The Imperfect Subjunctive

Portuguese Imperfect Subjunctive

Use

In general, The subjunctive tense is used when the action you're talking about has some degree of uncertainty. The imperfect subjunctive is used for actions that are very unlikely to happen -- or to have occured. The imperfect subjunctive is sometimes called, the past subjunctive - that's because it often talks about things that were unlikely to have happened in the past.

Use this tense when the sentence conveys, were to happen. For example:

Se eu ganhasse a loteria, compraría um caro novo. > If I were to win the lottery, I would buy a new car.

You can also use it when telling a story about something in the past that includes something that did not happen. This is prety confusing! Let's look at an example:

Ela pediu ao senhor que falasse com o gerente. In this case this is something that did not happen: She asked the man if he would speak with the manager. But it didn't happen -- the man did not speak with the manager.

Let's stick to some more common and easier to understand examples!

Triggers

These OFTEN but not always trigger this tense: se, que. The key is to ask yourself: would this, could this happen? If no, it's probably going to need the imperfect subjunctive conjugation.

Se ele falasse Português, ele entenderia o Brasil melhor. > If he were to speak Portuguese, he would understand Brazil better.
Se você estivesse aqui, poderíamos jantar juntos. > If you were (to be) here we could have dinner together.
Eu quero que Gisele Bündchen me ligasse hoje! > I want Gisele Bündchen to call me today!
Ela pediu que eu mudasse de casa. > She asked that I move to another house.

Notice how in all of these examples the subjunctive verb is followed up with one in the conditional tense. That's because this tense is absolutely PERFECT for saying things like, IF such and such were to happen it WOULD BE whatever.

Forming

-ar imperfect subjunctive regular verbs

I were to say eu fala sse
you were to say você fala sse
we were to say nós falá ssemos
they were to say
(also eles, elas)
eles fala ssem

-er imperfect subjunctive regular verbs

I were to lose eu perde sse
you were to lose você perde sse
we were to lose nós perdê ssemos
they were to lose eles perde ssem

-ir imperfect subjunctive regular verbs

I were to go out eu saí sse
you were to go out você saí sse
we were to go out nós saí ssemos
they were to go out eles saí ssem
Learn about the other subjunctive forms here: the Present Subjunctive and the Future Subjunctive.