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Where are you at? (1 Beginner–10 Fluent)

There are plenty of interesting options for our accommodation. It will most likely be a countryside house near Tavira.

I haven't booked it yet because I want to get a better idea of the group's composition (how many couples/singles) and your preferences before I do so. That will for instance help me understand how big a house we might need.

I look forward to soon talking to you about this and much more. Até breve, p

Where are you at? (1 Beginner–10 Fluent)

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Portuguese Present Tense – Usage Rundown Anchored to English

In this article, I will walk you through the Portuguese equivalents to the English present simple, present continuous, and present perfect tenses.

Also, we will be mostly focusing on usage, not conjugation. To learn more about present tense conjugation in Portuguese, take a look at this one: Portuguese Regular Verbs and Conjugation Patterns in the Present Tense.

Let’s get started.

Tips! Here’re a couple of analogous reads on Portuguese past and future tenses:
Portuguese Past Tenses – Usage Rundown Anchored to English
Portuguese Future Tenses – Usage Rundown Anchored to English

Present simple

Henceforth, I will be using the regular verb cantar (sing) for all the usage examples:

Cantar | Present simple
Ele, elacanta
Eles, elas
Present participle
Past participle
Particípio passado

Put simply, we use the present simple to talk about things done on a regular basis (habits, repeated actions, etc). Here’s an example:

Eu canto num grupo coral às terças-feiras.
I sing in a choir on Tuesdays.

We can also use the present simple to express a time in the future (as long as we have some adverb or adverbial phrase indicating a future time): 

Na próxima semana, contudo, cantamos na quarta-feira.
Next week, though, we will sing on Wednesday.

Present continuous

We use the present continuous to talk about ongoing actions – something that is unfolding as we mention it. 

We’ll need the auxiliary verb estar, the Portuguese counterpart of the verb to be:

Estar | Present simple
Ele, elaestá
Eles, elas

Reading tips! There are actually two (!) verbs to be in Portuguese, namely ser and estar. Dig deeper into their differences: Portuguese Verbs ‘Ser’ and ‘Estar’- How and When to Use Either.

In European Portuguese, the equivalent of the present continuous is formed by the auxiliary verb estar in the present simple followed by the preposition a, after which comes the main verb in the infinitive. 

estar [pres.] + a + cantar [inf.]
Neste momento, a Catarina está a cantar.
At this very moment, Catarina is singing.

Notice that the present continuous (all progressive tenses for that matter) looks slightly different in the Brazilian standard. 

Accordingly, the preposition a after the auxiliary verb is left out and the main verb comes in the present participle instead *:

estar [pres.] + cantar [pres. participle]
Neste momento, a Catarina está cantando.
At this very moment, Catarina is singing.

* The present participle is called gerúndio in Portuguese, which is used beyond progressive tenses (in either standard). Learn more about it: Portuguese Gerund: Progressive Tenses and Beyond.

Also, explore the differences between the European and Brazilian standards: European vs. Brazilian Portuguese – How Different Are They Really?

Present perfect

Portuguese compound tenses use ter as the auxiliary verb – the  Portuguese counterpart to have:

Ter | Present simple
Ele, elatem
Eles, elas

Now, the English present perfect often refers to a completed action in the past, which is never the case in Portuguese. 

Take the following English sentence and see how the Portuguese version calls to the preterite (a simple past tense):

have [present] + sing [past participle] 
Catarina has sung a lot in the past. 

cantar [preterite]
A Catarina cantou imenso no passado.

Here’s the thing. When we use a structure analogous to the English present perfect – auxiliary verb (ter) in the present tense followed by the main verb (cantar) in the past participle –  then, we are referring to actions that started in the recent past and continue all the way up to the present (and not to complete past actions). 

Let’s look at a Portuguese sentence using this compound verb structure: 

ter [present] + cantar [past participle]
A Catarina tem cantado imenso nos últimos meses.

have [present] + be [past participle] + sing [present participle]
Catarina has been singing a lot over the last few months. 

As you can see, the English translation calls to the present perfect continuous rather than the present perfect simple.

Now, the example above depicts something that has been ongoing “over the last months”. Imagine, however, that we use the same structure (in English) to illustrate an ongoing action unfolding on the same day that the observation is made.

In that case, the Portuguese equivalent will be other than the one above. There are actually two options:

ter [preterite] + a + cantar [past participle]
A Catarina esteve a cantar toda a manhã.

ter [pres.] + estar[past participle] + a + cantar [inf.]
A Catarina tem estado a cantar toda a manhã.

have [present] + be [past participle] + sing [present participle]
Catarina has been singing the whole morning. 

While the second option offers a more clear indication that the action is still ongoing, the first one is simpler (probably more common) and will do the trick as well.

Reading tips! Further explore the Portuguese Past Participle: Portuguese Past Participle and Auxiliary Verbs that Go with It.

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Where are you at? (1 Beginner–10 Fluent)

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