Portuguese Present Tense
The present tense is the first tense you typically learn in any language. Check my article below on the basics!
The present tense is the verb form you will typically learn first. It is the one you will use quite a bit in basic conversation. All verbs can be broken down into -ar, -er and -ir verbs. Almost all verbs use the same endings, so if you can memorize these and nail them down you will be good for most conversations. There are some irregular verbs but the majority are regular verbs. Let’s start with verbs ending in -ar.
I will use the verb “falar” in this example. Falar means “to speak”, making it a pretty useful verb to memorize early on. This way you can tell people that you “speak english” or that you”speak only a little bit of Portuguese”. There are 5 basic forms that can be used and it depends on who you are speaking to and what you are trying to say.
I – Eu
You (formal), he/she – você, ele/ela, o senhor/a senhora
You (informal) – Tu
We – Nós
You (plural), they – vocês, eles/elas, os senhores/as senhoras
And here are the forms that go along with them
Eu – Falo
Ele/Ela – Fala
Tu – Falas
Nós – Falamos
Eles/Elas – Falam
Do you see what happened? You take off the -ar ending and you replace it with a the ending specific to who you are talking about. Here are some examples
Falo um pouco = I speak a little
Ele fala ingles = He speaks english
Falas bem = You speak well/good
Falamos Portugues = We speak portuguese
Eles falam muito = They speak a lot
Now you will see for some those I threw in a clarifier in the beginning of the sentence about who I was talking about. I pout Ele fala ingles” for he speaks english. Which emphasizes the “he”. However, it would be perfectly fine to just say Fala ingles” for “he speaks english”. However when I am talking about a he or a she I personally like clarifying with that.
On the flip side, you can also add it to sentences I did not add it to. For example, the first one could be
Eu falo um pouco
Adding in the “I” to clarify. Likewise you could put Nós falamos portugues, to clarify the “we”. However in these cases it is a bit unnecessary unless you really want to emphasize it. Barely anyone will throw in “eu” in front of “I” verbs. As you will find in the portuguese language, they tend to take out unnecessary things. Squashing words together, not pronouncing vowels, removing certain letters from words (for example Estou a lot of people just say tou). That is actually where a lot of irregular verbs come from. Verbs that were used so much they were altered. But I will get into that a little later.
-er and -ir
-er and -ir are very similar in their endings. Let’s use the verbs comer and abrir. Comer mean to eat and abrir means to open
Eu – Como
Ele/Ela – Come
Tu – Comes
Nós – Comemos
Eles/Elas – Comem
Eu – Abro
Ele/Ela – Abre
Tu – Abres
Nós – Abrimos
Eles/Elas – Abrem
As you can see, they are very similar to each other. Only the Nós is slightly different. You will also notice that they are very similar to -ar verbs. The “I” for is exactly the same which makes things easy. And the rest is pretty much just changing the “a” to an “e”.
Because of this, it is very easy to memorize present tense verbs. Here are a couple easy example sentences using different forms.
Now while most verbs follow this pattern (regular verbs), there are another group of verbs that are slightly different. These are called irregular verbs.