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The verb ‘acabar’ in Portuguese Posted by on Jun 26, 2018 in Culture, Customs, Grammar, Idioms, Learning, Online Learning, Vocabulary

Corram, venham ver! O Brasil acabou de fazer um gol! Come on, check it out! Brazil just scored a goal!

This is a sentence that we would love to hear a lot tomorrow, during Brazil’s game against Serbia. But do you know how use the verb acabar in Portuguese? There are mainly three possible contexts in which acabar can be applied, and we are going to cover all of them in today’s post. But first, let’s take a look at the verb conjugation in the present and past tense:


eu acabo

você acaba

ele acaba

nós acabamos

vocês acabam

eles acabam


eu acabei

você acabou

ele acabou

nós acabamos

vocês acabaram

eles acabaram

Mas espere, ainda não acabou! But wait, it’s not over yet! How about we look into some examples to understand the usage of acabar? Let’s see:

In this first case, acabar expresses concluding or finishing an activity, reaching an end, or the ideia of being over, running out.

  • O leite acabou, precisamos comprar mais | We are out of milk, we need to get some more
  • O hotel irá reinaugurar quando as obras acabarem | The hotel will reopen when they are done with the remodelling
  • Vocês já acabaram de fazer o dever de casa? | Are you guys done with your homework?
  • O ano está acabando de novo, passou tão rápido | The year is coming to an end again, it went by so quickly
  • A palestra acabou muito tarde | The lecture ended very late
  • O candidato prometeu que ia acabar com os impostos | The candidate  promised to end taxes 
  • Posso levar seu prato ou você ainda não acabou de comer? | Can I take your plate or are you not done eating yet?
  • Que horas o filme vai acabar? | What time will the movie end?
  • Seu tempo acabou, devolva a prova | Your time is up, give the tests back
  • O prazo para inscrições acaba amanhã | The deadline for applications ends tomorrow
  • Dietas da moda sempre prometem acabar com a barriga | Fad diets always promise to do away with stomach fat

In its second possibility, acabar corresponds to the English word “just”, in the sense of having recently done something:

  • Meu pai está no banho, ele acabou de voltar da academia | My dad is in the shower, he just came back from the gym
  • Acabei de ir ao banheiro e já estou com vontade de novo | I just went to the restroom and I already feel like going again
  • Não estou com fome agora, acabei de almoçar | I’m not hungry right now, I just had lunch 
  • A chefe acabou de sair, ligue de novo mais tarde | The boss just left, call again later
  • O presidente acabou de anunciar novas medidas em seu governo | The president has just announced new measures in his government
  • Ele acabou de descobrir que sua carteira havia desaparecido | He just discovered that his wallet had disappeared
  • Acabamos de receber um e-mail do professor cancelando a aula de amanhã | We just got an email from the teacher canceling tomorrow’s class
  • O pão está quentinho, o padeiro acabou de fazer | The bread is warm, the baker has just baked it

Finally, the third way of using acabar is when you want to talk about a consequence of a situation, or when something changes due to circumstances. It works for describing moments when people ended up changing their minds or doing something else as a result of something. See:

  • A festa estava meio chata, então eles acabaram indo embora mais cedo | The party was kind of boring, so they ended up leaving earlier
  • Nos atrasamos muito e acabamos perdendo o vôo | We were so late that we ended up missing our flight
  • A viagem foi tão curta que acabamos não fazendo metade do que queríamos | The trip was so short that we ended up not doing half of what we wanted
  • Vânia achou o restaurante tão caro que acabou comendo em casa mesmo | Vânia found the restaurant so expensive that she ended up just eating at home 
  • As crianças estavam tão cansadas que acabaram dormindo no carro | The children were so tired they ended up sleeping in the car
  • Meu grupo parou de me responder e acabei tendo que fazer o trabalho todo sozinha | My group stopped replying and I ended up having to do the whole work all by myself
  • Se o estagiário continuar se comportando assim, ele vai acabar perdendo o emprego | If the trainee continues to behave like this, he will end up losing his job

Agora acabou! Now it is over!

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