I’ve been reading “Doze Segredos Da Língua Portuguesa” with a particular eye to reflexive verbs and verbs with impersonal pronouns, following on from discussions I’ve been having with a portuguese teacher resident in britain, about some of the more complicated aspects of the language that I’m not able adequately to describe to my usual portuguese teacher owing to my inability to express the question in portuguese! The specific point of grammar is the one described in a blog post a few months back.
Anyway, here are some examples that jumped out at me during chapter:
Diga-se o que se disser, a verdade é que os portugueses desprezam activamente tal parente, que, coitado, não merece tal sorte. [2x subjunctive tenses in the passove voices – bringing the grammatical thunder: means something like “whatever might be said, it’s true that the portuguese don’t really care about such a parent that hasn’t deserved such a fate”]
Ora a identidade vai alimentar-se daquilo que distingue os vários povos uns dos outros [True reflexive verb ir+inf: means something like “Now, identity will always feed on that which distinguishes groups of people from one another”]
Que se fale galego na Galiza e espanhol no mundo que isso do português não pode interessar a espanhol que se preze. [2x passive voice present subjunctive: means something like “because galician is spoken in galicia and spanish in the world, the question of portuguese isn’t interesting to a spanard who knows his own worth” but I’m not sure – in fact I’m not even sure I didn’t make a transcription error when I wrote it down!]
…o facto de o Brasil se ter mantido como território unido… [manter used reflexively: means something like “…the fact of brazil having stayed as a united territory…”]
Muitas pessoas que se divertem a apontar os erros dos outros estão a proteger uma ideia de pureza associada a ideia de língua nacional, que deve ser protegida como se dum cristal se tratasse. [two reflexive verbs – one presente indicative, the other imperfect subjunctive: Means something like “many people who amuse themselves pointing out other people’s errors are protecting a notion of purity linked to the idea of a national language which must be protected as if it were a crystal”]
Os exemplos acumulam-se [reflexive: means “the examples accumulate”]
Se olharmos para a lista das dez línguas de Portugal que acabámos de ver, apercebemo-nos de uma grande diferença entre as primeiras e as últimas. [aperceber-se is a reflexive verb that means “notice”so…: Means something like “If we look at the list of the ten languages of Portugal, we notice a big difference between the first and last”]
So I had this exercise to do in a textbook. It was one of these choose-the-right-verb-tense exercises.
“É uma experiência que eu gostava que os meus filhos, um dia, quando ________ (ser) maiores, ______ (poder) experimentar”
I put in “forem” and “poderão” which was wrong but the answers given (“fossem” and “pudessem”) didn’t make any sense since it seemed to be talking about his (young) children in a hypothetical future, not his (grown) children in a remembered past.
There’s a long, detailed answer by Natan on iTalki in response to the query, spanning no fewer than 8 reply boxes. It’s pretty strong stuff, but if you’re in the mood for a challenge, it’s worth it. Natan is Brazilian but knows the European variant inside out so don’t worry that he’s going to indoctrinate you into transatlantic heresy.
It probably boils down to this though: Portuguese and English can both use these speculative past/present tenses to talk about events in the future. In one possible translation, it comes out as “It is an experience that I’d be happy if my kids, someday, when they’re older, were able to experience”. As you can see not a future tense in sight: You’ve got “I would” (conditional), “they are” (present) and “were” which is either an imperfect indicative or a present subjunctive*. In Portuguese, the first box could be “forem” but “fossem” sounds more natural and there seems to be agreement that the second one can only be “pudesse”, not “poderão” or “poderiam” or anything else.
As the young people say: “I’m shook!”
*= present subjunctive would be my bet but secretly, I quite like that my language is relaxed enough that I don’t know or – if I’m honest – care which. We’ve always kept our grammar super-simple so as to allow plenty of linguistic brainpower free to invent new pointless synonyms for stuff.
By the way, I originally wrote the title of the iTalki question as “Tempos Verbais Desesperados” which means “Desperate Verb Tenses” which I think sounds pretty good – like a much nerdier version of “Desperate Housewives”. The current title uses “Inesperados” which is what I should have said: “Unexpected Verb Tenses”
Thanks to Natan – and to Sofia and Kamenko for their contributions too.
(mais um texto do ‘Instagram Language Challenge #IGLC’ Gosto de escrever no Instagram mas infelizmente não existem lá estudantes simpáticos que fazem correcções e por isso, fui ao italki)
Não encontrei ninguém hoje além da empregada que me trouxe um prato de peixe e a puré de batata*. Ela anda a aprender Russo. Por isso falámos de línguas e como aprendê-las (ela é fã de Rosetta Stone mas não gosto disso). Claro que não tirei uma fotografia dela porque não sou um psicopata, mas eis uma fotografia duma placa que comemora um herói local, Samuel Holberry que não encontrei mas tomei conhecimento da história dele pela primeira vez. O Holberry foi um activista no movimento que se chama Cartismo cá em Inglaterra. Os cartistas queriam aumentar os direitos do povo para participarem na democracia. De início a campanha estava pacífica mas depois de alguns anos, instigou uma insurgência contra o governo. Foi apanhado e feito prisioneiro até à data da sua morte.
