Two tenses, same endings: the conditional and imperfect in Portuguese made easier

blackboard-583692_1280Recently I covered the conditional and imperfect tenses in Portuguese, now here’s something to make it easier to master them, at least as far as –er, and –ir verbs are concerned ( –ar verbs are a little different, but we wouldn’t want to make it too easy, would we?)

The thing to remember is that with regular er and –ir verbs, the suffixes are the same in both tenses, only the verb stem is different.

The common suffixes (verb endings) are: -ia, -ias, -ia, -íamos, -iam

  • To form the conditional, these endings are added to the infinitive.
  • To form the imperfect, these endings are added to the shortened verb stem (the infinitive minus the –er or –ir).

Let’s use a common –er verb as an example, vender (to sell)

CONDITIONAL                               IMPERFECT

  • eu venderia                            eu vendia
  • tu venderias                           tu vendias
  • você/ele/ela venderia             você/ele/ela vendia
  • nós venderíamos                   nós vendíamos
  • vocês/eles/elas venderiam    vocês/eles/elas vendiam


angel-298494_1280The same applies to a common –ir verb such as dormir (to sleep)

CONDITIONAL                               IMPERFECT

  • eu dormiria                            eu dormia
  • tu dormirias                           tu dormias
  • você/ele/ela dormiria             você/ele/ela dormia
  • nós dormiríamos                   nós dormíamos
  • vocês/eles/elas dormiriam    vocês/eles/elas dormiam

So, it’s pretty simple; because the imperfect uses the shortened verb stem, it is less of a mouthful than the conditional, which doesn’t always slip off the tongue easily.

Remember, these five endings also apply to –ar verbs in the conditional (eu falaria = I would speak) but not the imperfect, where a different set of endings is used (eu falava = I was speaking, tu falavas, etc).

For more information, go to the Verbs tab on the main menu bar. An explanation of Portuguese subject pronouns can be found under Grammar on the same menu bar.


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