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I'm pretty sure that the use of the spoken "ia" only coincides with the construction "Eu ia fazer alguma coisa, mas enfim não fiz", i.e. when it's used as a modifying auxiliary verb.

When iria is used as a standalone conjugation of the verb ir, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't shortern it, but I'm not 100% sure.

For example, in the following sentence, it would seem strange to me to shortern "iria" to "ia"

Se eu tivesse carro, eu iria pra praia amanhã

Whereas in the following sentence, it seems more natural to me:

Eu ia dirigir pra praia, mas o carro tava quebrado então enfim eu tinha que pegar o busão, e claro que demorou pra caramba e enfim passei metade do dia esperando para os ônibus. Nossa essa empresa de ônibus é uma merda.

Is my intuition correct, that ia is used exclusively for when iria is used as an auxiliary verb, or am I wrong here? Answers in Portuguese are welcome, I've just asked in English because it takes me longer to write a question in Portuguese and I'm in a hurry.

  • What about when the verb itself is "ir"? «Eu ia à biblioteca, mas encontrei um amigo pelo caminho.» I'm not sure if this answers your question or not... – ANeves Nov 6 '17 at 15:27
  • Ia is not a shortened version of iria: they are different tenses. Eu/ele ia is pretérito imperfeito, roughly equivalent to "I/he was going", either stand alone (ia eu para a praia, e de repente ele apareceu à minha frente) or auxiliary (eu ia pintar a sala de verde, mas mudei de ideias e pintei de azul); or to "I used to go" (naqueles tempos eu ia muitas vezes à praia). Iria is futuro do pretérito, aka condicional, equivalente to "I would go" (se tivesse carro, iria à praia). – Jacinto Nov 10 '17 at 8:40
  • I Portugal, except in formal speech, the imperfeito (ia or any verb) can be used instead of the condicional (se tivesse carro, ia à praia). In formal speech you use the conditional (iria). In Brazil they do use the imperfeito in place of the condicional in some situations, but not it all like the Portuguese. – Jacinto Nov 10 '17 at 8:43
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No. Verbs of the 2nd and 3rd "conjugação" (and in Portugal, even those of the 1st one), all of them, are prone to this phenomenon, regardless of being auxiliary or not.

Eu ia pedir goiabada, mas me lembrei que estou de dieta.

Eu ia a Paris em dezembro, mas aí o governo confiscou minha poupança.

Em vez de ficar olhando, você devia chamar a polícia.

Se eu soubesse que era McDonalds, eu não comia.

Se o Bolsonaro ganhasse as eleições, eu partia pra Buenos Aires na semana seguinte.

In Portugal (but not in Brazil):

Eu gostava de saber desde quando Camões é considerado um romancista.

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As pointed out by Centaurus here https://portuguese.stackexchange.com/a/4903/229, ia in the case of Eu ia fazer alguma coisa mas enfim não fiz is actually not short for iria, it's a completely different conjugation, the pretérito imperfeito do indicativo (or imperfect past).

It's for this reason it "seemed" more natural to use ia than iria in the context of "I was going to do X"; because it's a completely different grammatical construction altogether, and not an abbreviation of iria.

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