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The Portuguese Verb Ficar – Conjugation and Usage

Ficar is a high-frequency, versatile verb. Learning to use it to its full potential will surely add to your language fluency. 

Depending on the context, the Portuguese verb ficar may correspond to stay, get, or become. Additionally, ficar is often used to indicate geographical location as well as to express aesthetic liking, among other meanings.

Here’s a text snippet where ficar is being used in a number of different ways:

Ontem não fui trabalhar e em vez disso fiquei em casa. A minha mulher, a Sofia, fez o mesmo e ficou comigo. Como a nossa casa fica perto de um parque, e como o tempo estava bom, aproveitamos para lá ir dar um passeio a pé. Ficamos relaxados sempre que vamos até ao parque. A Sofia levava uma blusa vermelha. Que bem que lhe fica! Ela é tão bonita que qualquer trapinho lhe fica bem. Voltamos para casa em boa hora pois o tempo tinha virado. Ficou tempo de chuva. Ficamos em casa o resto do dia. Foi um dia bem passado.Yesterday I didn’t go to work but stayed home instead. My wife Sofia did the same and stayed home with me. Since our house is near the park, and since the weather was nice, we decided to go there to take a stroll. We always get relaxed every time we go to the park. Sofia wore a red blouse. It looks so good on her! She’s so beautiful that anything looks good on her. We came back home in good time as the weather had suddenly changed. It became rainy outside. We stayed home for the rest of the day. It was a well-spent day. 

In what follows, we’re going to explore in greater detail ficar’s multiple uses. But first, we’ll look at a few of its tenses and verb forms.

Conjugation

Pronouns
Subject
Present tensePast tenses
– Perfeito
– Imperfeito*
Pronouns
– Reflex
– Object
Euficofiquei
ficava
-me
Tuficasficaste
ficavas
-te
Ela/eleVocêficaficou
ficava
-se
-lhe
Nósficamosficamos
ficávamos
-nos
Vocêsficamficaram
ficavam
-vos
Elas/elesficamficaram
ficavam
-se
-lhes
Past participle > ficado
Present participle
(gerund)
> ficando

* Curious about the difference between perfeito and imperfeito past tenses? Read the following article to learn more about when to use one or the other: Portuguese Perfect vs. Imperfect Tense: Know When to Use Which.

Tips! There are several online verb conjugators in case you want to look into other tenses of ficar or any other verb – Reverso Conjugation is one of them.

Usage

Stay

We use ficar much as in stay :

Vais ficar em casa este noite?
Are you staying home this evening?

Quando estive em Lisboa fiquei num hotel na baixa.
When I was in Lisbon, I stayed at a hotel downtown.

Fica onde estás, não te mexas!
Stay where you are, don’t move!

Fica bem e até à próxima.
Stay well and see you again.

Become

We use ficar to express the notion of becoming, whether referring to the past, present, or future time. The English verbs get, become, be, and remain can be used in this context:

Ela ficou destroçada com as notícias.
She became crushed by the news.

Fiquei triste quando soube que não vinhas.
I got sad when I realized you were not coming. 

O Diogo ficou calado o resto do dia.
Diogo remained silent for the rest of the day.

Ficaste zangado comigo?
Fico fulo sempre que me mentes.
– Did you get pissed at me?
– I get mad every time you lie to me.


A Catarina vai ficar contente por te ver.
Catarina will be glad to see you.

Ficou frio de repente.
It got cold suddenly.

Note that the examples above imply an evanescent, immediate kind of becoming. If, on the other hand, we mean a more gradual process of transformation, we would use a different verb, namely tornar-se:

Ele tornou-se numa pessoa mais paciente.
He became more patient as a person.

Locate

We use the third person of ficar to talk about the location of stationary things like places and buildings: 

Braga fica no norte de Portugal.
Braga is in the north of Portugal.

Onde ficam os Açores?
Where are the Azores located?

Onde fica a casa de banho?
Where’s the restroom?

O Museu de Arte Moderna fica do outro lado da cidade.
The Museum of Modern Art is on the other side of the city.

In this context, the verbs ficar and ser are exchangeable:

Braga é no norte de Portugal.
Braga is in the north of Portugal.

