Surprise surprise!

Do you know what constipado means in Portuguese? Probably not what you are thinking...

Get a list of 50+ Must-Know English-Portuguese False Friends and be surprised.

Are you struggling with your pronunciation?

That's because you have yet to learn the Sounds of Portuguese.

Learn more

This article is brought to you by StoryLift

Let the Power of Stories Lift Your Portuguese.

Learn more

Portuguese Verbs “Ir” vs. “Andar” – Know When to Use Either

I’ve noticed that Portuguese language learners often use the verb andar when they actually want to say ir, and vice-versa.

This happens almost without exception in a context where means of transport are mentioned.

Here’s the difference. We use andar to talk about means of transport in general. However, we switch over to ir as soon as we also mention the final destination:

Eu gosto de andar de carro.
I like to drive (cars).

Amanhã, vou de carro até ao Porto.
Tomorrow, I am going to Porto by car.

These verbs are used in other contexts as well. Let’s look at them in more detail.

Andar 

Conjugation

Here’re a few verb forms of the regular* verb andar: 

PresentePretérito perfeitoPretérito imperfeito
Euando andeiandava
Tuandasandasteandavas
Ele, elaandaandouandava
Nósandamosandamosandávamos
Vós
Eles, elas
andamandaramandavam

* Learn more about Portuguese regular verbs:
Portuguese Regular Verbs and Conjugation Patterns in the Present Tense
Portuguese Regular Verbs for the Past Tense

Usage

Walk

Andar means, of course, walk:

O Pedro gosta de andar a pé.
Pedro likes to walk.

A Susana anda 9 km todos os dias.
Susana walks 9 km every day.

Greetings

We use andar when we casually greet other people:

Então, como andas?
Hi, what’s up?

Olá, como é que tens andado?
Hi, how have you been?

Lately

We also use andar to talk about things we’ve been doing lately:

Ando a estudar Alemão.
I’ve been reading German.

Olá, como é que tens andado?
Hi, how have you been?

Also, to talk about how we’ve been getting on or feeling lately:

Ando preocupado ultimamente.
I’ve been worrying lately.

Tens andado calmo?
Have you been feeling calm?

Means of transport

We use andar to refer to means of transport: 

Eu ando muito de comboio.
I use the train a lot.

A Patrícia tem medo de andar de avião.
Patrícia is afraid of planes.

Costumas andar de bicicleta?
Do you cycle often?

As mentioned in the introduction,  it is in this context (means of transport) that confusion between andar and ir arises. 

Again, as soon as we also mention direction or final destination, we’d use ir instead of andar. Let’s then look more closely at this other verb.

Ir 

Conjugation

Here’re a few conjugations for the irregular verb ir*:

PresentePretérito perfeitoPretérito imperfeito
Euvoufuiia
Tuvaisfosteias
Ele, elavaifoiia
Nósvamosfomosíamos
Vós
Eles, elas
vãoforamiam

* Ir is actually regular in the imperfect tense (pretérito imperfeito). Learn more about Portuguese irregular verbs: Portuguese Must-Know Irregular Verbs.

Usage

Go

Granted, ir is the Portuguese equivalent of go and we use it to express movement (towards a final destination). 

– Onde vais?
Vou à mercearia.

Where are you going?
– I am going to the grocery store.

And so, we say ir de, not andar de, when we mention the means of transport that takes us to the final destination:

Hoje vou de comboio à aldeia dos meus pais.
Today, I’m taking the train to my parents’ village.

A Patrícia foi de carro a Paris.
Patrícia went to Paris by car.

Costumas ir de bicicleta para o trabalho?
Do you normally cycle to work?

Future time

Finally, we use ir as an auxiliary verb to mark the future time (analogously to the structure be going to):

Amanhã, vou estudar o dia inteiro.
Tomorrow, I’m going to study for the whole day.

Vais adorar este sumo. Prova!
You’re going to love this juice. Give it a try!

Reading tips! Learn more about Portuguese verb tenses: Portuguese Verb Tenses and Moods Explained: A Usage Rundown Anchored to English

Portuguese Language Retreats

Lift your Portuguese to a new level in a peaceful, language-immersive environment. 

Learn more

Intensive Courses in Portugal

Get right on track towards fluency 

Learn more

Stay tuned for upcoming online courses and other learning materials.

Your opinion matters

Olá! Is there any topic you'd like me to cover in future posts? Feel free to suggest. I'm all ears.

Thank you for using Portuguesepedia. Até já, p

Share me