Os seus métodos foram questionáveis mas hoje em dia, é bom que possamos** lembrar as pessoas que lutaram contra a tirania, e pela liberdade do povo inteiro.
*=I originally wrote “batatas esmagadas” which is literally that, but it’s wrong. I think the people correcting the text thought I meant “batatas a murro” which is a kind of roast potato that has been squished, and it sounds pretty nice to me.
**=more natural with a personal infinitive, as “é bom podermos” but let’s leave it like this because I’m doing a lot of subjunctives this week
Thanks to Gustavo, Larissa, Sofia and Rubens for help with the corrections
Well, I said the other day I was going to do more grammar exercises and that’s just what I’ve been doing. I’m well into “Gramática Aplicada” and I have found two mistakes in an exercise on subjunctive verbs.
As you can see, I’ve use Infitivo Pessoal in both the first and second sentences. The answers given both use P de C though. It seems to be an error. Both would be right if you chucked a “que” into the original sentences. Worse, the second one is in third person plural instead of second person singular. I checked with two actual Portuguese people to confirm I was right before dashing to social media to brag shamelessly though.
Para praticar a gramática de B2 PT-PT (tempos verbais conjuntivos e situações que são *quase* conjuntivas com asterisco)
Acho que este livro é o melhor do Kurt Vonnegut *
Não acho que exista um livro melhor dele.
Há quem digam que “Bluebeard” é melhor mas são loucos.
Quer concordes quer não, é um dos melhores livros americanos desde sempre.
É possível que seja considerado um clássico
É curto e portanto é possível lê-lo num dia. *
Oxalá que não o escritor não morresse.
Os Tralfamadoreans levaram o Billy a uma jardim zoológico que fica no seu planeta.
O Billy tinha visitado o jardim zoológico de Ilium que fica no seu próprio planeta. *
Colocaram o Billy numa gaiola com a Montana e disseram-lhes “façam o que fizerem, não não conseguirão fugir”
“Vocês são prisioneiros mas aqui na gaiola podem fazer o que quiserem”
Trataram o Billy e a Montana como se fossem animais de estimação.
Se pudessem fugir, teriam fugido.
Uma guarda avisou-os: “sugiro que não se preocupem porque podemos ver o passado e o futuro, e sabemos que nunca termina. Este momento é, foi, e será para a eternidade”
Billy pensou “Logo que volte à minha terra, vou buscar a minha mulher. Mas tenho dúvidas que veja a minha terra mais uma vez”
“Estou desligado no tempo” disse Billy “Faço viagens ao passado e ao futuro. E sempre que regressar à destruição do Dresden vou ouvir as canções dos pássaros”
O Billy está a fazer o seu discurso, ao fim de que seja atirado por o seu inimigo.
Sabe que isto acontecerá mas também sabem que não é possível evitá-lo *
I decided to try my hand at mind-mapping to set out all the situations in which I might need to use the subjunctive tenses. In case you don’t know, these are three tenses that are used in situations where there’s some sort of doubt, intention, or future eventuality implied. Usually, they are not the main verb in a sentence, just part of a supporting phrase. They’re actually pretty easy to conjugate. The difficulty for us English speakers is recognising the situation in which they are needed, and remembering to pull one out of the bag in place of the standard indicative. That’s because we hardly use them at all in English. Basically the only time they would rear their head is in a phrase like “If I were a rich man”. So, in the song:
If I were a rich man,
Daidle deedle daidle
Daidle daidle deedle daidle dum,
All day long I’d biddy-biddy-bum.
“Were” is a subjunctive (imperfect subjunctive, I think) because it’s describing a hypothetical situation (being a rich man), which is why we’re using “were” instead of “was”. When it comes to translating, I think the verb we want here is “Ser” because although rich people can become poor, it feels more like a statement about a permanent state of affairs. I don’t think he wants to be rich for just one day. So we would translate this as “fosse” (first person imperfect subjunctive of “ser”)
“I’d” – short for “I would” of course – indicates we’re dealing with the conditional, which is a normal indicative tense, because it’s leading into the main thrust in the sentence: what he would do in that hypothetical situation. It’s a little difficult to translate because I don’t know the Portuguese verb for “to biddy-biddy-bum” but let me make an educated guess: bidibidibombiar, and you can make the first person conditional by just whacking an “-ia” on the end.
As for the daidles and deedles, well, I’ll have to leave those to someone with more expertise. Hey, my degrees are both in science, so what do I know about language? They’ll be adverbs, I expect. I never trusted adverbs.
Putting it all together then:
Se eu fosse um homem rico,
Daidle deedle daidle
Daidle daidle deedle daidle dum,
Todos os dias, eu bidibidibombiaria.
If you’re reading this and you’re not sure if you need to know about subjunctives, check with your teacher, but I believe they only really come into play at DIPLE/B2 level. It’s worth looking at them earlier, if only because they come up in books quite often and it’s useful to be able to recognise them, but I don’t think you would need to worry about them at B1 level… I didn’t anyway!
Anyway, if you’re interested, I’ve saved a pdf of the work in progress here. So far it only has the presente do conjuntivo (present subjunctive) but when it’s finished it’ll have the other two subjunctives – imperfeito (imperfect) and futuro (future)
Update: The new version is here