Subjuntive in Portuguese

Subjunctive in Portuguese

Olá! I hope you are ready for one more post about a new verb mood – the Subjunctive in Portuguese.

If you are learning Portuguese, as I guess you are, you probably already stumbled upon this very seemingly hard verb mood. Even if you haven’t studied it or looked at it yet, for sure you have heard it!

See… the problem is that many schools and teachers decide to leave the learning of the subjunctive to a later stage in their courses. This is probably due to the fact that the subjunctive is not as straight forward to teach as the Indicative mood, because it refers and it is used to speak about more abstract things as in situations of doubt, to give an opinion, etc.

I have even heard people saying that we do not use the subjunctive as much as the Indicative form. Well, I hate to break the news for you but…

…this is not true at all!

If you hear a normal conversation in Portuguese, you will find several instances where this verb mood is used. For example, sentences starting with certain expressions, like the ones below, are only right if you use Conjuntivo (subjunctive in Portuguese):

  • É importante que me digas a verdade;
  • É melhor que fiques aqui.

Besides, there are different tenses inside the Subjunctive to express different ideas. We have the Present Subjunctive, The Imperfect Subjunctive and the Future Subjunctive in Portuguese.

Each of these three tenses express a different idea and it is very important that we understand how and when to use them correctly. Only then will you sound like a pro in Portuguese!

Presente do Conjuntivo em Português

In today’s post I will focus on the Present tense and add the other tenses in future posts.

So how do we build the Presente do Conjuntivo in Portuguese? Let’s take a look!

FORM:

To get the right form of this tense, go to the first person singular of Presente do Indicativo and change the o for an e (verbs ending in -ar) or for an a (verbs ending in -er or -ir):

Estudar => eu estudo => Eu estude / Tu estudes/ Ele, Ela, Você estude/ Nós estudemos/ Vocês estudem/ Eles, Elas estudem;

Beber => Eu bebo => Eu beba/ Tu bebas/ Ele, Ela, Você beba/ Nós bebamos/ Vocês bebam/ Eles, Elas bebam;

Abrir => Eu abro => Eu Abra/ Tu abras/ Ele, Ela, Você abra/ Nós abramos/ Vocês abram/ Eles, Elas abram.

USE:

Now that you know the form, it is important that you understand when and how to use it. Take a look at the explanations below to find out!

  1. When expressing an opinion or a suggestion.

When we want to express an opinion or when we want to give a suggestion, we tend to use expressions like the ones below. They are normally impersonal expressions, but we can also make them personal (check the examples in parentheses). With these expressions we need to use the Conjuntivo!

  1. É importante que (or, for example, Acho importante que); – It is important that.
  2. É necessário que (or, for example, Considero necessário que); – It is necessary that.
  3. É interessante que (or, for example, Parece-me interessante que). – It is interesting that.


**** Bear in mind that, if we take out QUE, we can build the same structure using Infinitivo Pessoal:
É importante que façam desporto OR É importante fazerem desporto.

2. When stating a probability.

When we want to speak about a probability or a possibility, we use expressions like the ones below and we must use the subjunctive as well:

  1. É provável que (It is probable that);
  2. É possível que (It is possible that).


****Note that if we use adverbs, we can build the same structure using Indicativo.É provável que vá a Lisboa OR Provavelmente vou a Lisboa
É possível que seja bom OR Possivelmente é bom

3. With expressions that reflect a clear fact in the negative form.

When we want to speak about a fact in the negative form, we also use the subjunctive with the following expressions:

  1. Não é claro que (It is not clear that);
  2. Não é evidente que (It is not evident that).;
  3. Não é óbvio que (It is not obvious that);
  4. Não é verdade que (It is not true that).

Não é claro que ele venha amanha. / Não é óbvio que tu gostes dela.

**** Note that when these expressions are in the positive form, we use the Indicativo.É claro que ele vem amanha. / É óbvio que gostas dela.

4. When it is a verb or an expression that reflects a wish, a doubt, an order, a feeling.

With verbs like:

  1. Desejar que (Wish that…);
  2. Querer que (Want that…);
  3. Preferir que (Prefer that…);
  4. Pedir que (Ask that…);
  5. Duvidar que (Doubt that…);
  6. Mandar que (Order that…);
  7. Ordenar que (Order that…);
  8. Exigir que (Demand that…);
  9. Proibir que (Forbid that…);
  10. Recear que (Fear that…);
  11. Gostar que (Like that…).

and with expressions like:

  1. Ter dúvidas de que (Have doubts that…);
  2. Ter medo de que (Have fear that…);
  3. Ter receio de que (Have fear that…);
  4. Ter pena de que (Have pity that…);
  5. Ter gosto em que (Like that…);
  6. Ter vontade de que (Have the will that…);

we use the conjuntivo! Take a look:

Eu gosto que tu saias de casa. / Desejo que sejas feliz.

Eu tenho gosto em que tu saias de casa. / Tenho medo de que não sejas feliz.

5. With talvez.

With the word that expresses the same as “maybe” in English, we use the subjunctive:T

Eles talvez cheguem amanhã./ Tu talvez tenhas razão.

**** Keep in mind that when we add talvez after the verb, the verb comes in the Indicativo.Eles chegam talvez amanhã. / Eles chegam amanhã, talvez.

6. With certain conjunctions.

With conjunctions like:

  1. Embora (Although);
  2. Ainda que (Eventhough);
  3. Se bem que (Eventhough);
  4. Mesmo que (Even if).

Embora esteja a chover, eu vou à praia (indicativo).
Embora esteja a chover, vai à praia (Imperativo).

