The goal of this Portuguese lesson is to help you work on verb conjugation smartly.
Verb conjugation! Those words are dreaded among learners of Portuguese. Mastering verb conjugation is challenging. It takes time, lots of practice, repetition, and consistency.
The great news is that it is totally doable! Check out these 8 power tips to learn verb conjugation and speak Portuguese with ease.
1. Learn the basics
It is unlikely that you will be a great cook if you don’t learn some basic cooking skills.
And how would you be able to do math without first learning the numbers?
Similarly, verb conjugation is harder when you don’t know the basics.
I encourage you to watch this Portuguese lesson to understand verb conjugation once and for all. You will understand the mechanics of conjugating verbs and get familiar with the language around verb conjugation. With this knowledge, you can learn the conjugation of any verb tense on your own.
2. Practice out loud
Don’t just read and repeat the conjugations in your mind. Say it out loud. This will help you get used to the sound of conjugated verbs.
In fact, practicing out loud is a very important part of learning a language, and not just for verb conjugations. Speaking out loud will help you memorize vocabulary, improve your pronunciation, and internalize grammar structures.
So, go ahead and start speaking Portuguese to your pets and plants. I mean it.
3. Use the pronoun + verb
When learning verb conjugation, use the pronoun with the verb. Here is what I mean: If you are learning the present tense of the verb Ter, instead of practicing: tenho, tem, temos têm, I recommend that you say:
- Eu tenho
- Você tem
- Nós temos
- Eles têm
This way you will get used to the sounds of those words together: the pronoun (eu, você, nós, eles) and the conjugated verb.
With time, the different pronoun + conjugated verb combos will become one in your brain, which means that verb conjugation will get into autopilot mode. Yay!
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4. One thing at a time
I love crystals. I was trying to learn more about them – all the different names, their benefits, where they come from, how to clean and not clean each one. But there are so many crystals! Let me tell you: It was not a smart approach to try and learn them all at once. I would spend time reading about crystals just to find out the next day that things were all mixed up in my brain. So I decided to focus on one crystal at a time. I am much happier now 🙂
How would you feel if I gave you the conjugation of the verb Estudar below and told you to master your verb conjugations?
That would be overwhelming, wouldn’t it? And it would be boring. Let’s face it.
A better approach may be to start learning a new conjugation one verb tense at a time.
For example, if you are learning the present tense, focus on it for a while. Write a simple text saying what you do every day. It is totally fine to keep it simple; you are not a contender for Prêmio Jabuti. The goal is to practice your verb conjugations.
Is one verb tense causing you too much trouble? That is fine! Practice just one person of speech at a time. Need more challenge? Great! Practice one verb ending at a time.
If you don’t know what I mean by verb tense, person of speech or verb ending, you need to learn the basics (Tip # 1), which is what I teach in my Portuguese lesson Understanding Verb Conjugation Once and for All + Present Tense of Regular Verbs.
5. Put the language in context
I cannot emphasize this enough! Don’t just keep repeating: eu falo, você fala, nós falamos. Use your verbs in context. Use full sentences and paragraphs that make sense and tell a story. This is absolutely key to learning language.
6. Sing along
Use Brazilian songs to improve your Portuguese. But make this an active language practice! Here is how you do this:
- Get the lyrics
- Read the lyrics and look up words that you don’t know. If you don’t understand what the song says, what sense will conjugated verbs make?
- Sing along and have a blast!
Let me show you an example. Below are a few sentences from the song Sutilmente, by Skank:
E quando eu estiver triste
Simplesmente me abrace
E quando eu estiver louco
Subitamente se afaste
E quando eu estiver fogo
Suavemente se encaixe
What you see in bold is the verb Estar conjugated in the future subjunctive for Eu.
If you sing this song a couple of times, you will never have to think about this conjugation again. It will just come naturally when you need it.
Now, notice how the verb Estar has the word quando in front of it in each sentence. Would this be a pattern? Yes! So how about doing some research on this future subjunctive pattern?
The verbs that are underlined are conjugated in the Imperative or Commands. They all end in E in the song and the infinitive of these verbs all end in -AR. Another pattern!
It will be fun to sing knowing what you are saying. In addition, if you follow your curiosity, you will learn a lot from songs.
Now go ahead and find different Brazilian genres and artists that you like, and have fun while learning Portuguese with songs.
7. Read in Portuguese
Reading is a great way to learn and to improve your Portuguese even beyond verb conjugation. The more you read, the more you see the same words, same grammar structures, and same verb conjugations over and over again. This helps you memorize words and patterns, and also helps you feel more and more comfortable with the language.
To turbocharge your verb conjugation skills through reading, you can choose a couple of interesting verb conjugations in any article or book page, and practice them using the tips that you are learning here.
There are tons of Brazilian magazines that you can read online without a subscription.
If you are a book lover, you can find Brazilian authors on Amazon.com or you may choose to read international best sellers in Portuguese.
Check out 7 recommendations of books to read in Portuguese here.
8. The most important tip: Use the verbs in real life conversations
Nothing can replace real-life conversations with real people when learning a language.
You cannot become a driver just by reading about it. You will not be a great cook without cooking. And you will not achieve your best fluency without speaking the language.
You may think that you are not ready to engage in conversations. You may be afraid that you will make mistakes. Let me tell you this: You cannot learn a language without making mistakes. So, get over your fear of making mistakes and adventure into the real world with your Portuguese.
Learn from your mistakes, be curious about the language, embrace being a learner, and enjoy the journey to fluency!
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