A Versatile Lesson: Learn Practical Portuguese Grammar and Vocabulary

I saw the picture above on Bem – Brasil em Movimento’s Facebook page. The quote says:

“Tentar adquirir experiência apenas com teoria é como tentar matar a fome apenas lendo o cardápio.”
= Trying to obtain experience with theory only is like trying to satiate hunger only by reading the menu.”

Beautiful quote. I looked up online but couldn’t find the author. Mentions of the phrase are introduced by:

“Já dizia o Mestre”
= The Master used to say

Personally I’d love to discuss the importance of action in our lives. But, as you might have guessed, it was the Portuguese language geek in me who decided to write this article. I repeatedly see speakers of Portuguese as a foreign language having trouble with the points below. I hope my lesson will help you guys. Please be generous and forward this lesson to your peers and friends.

This lesson is organized in four parts.

1. Tentar = to try, to attempt

Tentar means to try as in “I will try to exercise more often.” It is a common mistake to place a preposition after the verb. Notice that the verb Tentar is not followed by any preposition. For example:

  • Carl tentou melhorar o desempenho do meu computador.

= Carl tried to improve my computer’s performance.

>Carl about to work on my computer

  • Maria quer tentar gastar menos neste Natal.

= Maria wants to try to spend less money this Christmas.

Please note:

We do not use the verb Tentar to say “to try food” or “to try on clothes”. I will show these in a different lesson.

2. Adquirir = to acquire, to obtain; to purchase, to procure

For example:

  • Carla adquiriu a casa em bom estado, mas agora a casa está caindo aos pedaços.

= Carla purchased the house in good condition, but now the house is falling apart.

  • Quando João adquiriu seu primeiro carro, ele não gostava de emprestá-lo a sua namorada.

= When João purchased his first car, he didn’t like to lend it to his girlfriend.

Check out our lesson: To Borrow and To Lend in Portuguese

3. Como = how. But also, Como = like

Early in your journey learning Portuguese you learned that Como is a question word:

  • Como posso aprender português mais rápido?

= How can I learn Portuguese faster?

  • Oi! Como vai?

= Hi! How are you?

In the quote that inspired this lesson, you see another useful meaning of Como. It means “like” and is used to express similarity between people, things or actions. For example:

  • Bem Gil é músico, como seu pai, Gilberto Gil.

= Bem Gil is a musician like his father Gilberto Gil.

  • Ela age como se fosse o centro do universo.

= She acts like she is the center of the universe.

Notice that in the Portuguese version of the sentence, I used the past subjunctive. When you use “como se”, you need the past subjunctive. So really our sentence is: “She acts as if she were the center of the universe.”

4. Matar a fome

Think of matar = to quench, to satisfy a need. We use this a lot in different expressions:

= Today I will fulfill my desire to eat pãozinho de queijo!

  • Que calor! Que tal suco de caju pra matar a sede?

= It’s so hot! How about caju juice to quench our thirst?

Check out our Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs flashcards!

And here is a very Brazilian expression:

  • Quando vou ao Brasil, mato a saudade da minha família.

I will leave the translation of this one up to you :)

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