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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.