"She started eating."

Translation:Ela começou a comer.

March 18, 2013

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I've always remembered verbs in their root forms to be + "to" for instance, "limpar" I would think "to clean" so that a sentence like "Ele vai limpar o quarto" would be literally "He goes to clean the room"

So now I'm a little confused why there is an "a" before comer. I understand that "a" probably signifies "to"...so why is it in this case I must add the "a"? Is this one of those special cases caused by the verb "começar"? Any help would be appreciated!


Yes. You always use "começar + a + verbo".

Sometimes meaning future or daily actions: "eu começo a estudar este mês", "ele começa a trabalhar às 8"

"começar + noun": "começo meu curso mês que vem"

"começar + gerund" most used for habits: "Ele começa conferindo os preços" (he starts checking the prices) "Nós sempre começamos vendo as fotos mais antigas"...


Ah, that is good to know, thanks! I just encountered another sentence with the same problem though which I'm hoping you could help with as well! "Bebês aprendem a caminhar." Why is there an "a" before caminhar in this one as well? Is it the same thing with "aprender"? Is there a way to tell which verbs requires an "a"?


Yes. After aprender, use the preposition "a" if you using a verb:

Eu aprendo idiomas rápido (I learn languages quickly --- this sentence is dedicated to u :D)

"Eu aprendi a viver com menos"

So, when u use a verb, then take the preposition too. Some verbs may use prepositions or not, but then the meaning is changed. For example:

  • Eu assisti ao (a + o) filme = I watched the movie.
  • Eu assisti o paciente (I helped / cared for the patient).

These are common verbs we use the preposition a:

  1. Convidar, invite

  2. Voltar, come back

  3. Trazer, bring

  4. Responder, atender, answer

  5. Pertencer, belong

  6. Agregar, add

  7. Ajustar, adjust

  8. Anunciar, annunciate

  9. Aspirar, expect

  10. Associar, associate

  11. Continuar, continue

  12. Avisar, let (someone) know

  13. Chamar, call

  14. Chegar, arrive

  15. Começar, start, begin

  16. Comunicar, communicate

  17. Conduzir, lead

  18. Contar, tell.

These are some of them. I don't think it's worth learning lots of them at this point, but little by little.... hope that helps :)

There is no rule on that, you just have to know them....


Ahh, well, It seems a lot of practice is in order to get it perfect. Thanks again, you're always a big help! :)


Frankly... never mind. This is the why nobody speaks portuguese correctly.... if one does that, he will sound strange since nobody is used to that. portuguese is sometimes kinda hard.


Aw, a lot of Brazillians I've met say this too, that even their people struggle with speaking perfect Portuguese, that its difficult to do so. But I will still try! I'm not that worried about sounding strange, I already have a strange accent :)


Good to know that. I just remembered what a famous Brazilian TV presenter once said:

"Portuguese is not a language, but a secret code!"

He could say that with authority because he is really clever and speaks more than 8 languages... I think.... That encouraged me to learn German later.... but I still hope to talk to you someday, even with a weird accent. That's what happens to me when I try to use my French: "Mais je l'enssaye. Je sais que je ne parle pas bien (pas du tout) mais je l'aime bien" :P

[deactivated user]

    For English speakers, Portuguese is considered to be one of the languages (along with Spanish, French, Italian, Africaans, and a few others) that's the easiest to learn. (Level One). German is Level Three for English speakers.


    Why "ela começou comendo" is marked wrong


    It just did an exercise where it offered "Ela terminou comer", so why not "Ela começou comer"?

    [deactivated user]

      According the rules of "regência", terminar requires the preposition "de" before an infinitive.

      • Ela terminou de escrever o livro.
      • She finished writing the book.

      Começar requires the preposition a before an infinitive:

      • Ela começou a escrever o livro.
      • She began to write the book.


      Thanks! My question though was why Duo didn't put a preposition when it asked me to translate "Ela terminou comer", but marked me wrong when I didn't do the same on "Ela começou comer". I'm cool with being told it's OK/not OK to omit it, but it's confusing when it seems inconsistent.

      [deactivated user]

        DL continues to be a work in progress. Thanks for the lingot.


        @emeyr, can you recommend an authoritative reference that itemizes verb usage in BP specifically with respect to the regência verbal? I have a Houaiss which serves to some degree, but it's not ideal. Thank you!

        [deactivated user]

          Depending on context, a verb may be used with no preposition or several different prepositions. "Assistir" is an example of such a verb: https://www.conjugacao.com.br/regencia-do-verbo-assistir/

          I always google the specific verb because I don't know of an up-to-date text that covers all the permutations of "regência".


          Thank you for your thoughtful and quick reply (and for the search tip). I confess that I have been hoping to find a printed reference book, and thus far have been quite unsuccessful. The adjective up-to-date is likely to be one reason, as you suggest. Muitíssimo obrigado!

          [deactivated user]

            This is what the internet provides...1.)

            2) in three parts, alphabetical order https://recantodasletras.com.br/gramatica/88821

            Good luck!


            It is incorrect to say "Ela começou de comer"?


            Yes. In this case, "começar" requires the preposition "a".


            What about "Ela iniciou comer"? I using a form of incorrect in this case?

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