If you’re trying to teach BJJ techniques or understand a Brazilian instructor, you are going to need to be able to use and identify commands. To form commands we use something called the imperative.
This grammar structure varies from your traditional conjugation as you don’t use it for all subject pronouns. For example, you will never give yourself commands, technically in a grammatical sense. That means you’re never going to use the first person singular form “eu”.
How to Form Commands in Portuguese
This can be a little confusing, especially for level one, but alas, it’s what you’re going to hear most in a BJJ class so we’re going to dive right into this grammar.
For those of you that don’t really care about grammar and are just trying to get the point across: To form a command just drop the “r” at the end of the word and ignore the rest of this article. That will get the job done correctly 80% of the time!
For the rest of you, here is the breakdown.
To form commands you take the stem of the verb in the 1st person singular form and we had the proper ending.
Commands can only be formed using tu, você, nós, and vocês subject pronouns.
You: Clean your gi!
We: Let’s go train!
They: Y’all need to clean your gis!
The subject will determine the ending you stick onto the stem of a verb, however, Brazilians who never use “tu” as a subject pronoun will, for no apparent reason.
The “tu” form is slightly easier because you just drop the “r” off the infinitive, right? Kind of…
Technically, you’re SUPPOSED TO USE THE FIRST PERSON SINGULAR STEM and then add the correct ending.
Wait, what? Why does that matter?
Finding the stem is typically easy, you just drop the -AR, -IR, or -ER off the verb and viola…
lavar = lav
abrir = abr
HOWEVER, there are several verbs in Portuguese that have a stem change in the first person singular form. In those instances, you can’t just drop the “r”.
Trying to remember lists of verbs and grammar rules can be hard. So in order to familiarize yourself with this list of stem changing verbs, go down it and visualize when you would use this vocabulary in a BJJ class.
Stem Changing Verbs