Difference between Estive and Estava

Pasado de Estar en Portugués. Eles estiveram em Petrópolis e o dia estava lindo!

What’s up! Are you ok? In our free Portuguese Dica for foreigners today, we are going to talk about the difference between estive and estava.

What’s the difference between estive and estava?

First thing you need to know is that there is no official rule for when Brazilians use these verbs, so you may see them using one or the other in the same context.

But we’ll give you some guidelines to make it easier to use them, so in order to understand the difference let’s start with the conjugation the verb estar at simple past and at imperfect past.

Conjugation of the verb Estar in Portuguese

Take a look at the conjugation of each tense:

Conjugation of the verb Estar in Portuguese. Verbo Estar no pretérito perfeito: Eu estive, você esteve, ele esteve, nós estivemos, vocês estiveram, eles estiveram. Verbo estar no pretérito imperfeito: Eu estava, você estava, ele estava, nós estávamos, vocês estavam, eles estavam.

We’ll use the past simple to talk about mostly places we’ve been, a subtle location or something that happened once in the past. And the imperfect past is to talk about the majority of things, this is the most used form. We’ll use estava to talk about emotions and feelings in the past, as well as an event with extended duration.

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Take a look at the examples to help understand:

Examples with Estive in Portuguese

Eu estive na praia hoje de manhã.
I have been to the beach this morning.

Nós estivemos no Rio de Janeiro para o Carnaval.
We have been to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival.

Ela não esteve na escola hoje. Acho que está doente.
She hasn’t been to school today. I think she is sick. 

Eles estiveram em São Paulo?
Have they been to São Paulo?

To use estava it is important to remember when we use the imperfect past: mostly habits, distant past, and past description. If you want to read more about this, click here.

Examples with Estava in Portuguese

Ela estava feliz com seu novo trabalho.
She was happy with her new job. 

Eu não estava em casa quando você me ligou.
I wasn’t home when you called me. 

A festa já estava terminando quando vocês chegaram.
The party was already finishing when you arrived.

Eles estavam muito cansados depois da trilha do Morro Dois Irmãos.
They were very tired after Morro Dois Irmãos hike.

Meaning of Tava in Portuguese

Want to speak like a Brazilian? Study Portuguese with us in Brazil, and we’ll give you all the best advice!

When speaking, we often use the verb estava in its informal way. We just take the –es at the beginning away and say the rest of the verb. But remember: only use this informally! Take a look:

Ela tava feliz com seu novo trabalho.
She was happy with her new job. 

Eu não tava em casa quando você me ligou.
I wasn’t home when you called me. 

A festa já tava terminando quando vocês chegaram.
The party was already finishing when you arrived.

Eles tavam muito cansados depois da trilha do Morro Dois Irmãos.
They were very tired after Morro Dois Irmãos hike.

Now take a look at Moisés’ explanation to practice your listening skills! Don’t forget to activate the subtitles if you need them!

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Exercise about the difference between estive and estava

Let’s practice a little, show us what you know! Complete the sentences using estive or estava where necessary:

  1. Eu ______ triste quando você me ligou.
  2. Nós ______ ocupados quando você chegou.
  3. Você já ______ em Londres?
  4. Eles nunca ______ em Madrid.
  5. Ano passado eu ______ em Jericoacoara.
  6. Ela ______ muito cansada, mas agora está melhor.
  7. Ontem você ______ estressada?
  8. Eles ______ felizes por você!
  9. Nós ______ em muitos lugares do mundo.
  10. Ele ______ disposto a lutar por você.

Now you know the difference between estive and estava.

Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s Dica! Until the next one!
Hugs!

Ler esta Dica em Português  Leer esta Dica en Español
Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
Verb to be (estar)
Estar com in Portuguese
Dialog with the verb estar
Exercises with the ser and estar in Portuguese

Exercise about the difference between estive and estava: Answers

  1. Eu estava triste quando você me ligou.
  2. Nós estávamos ocupados quando você chegou.
  3. Você já esteve em Londres?
  4. Eles nunca estiveram em Madrid.
  5. Ano passado eu estive em Jericoacoara.
  6. Ela estava muito cansada, mas agora está melhor.
  7. Ontem você estava estressada?
  8. Eles estavam felizes por você!
  9. Nós estivemos em muitos lugares do mundo.
  10. Ele estava disposto a lutar por você.

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

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