We have been using verbs in the present tense so far. However, as there is more than one present tense, to be more accurate, we should use the correct technical term, which is the present indicative. Other present tenses include the present continuous and the present subjunctive – we will come onto subjunctive tenses later.

The present indicative is the basic present tense that we are already familiar with – it usually denotes that the action is something that the subject is in the habit of doing (we walk, they eat, I work, etc.), although occasionally it can be used to describe a more immediate action (eg. I understand). The conjugations we have already looked at are all in the present indicative.

For more literal explanations of what is happening at the present moment, we usually employ what is known as a continuous (or progressive) tense, making use of a compound verb form. For example, to say ‘I work here’ implies that the person speaking is in the habit of working here. If we wanted to refer to what is happening at this very moment, we would say ‘I am working here’. A literal translation of ‘I am working here’ would be ‘eu estou a trabalhar aqui’ in European Portuguese or the Brazilian equivalent: ‘eu estou trabalhando aqui’ - so whilst we are still referring to the present, these forms are not present indicative, but present continuous (or progressive).

Present Continuous of the regular verb trabalhar (to work) in European Portuguese

estou a trabalhar

estamos a trablahar

estás a trabalhar

estais a trabalhar

está a trabalhar

estão a trabalhar

Because the present continuous uses ‘estar’ + ‘a’ + the infinitive, the conjugations are the same for all verbs (regular and irregular).

Brazilians use the present participle instead of ‘a’ + infinitive. More on participles later.

Present Continuous of the regular verb trabalhar (to work) in Brazilian Portuguese

estou trabalhando

estamos trabalhando

estás trabalhando

estais trabalhando

está trabalhando

estão trabalhando