the end of this lesson you will find practice exercises that will also help you build vocabulary.
Using the Verb Ter to say There is/There are in Portuguese
It is very easy to use Ter with the meaning of “there is” or “there are”. Observe the examples below:
- Tem um gato no sofá. = There is a cat on the couch.
- Tem três pessoas na reunião. = There are three people in the meeting.
- Tem muitos brasileiros aqui. = There are many Brazilians here.
See what we are doing here? We are simply using the verb Ter in the third person singular conjugation, which is the same conjugation as “você”, “ele” or “ela”. That’s it.
Make sure you say it right
When you say there is/there are in Portuguese, the verb Ter is always conjugated in the singular, in the same conjugation as “você”, “ele” or “ela”. Technically we say that it is an impersonal verb when used in this function.
It will be important to keep this in mind, especially when you use the verb in the past tense. Too many Brazilians will put the verb in the plural, which is a mistake you don’t need to make.
Here are two examples:
- Tinha dezoito pessoas na fila. = There were 18 people in line.
- Tinha muitas pessoas na festa. = There were many people at the party.
In both examples, saying “tinham” is incorrect.
Super Useful Bonus Phrase: Tem Gente
What do you say when you are in the restroom and someone knocks on door? In the US it is common to say: “Occupied”.
In Brazil, you can say: Tá ocupado = It’s occupied.
But you will also hear another very common phrase: Tem gente. = There’s a person (in here).
Practice exercises to say there is/there are in Portuguese
Translate the sentences below to Portuguese. The answers are at the end of the lesson.
- There are three pens on the floor.
- There are five brigadeiros in the fridge.
- There is a woman at the door.
- There are many people in the restaurant.
- There is a towel in the bathroom.
- There’s a lot of traffic.
- Learn an idiomatic expression that you may need when you are stuck in traffic: Tirar do sério
Check your answers:
- Tem três canetas no chão.
- Tem cinco brigadeiros na geladeira.
- Tem uma mulher na porta.
- Tem muitas pessoas no restaurante. Or, you can say: Tem muita gente no restaurante.
- Tem uma toalha no banheiro.
- Tem muito trânsito.
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