Portuguese Lesson – How to use Past Tenses in Portuguese

Olá, tudo bem?

In Portuguese we have two tenses to talk about the past, and both are widely used, but with different goals.

Learn once and for all in which situations to use the two types of past in Portuguese, Pretérito Perfeito and Pretérito Imperfeito.

Listen to the audio with this lesson explaining in detail each of the points below:

How to use the different types of past in Portuguese:

Pretérito perfeito

  • is used to describe one-off actions in the past, and actions that were repeated a finite number of times or which lasted a certain period of time but came to an end

→O Paulo caiu da escada e quebrou a perna.

  • is used in Portuguese to describe your first impression of something

→O que você achou do Brasil?

→O que é que você achou desse sorvete? Gostou?

  • also corresponds to the English present perfect tense

→Você já almoçou? (Have you had lunch (yet)?)

Pretérito Imperfeito

  • is used to describe habitual or repeated action in the past – actions
    that took place an indefinite number of times 
  1. idea of frequency in the past:

→Ele falava japonês com os avós.

→Depois da escola eu sempre fazia o dever de casa.

2. idea of ​​duration in the past:

→Antigamente eu morava em uma fazenda.

  • ages and hours in the past

Tinha 4 anos quando fui no cinema pela primeira vez.

Era meia noite quando a festa acabou.

  • ‘set the scene’ by describing the background to events
    in the past

→Ela era uma menina alta e magra.

  • can also correspond to the English past continuous ‘was/were doing’

→Eles estavam jantando quando a polícia chegou.




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    Daniele Lima

    Oi, I’m Dani, I am a native of Brazil and I teach Brazilian Portuguese to students from all over the world. Here at Brazilianing, we believe that learning Portuguese doesn't have to be difficult. Let's speak Portuguese together?