3 Hacks to Learn Portuguese Grammar Fast | 007b

Portuguese grammar learning, learn Portuguese grammarIf there is one thing to be said about learning Portuguese grammar, it’s that there are tons of rules.  Though, what if I told you that you could cut your grammar learning time down by about 30% by using 3 hacks?

What most people don’t realize when diving into their grammar books, is that there is a lot of unnecessary “proper” Portuguese grammar being taught that you really don’t ever use.  This is all done in the name of “doing it right” but in my opinion is a time wasted that you could use on speaking faster.

Usually a person doesn’t figure out how much unnecessary time was spent on grammer that they will never use until it’s too late – I’ll help you save that time!

When I began learning Portuguese, I discovered a huge shortcut trick where you take and transpose the grammar you unknowingly use every day in English right into Portuguese – giving the click “aha!” feeling and a huge foundation of turn-key grammar you can use right away.

And to top it off, there is a little but effective hack that will make speaking about the future in Portuguese a breeze, without having to learn all of the complicated “future tense” stuff!

So, what do we unknowingly spend so much precious grammar time on where we should be focusing our “language powers” elsewhere?

The answer is a bit shocking…

Note: you’re in the second part of this module in the Portuguese Acceleration Blueprint.

Hack 1: Avoid this 33% of Portuguese Grammar!

You flip open to page one of your favorite (oh joy!) grammar book and look at a large table that looks a bit like hex-code or something from the Matrix.

And as you attempt to decipher what is written, you notice something called “Subject Pronouns” – basically all that “I, you, he, she, they, etc” stuff.

Well, in the next box down they give you even more code-like examples of how to use them with different verbs (i.e. conjugations) and it looks something like this:

  1. Eu vou (I go)
  2. Ele/ela vai (he/she goes)
  3. Tu vais (you go)
  4. Você vai (you go)
  5. Nós vamos (we go)
  6. Eles/vocês vão (they go)

Did you know that you pretty much never use 2 of the above?  Can you guess which ones?

Before I tell you the answer, let me set something straight: the vast majority of Brazilians are very lazy speakers and they know how difficult their grammar is to navigate, so they take the easy way out – why shouldn’t you?

You should have seen people’s reaction when I showed up in Brazil for the first time speaking fluent and mostly grammatically correct Portuguese, they all thought that I was either from Portugal or just trying to be more “elite” then them.

You see, there is two types of Portuguese grammar in Brazil: academic Portuguese and spoken Portuguese.  When you go to a school or a university, then they expect you to write in academic Portuguese but in everyday use, it’s a totally different story.

Back to which 2 “Subject Pronouns” and grammar forms are never used…

Did you guess numbers 3 and 5? If so, then I’m pretty impressed because you have been really observant!

Let me tell you what happens to numbers 3 and 5 and why they aren’t used.

Number 3: the “tu” (you) form is rarely spoken as você (also you but originally more formal) has become the common used one.

You see, in the old days you had to decide which “you” form you would use based on who you were speaking to, if it was an authority figure then it needed to be “você” as it was more polite.  Though if you were speaking with friends, then the “tu” form was used.

This all got very blurry and mixed up and now “você” is pretty much the only used form for using “you”.

Note: there are places where people still use “tu” but they mix the conjugation with the você one most of the time. (example: what was “tu vais” and “você vai” has become “tu vai” in many regions – all mixed up!)  Don’t think about that right now though, just too confusing.

Number 5: the whole grammatically correct way of saying “we” (nós) has pretty much all but disappeared in Brazil and replaced with a coloquial term called “a gente“.

Since “a gente” is used in the same way grammatically as number 2 (singular 3rd person) the whole “nós” conjugation can be deleted!

Here is a revised list:

  1. Eu vou (I go)
  2. Ele/ela vai (he/she goes) – also “a gente vai” (we go)
  3. Tu vais (you go)
  4. Você vai (you go)
  5. Nós vamos (we go)
  6. Eles/vocês vão (they go)

That’s down from 6 Portuguese grammer forms to 4, congratulations, you just saved your self about 33% of your time!

Hack 2: Transposing Your Subconscious English Grammar to Portuguese

When you learned to speak English, you got a whole bunch of grammar along with it too.  The truth though is that many of us have no idea why we speak in certain grammar forms as it just sounds right.

But did you know that if you filter some of this “subconscious English grammer” out that it can be transposed into Portuguese?

This is because Portuguese and English share many of the same “latin” roots but have both evolved and been influenced differently over the course of centuries.

And some of these roots are set in the logical use of the language meaning that some grammar rules translate directly over into Portuguese!

Let’s take a look at some.

Cognates Endings, Ending your Portuguese Lessons Faster!

Last week when I talked about 5 tricks to learn Portuguese vocabulary for good, I wrote a quick tip about cognates and how they are pretty much mutually intelligible between both languages (think: “Academy” and “Academia”).

