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Imperfect - Pretérito Imperfeito

Verb  - Imperfect

 

Two different kinds of tenses are used to express or indicate actions that happened in the past. In the lesson about Simple Past – Passado Perfeito, you can see that it is used to refer to actions that were completed in a recent past. Basically, the Simple Past refers to completed actions that have a definite beginning and a definite end.

The Imperfect tense – Passado Imperfeito – is used to refer to past actions that are not seen as completed, actions that were in progress without a definite beginning or end, or actions that were in progress when another event occurred. A good translation  for this kind of sentences is the progressive form (I was, she was, he was, it was, we were, they were….doing something) . Observe that you can use a compound tense, using the verb “to be” (estar) conjugated in the Imperfect tense along with the main verb in the gerund form or a simple tense. Compare the examples below:

(Verbs in the gerund forms are those that have the terminations ando, endo or indo added to their roots)

Example:

  • (compound tense) Eu estava cozinhando quando meu irmão me chamou. I was cooking when my brother called.
  • (simple tense) Eu cozinhava quando meu irmão me chamou. I was cooking when my brother called.

The imperfect indicates a habit that a person used to do. A habit is a group of actions that were repeated many times, habitually.

Example:

  • Meu pai fumava muito. My father used to smoke a lot.

Finally, the Imperfect is also used to describe people, places, things, conditions of the past.

 Examples:

  • A cidade tinha muitos museus. The city had many museums.
  • Eu tinha 15 anos quando fui a Europa. I was 15 when I went to Europe.

When conjugating regular verbs in the Imperfect tense, you just have to preserve the root of the verb and substitute the terminations “ar”, “er” or “ir” for the following bold terminations:

  

 

Person

Amar

(to love)

Comer

(to eat)

Abrir

(to open)

Singular

Eu

amava

comia

abria

Ele / Ela / Você /

A gente

amava

comia

abria

Plural

Nós

amávamos

comíamos

abríamos

Eles/ Elas/ Vocês

amavam

comiam

abriam

 

Examples:

  • Eu comia em casa quando Gus chegou – I was eating at home when Gus arrived.
  • Ele comia em casa quando Gus chegou – He was eating at home when Gus arrived.
  • Você comia em casa quando Gus chegou – You were eating at home when Gus arrived.
  • A gente comia em casa quando Gus chegou – We were eating at home when Gus arrived.
  • (nós) Comíamos em casa quando Gus chegou – We were eating at home when Gus arrived.
  • Eles comiam em casa quando Gus chegou – They were eating at home when Gus arrived.
  • Vocês comiam em casa quando Gus chegou – You were eating at home when Gus arrived.

 

Some Important Irregular Verbs

 

 

Person

Ser

(to be)

Ir

(to go)

Ter

(to have)

Singular

Eu

era

ia

tinha

Ele / Ela / Você / A gente

era

ia

tinha

Plural

Nós

éramos

íamos

tínhamos

Eles/ Elas/ Vocês

eram

iam

tinham

Examples:

  • Eu era uma criança quando (eu) visitei o Brasil.– I was a kid when I visited Brazil.
  • Ele era uma criança quando (eu) visitei o Brasil.– He was a kid when I visited Brazil.
  • Você era uma criança quando (eu) visitei o Brasil.– You were a kid when I visited Brazil.
  • A gente era criança quando (eu) visitei o Brasil.– We were kids when I visited Brazil.
  • (Nós) éramos crianças quando (eu) visitei o Brasil.– We were kids when I visited Brazil.
  • Eles eram crianças quando (eu) visitei o Brasil.–  They were kids when I visited Brazil.
  • Vocês eram crianças quando (eu) visitei o Brasil.–  You were kids when I visited Brazil.