Verb TO BE in Portuguese – Present

The verb TO BE is one of the most used verbs in English. Although it is not a regular verb, it is not that difficult to learn. I believe this is why this verb is the first verb to be taught for ESL learners.

In Portuguese this verb is also important. But in Portuguese, this verb can be told  in two different ways: SER and ESTAR, depending on the sentence or the context.


The difference is that SER is something permanent, while ESTAR is something temporary. For instance, Eu sou feliz. This sentence means that I am always happy, or at least I am happy in general. On the other hand, Sandra está feliz hoje means that Sandra is not usually happy but she is today.

More examples: Meu filho está em casa agora (My son is home now). He is home, but later he will not be anymore. Nós somos altos (We are tall). We are tall and will always be; it is not a temporary situation.


There is one conjugation for each subject. Let’s see below how we conjugate both verbs SER and ESTAR (There is no equivalent to IT in Portuguese):

EU sou / estou (I am)

TU és / estás ( You are)

VOCÊ é / está (You are)

ELE/ELA é / está (He/she is)

NÓS somos / estamos (We are)

VÓS sois / estais (You are)

VOCÊS são / estão (You are)

ELES/ELAS são / estão (They are)

If you want to know about the use of TU and VOCÊ, read the post Personal Pronouns in Portuguese.

verb to be portuguese ser estar


The negative form of verb to be is made just by adding the word NÃO (not) before the verb. So, the negative form of Sandra é dentista (Sandra is a dentist) é Sandra não é dentista (Sandra is not a dentist).

The interrogative form is made by just adding a question mark (?) instead of the period in the end of the sentence. It’s that simple. So the sentence above would be Sandra é dentista?

See some examples of the same sentence in affirmative, negative and interrogative forms, respectively:

  • Carlos é feio (Carlos is ugly) / Carlos não é feio (Carlos is not ugly) / Carlos é feio? (Is Carlos ugly?);
  • Meu irmão é rico (My brother is rich) / Meu irmão não é rico (My brother is not rich) / Meu irmão é rico? (Is my brother rich?);

If you have any questions, please leave a comment. See you next time,

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