Onde é a casa de banho?
Where’s the restroom?

Note that we use estar, not ficar/ser, to locate people and moveable objects: 

O teu telemóvel está está na mesa da cozinha.
Your mobile phone is on the kitchen table.

Onde estão as minhas chaves, sabes?
Where are my keys? Have you seen them?

– Onde está o Pedro?
– Está na escola.
– Where’s Pedro?
– He’s in school.

Reading tips! As you may know, both ser and estar correspond to the English verb to be. And yet, they are not used the same way. Learn more about it in this article: Portuguese Verbs Ser and Estar: How and When to Use Either.

Obtain

We use ficar to say that someone gets something:

Ela ficou-lhe com o dinheiro todo.
She got all his money.

Nós vamos ficar com a casa do nosso avô. 
Are we going to get our grandfather’s house?

– Como é que vamos partilhar isto?
– Eu posso ficar com as laranjas e tu com os limões.
– How are we sharing this?
– I can take the oranges and you the lemons.

Postpone

We use ficar to say that something gets postponed:

O concerto ficou adiado para abril.
The concert was postponed to April.

– Hoje não deu tempo para pormos a conversa em dia.
Fica para a próxima.
– Today we didn’t find the time to catch up. 
– We will do it next time.

Cost

We use ficar to talk about costs and expenses: 

Por quanto fica?
How much is it?

As férias ficaram caras.
The holidays were expensive.

Aesthetic liking

We use ficar to express aesthetic liking. In this case, we use ficar’s pronominal conjugation *, that is, the verb forms are accompanied by object pronouns (me, te, lhe):

Estas calças ficam-lhe bem.
These trousers look good on him.

Achas que este casaco me fica bem? 
Do you think this jacket suits me?

* Here’re a couple of readings that cover Portuguese pronominal verbs and conjugation:

1. Portuguese Reflexive Verbs and Reflexive Pronoun Placement
2. Portuguese Object Pronouns: What Are They for and Where to Place Them

Restraint/reaction

We use ficar to express self-containment (or the absence of it). In this context, we ficar reflexively, that is, we conjugate the verb along with reflexive pronouns (me, te, se):

Ele ficou-se e não respondeu à provocação.
He held himself back ignoring the provocation. 

Ele não se ficou e respondeu à provocação.
He couldn’t hold himself back and he replied to the provocation. 

Não te fiques!
Don’t you put up with that! 

Idiomatic Expressions with “Ficar”

Here are a few idiomatic expressions using the verb ficar:

Ficar de boca aberta
Get blown away 

Ela ficou de boca aberta com as novidades.
The news blew her away.
Ficar de pé atrás
Get suspicious

Ele ofereceu-nos a viagem mas eu fiquei de pé atrás.
He offered us the trip but I was cautious about me accepting it.
Ficar nas lonas
Become broke

Ela ficou nas lonas ao fim de 3 anos sem trabalhar.
She became broke after 3 years without any job.
Ficar às escuras
Be in the dark

Fiquei às escuras sem saber o que fazer.
I was in the dark without really knowing what to do.
Ficar às aranhas
Become perplexed

Ele ficou às aranhas sem saber o que fazer.
He became lost without knowing what to do.
Ficar sem fala
Become speechless

Fiquei sem fala quando me contaste sobre o teu pai.
I became speechless when you told me about your father.
Ficar a ver navios
To miss out an opportunity

Ela não investiu na carreira e depois ficou a ver navios.
She didn’t invest in her career and so she never quite got there. 
Ficar de mãos a abanar
Become empty-handed

Ele pensou que ia herdar do pai mas ficou com as mãos a abanar.
He thought he would inherit from his father but he was empty-handed in the end.
Ficar-se nas tintas
Behave nonchalantly

Fiquei-me nas tintas.
I couldn’t care less.

Reading tips! Explore other verb-giants:

The Portuguese Verb “Haver” and All the Things You Say with It
The Portuguese Verb “Dar”: Usage and Idiomatic Expressions
The Portuguese Verb “Fazer” and All the Things You Say with It
How to Tell “Poder” Apart From “Conseguir” in Portuguese
Portuguese Must-Know Irregular Verbs

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