In my last blog post, I spoke about the Present Subjunctive in Portuguese. In today’s article, I will continue to address the Subjunctive in Portuguese, but this time I will be focusing on the Imperfect Tense.
As I previously mentioned, and unlike what you have probably been told, we do use Conjuntivo (subjunctive, in Portuguese) regularly in our every day conversations.
Therefore, it is time for you to learn this verb mood.
What you first need to know is that the Subjunctive mood is used to express more abstract things that the Indicative mood. It does not refer to an actual time – the present does not actually always convey the present, the imperfect does not actually always convey the past and the future does not always really relate to future times.
In fact, this mood has more to do with abstract things, and we use it when giving opinions, showing doubts, expressing concerns, etc and each tense – the present, the imperfect and the future – express a different idea.
Down here you can see a video with a practical example on how and when to use the subjunctive in Portuguese.
Imperfeito do Conjuntivo
Today we will be diving into the world of Imperfeito do Conjuntivo (Imperfect Subjunctive) and we will learn when it is used.
But let us take a look at its form first:
To form the Imperfect Subjunctive in Portuguese go to the third person plural of Pretérito Perfeito do Indicativo and take out the ending “ram”.
Then, add the endings for the Imperfeito do Conjuntivo => estuda
ram => estuda + sse
Look at the examples, for each conjugation:
Estudar => Eu estudasse / Tu estudasses / Você, Ele, Ela estudasse / Nós estudássemos/ Vocês, Eles estudassem Beber => Eu bebesse / Tu bebesses / Você, Ele, Ela bebesse / Nós bebêssemos/ Vocês, Eles, Elas, bebessem
Abrir => Eu abrisse / Tu abrisses / Você, Ele, Ela abrisse / Nós abríssemos / Vocês, Eles, Elas abrissem
Be aware that on the person Nós, you always have to add a stress mark on the accentuated syllable. The other persons do not need the accent.
1. To talk about wishes or hopes that are impossible or unlikely to happen
- Era bom.
- Era melhor.
Era tão bom que me deixassem dormir (it would be good, but for some reason it is not possible).
2. To show doubts about the subject we are talking about (Imperfeito do Conjuntivo shows more intense doubts than Presente do Conjuntivo).
Talvez ele devesse ter mais paciência.
- A fim de que;
- Antes que;
- Desde que;
Embora os filhos quisessem, os pais não os levaram ao jardim Zoológico.
**** If we change these to conjunctions without que, Conjuntivo changes to Infinitivo.
Apesar de os filhos quererem, os pais não os levaram ao jardim Zoológico.
Antes de chegarem, eles foram embora.
4. With “If” to talk about something unreal or unlikely to happen
Se pudesse, comprava/ compraria um carro.
**** The second part of the sentence is either in the Imperfeito do Indicativo or Condicional.
5. To wish or to hope for things that are not real or that are impossible or very unlikely to happen
- Quem me Dera.
Tomara que o dinheiro ainda fosse suficiente. (The money is no longer enough, we know it for sure – thus, not possible).
6. When we are wishing for something general and unspecific that should have a specific characteristic and the main sentence is in Perfeito or Imperfeito do Indicativo
Precisava de comprar um casaco que me ficasse bem e que fosse quente. (I need any jacket that would fit me and be warm).
**** If you know which object/ person it is – if it is something we already know – then we use Indicativo Encontrou uma casa que era grande e tinha aquecimento. (We know which house it is, thus we use Indicativo).
**** BUT when this comes in the negative form, it also comes with Conjuntivo.
Não encontraram ninguém que o pudesse ajudar. (It is negative, so it is Conjuntivo). **** Refer to number 11 about Presente do Conjuntivo! The same rules apply. However, in this case the main sentence is either in Perfeito or Imperfeito do Indicativo, contrarily to what happens when we use Presente do Conjuntivo.
We use the subjunctive to express ideas, doubts, to give advice, etc. While we use the Present Subjunctive to speak about things that are more likely to happen or more real, we use the Imperfect Subjunctive to express ideas about things that are very unlikely or impossible to happen. We also use the Imperfect tense in cases where the rest of the sentence is in the Perfeito or Imperfeito do Indicativo, or even in the Conditional form.
If you want to learn more about these tenses, you can find them in my previous blog posts. I also speak about the Conditional tense in my Online Course.
How do you feel about Conjuntivo? Do you find it easy? Or difficult?
If you find it difficult, do not despair! It is normal… just keep studying it and completing exercises until you get it! Most importantly, try to pay attention to conversations in Portuguese and try to identify this verb mood!
Please let me know what you thought of this article in the comments below and tell me about your experience with Conjuntivo. Do you find it difficult or easy? Has my post helped you at all?