Different and Smart Ways to Say “to Become” in Portuguese
You guys have it very easy in English — to get, to become.
Those verbs can be used interchangeably, but not so in Portuguese. If you want to say “to become” in Portuguese, you must be a bit more careful.
A Common Portuguese Mistake
Just imagine you’re telling your friends the story of your life.
You’re presenting them the reasons that led you to choose your profession. You build it up with tension and passion, picking the vocabulary carefully. But then, when it’s time to deliver the payoff…
The sentence you want to say is — “and that’s why I became a [insert your profession here].”
Well, according to your trusted Collins dictionary, you have three options here (four, but one isn’t usual).
Number one, ficar.
Number two, virar.
Number three, tornar-se.
Which one to pick?
Using Ficar to Express to Become in Portuguese
Ficar is the Swiss knife of the Portuguese language.
There are so many uses of this verb that it deserves an article for itself — and that wouldn’t do justice to the versatility of this verb.
But here, ficar means “to become, to get,” but it can’t be used with any word.
You have to use an adjective after that.
So, if you and so you got happy because you became a doctor, this is the verb to go to.
- Eu fiquei bravo, porque os meus vizinhos estavam fazendo muito barulho. I got angry because my neighbors were making a lot of noise.
- De alguns anos para cá, a música brasileira ficou muito popular na China. In the recent years, the Brazilian music became very popular in China.
- Depois que saí para passear, meu rosto ficou muito vermelho. After I went out for a walk, my face became very red.
Using Virar to Express to Become
Virar isn’t as versatile as ficar but it gives you enough freedom for you to get confused.
So, a simple rule is that virar means to become only when followed by a noun.
Thus, surprise, surprise! Now that you want to say, “that’s why I became a doctor,” you know what verb to use.
- Eu decidi virar professor, porque eu gosto muito de ensinar. I decided to become a teacher because I like teaching very much.
- Eu quero estudar um pouco mais e virar pesquisador no futuro. I want to study a little bit more and become a researcher in the future.
- Quando ele crescer, vai virar engenheiro. When he grows up, is going to become an engineer.
Using Tornar-se to Express to Become
And here is the father verb of ficar and virar.
It can be used both with a noun or an adjective and it always means “to become.”
The main thing to pay attention to here is that it’s a pronominal verb. That means, you need to use eu me torno, você se torna when using this verb.
All in all, “tornar-se” has a more formal tone to it. You’ll see that way more in writing then you’ll hear it in conversations.
- Eu decidi me tornar professor, porque eu gosto muito de ensinar. I decided to become a teacher because I like teaching very much.
- De alguns anos para cá, a música brasileira se tornou muito popular na China. In the recent years, the Brazilian music became very popular in China.
- Eu quero estudar um pouco mais e me tornar pesquisador no futuro. I want to study a little bit more and become a researcher in the future.
Going Back to the Roots
But these verbs have an original meaning each.
That’s why they can get very confusing. And that’s why I suggest you study the examples patiently and try to make as many sentences as you can modeling them after the examples.
- Virar o hambúrguer. To flip the hamburger.
- Vou ficar em casa. Não quero sair. I’m going to stay home. I don’t want to go out.
- Se eu tornar a ver você na minha propriedade, vou dar um tiro em você. If I see you in my property again, I will shoot you.
So, was it hard? It might get very hard. Some people like to complicate things. Complicated means profit in some instances.
But in my case, I just want you to become proficient in using these verbs to express to become in Portuguese.
And for additional finer distinctions when using Portuguese vocabulary, head over to our vocabulary section. It’s full of content that will help you learn even faster.
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