From which verb is 'era'

I’m learning the lesson about things to say in restaurants. Where is the verb ‘era’ coming from and what is the literal translation? It’s nice to have another way of order something small.

@Johan1412, era is an imperfect tense conjugation from the verb ser. The imperfect tense is commonly used for requests/orders, because the simple present may sound a bit too direct. This is explained halfway through this Learning Note: Past Continuous Tense | Practice Portuguese :slight_smile:

Still I don’t get it. What are you littarly saying? I used to be an beer? : )) It has nothing to do with HAVE but with BE. So, yeah. Maybe it is not explainable?

@Joseph may correct me, but if the sentence you were translating is “era outra cerveja, se faz favor” then you literally get “it was another beer, if you please”. There is an implied “I was wanting”, so the whole thing might be read as: That was another beer I was wanting, if you please.

You could say exactly the same thing in English, although you might want to note, if you are not a native English speaker, that this would be, at the very least, sarcastic, and possibly downright rude.

You could say something similar in everyday English, but you have to be careful with the way you add the “please”. Something like the following would be acceptable and normal:

Wait staff: Were you wanting anything else?

Customer: Um, yeah, it was another beer for me and a Coke each for the kids, ta.

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@Johan1412, I’m not sure how much it helps to think of it literally, but you can apply @coljay’s translation: Era = it was, or it would be (‘used to be’ is just one of the ways in which our imperfect tense can be translated into English).

In the end, all we’re really just saying is “I would like/I want [something]”. And the verb forms gostaria (conditional), gostava (imperfect), queria (imperfect) and era (imperfect) can all be used to express the same idea in this particular context. An explanation such as the one @coljay gave does not necessarily reflect our thought process/reasoning in Portuguese, but it can be useful to help English speakers make sense of this idiomatic use of the imperfect tense.

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Thanks you both. I just rembember that you use it with ordering something small. Not with a pizza or so. :raised_hands:t3:

@Joseph Your paragraph with the four verb forms for saying “I want…” would be a good standalone learning note.


@Johan1412, size does not matter that much, I would say!

Curiously, and I’ve mentioned this to Joseph in a private email, I recently used “Era outra cola” at a restaurant and the waitress didn’t know what I was asking. I explained that I’d learned this expression to order something like another drink and she thought it wasn’t correct. She said I should just say “Mais uma cola” so that’s what I use now, in this context at least. I use queria for more involved requests. She was a native Portuguese.

We need THE answer! What did @Joseph say? :innocent: Let’s make it less complicated, ok? Not more (mais!) complicated. ; )

Joseph had no explanation why this particular waitress didn’t understand the use of “era” in this context. I even brought up Practice Portuguese to show her the exercise where this is explained and she thought it was a very odd use for “era”. She actually said something along the lines of “But era means was”, which was my exact same reaction when this was first discussed in PP.

I never tried using “era outra cola” at other restaurants after this but I have used “mais outra cola” and it’s always understood so I’m sticking to this option. Maybe it’s a regional thing? I live in the Algarve, and the waitress was born and raised in the area.


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