Once I tried to explain what a phrasal verb is by utilizing a similar example in Portuguese. Unfortunately, I couldn't think of any example, which makes me think: are there phrasal verbs in Portuguese?

  • How do you define "phrasal verb"? – Artefacto Mar 16 '16 at 14:34
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    I think we can consider Cambridge Online Dictionary definition: a ​combination of a verb and an ​adverb or a verb and a ​preposition, or both, in which the ​combination has a ​meaning different from the ​meaning of the words ​considered ​separately. Also, there are some examples on Wikipedia. – falsarella Mar 16 '16 at 14:49
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    Good question. I guess I had assumed all languages had a number of these. Hadn't realized it could be particular to English. – Dan Getz Mar 16 '16 at 15:48
  • The simpler is no they do not. There are no prepositions that just "hang out" at the end of a verb in Portuguese like they do in English. – Lambie Mar 27 '18 at 15:54
  • falsarella, you chose an answer that is wrong; most of the answers are wrong. It's really too bad. – Lambie Mar 29 '18 at 18:55

English phrasal verbs are combinations of verbs and prepositions where the meaning of the expressions as a whole cannot be completely understood just from the meaning of the individual parts. Syntactically, there are only minor differences between phrasal verbs and actual combinations of verbs and prepositions, it's more of a semantic concept, with a lot of gray area between the two fields (see for instance Dixon, The grammar of English phrasal verbs, 1982 [subscription required]).

So if the question is whether there are verbs that, combined with a preposition, take a different meaning, the answer is yes. Just look at special entries in dictionaries under a verb. For instance, with estar (Aulete):

Estar para 1 Estar prestes a, na iminência de: Ela está para ter neném por estes dias.

However, the preposition cannot stand alone, it always introduces a prepositional phrase. This would be analogous to prepositional phrasal verbs, as Wikipedia puts it (citing The Collins Cobuild English Grammar). But nothing like the particle phrasal verbs or particle-prepositional phrasal verbs, at least admitting that the particle (which then has an adverbial role) has to function also as a preposition. If we relax this requirement, then we can think of expressions such as dar-se bem (com qualquer coisa). If you deem do well (for oneself) a phrasal verb, this would probably also qualify as such.

There are also prefixes that can be added to verbs that can also work as prepositions, like sob (sobpor). However, 1) this would not analogous to phrasal verbs, more like to verbs such as understand (under + stand), 2) at least with sobpor the meaning can be deduced from the parts and 3) the are very few prefixes that also have a preposition counterpart, unlike say Dutch, where most (simple) prepositions can also function as a prefix for a separable verb (except a few like via and tijdens and some others that take a different form like met / mee).

  • I'm not sure this is a good example, I think that She's just about to have a baby doesn't actually sound like a phrasal verb example. I specially like your last paragraph examples, but I kind of also agree those aren't entirely analogous. Thanks for the input! – falsarella Mar 16 '16 at 15:27
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    @falsarella I didn't write She's just about to have a baby, I wrote Ela está para ter neném por estes dias. Your question was whether phrasal verbs existed in Portuguese, not whether phrasal verbs exist in Portugese whose translation in English (of which there are several anyway) also has a phrasal verb. – Artefacto Mar 16 '16 at 15:35
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    @falsarella how could you tell from a translation if it's phrasal in another language? I don't understand what you're saying. But I also find it hard to be certain if something's a phrasal verb when its verb is something like estar, ser, ficar. – Dan Getz Mar 16 '16 at 15:46
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    @ANeves Well if you don't like «estar para», you can think of «dar(-lhe) de/para» (ex. from Aulete: «Ultimamente ele deu de roer as unhas.»). The problem is that phrasal verbs are more of a semantic concept. They don't have syntactic properties as marked as separable verbs in Dutch (and German). Under a purely semantic analysis, it is true that in Portuguese (and I guess most languages) some verbs change meaning when combined with some prepositions or adverbs. – Artefacto Mar 17 '16 at 10:57
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    @ANeves Sure, but how do you think phrasal verbs or any fixed expression come to being in the first place? There's a relationship with the meaning of the constituent parts that gets thinner as time goes by. Plus, that still doesn't explain the «dar de» in the example. – Artefacto Mar 17 '16 at 14:31

After some research, I've found an example at Wikipedia:

O fenômeno dos "phrasal verbs" também ocorre na língua portuguesa. Contudo, não é muito comum. É mais encontrado no português coloquial falado no Brasil e não deve ser utilizado em contextos formais.


