Geared toward Absolute Beginners, this course gives you a solid start and foundation to build upon. The language of instruction is almost entirely in English.
This is an introductory course to the Portuguese language as spoken in Portugal. Throughout the course, we will focus on the Portuguese sound system and basic Portuguese grammar.
You will also learn how to introduce yourself and day-to-day, useful phrases. Finally, we will discuss learning resources and strategies to support your learning journey.
After the course, you will have a basic understanding of European Portuguese pronunciation and grammar. You will also be capable of engaging in simple, short oral interactions. Last but not least, you will be aware of a variety of learning resources and strategies to help you succeed at learning the language.
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This intensive course is for language learners striving toward the A2 level. The language of instruction is English/Portuguese, typically in a 35/65 ratio.
Reflexive verbs are abundant in Portuguese and many of them are frequently used in everyday life.
It is very easy for language learners – especially those without any previous acquaintance with Romance languages – to leave out the reflexive pronoun when they need to say a reflexive verb. And yet, that little word can make all the difference!
More often than not, the non-reflexive version of a given verb means something different altogether. Note the different meanings of atrapalhar-se and atrapalhar in the following example:
Ele atrapalhou-se e perdeu o controlo. He fumbled and lost control.
Saí porque não quis atrapalhar ninguém. I left because I didn’t want to disturb anyone.
Also, many learners of Portuguese seem to struggle with getting to grips with the word order concerning the reflexive pronoun and the verb form itself.
In this article, you will learn (1) what reflexive verbs are and what they look like and (2)where to place the reflexive pronoun in relation to the verb form. You will also (3) get acquainted with commonly used Portuguese reflexive verbs and (4)learn about other uses of the reflexive pronoun -se.
Simply put, reflexive verbs imply that the subject and object of a sentence are the same. In other words, the actions denoted by reflexive verbs reflect back on the subject.
In English, reflexive verbs are paired with reflexive pronouns such as myself, yourself, and herself, for example, I washed myself. Analogously, the same applies to Portuguese, that is, the verb forms are paired up with reflexive pronouns.
Here’s what Portuguese reflexive pronouns look like:
And here’s an example of a Portuguese reflexive verb:
Cortar-se (present tense) Cut oneself
* The first person plural of the verb drops its final -s when followed by the reflexive pronoun – from cortamos to cortamo(-nos).
Notice that the reflexive pronouns above follow the verb forms. However, there are cases where they swap positions. We will be looking into that in a moment.
As mentioned in the introduction, there are considerably more reflexive verbs in Portuguese than in English meaning that many Portuguese reflexive verbs have non-reflexive English equivalents. Here’s an example:
Lembrar-se (present tense) Remember
Again, Portuguese reflexive verbs have, more often than not, a non-reflexive counterpart with a different meaning. For instance, while the verb lembrar-se means remember, the verb lembrar means remind.
Nearly all English reflexive verbs are also reflexive in Portuguese, which, in that case, becomes quite intuitive (assuming that you have a good command of English).
Also, the English structure get + past participlenormally has Portuguese reflexive equivalents (get injured > magoar-se; get dressed > vestir-se; get lost > perder-se; etc.)
There is, however, a big number of Portuguese reflexive verbs beyond the above-mentioned categories. In order to keep track of them might be challenging for many, especially if you are not acquainted with other Romance languages from before.
If that’s your case, well, you’ll probably have to learn them by heart. But don’t fret, further down you’ll find usage examples of commonly used Portuguese reflexive verbs to help you become familiarised with them.
Let’s now turn our focus to word order.
Placement of Portuguese reflexive pronouns
Reflexive pronouns are normally placed after the verb form and linked to it by a hyphen:
Vejo-me ao espelho todas as manhãs. I see myself in the mirror every morning.
However, there are cases where the reflexive pronoun comes before the verb and, in that case, without the hyphen between them.
This word order change takes place when the reflexive verb is preceded by either (1) negative words (negative sentences), (2) question words (interrogative sentences), (3) subordinating conjunctions and prepositions, (4) adverbs, or (5) indefinite pronouns and determiners:
Reflexive pronouns precede the verb form in negative sentences:
Eu nãome penteei hoje. I didn’t comb my hair today.
Nuncate lembras do meu aniversário. You never remember my birthday.
Ninguémse sentou à mesa. No one took a seat around the table.
Nadase perde, tudo se transforma. Nothing gets lost, everything is transformed.
2. Question words
Reflexive pronouns precede the verb form in interrogative sentences introduced by a question word:
Ondete encontras? Where are you?
