Portuguese grammar - past tenses
PAST TENSES (Past Simple + Imperfect)
There are two main types of past tenses: the "Past Simple" and the "Imperfect".
The Past Simple is easy for English speakers. Just like in English you use it to express a completed action that has taken place in the past.
Example: The meeting finished at 2pm = A reunião terminou às 14.00.
The Imperfect is a little more difficult for English speakers. It is used to express what was going on regularly over a period of time in the past. It is often (though not always) translated by "used to … + verb" or "would + verb". When it is it is easy to translate into Portuguese:
- Every Wednesday we used to go for a walk. (imperfect tense is used).
- Every Wednesday we would go for a walk. (imperfect tense is used).
However in English we can also say:
"Every Wednesday we went for a walk." using the Past Simple - "went".
In Portuguese using the Past Simple in the sentence above is wrong. You have to use the Imperfect. Don't worry: you'll soon get used to it.