The verb ficar in Portuguese has different meaning and different uses.
Literally the verb ficar means to stay.
However it can also mean to be or to get, as when I say that my husband was surprised to hear the news, or my cat was surprised at the sudden noise. This is a very common use of the verb ficar, and one that speakers of Portuguese as a foreign language tend to get confused with.
The goal of this Portuguese lesson is to help you understand this important use of ficar once and for all.
Conjugation of the Verb Ficar in Portuguese
Ficar is a regular verb, but there is something you need to know in order to write it correctly in some verb tenses.
Think about the simple past of regular verbs ending in –AR in the conjugation for Eu. For example:
- Falar: eu falei
- Cantar: eu cantei
- Comprar: eu comprei
When you follow this pattern and conjugate ficar as a regular verb in the past tense, you have: eu ficei. But if you say this out loud, you will see that it doesn’t sound right. The letter C sounds very different in front of the A and in front of the E.
To keep the original sound that the letter C has in the infinitive form of the verb ficar, we have a little trick. We use QU in place of C.
Therefore you have:
- Eu fiquei
The other the simple past tense conjugations are regular:
- Você ficou
- Ele ficou
- A gente ficou
- Nós ficamos
- Eles ficaram
The same thing happens in the present subjunctive and the imperative (command) conjugations of the verb Ficar, but in these tenses the QU shows up in every person of conjugation (eu, você, ele, a gente, nós, eles). Here’s the conjugation of the verb Ficar in all verb tenses.
The verb Ficar meaning to stay
This is the literal translation of the verb Ficar. It means to stay.
- Meus pais vão ficar comigo por duas semanas. = My parents will stay with me for two weeks.
- Onde você vai ficar em São Paulo? Vai ficar na casa da Ana? = Where are you staying in São Paulo? Are you going to stay at Ana’s?
- Quero ficar em casa e descansar no fim de semana. = I want to stay home and rest on the weekend.
The verb Ficar to talk about emotions or states
This is what I really want you to learn with this Portuguese lesson.
In this sense, the verb ficar translates as to be or to get and is followed by a word that indicates emotion.
A common question I get is: When do I say “fiquei triste” instead of “estava triste”?
I use a trick to help my learners understand when to use ficar and not the verb Ser. The key is that ficar indicates a transition of emotions. For example: you are feeling fine. Then you get bad news. Now you’re feeling sad. To indicate that you got sad because of the news, you use the verb ficar.
The following examples will help you learn this very important use of the verb ficar in Portuguese:
- O pai da Sílvia faleceu. Fiquei muito triste com a notícia. = Sílvia’s dad passed away. I was really sad with the news.
- Nós ficamos surpresos com o novo visual da Ana. = We were surprised by Ana’s new look.
- Tenho uma surpresa para Camila. Acho que ela vai ficar muito feliz. = I have a surprise for Camila. I think that she will be very happy.
- Você precisa se cuidar melhor ou vai terminar ficando doente. = You need to take better care of yourself or you will end up getting sick.
- Quando Jaqueline saiu de casa, começou a chover. Ela ficou toda molhada. = When Jaqueline left her house, it started to rain. She got all wet.
I have a vocabulary lesson with 10 common emotions in Portuguese. These are good words to practice with the verb ficar.
We also use the verb ficar to indicate the permanent (or relatively stable) location of things and places. Check out this other Portuguese lesson.
To use your new vocabulary correctly you need lots of practice. There’s only so much that apps, books, and videos can do for your Portuguese.
You need to have real conversations with real people in order to take your fluency to the next level.
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