8

What's the imperative form for "to be" in Portuguese of Portugal? For example, if I want to say "Be calm my friend".

10

Your question is both easier and harder than it appears.

The easy part is that Portugal uses “familiar” second-person tu imperatives with friends and children, which in affirmative commands preserve the stem vowel of the verb. These are unlike the third-person imperatives one would use with você or o senhor with people you’re being more polite with for whatever reason, which being third-person imperatives instead of second-person ones would have to swap the stem vowel the way a present-subjunctive form does. (Most of Brazil uses only você forms, not tu forms the way Portugal does.)

The hard part is that you might be tempted merely to look up the second-person imperative form of be and use that. Then you’d have to think about whether this is more of a “stative” be that would therefore require a form of the verb estar as in Está quieto for be quiet, versus whether this is instead more of an “essence” be that would therefore require a form of the verb ser like a mother telling her son to be a good boy by saying Sê bom!

But you’d still be barking up the wrong tree as they say in English, because be calm my friend, or just plain settle down, could easily call for using a different verb altogether: ficar. Even though it’s a common verb, it still isn’t one most learners would think of using for be because they’d be translating too literally. So for your phrase, I would just say Fica tranquilo, meu amigo for a guy or Fica tranquila, minha amiga for a girl.

There are various other possible ways of saying this, but those are the forms you need to know about for what you’ve asked about.

3
  • 4
    Whereas, depending on context, I'd probably just say tem calma (for someone who's agitated); fica tranquilo/a or, more commonly in coloquial/popular speech in Portugal, fica descansado/a (everything will be ok; for someone who's worried). – Jacinto Dec 18 '20 at 7:59
  • Learner here. Would "Seja tranquilo" work? I've heard "Seja forte" many times. – Reversed Engineer Dec 22 '20 at 6:51
  • 1
    @ReversedEngineer No, you wouldn't use Seja tranquilo because that's a 3rd-person você from not a 2nd-person tu form like is, but also because you don't use ser for a state like this. Your Seja forte more means "Be a strong person." If you were using você forms (maybe you're in Brazil or being formal), then Jacinto's rather nice tem calma with tu becomes tenha calma with você. Here the verb is actually "have" but would translate into "be" idiomatically in English. Often different verbs get used in different languages, so word-for-word translation fails there. – tchrist Dec 26 '20 at 4:37

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.