In this post I am going to speak about the Personal Infinitive in Portuguese. I know that many of my students struggle with it and chances are you do too.
The infinitive can be impersonal or personal. The impersonal infinitive does not have any conjugations and we could say it is the equivalent to the verb’s “name” itself. So, for the verb “falar” the impersonal infinitive is “falar” and this always stays the same.
The Personal Infinitive, however, will vary according to the person. Thus, it will have different conjugations for different persons.
Below you can check how this form is conjugated and when it is used.
Are you ready?
Personal Infinitive – Conjugation
You can check how the conjugation goes on the following table:
|Eu falar||Eu comer||Eu abrir|
|Tu falares||Tu comeres||Tu abrires|
|Você/ Ele/ Ela falar||Você/ Ele/ Ela comer||Você/ Ele/ Ela abrir|
|Nós falarmos||Nós comermos||Nós abrirmos|
|Vocês falarem||Vocês comerem||Vocês abrirem|
|Eles/ Elas falarem||Eles/ Elas comerem||Eles/ Elas abrirem|
As you can see, the first (eu) and third (você/ ele/ ela) persons always stay the same as the verb’s “name” across the three types of verbs (verbs ending in ar, er and ir).
The second person singular (tu) adds an es to the infinitive of the verb.
The first person plural (nós), adds mos to the infinitive of the verb.
Finally, the second (vocês) and third (eles/ elas) persons of the plural form, add an em to the infinitive of the verb.
Ok, but now that you know the conjugations, you may be thinking when to use it. Well, don’t worry, read on and you will soon find out! 🙂
Personal Infinitive – When to Use It
The personal infinitive can and will be used many times. In the following lines, I will tell you the most common uses of this form, so that you can start using it with ease.
After certain prepositions:
After prepositions like Até, Para, Por, Sobre, Após… and many more.
Check the following examples:
Até aprenderes a somar, não podes aprender a dividir (Until you learn how to add, you can not learn how to divide).
Sobre quereres ir morar para a China, não tenho opinião (About you wanting to go live in China, I have no opinion).
After certain propositional constructions:
After propositional constructions like Antes de, Depois de, No caso de…
Check out the following examples:
Antes de comeres, lava as mãos (Before eating, wash your hands)
No caso de não vires, diz-nos (In case you don’t come, let us know)
After certain impersonal constructions:
There are some impersonal constructions, which do not have any specific subject, that ask for the personal infinitive as well.
Take a look at the following examples:
É preciso fazeres bem os trabalhos de casa (It is necessary that you make the homework correctly)
É necessário seres mais prudente (It is necessary that you are more careful)
É importante comunicar claramente o que queremos (It is important to clearly communicate what we want).
The impersonal sentences above, are the ones underlined: É preciso, É necessário, É importante. They are called impersonal because they do not have any specific subject.
Things to note
The use of the subject
The subject in sentences using the personal infinitive might be overt or hidden.
This means we can either have:
É preciso tu fazeres os trabalhos de casa
É preciso fazeres os trabalhos de casa
When the subject is understood by context (as on the example above), Portuguese speakers tend to hide it. However, when the conjugation of the verb and/or the context does not make it very clear, we need to add the subject.
Take a look:
É importante fazeres os trabalhos de casa
I do not need to add tu because the verb conjugation (fazeres) lets me know that the subject I am talking about is tu.
But that is not always the case:
É importante fazer os trabalhos de casa
In this case, if I don’t overtly add the subject, I do not know if I am saying something in general or if I am speaking to someone.
I could be saying that in general is important to make our homework. I could also be saying that it is important that I make my homework OR I could also be saying that it is important that he or she does the homework.
So, I could be meaning to say:
É importante fazer os trabalhos de casa.
É importante eu fazer os trabalhos de casa.
É importante ele/ ela fazer os trabalhos de casa.
É importante você fazer os trabalhos de casa.
