I was surprised to hear many people in Brazil use "vim" instead of "vir" for the infinitive form of "to come". For example, someone giving permission to enter a room might say "pode vim".

Which should I use in conversational Brazilian Portuguese? If I use "vir" does it make me sound overly formal or pedantic?

  • 1
    The first time I was in the U.S. I was also surprised to hear many people use "we won't charge you nothing for that" and similar double negatives. :-) – Centaurus Mar 20 '17 at 13:24
  • @Centaurus the "no double negatives" rule comes from a niche dialect of the upper classes, despite the fact that most English dialects (like portuguese) included negative concord at the time, it was drilled into schoolchildren as "wrong". And if you think that's the only example of class snobbery determining what counts as "Correct" Language rather than actual usage (or historical precedent), you ain't seen nothin' yet. – Some_Guy Mar 30 '17 at 13:37
  • Jason, the same argument is used by some speakers of pt-BR. They claim there can't be anything wrong with "está muito escuro e não dá pra mim ver nada" since quite a lot of people say it. I disagree: I think they are just trying to justify the deeply rooted wrong way of speaking in their brains. – Centaurus Mar 30 '17 at 17:44
  • @Centaurus Well I'm not generalizing because that wasn't my comment ;) But FWIW, I agree with you. I always consider double negatives inelegant except when used ironically. If "vir/vim" fits in the same class then I want to say "vir". – Jason Haslam Mar 30 '17 at 18:59

I have three children and at the time they went to kindergarten/grammar school and had contact with other children, they started saying sentences like "A tia Ester vai vim aqui hoje?". From that moment on, I had to keep correcting them and telling them that the infinitive form is "vir" and not "vim". After a while they were using the infinitive correctly.

A similar mistake which often requires parental intervention is "pra + personal pronoun + infinitive (e.g."me dá um pedaço pra mim comer?) so common is it among those who had no other choice than a flawed educational system.

Unfortunately, you will often hear "vai vim" or "ela disse que ia vim", etc, in spoken pt-BR. More often so among uneducated Brazilians though I've also heard college graduates say it.

If you know the right form is "pode vir", there is no reason why you should use a wrong form lest you should sound pedantic. More often than not the person who uses "vim" instead of "vir" won't even notice you're using "vir". And, unlike shouting out "peguem-no, peguem-no" instead of the usual "pega ele, pega ele" for a bag-snatcher, you won't sound pedantic with "pode vir".

  • Centaurus, that's interesting that you noticed, because I and my friends and parents say "vir" as "vim", but they do not know, they've never written or thought it was right to write "vim" instead of "vir". They only noticed it when I told them, three years ago, which is when I noticed. – Schilive Apr 22 at 22:58

I have a feeling this happens because in Brazil the final r is often not pronounced in the infinitive forms of the verbs. See, none of the infinitive forms of the verbs are pronounced as they are written. Fazer becomes fazê, amar becomes amá, and so on. Even monosyllabic verbs like ser becomes and ir can be said as í. The verb vir just followed a different path and had the r replaced by an m.

I don't know why, but it would sound really weird to pronounce it as vi. (I can't figure if there's an actual reason for that or if I'm just not used to it.) So speakers tend to add this final m, or rather change the i into a im, since im is considered a single phoneme in Portuguese (the m just makes the syllable nasal). For some reason, they prefer this to pronouncing the r. I think pronouncing the final r of infinitive verbs is perceived as unnatural. So it becomes vim, exactly like its first-person preterite form. Vim sounds smoother than vir but not as weak as vi. But notice: it also sounds wrong to some people.

Personally, I prefer to pronounce the r in vir, and that's the only verb that I always pronounce the final r. Answering your question, I don't think it sounds formal or pedantic, even to those who prefer to pronounce it the other way.

  • could it be because that vi is already taken by ver as in eu vi. Irregular forms can come about or stick around in order to not "tread on" other short words. – Some_Guy Mar 30 '17 at 13:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.