"Não quero mais saber de você! Cai fora!" (cair fora = sair, retirar-se);

"Depois de ter sido xingada, ela partiu para cima dele com uma faca." (partir para cima = atacar algo ou alguém).

"Cai fora" is analogous to "Get out", and both seems to be great examples of phrasal verbs.


This is really interesting! All Portuguese examples given by the answers here are slangs or informal/casual, being mostly used in spoken language. And it also seems that the use of English phrasal verbs has a slight difference in formality when compared to its one-word counterparts, which indeed makes much sense.

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    O Oxford Learner's Dictionaries classifica eat out como phrasal verb. É exatamente equivalente a comer fora, jantar fora, almoçar fora. – Jacinto Mar 17 '16 at 15:48
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    @Jacinto I think that's very dubious. Oxford Dictionaries itself doesn't. – Artefacto Mar 17 '16 at 17:17
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    @Artefacto Quer-me parecer que o Oxford Dictionaries apresenta os phrasal verbs sem os classificar como tal. – Jacinto Mar 17 '16 at 17:36
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    @Jacinto Não é verdade. Vê em baixo. – Artefacto Mar 17 '16 at 18:20
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    @Artefacto Já vi, tens razão. Eat out está então na gray area que tu referes na tua resposta: uns classificam-no como phrasal verb, outros não. – Jacinto Mar 17 '16 at 18:30

Phrasal verbs in English are one verb plus one preposition (sometimes an adverb) that together form a single unit of meaning:

  • go out
  • come back
  • sit up
  • find out

In Portuguese some verbs are followed by a preposition but the combination of the preposition and the verb on their own have no meaning.

Ele foi de pirata. IR DE is not a single meaning. There has to be something after it: de pirata. What has meaning is: ir + de + pirata.

If there were phrasal verbs in Portuguese, you could say (and of course you can't) estar para ter neném as: Ela está para essa semana? estar para + VERB + noun. And estar + para without anything else is gibberish in Portuguese.

Phrasal verbs form single units of meaning: get there = to arrive get up=rise or arise find out=discover


  • Simple as that. +1 – Centaurus Mar 29 '18 at 16:57
  • @Centaurus Indeed, it is. – Lambie Mar 29 '18 at 17:01
  • De facto IR + DE ou ESTAR + PARA não me parecem phrasal verbs, porque as preposições não mudam de facto os sentidos originais dos verbos. Contudo, desafio-vos a ver outros exemplos mais interessantes - ver minha intervenção.... – Cem Argumentos Blogspot Mar 31 '18 at 10:25
  • @CemArgumentosBlogspot Acho que você ainda não pegou a minha ideia. Eu estou comparando a estrutura do phrasal verb em inglés e mostrando porque isto é impossível em português. Não importa qual preposição se coloca em português e que mude o sentido, não existe phrasal verbs, ou seja: uma unidade léxica constituída por um verbo e uma preposição, sem nada mais. – Lambie Mar 31 '18 at 22:15
  • Eu nunca disse que ir + de é um phrasal verb. Não se pode dizer em português: Você foi de? Sem nada mais. É meramente uma demonstração da lógica: um verbo + uma preposição sem outro elemento. Isso não existe em português. Não faz parte da estructura do português. – Lambie Mar 31 '18 at 22:25

Although I can't give you any references, I dare say there aren't any phrasal verbs in Portuguese. That has been widely cited as one of the several differences between English and Portuguese. We do have, however, slang phrases that might sound like a phrasal verb: e.g. "entrar bem", where "entrar" means "enter", "go in", and "bem" means "well". Together, they mean "entrou pelo cano", "não se deu bem"

"Ele tentou enganar o professor mas no final entrou bem".