**** Also important to know that with apesar de (Although) we use the Infinitivo Pessoal.Apesar de estar a chover, eu vou à praia.

7. When it is an expression related to time.

Certain expressions that refer to the time that something happens, also come with Conjuntivo:

  1. Antes que (Before);
  2. Até que (Until);
  3. Logo que (As soon as).

Antes que o filme comece, ela chega ao cinema. (indicativo) / Antes que o filme comece, telefona-me. (Imperativo).


**** Bear in mind that with Antes de (Before) we use the Infinitivo Pessoal.Apesar de estar a chover, eu vou à praia.

8. When it is an expression of finality.

Certain expressions indicate the finality or the purpose of something and also come with the subjunctive:

  1. A fim de que (In order to);
  2. Para que (So that).

A fim de que tu aprendas Português, eu trouxe esta gramática. (Indicativo) A fim de que tu aprendas Português, estuda esta gramática! (Imperativo)

**** Note that if we take out QUE, we can build the same structure using Infinitivo Pessoal. A fim de aprenderes Português, estuda esta gramática!

9. When it is an expression of condition.

Expressions of condition gives us the condition that needs to be met in order for something to take place. They also ask for conjuntivo:

  1. Caso (in case);
  2. Desde que (as long as);
  3. Sem que (without);
  4. A não ser que (unless);
  5. A menos que (unless).

Caso tu estejas doente, não vais trabalhar (Indicativo)
Caso tu estejas doente, não vás trabalhar (imperativo)

****Note that if we use No caso de, we should use infinitivo pessoal instead. No caso de tu estares doente, não vás trabalhar.

10- When it is an expression of a wish

With expressions that indicate a wish, we also need to use the subjunctive.

  1. Deus queira que (something like “I hope it is God’s will”);
  2. Tomara que (something like “I hope it is God’s will”);
  3. Oxalá (something like “I hope it is God’s will”);
  4. Quem me dera que (I wish that).

Tomara que ele encontre a carteira!
Oxalá que ele encontre a carteira!

11. When we are wishing for something general and unspecific that should have a specific characteristic.

If you know that you want a car and that that car can be any brand but should be red, you must use the subjunctive verb form:

A Maria quer comprar um livro que seja muito interessante. (Maria wants to buy ANY book, but that book needs to be interesting).

****Note that if you know which object/ person it is – if it is something we already know – then we use Indicativo. A Maria está a ler um livro que é muito interessante. (She is already reading a book – we already know which book it is!)

12. With expressions that translate negative opinions

These expressions are always followed by subjunctive:

  1. Não pensar que;
  2. Não acreditar que;
  3. Não crer que (not believe);
  4. Não julgar que (judge, meaning not think that).

Não penso que ele seja simpático.

**** Bear in mind that with expressions which translate positive opinions, we use Indicativo. Eu penso que ele é simpático.

13. When it is an expression that makes a contrast

  1. Por mais que; (as much as);
  2. Por muito que (as much as);
  3. Por pouco que (as little as);
  4. Por maior (as big as);
  5. Por pior que (as bad as);
  6. Por melhor que (as good as).

Por mais que coma, ele não engorda.
Por melhor que ele seja, não consegue ganhar.

14. When it is an expression that reinforces an idea

These expressions come to reinforce an idea and also ask for the subjunctive:

  1. O que quer que (No matter what);
  2. Quem quer que (Whoever);
  3. A quem quer que (to whomever);
  4. De quem quer que (From whomever);
  5. Com quem quer que (With whomever);
  6. Onde quer que (Wherever);
  7. Por onde quer que (Whichever way);
  8. Para onde quer que (To wherever);
  9. Qualquer que/ Quaisquer que (Whichever).

O que quer que o bebé faça, a avó acha sempre engraçado!
Com quem quer que vás, tem cuidado!
Quem quer que venha, será bem recebido.
A quem quer que ele dê o presente, a pessoa vai gostar.
De quem quer que ele receba o presente, ele vai gostar.
Com quem quer que eu jogue, eu jogo bem.

Onde quer que eu esteja, eu estou bem. Por onde quer que eu vá, eu vou lá ter; Para onde quer que eu vá passar férias, eu vou gostar.
Qualquer camisola que compre, será sempre bonita.


Conclusion

When you encounter any of the expressions or sentences described above, you should use the subjunctive, when speaking about things that can happen and that do not express an unrealistic thing (in that case you would have to use the imperfect form, for example).

In the next posts I will introduce you to the Imperfect and Future Subjunctive in Portuguese. I hope that you will come back for more!

Also, if you are interested in learning more about other forms and tenses, take a look at my A1 and A2 Online Course, where I explain a lot of different topics in detail.

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?

Beijinhos,

Mia.

5 Comments to “Subjunctive in Portuguese”

  1. I would appreciate the opportunity of meeting you to hear more about your method and sharing my thoughts with you. Where are you based?

    1. Hello!
      I am based in Portugal, but I travel quite a lot. Are you a teacher? You can email me your thoughts as well to mia@learn-portuguese.org

      Thanks for your interest!
      Mia

  2. Thanks this was a very useful article. I ended up adding all this to my memrise course in Portuguese to help drill it into my head.

  3. Forgot to include the link to the Memrise chapter based on this weböpage. I was lucky enough to tbe able to record a Portuguese friend reading all these sentences. Here it is: https://www.memrise.com/course/1983171/o-meu-portugues-with-audio-in-progress/5/

    1. Hey!
      Thank you for your comment and interest in my page!
      I hope that you keep finding it interesting and that you come back for more!
      Thanks for your tips about memrise!
      Beijinhos,
      Mia

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