Portuguese Perfect and Imperfect

Pretérito perfecto e Imperfecto en Portugués. O professor olhava a aluna quando ela falava.

Hey! Ready for one more Dica? Let’s talk about the Portuguese perfect and imperfect past tenses.

Differences between Portuguese Perfect and Imperfect Past 

If you still get confused with the past tenses in Portuguese, don’t worry. You won’t leave this Dica with this problem. We’re here to help you understand everything about the differences between Portuguese perfect and imperfect past tenses.

Perfect Past

As we know, Pretérito Perfeito talks about concluded actions and it uses adverbs that indicate specific moments in the past. Check them out:

Ontem Yesterday
Mês passado Last month
Semana passada Last week
Ano passado Last year
Anteontem The day before yesterday
Em 2012… In 2012…
Nunca Never

Examples using perfect past tense

Eu nunca estive no Rio de Janeiro.
have never been to Rio.

Eu estudei na Rio & Learn por dois meses.
studied at Rio & Learn for two months.

Eu fiz o trabalho que ele me pediu.
did the assignment that he had requested.

Nós visitamos São Paulo antes de visitar o Rio.
We visited São Paulo before visiting Rio.

Ontem eu peguei o meu certificado do CELPE-Bras!
Yesterday I picked up my CELPE-Bras certificate.

Semana passada eu fiz uma aula de imersão. Foi muito bom!
Last week I had an immersion class. It was very good!

Imperfect past

Imperfeito, describes actions that were not concluded, past descriptions, habits and behaviors. It is also used to talk about things that happened at the same time, in the past. Some words can help us identify this past tense without any problem, they are:

Antigamente In the old days
Enquanto While
Raramente Rarely


Examples using imperfect past tense

Eu sempre lia os livros do Paulo Coelho.
I always read Paulo Coelho’s books.

Enquanto eu lia, ele cozinhava o jantar.
While I was reading, he was cooking dinner.

Antigamente, eu nadava todos os dias na piscina do clube.
used to swim at the pool everyday.

João costumava ser mais alegre. Ele está mais sério agora.
John used to be more cheerful. He is more serious now.

Quando era criança eu raramente ia a praia, agora vou todo dia.
When I was a child I rarely went to the beach, now I go everyday.


Now, let’s take a look at the difference between the Portuguese perfect and imperfect tenses. A specific action is usually interrupted by another in sentences that involve both cases. Check this out:


Eu estava lendo quando acabou a luz no bairro todo.
was reading when the lights went out in the whole neighborhood.

O que você estava fazendo na hora em que eu cheguei?
What were you doing when I arrived?

Ele estava conversando com João, quando José entrou na sala.
He was talking to João when José entered the room.

Nós estávamos almoçando quando o carteiro chegou.
We were having lunch when the postman arrived.

Eu acho que eles estavam dormindo quando começou a chover.
I think they were sleeping when it started to rain.

Será que vocês estavam escutando o que eu disse?
Were you listening to what I said?

Well, now we can describe different circumstances a little bit better. Let’s practice?

Exercise for Portuguese Perfect and Imperfect Past

Complete the sentences using the correct verb tense:

  1. (comprar) Antigamente, eu sempre ______ camisas naquela loja.
  2. (comprar) Ontem, eu ______ uma camisa naquela loja.
  3. (correr) Antigamente, Pedro e Paulo ______ todos os dias.
  4. (correr/visitar) Eu ______ na maratona do Rio quando ______ a cidade.
  5. (falar/pagar) Enquanto eu ______ com o gerente ele ______ a conta.
  6. (falar) Ontem, eu ______ com o gerente.
  7. (dormir) Você ______ fora de casa antigamente?
  8. (estudar) Nós nunca ______ português antes de vir ao Rio de Janeiro.
  9. (assistir) Eu já _______ muitos filmes brasileiros.
  10. (morar/ser) Onde vocês _______ quando _______ crianças?

To practice more, we have one more exercise for you! Here we have a list with some words and adverbs of time that you’ll have to match with the sentences below. Ready?

Antigamente – Raramente – Ontem – Ano passado – Enquanto – Já – Nunca – Em Dezembro

  1. ____________ eu usava óculos, agora não uso mais.
  2. Eu viajei para o Brasil ____________.
  3. Na aula de ____________ aprendi os verbos irregulares.
  4. Ele ____________ comprava roupas, hoje é viciado em compras.
  5. Maria ____________ visitou Israel.
  6. ____________ Aline dormia, Stefano ia para praia.
  7. ____________ eu morei na Alemanha.
  8. Nós ____________ mentimos para ninguém.

These are the differences between Portuguese perfect and imperfect tenses. You can send us a tweet to our Twitter with any doubts and we will answer them.

What about you? What were you doing when something different happened in your city? Share with us your experience.

See you friends!


Ler esta Dica em Português     Leer esta Dica en Español
Click in the links below to see more related Dicas
Imperfect past in Portuguese
Portuguese past tense exercises
Portuguese imperfect irregular verbs
Imperfect subjunctive in Portuguese


Exercises about Portuguese Perfect and Imperfect Past: answer 1

1 – comprava
2 – comprei
3 – corriam
4 – corri/visitei
5 – falava, pagava
6 – falei
7 – dormia
8 – estudamos
9 – assisti
10 – moravam, eram

Answer 2

  1. Antigamente eu usava óculos, agora não uso mais.
  2. Eu viajei para o Brasil Em Dezembro.
  3. Na aula de Ontem aprendi os verbos irregulares.
  4. Ele Raramente comprava roupas, hoje é viciado em compras.
  5. Maria visitou Israel.
  6. Enquanto Aline dormia, Stefano ia para praia.
  7. Ano passado eu morei na Alemanha.
  8. Nós Nunca mentimos para ninguém.



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