Today you will understand verb conjugation in a simple, practical way. You will get familiar with the language around verb conjugation and you will learn exactly how to work with patterns. With this knowledge you can learn the conjugation of any verb tense on your own.
You will also learn the present tense conjugation of regular verbs in Portuguese.
At the end of the lesson I show you a fun way to practice verb conjugation.
My next lesson will focus on tips on how t practice verb conjugation. Make sure you subscribe to my blog (use the form on the right hand side) and to my YouTube channel, so you get the lesson when I post it.
Now, it is likely that your thoughts about verb conjugation go something like this:
Yes, right? Follow Jeff Martin (@howto_really_learnalanguage (opens in a new tab)" href="https://www.instagram.com/howto_really_learnalanguage/?hl=en" target="_blank">@howto_really_learnalanguage) on Instagram for a good language-learning laugh 🙂 I also recommend that you check out his book How to Really Learn a Language.
First things first: The Infinitive
So what is the infinitive of a verb? It’s important that you to feel comfortable with this language.
Let’s start by looking at some verbs in English, for instance:
- to talk
- to eat
- to decide
This is the basic form of the verb, it’s the neutral from of the verb. When I use this neutral form, I am not talking about anyone’s action, I am not telling anyone to do anything, I am not expressing an action in the past, present or future.
This basic form of the verb is what we call the infinitive of a verb.
In English, the infinitive of the verb is preceded by “to”. In Portuguese, we have three main verb endings or verb terminations that show us it is the infinitive form of the verb. Let’s use the verbs above to show the infinitive form in Portuguese:
- to talk = falar
- to eat = comer
- to decide = decidir
Do you see above what the infinitive verb endings are in Portuguese?
- We have verbs ending in AR, as falar.
- We have verbs ending in ER, as comer.
- And we have verbs ending in IR, as decidir.
We also have a verb that ends in OR: pôr = to put. And we have other verbs that come from pôr, so they also end in OR. But OR is not a regular verb ending, so we will not discuss it today.
Now you know what the infinitive is, and you know that verbs in Portuguese have 3 verb terminations: ar, er, ir.
What is verb conjugation, after all?
Verb conjugation is when we change the verb to communicate different things.
For instance, I can communicate when an action happened (verb tense): I ate an apple yesterday. I eat an apple every day.
With verb conjugation we also communicate the idea of persons in the speech, that is, who is practicing the action. I eat, she eats, we eat.
In English there is very little variation in conjugation between the different persons in a give verb tense: I eat, we eat, you eat, they eat. The verb almost doesn’t change. But in Portuguese the verb changes a lot more, and that’s what makes it challenging.
The persons in verb conjugation
When we conjugate verbs, we do that for each person of speech. A person of speech is also called a subject pronoun or a personal pronoun. This is the subject of the verb.
In English you have: I, you, he, she, it, we, they.
Here are the personal pronouns in Portuguese:
- Eu = I
- Tu = you (singular)
- Você = you (singular)
- Ele = he
- Ela = she
- Nós = we
- Vocês = you (plural)
- Eles -they (masculine or mixed)
- Elas = they (feminine)
Technically, você is not a personal pronoun, but I will use it as so in this lesson because you need to learn how to conjugate verbs for você just the same as you need to know for the other personal pronouns.
Do you need to learn the conjugation for Tu?
You don’t really have to use the conjugation for Tu. You just need to know that Tu = you (singular).
In most of Brazil, when people use Tu they conjugate the verb as if they were using Você. This is grammatically wrong, but that’s how people speak in real life.
I will show you the conjugation for Tu in this lesson, but you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to.
Let’s finally conjugate verbs! Present tense of verbs ending in -AR
Let’s start with the verb Falar.
There are basically 2 steps to conjugating a verb:
- You get rid of the verb ending. In this case, when I get rid of –ar, I am left with: fal
- You add a new ending to each person of speech. For the present tense of regular verbs ending in AR, we have:
- Eu falo
- Tu falas
- Você fala
- Ele fala
- Ela fala
- Nós falamos
- Vocês falam
- Eles falam
- Elas falam
- The conjugation for você, ele, and ela is always the same
- The conjugation for vocês, eles, and elas is always the same
I added the following new endings the verb above: o, as, a, amos, am.
I do the exact same thing to conjugate any regular verb that ends in AR in the present tense:
- I get rid of the infinitive verb ending.
- I add the appropriate new endings, which are always the same.
This is why we talk about conjugation patterns, because it is always the same for regular verbs.
- Regular verbs follow a pattern. For example, you conjugate any regular verb that ends in Ar in the present tense exactly as I did above.
- Each verb tense has its own pattern.
- Irregular verbs do not follow a pattern. Each one has its own conjugations.
Let’s conjugate another verb ending in -AR: beijar = to kiss.
We follow the same 2 steps above:
- You get rid of the verb ending: in this case, when I get rid of -ar, I am left with: beij
- You add a new ending to each person of speech. For the present tense, we have:
- Eu beijo
- Tu beijas
- Você beija
- Ele beija
- Ela beija
- Nós beijamos
- Vocês beijam
- Eles beijam
- Elas beijam
Present tense of verbs ending in -ER
Let’s conjugate the verb comer. We will do the same thing that we did above:
- I get rid of the infinitive verb ending, and am left with: com
- I add the appropriate new endings, which will now follow a different pattern, the one that applies to all regular verb ending in ER in the present tense:
- Eu como
- Tu comes
- Você come
- Ele come
- Ela come
- Nós comemos
- Vocês comem
- Eles comem
- Elas comem
Present tense of verbs ending in -IR
We will conjugate the verb decidir = to decide.
Here we go again:
- I get rid of the infinitive verb ending, and am left with: decid
- I add the appropriate ending, which will now be a slightly different pattern, the one that applies to all regular verb ending in IR in the present tense:
- Eu decido
- Tu decides
- Você decide
- Ele decide
- Ela decide
- Nós decidimos
- Vocês decidem
- Eles decidem
- Elas decidem
The 3 present tense conjugation patterns of regular verbs in Portuguese
Here they are:
Now that you have the present tense patterns of regular verbs in Portuguese, play with the patterns, get familiar with them, become friends with your conjugations.
Look at the patterns above and find ways to engage with them. My next lesson will be about tips on how to practice verb conjugation like a pro!
But you can start playing with this. For example, the first thing I notice above is that the conjugation for Eu in the present tense ends in O no matter the verb ending. So go ahead and practice this. You can create a little story about what you do every day: I wake up at 7 a.m., I get up, I take a shower, I ate breakfast, and so on. Use lots of verbs.
Here is a fun way to practice verb conjugation
When practicing verb conjugation, it is important to get familiar with how the verbs sound. Therefore a fun way to practice is to choose a verb in your own language, turn it into a Portuguese verb, and conjugate it.
For instance, I can turn the verb to enjoy into enjoyar. Now I can apply the present tense conjugation pattern to my new verb enjoyar.
Here we go:
- I get rid of the verb ending: in this case, when I get rid of -ar, I am left with: enjoy
- You add a new ending to each person of speech. For the present tense, we have:
- Eu enjoyo
- Tu enjoyas
- Você enjoya
- Ele enjoya
- Ela enjoya
- Nós enjoyamos
- Vocês enjoyam
- Eles enjoyam
- Elas enjoyam
Yes, I know it is silly, but you know what? Our brains are better at remembering things that are funny, absurd, unexpected. Yes, go ahead and be as silly as you’d like practicing your Portuguese. It will help your brain retain the information.
Additionally, this practice will get you used to how each conjugation sounds, and this is very important when learning verb conjugation.
Check out my power tips to learn verb conjugation
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