There are a few really stubborn mistakes I just can’t seem to get past. They crop up again and again, and I never get around to addressing them because they are boring and too obscure to be easily addressed by googling “How to do ____ in Portuguese”. I think if I could sort them out a lot of the baseline problems with my sentence-construction would be sorted and I’d be a much stronger speaker.
Little Fiddly Words In Front of Infinitives
Infinitives are the definitive forms of a verb, normally translated as “to be”, “to know”, “to do” and so on. Because of this, when I write one in portuguese I expect it to not need anything in front of it but sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. About the only rules here are to do with Gostar and Precisar, each of which takes a “de” after it
Ter can have a “que” or a “de”, depending what you’re doing and in other cases it might have an “a”, a “para” or just nothing. I need to get to the bottom of this and work out how it works once and for all.
Genders of Nouns
I think I’m right about 80% of the time but that’s not enough. Difficult to think how to do this without biting the bullet and learning them by rote. I considered making little stickers with lipstick on some and a moustache on others and sticking them on all the objects in my house, but that wouldn’t help me with abstract nouns. Have you ever tried sticking a moustache on despair?
Reflexive and Pseudo-Reflexive Verbs
First of all: there seem to be a hell of a lot of reflexive verbs – far more than in french – and I sometimes come across verbs that look like they have a reflexive pronoun but aren’t actually reflexive. They seem to be something to do with the passive voice – e.g. sabe-se que = “it is known that…” and yet my grammar book doesn’t show that as a way of constructing the passive voice. This sounds like one I will have to ask a teacher about.
Awkward Irregular Verbs
Things like Ser, Ir and Estar are easy because they get so much attention. The real killers are things like Dar, Pôr and of course the terrible twins, ver and vir, because they irregular and fairly common but not so common that you get a real familiarity with them day-to-day. I printed these buggers out ages ago, thinking I would just bruteforce it all into my head but somehow, whenever I think about it, there always seems to be something more pressing like picking fluff of the carpet with my bare hands, arranging my socks alphabetically or playing the national anthem on the teeth of a comb. Important stuff, you know.
So that’s what I’ll be working on this week in addition to my Hot Summer Reading. I’ll probably write blog posts about some of them as a way of motivating myself and getting them to stick.