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Portuguese Defective Verbs

Defective verbs are verbs with incomplete conjugation. For instance, Portuguese defective verbs are only conjugated in the 3-person (singular or plural).

Some defective verbs are commonplace so you want to learn how to use them. But before we look at a few examples, I want you to be aware of something.

“Normal” verbs, in opposition to “defective” verbs, not only have complete conjugation but can also accommodate subject and object:

O Rafael come a sopa.
Rafael eats the soup.

In the example above, Rafael is the subject (with agency), comer is the verb (action), and sopa is the object (recipient of the action performed by the subject).

As you’ll soon see, we use defective verbs in situations where there’s no subject or agent (like Rafael above). Instead, something will happen to someone – the person involved is the recipient, not the agent. 

Thus, in the examples below, we’ll be using object pronouns (-me, -te, -he,  -nos, -vos, -lhes) instead of subject pronouns (eu, tu, ela, nós, vocês, elas). 

It’s always easier with concrete examples. Read on.

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Olá! This is Pedro and I'm the founder of Portuguesepedia, a platform created to support and accelerate your Portuguese learning journey. Até já, p

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