  • Could you explain why slang phrases like your example would not be phrasal verbs? The difference is not clear to me. Is there a grammatical difference, or is there some sense in which entrar bem is the sum of its parts instead of a new meaning? – Dan Getz Mar 16 '16 at 16:03
  • I have never heard of "entrar bem", but I do think you have a good example! – falsarella Mar 16 '16 at 16:08
  • And it is interesting the fact of being a slang, I have also found another slang examples. Maybe phrasal verbs aren't part of regular Portuguese itself, but they are actually still being introduced to Portuguese by spoken language? – falsarella Mar 16 '16 at 16:14
  • Credo, que alivio, ouvir esta resposta! :) Entrar bem is a verb + an adverb, not a verb + a preposition. Why would you need a reference? If phrasal verbs existed in the same way in Romance languages, there would be plenty of references....there is a reason there are "no references". It's simple. There are no phrasal verbs in Portuguese. [falsarella, slang nunca leva s and we say: a slang word, or slang, but not a slang]. – Lambie Mar 27 '18 at 16:13
  • Me disculpa mas pensando bem nesse assunto e relendo as respostas mias uma vez, fiquei impressionada pela falta de conhecimento gramatical dos....jovens? – Lambie Mar 29 '18 at 12:44

Of course there are phrasal verbs in Portuguese.

Some examples (not slang nor informal):

fazer de: means to pretend to be (someone or something) - playing a role
deixar de: means to stop (doing something)
passar por: means to pretend to be (someone)
correr com: means to expel (someone)
dar com: means to find
(não) dar por: means (not) to notice

and so on...

PS - A phrasal verb combines a verb with a preposition (or adverb or both) whose meaning is different from the meanings of the individual words. "Fazer" means to do; "deixar" means to let; "passar" means to pass; "correr" means to run and "dar" means to give. Clearly, their meaning changes when the preposition is added.

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    No, those are not phrasal verbs. – Lambie Mar 27 '18 at 16:04
  • Yes, they are. A phrasal verb combines a verb with a preposition (or adverb or both) whose meaning is different from the combined meanings of the individual words. "Fazer" means to do; "deixar" means to let; "passar" means to pass; "correr" means to run and "dar" means to give. Clearly their meaning changes when the preposition is added. – Cem Argumentos Blogspot Mar 30 '18 at 10:32
  • Infelizmente, não é assim. Claro que a preposição seguido de um verbo ou substantivo muda o sentido, só que o verbo ou substantivo precisa estar não oração. No phrasal verb, o verbo + preposição forma uma unidade semântica sem necessidade de outro elemento. Isso em português é simplesemente impossível. – Lambie Mar 30 '18 at 13:52
  • Não entendo bem o que diz. Se diz que um phrasal verb, por regra, forma uma unidade semântica sem necessidade de complemento, isso, como sabe, não é verdade. Poderia dar dezenas de exemplos. Dou um: "to agree with (something)" é um phrasal verb, e obviamento implica a existência de complemento. Por isso, podia ser mais explícita e dar exemplos? Não consegui perceber a exclusividade que refere. – Cem Argumentos Blogspot Mar 30 '18 at 22:19
  • Note-se que, de facto, existem alguns phrasal verbs que, em inglês, dispensam complemento (o que não acontece em português). Por exemplo: "give up". Contudo, muitos outros exigem complemento, por exemplo: "give up on (somebody)" ou "agree with (something)" - e não deixam de ser phrasal verbs. É uma questão de olhar para a lista de phrasal verbs. – Cem Argumentos Blogspot Mar 30 '18 at 22:45

TL:DR; yeah, I don't believe anymore there are phrasal verbs in Portuguese thanks to the fair point made by our fellow enthusiast in the comments below. As a layman, like I stated in comments, I guess some expressions we use gets pretty close to the idea of phrasal verbs in my opinion, but in the end they're still just expressions..


I was about to say no to your question. Then I thought about transitive and intransitive verbs, which is a very important concept taught throughout our language courses here in Brazil. So I guess, if you consider it that way, yeah, we have phrasal verbs. Some verbs change entirely their meaning by preposition usage (ir ao encontro = to meet up with, ir de encontro = to disagree, from the top of my head is what I can quote, but there are lists, very long lists, riddle with examples, that I had to memorize for some reason during grade school).

