Portuguese verb HAVER

Portuguese verb HAVER

The Portuguese verb HAVER causes a lot of confusion.

If you look at the definition it's:

haver = to be/to have (exist)

But listening in on its actual use, you'll find that it's used just like the verb, TER. And then there's the fact that it appears to be yet another verb to express TO BE -- in a language that already has the two prominent verbs SER & ESTAR.

And if you start investigating this whole mess you will soon run into long and detailed explanations (from linguists) about the subtle differences and uses of one vs. the other. More interesting (to me, at least) is how Brazilian actually use the Portuguese verb HAVER in conversation.

Though you will hear HAVER used almost interchangeably with the verb TER, they actually use it in specific ways.

Talking about something that happened some time ago.
Há anos que eu moro aqui. > It's been years that I've lived here.
Há cinco anos deixei de fumar. > It's been five years since I quit smoking.

*Notice that haver is used in the PRESENT TENSE to talk about the PAST! That's because you are literally saying, there are x anos since y is happening. No past conjugation needed 😉

Now let's see what happens when we do conjugate haver in the past tense.

O que que houve? > What happened? (literally: What was there?)

*The grammatically correct way to say this is, O que é que houve? but conversational Portuguese has dropped the 'é'.

Não houve aula de música hoje. > There was no music class today.
Houve uma época em que não existia a internet > There was a time when there was no Internet.

In this case houve (the simple past tense) translates to there was / there were.

Talking about what exists right now.

You will often hear people say for example, não há rather than não tem. In cases like this haver and ter are literally interchangeable.

Há muito para fazer. > There's a lot to do.
Há alguém que pode me ajudar? > Is there someone that can help me?

You'll also see haver used to talk about the future, but only in magazine articles or news reports/ Like this:

No futuro, haverá um aumento na temperatura. > In the future, the temperature will rise.

But you won't hear this in daily conversation.

The important forms you need to remember are: há, houve

Do not waste your time memorizing the bizarre conjugations of this verb. But make sure you can use and pronounce these two versions.