It is imperative to know the Portuguese imperative! You must, you have to, you will! Or so I hope =)
If you heard Portuguese, you heard us using this tense. You probably use it yourself in every day life. If you have a son you need to teach, you probably give him orders all the time. You probably catch yourself saying “Take your feet off the sofa”, “Do your homework”, “Clean your room”, and so on… All of these are sentences that come in the imperative form.
Even if sometimes you are not shouting (mums never shout, do they?) and you are simply asking your boyfriend or girlfriend something like “Pass me the salt, please”, you are still giving a kind of an order, even if asking nicely. In this case, too, you are using the imperative.
To sum up, we use the imperative in Portuguese (as well as in English) to:
- Give an order
“Faz os teus trabalhos de casa!” (Do your homework!)
- Ask for something
“Passa-me o pão, por favor!” (Pass me the bread, please!)
- To give a recommendation
“Prove este vinho! É muito bom.” (Taste this wine! It is very good.)
- To alert someone for something
“Tem cuidado!” (Be careful!)
- To make an invitation
“Vem comigo à festa!” (Come with me to the party!)
- To give an advise
“Não corras que podes cair” (Don´t run or you might fall).
- To beg for something
“Deixa-me ir brincar lá para fora! (Let me go outside and play).
It is possible that you can find it in other tenses too, and if you do, please let me know in the comments below. These are, however, the main kind of sentences where we use this tense.
But how do you form the imperative in Portuguese?
First of all you have to look at the following points:
- The imperative form in Portuguese does not have the first person singular (EU), unlike other tenses.
- The imperative form in Portuguese does not have a concrete time – we assume it is going to happen in the near future.
It is not so hard, if you follow the rules. Oh, the rules….. It is indeed imperative that you oblige to them, or your imperative will come out wrong. Let’s take a look at them:
As you can see, you start by using the second person of the Simple Present of the verb, to build the “tu” in the imperative form.
For example, in the second person of the Present form, FALAR is “Tu falas”. So, what we do is we get this and take the last “s”. Then we have “Fala (tu)” in the imperative form.
The rest of the persons are formed by a change of letters:
- Verbs ending in ar change the vowel to “e”. Then we have “Fale (você)”/ Falemos (nós)/ Falem (vocês)”.
- Verbs ending in er change the vowel to “a”. Then we have “Parta (você)”/ Partamos (nós)/ Partam (vocês)”.
- Verbs ending in ir change the vowel to “a” as well. Then we have “Coma (você)”/ Partamos (nós)/ Partam (vocês)”.
The negative form of the imperative in Portuguese is a bit different from the affirmative. Let’s take a look:
|Não fales (tu)|
|Não fale (você)|
|Não falemos (nós)|
|Não falem (vocês)|
|Não comas (tu)|
|Não coma (você)|
|Não comamos (nós)|
|Não comam (vocês)|
|Não partas (tu)|
|Não parta (você)|
|Não partamos (nós)|
|Não partam (vocês)|
In the negative form the second person singular “tu” is a bit different. This person takes the same vowel as the other persons in the negative. So, for verbs ending in ar, the vowel will be “e”. On the other hand, for verbs ending in er and ir, the vowel will be “a”. Besides this, we add an “s”. So, we will have “es” for verbs ending in ar and “as” for the others.
I know, it seems rather hard to master the imperative in Portuguese and we just covered the regular verbs. The irregular are even more confusing, I dare say. However, for today we end it here so you have time to practice what you just learnt before entering the world of irregularities. I want to assure you that as hard as it is, you can do it! Just try to use it as much as you can and it shall be fine!
Check the small exercise below to try and apply what you know. I hope it will help you 😉 You can also download it and check the solutions later.
Hope to see you around more often!
EXERCISE – IMPERATIVE IN PORTUGUESE
- Não _______ (comer- tu) tão depressa!
- ______ (fazer – você) os trabalhos!
- ______ (cantar – nós) uma canção!
- ______ (beber – vocês) mais água!
- ______ (abrir – tu) a porta, por favor!
- ______ (partir – vocês) de manhã!
- ______ (amar – tu) o próximo!
- ______ (falar – você) com ele!
- ______ (abrir – nós) a janela!
- ______ (pensar – você) bem antes de agir!