I disagree with some of the examples used in some of the replies though. All the examples cited above seem to me more like idioms not quite slangs and definitely not what I understand as phrasal verb (but then again, my English classes are way behind me, and I haven't had to review grammar that specific recently), if my English knowledge doesn't fail me. Mainly because many of these expressions aren't actually informal, nor restricted to a region, age, social group etc.

  • Slang is never plural. Transitive and intransitive verbs in Portugues have no relation to phrasal verbs in English. Portuguese does not have phrasal verbs: one verb + a preposition that forms a single semantic meaning. Ir de encontro is not a phrasal verb. Ir de is a verb plus preposition that does not form a single lexical unit: You can't say: Você foi de ontém? As you can in English: Did you go out yesterday? ir de has no meaning. – Lambie Mar 29 '18 at 1:22
  • I mean, maybe? Like I said, I just believe, I don't have any literature yet to correct or stand by myself. Not really sure if I ever heard that combination "você foi de ontem?" and I'm speaking from a layman's perspective. Not sure what you meant about "slang never being plural". You meant as in several meanings? Or the English word doesn't have a plural form? I understand that "ir de" may be used to other expressions, that's why I kept "encontro" in both examples, but yeah, in hindsight it's not an ideal portrayal. – icarosfar Mar 29 '18 at 3:38
  • Outra vez, vou me disculpar. Claro que "Você foi de ontém" não existe. Isso é exatamente o que eu estou dizendo. O que existe é: ir de x. O dito phrasal verbo se compõe de uma verbo mais uma preposição sem acresento; Isso não existe em português. **Se existisse, seria possível dizer: "ir de" sem subtantivo. Eis a prova. [Slang é um substantivo não-contável ou adjetivo. Slang is hard to learn. Slang words. Not "a slang"] – Lambie Mar 29 '18 at 13:11
  • ahhh agora saquei tudo! E obrigado, não sabia disso do slang ser não contável, deveria ter imaginado! – icarosfar Mar 29 '18 at 16:14
  • Erro: me desculpar. – Lambie Mar 29 '18 at 20:30

I believe these are the most similar to phrasal verbs in Portuguese;

  • Dar em cima de; to flert sb.
  • Pular fora; escape from a bad or weird situation
  • Sair pra lá; excuse me
  • Sair fora; Go away
  • Cai dentro; to face, to confront sb.
  • Cair fora; to leave a place
  • Levar fora; to be rejected by someone
  • Ficar de (bem/mal); to reconcile/ to be at odds to so.
  • Dar bem/mal; to suffer the consequences or to do badly or to be in trouble or even to get your fingers burnt
  • Ficar fora; to be without with something eg.: ficar fora de si/to get out of control or to get crazy
  • Ficar fora de forma; to be out of shape.

These are some examples of the similar in Portuguese, not classified grammatically as phrasal verbs are in English, though.

  • "Sair pra lá" does not mean "excuse me". "Sai pra lá" means "get out of my way". So, similar meaning but to be used in a totally different situation – bfavaretto Mar 29 '18 at 16:59
  • There is zero similarity of phrasal verbs in English and verbs that take a preposition in Portuguese. There are so many misleading ideas in the answers about phrasal verbs. All your examples have zero do with phrasal verbs. Todos os exemplos que você colocou são verbos + advérbios. – Lambie Mar 29 '18 at 18:53
  • "dar em cima de" sounds more like "to make repeated and sexually-motivated advances on". "Pular fora" does not mean "escape" but "get out of" or "get away from". "Sai pra lá!" means "get away". "ficar fora de si" = "lose one's mind". – Centaurus Mar 29 '18 at 23:58
  • It doesn't matter what they mean, they are not phrasal verbs. And: you can't stuff verbs in Portuguese and then say they are not classified as phrasal verbs in English. That's nuts. – Lambie Mar 31 '18 at 22:27

Yes, there are. As a native speaker I can think of few like:

  • cair dentro (to fall in) – to enroll in something.

  • dar em cima (to give over) – to hit on someone, to flirt.

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