Prepositions used with infinitive verbs
Lots of sentences have infinitive verbs in it, and they often come associated with a preposition before them. That preposition has a meaning that is different from its standard meaning.
So, before infinitive verbs, you can try this (not a strict rule, but a good start, please notice that there is a big range of possibilities, here are a few)
A + infinitive: turns it into some kind of gerund action.
- Estou a andar = I'm walking
De + infinitive: it can be the cause of something, generally you can use "of/from" to replace it. And it's used to tell the usage of somethings:
- Estou cansado de andar = I'm tired from walking
- Esta barriga grande é de comer demais = this big belly comes from eating too much
- Esta fruta é de comer? = Can this fruit be eaten? (is it real or plastic?)
Para + infinitive: indicates an objective or goal:
- É para comer = It's to be eaten (I made these breads for you to eat)
- Vim aqui para falar = I came here to speak.
- Isso é necessário para consertar o carro = That is necessary in order to fix the car.
Hint: Ask "what for?" (para que?)
No preposition: normally a direct object just being itself.
- Quero andar = I want to walk (WHAT do I want? I want to walk)
Gerunds and other cases
Please be aware that MANY times, the other verb or the thing coming before the infinitive verb will define the preposition and override those patterns.
Gosto de andar = I like walking (this preposition is demanded by the verb "gostar", so it has nothing to do with the given explanation about "de")
Ele começou a falar = He started to speak (Like "started to" in English. You alyways use "start to" (começar a) or "start gerund", but gerund cannot be used that way in Portuguese)
An excellent way of comparing the two languages is taking the English Gerunds (not present participles), which simply don't exist in Portuguese, being replaced by the infinitive instead. In this case, English can get as many different prepositions as Portuguese, and what preposition to use will get a lot clearer when you correlate things:
- He is too young
forvoting = Ele é muito novo
- Do you see any problem
indoing this? = Você vê algum problema
- Try doing it yourself = Tente fazer você mesmo(a).
- He's afraid
ofgoing home alone = Ele tem medo
deir para casa sozinho
- They have paid the price
fordoing evil things = Eles pagaram o preço
porfazerem coisas más/maldosas.
- Gerund is the key
tounderstanding why Portuguese infinitive can take so many different prepositions! = O gerúndio ("gerund" em inglês) é a chave
paraentender por que o infinitivo em Português pode receber tantas preposições diferentes!
Again, remember that even that trick can fool us, because prepositions don't always translate directly into other languages, unless they are talking about physical places.
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