These cognates help you to learn learn 100-1000’s of vocabulary words extremely fast and at the same time, are very important to learn when navigating around the grammar side of the Portuguese language.

I thought it would be a good idea to give you some specific examples of how these work plus other helpful endings that will shortcut your grammar.

Here are some examples:

  • Suggestion – Suggestão (tion = tão)
  • Automatically – Automaticamente (cally = camente)
  • Example – Exemplo (ple = plo)
  • Dentist – Dentista (st = sta)

for a great breakdown of these different endings!

The above examples are direct cognates, where you can transpose the word directly into Portuguese just by changing an ending, but what about transposing subconscious grammar logic too?

Transposing Subconscious Grammer Endings

The logic is similar to the cognate example above but applies to Portuguese verbs (an action word) like “correr” (to run).

Let’s say that you want to say that “you are running…” (from the police, a marathon or whatever), well in Portuguese there is the exact same logic that you can implement as in English to “create” the same verbs!

Here are some examples:

Note: not to get too technical but there are three types of endings in Portuguese being -ir, -er and -ar.

  • Correr: I’m running – Estou correndo (ing = endo)
  • Falar: I’m talking – Estou falando (ing = ando)
  • Vir: I’m coming – Estou vindo (ing = indo)

So basically to say anything “ing” in English, you have the “*ndo” ending you can substitute with.

to check out with a lot of examples.

Hack 3: Going to the Future without Actually Going…

What if I told you that you could save a lot of brain space and time by skipping a whole grammar module by utilizing one simple trick that you probably already know?

Well it’s actually pretty simple and something that you can figure out and implement right away!

If you’ve begun your Portuguese grammar studies, you probably have noticed the numerous past and present grammar forms right?

I can’t help you a lot with the past tenses but I’m hure to help you focus on the future (always a good idea to look forward rather then back anyways!)

One Future Grammar Form to Rule them All!

You see, in Portuguese there are special grammar tenses that have to be “conjugated” if you are talking about the future.  These don’t exist in English and are something that you have to learn completely from scratch.

In your grammar book, the future tenses go something like this (from the verb “falar”):

  • Eu falarei – I will speak
  • Ele/ela falará – he/she will speak
  • Eles falarão – they will speak
  • and 3 more…

But here’s a trick that is something we are more used to in English: take “ir” and use it instead of changing to the future verb tense!

I’m sure you’ve learned the phrase “eu falo Português” (I speak Portuguese) right?

Well you can leave the verb “falar” completely alone and add the relevant form of “ir” before it to make it about the future.

“Eu vou falar Português” (I’m going to speak Portuguese).

Using the Present Tense Instead of the Future

You see, all you have to learn is how to use the different forms of “ir” in the present tense and use that before the verb itself instead of the complicated different future tenses.

Here are a few more examples:

  • Eu vou falar Português – I’m going to speak Portuguese
  • Ele/ela vai falar Português – he/she is going to speak Portuguese
  • Vocês vão falar Português – you (plural) are going to speak Portuguese

Since you already learn the different ways of using the verb “ir” (to go) from pretty much day one, you pretty much have what you need in your toolbox already to speak about the future without having to learn difficult future tense grammar.

Final Words

There is a lot of grammar when learning Portuguese but hopefully these 3 hacks will speed up your ability to speak and write very quickly!

These 3 hacks are intended as a type of shortcut to get you speaking fast but not necessarily a replacement for learning the language correctly.

I hope that this has been helpful!

How will these hacks help your Portuguese: comment below

Valeu – cheers!

P.S. make sure and give this a thumbs up if it was helpful!

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  • http://twitter.com/alicekfs K. Alice

    Where are u living in brazil, rio? In my city we use ‘nós’, if u live in rio it doesnt surprise me, they talk so informal.

    • https://liveinbrazil.org/ Kevin Porter

      Florianópolis and most of Brazil is informal in my experience :)

      • Guest

        Acutally people say ‘nós’ sometimes, its really more common than the correct conjugation of ‘tu’, but not as common as ‘a gente’. Well, it really depends of where you are, there’s a state (Rio Grande do Sul, its under Santa Catarina i think you know since you live in Florianopolis) where people use ‘tu’ often and with the correct conjugation. But if you use this ‘correct tu’ in Rio i think people will think you’re stupid or just cocky :D (I

      • RaquelMLA

        Actually people say ‘nós’ sometimes, its really more common than the correct conjugation of ‘tu’, but not as common as ‘a gente’. Well, it really depends of where you are, there’s a state (Rio Grande do Sul, its under Santa Catarina i think you know since you live in Florianopolis) where people use ‘tu’ often and with the correct conjugation. But if you use this ‘correct tu’ in Rio i think people will think you’re stupid or just cocky :D (I’m from Rio)