Book Review: 501 Portuguese Verbs

501 Portuguese Verbs, by John J. Nitti and Michael J. Ferreira

I love random verb lists and other types of word lists [1], perhaps more than most people.  So when I say that this book is precisely the sort of book that I may buy for myself because of its immense usefulness to me, I am aware that this book may not be as interesting for other people as it is for me.  As a writer I am constantly looking for the right word and the right sense of what I am trying to say.  That task is, of course, rather easy to do for me in English because I have been using it all my life and reading it continually.  For other languages, though, it is trickier to know which word to use, and how it would be used in particular tenses, which makes it harder to speak or write the way I tend to do comfortably.  Sometimes I’m just looking for a word list so that I can know exactly what I want to say and this book provides a lot of words in a list without a lot of frills but with the contents that I appreciate the most.

This book is a bit more than 500 pages long and it is fairly simply organized after its introductory materials.  The introductory materials of this book include a forward that discusses the authors’ attempt to include both continental and Brazilian Portuguese verb forms, subject pronouns, a list of tenses, sample conjugations of regular verbs, reflective verbs and their conjugation, object pronouns and their contractions, certain odd verb + direct object pronoun combinations, future and conditional conjugations, commands, as well as passive voice and progressive tense.  There are even discussions of irregular and double past participles as well as defective and impersonal verbs.  After all of this introductory material, which is about 25 pages of material or so, the remaining 500 or so pages of this book consist of 501 Portuguese verbs that are fully conjugated into the following tenses (as applicable based on the verb):  personal infinitive, present indicative, imperfect indicative, preterite indicative, simple pluperfect indicative, future indicative, present perfect indicative, past perfect/pluperfect indicative, future perfect indicative, present subjunctive, imperfect subjunctive, future subjunctive, present perfect subjunctive, past perfect/pluperfect subjunctive, future perfect subjunctive, conditional, conditional perfect, and imperative.  Each of the verbs also includes their present and past participle forms, definitions in English, and examples of how the verbs are used in Portuguese.  After all of these verb forms, not all of which have complete forms in first, second, and third person singular and plural, there are both an English-Portuguese and Portuguese-English index.

I cannot emphasize enough how much of a joy it is to look at a book like this one.  This book makes no pretensions to literary excellence, but it has the contents that someone can use to turn into better writing.  And that is something I respect.  There are few people who are willing to put their name to a book whose job is to make life easier for others without a thought to making a book frilly for themselves.  I’m not sure exactly who appreciates a book like this like I do, but the book is apparently the best selling verb book in the world, according to its front cover, and so the authors clearly are aware that they are doing something right when it comes to creating a book that was compelling to people who wanted to find the right word and how to say it in any tense they wanted to.  I just have to respect that, and if you like this kind of book the odds are pretty high that you are going to respect that too.  And perhaps others have taken the insights of this book and done it for other languages as well.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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