the Preterite Indicative: AR verbs

15 you need to know


Once you've gotten comfortable conjugating verbs in the present tense, the next tense to know is called the Preterite. It's officially referred to as the preterite perfect, indicative mood. That's what a linguist would call it. It's commonly known as the simple past. By now you've come to realize that there nothing is very simple about the past tense in Portuguese, but this tense is clear: we're talking about action that is over and done.

Just remember that: over & done.

Yesterday, I had dinner with my girlfriend.
We went to the movies.
I kissed her.
She liked it.

Over & done. Simple.

Let's review the conjugation:


-ar regular verbs

I worked eu trabalh ei
he worked ele trabalh ou
we worked nós trabalh amos
they worked eles trabalh aram

Nice and consistent.
There are several irregulars you need to know.

Chegar is only irregular in the first person, singular: cheguei (pronounced shə-gaā)
Don't be tricked by the "u". It does nothing to affect the pronunciation.

Dar is hopelessly irregular. In the preterite it almost gets conjugated as if it were an er verb.

eu dei
você ele, ela deu
nós demos
vocês, eles, elas deram

Here's our list of the top 20. While not all of them are essential for survival Portuguese, they are all ar-verbs that you will hear all the time in Brazil.


She helped me a lot. > Ela me ajudou muito.


I worked all day yesterday. > Trabalhei o dia inteiro ontem.


It took a long time to get here. > Demorou muito tempo para chegar aqui.


Did you guys already sleep together? > Vocês já transaram?


I got up early today. > Me levantei cedo hoje.


She yelled at me. > Ela gritou comigo.


He cursed at me! > Ele me xingou!


He backed-away from the relationship. > Ele se afastou do relacionamento.


We made out on the beach. > Namoramos na praia.


They cooked a big dinner. > Eles cozinharam um grande jantar.


My motorcycle broke-down. > Minha moto quebrou.


We got a snack at the bar. > Lanchamos no bar.


Did you guys break up? > Vocês terminaram?


We arranged a meeting. ? A gente combinou um reunião.


I hated the show! > Eu odiei o show!

From the learning series, INTENSIVO: