Irregular Verbs in Portuguese PERDER and PODER

Irregular Verbs in Portuguese | PERDER e PODER

Today I will continue with the Irregular Verbs in Portuguese – this time with the verbs PERDER and PODER.

These two verbs are part of the list of the Most Used Portuguese Verbs and therefore I find it very important that you know how to conjugate them and what they mean.

Use of the verb PERDER

We use this verb for different things. In fact, we can translate PERDER as “to lose” something, but also as “to miss”. Look at the following examples:

Perder o telefone – To lose the phone

Perder uma aposta – To lose a bet


Perder o comboio – To miss the train

Perder o voo – To miss the flight

Besides these two meanings, we also use PERDER in some idiomatic expressions:

Perder a cabeça – Literally it means “to lose your head”; something like “to loose your mind”.

Perder a vergonha – Literally, “to lose shame”; we use it when we want to say that someone is not/ should not be ashamed of something anymore.

As you can see, this verb has a lot of different meanings and uses and it is important that you know how to conjugate it.




This verb, as you might have noticed, is pretty regular in the Present Form. The only thing that makes it irregular is the first person singular – Eu perco. In this person, the “d” of the infinitive – PERDER – becomes a “c”, which changes the word considerably.

The rest of the persons, however, keep the “d” from the infinitive form and adopt a regular conjugation.


Use of the verb PODER

The verb PODER means “can” or “to be allowed” in Portuguese. In fact, this verb brings a lot of confusion to my students and they end up using it as CONSEGUIR.

In fact, if we want to translate it into English, we should really think of it as “to be allowed to”, as we use it normally to express this idea. Take a look at the following examples:

Poder sair – To be allowed to go out.

Poder comer no autocarro – To be allowed to eat in the bus.

Não poder tirar fotografias – Not be allowed to take pictures in the bus.

This should not be confused with the following examples:

Conseguir sair – To be able to go out.

Conseguir comer no autocarro – To be able to eat in the bus.

Conseguir tirar fotografias – To be able to take pictures.

CONSEGUIR is used to express a different kind of idea than PODER.

If you want to know more about this (and also the difference between other closely related verbs like CONHECER and ENCONTRAR, for example, take a look at my European Portuguese Online Course where I explain this and many other interesting things).

PODER – Form


PODER, as PERDER, is pretty much regular, except for the first person singular – Eu posso. In this case, the infinitive is not maintained at all and the word is completely irregular. The rest of the persons, however, follow the regular form of the verbs ending in “er”.

The verbs PERDER and PODER in context

The following sentences are examples to help you see the verbs in context.

Eu perco a cabeça com o mau
comportamento dele. 
I loose my mind with his bad
Ele perde sempre as coisas dele.He always looses his
Você perde sempre as apostas.You always loose the bets.
Assim nós perdemos o avião.Like this, we miss our flight.
Eles perdem muito dinheiro com isso.They loose a lot of money
with that.
Eu posso ir à festa.I am allowed/ I can go to
the party.
Eu posso ir?Am I allowed/ May I go?
Tu podes comer tudo.You are allowed to/ can
eat everything.
Vocês podem dizer-me.You may tell me.


These exercises are meant to help you practice what you have learnt. You will be able to find the pdf version , as well as the solutions here.

  1. Eu ____________ (perder) a paciência muito facilmente.
  2. Tu ____________ (poder) comer doces? Pensava que eras diabético!
  3. Ele ___________ (perder) muito tempo a falar com ela.
  4. Nós ___________ (poder) dar-te a nossa opinião?
  5. Vocês _________ (perder) o vosso cão demasiadas vezes! Deviam ter mais cuidado!
  6. Elas __________ (poder) fazer o que quiserem.
  7. Ela ___________ (perder) as estribeiras!
  8. Você _________ (poder) entrar se quiser.
  9. Eles __________ (perder) o autocarro todos os dias.
  10. Eu ____________ (poder) ver o que __________ (poder) fazer!


The verbs discussed today are very useful and you should learn them and use them as much as you can, in order to practice them in context! Pay attention to the conversations around you and check if you can spot them when other people are speaking Portuguese. Don’t forget to check the other irregular verbs – like IR and VIR, TER and DAR, HAVER, DIZER and FAZER, or OUVIR and PEDIR, for example.

If you have flashcards, do not forget to add these verbs and their conjugations and check them until you know them by heart.

Let me know in the comments below how many answers you got right and please do not hesitate to ask any questions or make any suggestions!

I am all ears 😉

Two dogs while one is looking into the camera
All ears.



4 thoughts on “Irregular Verbs in Portuguese | PERDER e PODER

  1. Hi, Mia. I hope you don’t mind me saying that
    ” lose” and “loose” in English are two different words, often confused when written by English speakers as well. When you lose weight, your belt becomes loose. I’m sure you know the difference and it was just a typo !!

    1. Oh, I don’t mind at all! Please do correct my English 🙂 Thank you! I actually know that, but when I write sometimes I don’t see or think about these things, and then when I am correcting my own text somehow sometimes I also don’t see the mistakes….I don’t know why…

      Thank you so much and I hope you’ve enjoyed the text, nevertheless. 🙂


  2. Thank you Mia!
    In exercise #7 does this translate “she lost the braces”(like they fell down the sink) or does it mean “she no longer has braces”(like the orthodontist removed them)?

    1. Hi Russ!
      Thank you for your question!
      “Perder as estribeiras” is an idiomatic expression and it means “To lose control/To lose your temper”. “Estribeira” was actually that thing you put on a horse to sit – a kind of stirrup. Do you know what I mean? I think the expression comes from the fact that if these stirrups were loose you might lose control and fall from the horse. I guess I should have made that clear when I used the expression!
      Hope this helps 😉
      Thanks again!

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