So, to sum up: really check if the subject is understood by context or if you need to make it clear about/to whom you are talking.
The use of the Infinitivo vs Conjuntivo
Another thing you should bear in mind is that the Personal Infinitive sentences can be substituted by the Conjuntivo.
To do this, you just need to change them slightly.
Normally, either the preposition changes a little bit or a que is added or substitutes the de.
Let’s check the examples above again, how they are in the infinitive and how they would be with the conjuntivo.
Até aprenderes a somar, não podes aprender a dividir (Until you learn how to add, you can not learn how to divide). vs Até que aprendas a somar, não podes aprender a dividir (Conj.)
No caso de não vires, diz-nos (In case you don’t come, let us know) vs Caso não venhas, diz-nos (Conj.)
É preciso fazeres bem os trabalhos de casa (It is important you do your homework well) vs É preciso que faças bem os trabalhos de casa (Conj.)
Antes de o filme começar, liga-me (Before the movie starts, call me) vs Antes que o filme comece, liga-me.
As you can see, the sentences change slightly, but they have the same meaning.
If you want to know more about the use of Conjuntivo, don’t forget to check my posts about the Present, Imperfect and Future Subjunctive.
In conclusion, the personal infinitive can be your ally, as it can substitute the more complicated Conjuntivo form in many instances. You just have to check out its use and conjugation, which I hope I have helped you do with this blog post.
In the comments below, please do the following:
- Leave me a sentence using the personal infinitive and the same sentence using the conjuntivo. Can you do it?
I will check it out and let you know if you’ve managed. 🙂 This can be an excellent exercise for you to consolidate what you have learnt, so I will be waiting.
11 thoughts on “Personal Infinitive in Portuguese”
É importante sermos amáveis.
É importante que sejamos amáveis.
Muito bem 🙂
Espero que tu estejas bem!
Tenho uma pergunta:
Under “After certain impersonal constructions,” the third sentence is as follows:
“É importante comunicar claramente o que queremos.” But if we’re talking about the infinitivo pessoal, porquê não é:
“É importante comunicarmos…”?
O meu noivo disse que ambos são corretos, mas queria mais informações sobre isso.
Something didnºt look correct so I checked.
According to infopedia.pt, the site of the portugués dictionary creators, Porto Editora,
the personal infinitive conjugations in second person plural case of the three verbs you list are falardes, comerdes and abrirdes. These verbs are verbs with regular conguations (excepting aberto), like most of the verbs in the language.
Would please you inform us of the source you have falarem, comerem and abrirem instead of falardes, comerdes and abrirdes.
Yes, falardes, comerdes and abrirdes is the original form for the second person plural. However, that would be “Vós”, but in Portugal, most regions have ceased to use Vós and use Vocês instead. And with “Vocês” the conjugation is different, as it is the same as the third person plural, hence “falarem, comerem and abrirem”. I opt to teach the most commonly used version, rather than the other version, because it makes things more simple for everyone and you will likely not find a lot of people that still uses “Vós”, except for some regions in Portugal.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
No caso de quereres vir a minha casa, vem cedo.
Caso queiras vir a minha casa, vem cedo.
(should I be using vens or the imperative form vem is okay?
Well done! No, you used the imperative correctly, as it should be 👌 😊
É preciso conduzirmos com cuidado./É preciso que conduzamos com cuidado.
Muito bem 🙂 Muito obrigada pelo teu comentário e por fazeres o exercício proposto. Continua com o bom trabalho 🙂 Beijinhos, Mia
É importante que tu aprendes bem a língua Portuguesa. / É importante aprenderes bem a língua Portuguesa.
Olá Lívia! Well done! The infinitive is perfect! Just one thing, the conjuntivo of aprender in the second person (tu) is: é importante que tu aprendas 😉 If you want to check the conjuntivo go here:
Thank you for doing what I proposed 🙂 Well done! Muito bem! 🙂