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Portuguese Regular Verbs in the Past Tense

Not long ago, I wrote about Portuguese regular verbs and conjugation patterns in the present tense. Now it is time to do the same for the past tense – for both the preterite and imperfect conjugations (pretérito perfeito and pretérito imperfeito correspondingly).

As you’ll see, the preterite and imperfect are “less irregular” than the present tense – there are fewer irregular verbs and no spelling adjustments for regular verbs. 

Let’s get started.

Here’s the analogous article for the present tense: Portuguese Regular Verbs in the Present Tense.

Note! This article is exclusively about conjugation patterns for the preterite and imperfect tenses. Here’s a read for you in case you want to dive into their usage: Portuguese Perfect vs. Imperfect Tense: Know When to Use Which.

Preterite (Pretérito perfeito)

Regular conjugation

To conjugate Portuguese regular verbs in the preterite tense, remove the infinitive form’s ending – either –ar, –er, or –ir –  and add, instead, the following endings to the stem (as marked in bold):

1st conjugation: -ar (falar)2nd conjugation: -er (correr)3rd conjugation: -ir (domir)
Ele, ela, vocêfaloucorreudormiu
Vocês falaramcorreramdormiram
Eles, elasfalaramcorreramdormiram

Irregular cases

Here’re preterite’s irregular verbs:

eu, tu, ela, nós, vocês/elas
serfui, foste, foi, fomos, foram
irfui, foste, foi,  fomos, foram
estarestive, estiveste, esteve, estivemos, estiveram
tertive, tiveste, teve, tivemos, tiveram
pôr (repor, transpor, compor, etc)pus, puseste, pôs, pusemos, puseram
haverhouve (third-person only) 
dardei, deste, deu, demos, deram
fazerfiz, fizeste, fez, fizemos, fizeram
quererquis, quiseste, quis, quisemos quiseram
dizerdisse, disseste, disse, dissemos, disseram
poderpude, pudeste, pôde, pudemos, puderam
virvim, vieste, veio, viemos, vieram
vervi, viste, viu, vimos, viram
sairsaí, saíste, saiu, saímos, saíram
caircaí, caíste, caiu, caímos, caíram 
sabersoube, soubeste, soube, soubemos, souberam
trazertrouxe, trouxeste, trouxe, trouxemos, trouxeram

It is worth noticing that ser and ir share the same verb forms in the preterite (discernment between them is left to context).

Likewise, the verbs ter and estar share a de facto pronunciation. Accordingly, we tend not to pronounce estar’s first syllable – (es)tou, (es)tás, etc. – in everyday life, casual speech.  

Reading tips! Make sure you keep an eye out for high-frequency irregular verbs: Portuguese Must-Know Irregular Verbs.

Imperfect (Pretérito imperfeito)

Regular conjugation

Here’re the conjugation patterns for Portuguese regular verbs in the imperfect tense:

1st conjugation: -ar (falar)2nd conjugation: -er (correr)3rd conjugation: -ir (domir)
Ele, ela, vocêfalavacorriadormia
Vocês falavamcorriamdormiam
Eles, elasfalavamcorriamdormiam

Notice that the second and third conjugations share the same endings in the imperfect.

Also, the first-person plural of the imperfect tense is always stressed on the third-last syllable, thus the acute accent mark.

Reading tips! Learn more about Portuguese accent marks and word stress: Portuguese Word Stress and Accent Marks.

Irregular cases

The imperfect tense has even fewer irregular verbs than the preterite – there are only four of them:

eu, tu, ela, nós, vocês/elas
serera, eras, era, éramos, eram
tertinha, tinhas, tinha, tínhamos, tinham
virvinha, vinhas, vinha, vínhamos, vinham
pôr (repor, transpor, compor, etc)punha, punhas, punha, púnhamos, punham

Reading tips! Here’re a few more reads about Portuguese verbs that you may want to take a look at:

Portuguese Gerund: Progressive Tenses and Beyond
Portuguese Verb Tenses and Moods Explained: A Usage Rundown Anchored to English
Portuguese Personal Infinitive: What Is It and When to Use It

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