Comote chamas? What’s your name?
Quemse atrasou? Who got in late?
Quando é que te mudas para cá? When are you moving here?
3. Subordinate conjunctions and prepositions
Reflexive pronouns precede the verb form when the reflexive verb itself is introduced by a subordinating conjunction or preposition:
Acho quete enganas a ti próprio. I think you’re fooling yourself.
Ele fala comigo parase recordar dos bons velhos tempos. He talks to me to remember the good old days.
Ele foi-se embora porquese chateou comigo. He left because he got upset with me.
Ela soube comose apresentar. Now she knew how to introduce herself.
O Rui acabouporse curar. Rui managed to heal in the end.
Tenho deme lembrar de tomar o comprimido. I must remember to take the pill.
Ela anda a falar emse mudar para o Brasil. She has been talking about moving to Brazil.
É melhor sete levantares mais cedo . It is better if you get up earlier.
Reflexive pronouns precede the verb form when the reflexive verb itself follows certain adverbs:
Játe esqueceste de mim? Have you already forgotten me?
Talvezme divirta logo à noite. Maybe I will have fun later in the evening.
Poucome importa o que os outros pensam. I don’t care about what other people might think.
Semprete sentas ao meu ao meu lado para conversarmos? Are you finally sitting next to me to have a chat?
Notice that the adverb sempre in the example above corresponds to finally in English. However, sempre also means always, which, in that case, comes after the verb form, thus causing no word order change:
Enganas-tesempre na estrada. You always take the wrong road.
5. Indefinite pronouns
Reflexive pronouns precede the verb form when the reflexive verb itself follows an indefinite pronoun or determiner:
Sinto-me muito sensível, tudome magoa. I feel quite sensitive, everything hurts me.
Todos os homens se afastaram do elefante enraivecido. All the men moved away from the angry elephant.
Alguémse magoou? Did someone get hurt?
Poucosse lembramdo meu aniversário. Few bothered to remember my birthday.
Algose aproximava. Something was coming closer.
Future and conditional
In the future tense and conditional tenses, reflexive pronouns are normally placed between the stem and the ending of the verb form, all parts separated by hyphens.
Levantar-me-ei mais cedo amanhã. I will get up earlier tomorrow.
Levantar-me-ia mais cedo se não tivesse tão cansado. I would get up earlier if I were not this tired.
However, note that the tone in the examples above is quite formal. In everyday life, people would rather go with something like this:
FUTURE EQUIVALENT (w/ the auxiliary verb Ir)
Vou-me levantar mais cedo amanhã. I will get up earlier tomorrow.
CONDITIONAL EQUIVALENT (Imperfect tense)
Levantava-me mais cedo se não tivesse tão cansado. I would get up earlier if I were not this tired.
When a reflexive verb is preceded by an auxiliary verb – for example, ir, começar, querer, poder, conseguir, estar, ajudar, costumar, among others – its reflexive pronoun can be placed either after (1) the reflexive verb, or (2) after the auxiliary verb (the latter sounds more colloquial).
Here’s an example with the auxiliary verb ir and the reflexive verb deitar-se:
(1)Vou deitar–me agora. (2)Vou–medeitar agora. I will go to bed now.
However, if the verbs are preceded by any of those words that we’ve covered above – question and negative words, as well as certain adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, or pronouns – the reflexive pronoun is best placed before the auxiliary verb:
Jámevou deitar. I am already going to bed.
Todossevão deitar cedo esta noite. Everyone will go to bed early tonight.
Hoje nãome vou deitar antes das 3 da manhã. Today, I am not going to bed before 3 am.
Quandote vais deitar? When are you going to bed?
Verb “ter” + reflexive verb
In Portuguese, we use the verb ter to build compound tenses, just the same way we use have in English (take for instance the English present perfect tense with the auxiliary have preceding the main verb).
In the case of Portuguese compound tenses, the reflexive pronoun normally follows the auxiliary ter, not the reflexive verb itself:
Tenho–medeitado tarde. I have been going to bed late at night.
Again, if the verbs are preceded by any of those words we mentioned above, the reflexive pronoun is best placed before ter:
Nuncametinha deitado tão tarde antes. I have been going to bed late at night.
Pelas 21h, játodossetinham deitado. By 9 pm, everyone had already gone to bed.
The placement of reflexive pronouns in Brazilian Portuguese is somewhat more flexible. Often, they come before the verb:
Ontem melembrei de você. Yesterday you were on my mind.