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Notes for Portuguese speaking learners of English and English learners of Portuguese

In Portugal, the present simple is used instead of the present continuous.

    I’m writing an essay.

    Escrevo um ensaio.

In Brazil, the present continuous is used.

    I’m writing an essay.

    Estou escrevendo um ensaio.

The English present perfect and past simple are both represented by the past simple in Portuguese.

    I have written an essay.= Escrevi um ensaio.

    I wrote an essay. = Escrevi um ensaio.

The present perfect is sometimes used in Portuguese to represent the English present perfect continuous.

    We have been looking everywhere for that book. = Temos procurado aquele libro em toda a parte.

When a period of time is mentioned (e.g. for ten years), Portuguese uses the present simple to represent the English present perfect continuous and the imperfect to represent the English past perfect continuous.

    We have been playing the violin for ten years. = Há dez anos que tocamos violino.   

    We had been playing the violin for ten years. = Havia dez anos que tocávamos violino.

This information was compiled by Julia Miller but is closely based on Willis, R.C. (1971). An essential course in modern Portuguese. Nelson: Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, UK.

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