How to use the verb "encontrar"?

Olá todos!

I’ve been very confused about how to used the verb “encontrar”.

For example:
I went to your office, but I didn’t find you there.

Fui ao seu gabinete, mas não o encontrei.
mas não me encontrei consigo.
which is the right one?

And also, can I say, mas não o vi?(But I didn’t see you)

Or, but you weren’t there. (“Mas você não estava lá”, or is it “mas você não esteve lá”?) as you can see, I am also not sure whether to use Pretérito Perfeito or Imperfeito in this context.

Thanks a million!

We use the verb encontrar non-reflexively to talk about finding things or people, and reflexively to talk about meeting up with someone (encontrar-me com… - to meet “myself” with…). With the verb estar, in this context, we usually use the Pretérito Imperfeito. The Pretérito Perfeito is also grammatically correct and used, but with different implications.

  • …mas você não estava lá -> It tells us that the person wasn’t there at that time, but leaves things open-ended as to whether they were there before or after.
  • …mas você não esteve lá -> This feels very concrete and closed, so to speak. It tells us that the person wasn’t there at any moment of the time period of interest.
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