Portuguese Language Blog

To Be Posted by on Oct 2, 2007 in Grammar

Here are the different ways of saying ‘to be’ into Portuguese

Like many verbs, the verb to be has not one, but several direct translations (ser, estar, ficar) in Portuguese, so it is important to learn and practice the correct verbal usage for each situation.

1. Ser is used:

  • With an adjective: Ele é alto. He is tall.
  • With a pronoun or noun: Foi você que robou o dinheiro. It was you who stole the money.
  • To describe nationalities, occupations, religious or political affiliations: Laura é uma famosa bailarina. Laura is a famous dancer., Ela é grega. She is Greek.
  • To define permanent location (unlike Spanish!): Boston é nos Estados Unidos. Boston is in the United States.
    • Caveat. When describing specific location it is better to use estar or ficar: O banco fica ao lado da escola. The bank is next to the school.
  • With the conjunction ‘de’ to indicate origin or material of construction: A mesa é de madeira. The table is made of wood.
  • To tell the time (hours of the day): São duas da manhã. It’s two in the morning.
  • in impersonal expressions: É bom mesmo! It is really great!
  • to form the passive voice, when used in conjunction with a past participle: O retrato foi pintado por David. The picture was painted by David.


2. Estar is used:

  • to indicate temporary condition or state: Ela está doente. She is sick.
  • to indicate temporary location: A cadeira está na sala de aula. The chair is in the classroom.
  • to indicate the position of a person: Eu estou deitado, você está de pé. I am lying down, you are standing up.
  • to express feelings or opinions: Estou de acordo. I agree.
  • to describe atmospheric conditions: Tem estado chuvoso. It has been rainy.
  • in special constructions with por or para plus an infinitive: Já pintamos muito, mas está muito mais por pintar. We have already painted a lot, but there is much more to paint., Estamos para terminar a lição We are about to end the lesson.

I hope this helps and serves as a useful reference. Thanks to blog reader Ann for raising the question of how to properly use the verb ‘ser’. Keep those post requests coming! For information about Ser and Estar in Spanish, check this post out.

Keep learning Brazilian Portuguese with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Transparent Language

Transparent Language is a leading provider of best-practice language learning software for consumers, government agencies, educational institutions, and businesses. We want everyone to love learning language as much as we do, so we provide a large offering of free resources and social media communities to help you do just that!