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Portuguese grammar - the verb to be

azulejos4.1To be or not to be


The most common verb in any language is the verb "to be". In Portuguese there are two entirely different forms of ths verb: "Ser" and "Estar" (pronounced "shtar"). This is because the Portuguese differentiate between a "to be" that is always the case (eg "I am English") and a "to be" that is temporarily so (eg "I am here"). Although it's a little complicated at first it does give an interesting nuance to the language.

Consider the following example:

Ela é bonita. She is beautiful. (using the verb "ser")
Ela está bonita. She's looking beautiful today. (Using the verb "estar").