Segurar vs Pegar

Believe these both to mean “pick up” in some contexts and “hold”. But can’t find anything online for the differences.
Can someone explain please?

Thank you :slight_smile:

My good friend ChatGPT offers this explanation (of which I particularly like the final “it all depends”-statement):

In Portuguese, “segurar” and “pegar” are two different verbs that can have overlapping meanings but also distinct uses. Here’s a breakdown of their differences:

  1. Segurar: The verb “segurar” generally translates to “to hold” or “to grasp.” It refers to the action of physically holding onto something or keeping it in a fixed position. It implies a sense of stability or control over the object being held. For example:
  • Segure o livro com as duas mãos. (Hold the book with both hands.)
  • Ele segurou firmemente na alça da bolsa. (He firmly held onto the purse’s handle.)
  1. Pegar: The verb “pegar” translates to “to grab” or “to pick up.” It refers to the action of taking hold of something, often in a less controlled or temporary manner. It can also mean “to catch” or “to get.” The emphasis is more on the act of acquiring or capturing something. For example:
  • Pegue o telefone e ligue para ela. (Pick up the phone and call her.)
  • Eu peguei uma maçã da fruteira. (I grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl.)

In summary, while both verbs involve taking hold of something, “segurar” emphasizes a more controlled or sustained grip, while “pegar” conveys a sense of grabbing or acquiring something, often with less emphasis on long-term possession. The specific context and intention behind the action will determine which verb is more appropriate to use.

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How do you even use chat GPT to answer all your questions? Do you just type in “Verb A vs Verb B” and it tells you.

I asked it “in Portuguese, what is the difference between segurar and pegar” and it answered with the explanation above.

A word of warning though - while most of its answers are correct and make sense, you might sometimes get an explanation where you think “naaah, I’m not sure the computer got it right this time”. A follow-up question e.g. “are you sure about that?” will get it to challenge itself.

ChatGPT is definitely not an oracle, but I find it quite useful as a first port of call.

For Oracle-quality replies, we have Josesph :slight_smile:

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May I ask what resources you use to study and learn the language other than You post a lot of replies on here so you’re obviously very knowledgable of the language.

That’s very kind of you, but having spent 4 months and not yet being through the A1 units, I would not consider myself knowledgeable. I’m a slow learner, and I spend quite a lot of time practicing via the smart review flash-cards to make sure things stick in my head. But on the flip side, it seems to work and I can remember most of what I’ve learned so far.

I try to be active on the forum and to answer questions when I can – when I know the answer, it’s often because I have wondered about the exact same thing and have eventually figured it out.

Other than PP I have recently started to listen to some of the lockdown-era children’s beginner classes on RTP. I love them because the teacher speaks clearly enough that I can understand enough to get the meaning, so it gives me a a motivational boost – for me, that’s far more encouraging than trying to listen to e.g. newscasts where I don’t get a word and end up thinking “oh my gawd, I’m never going to be able to figure this out”.

Thank you for the link to this site! I just started watching, and I can’t believe how much I can understand of what she says. I’m not even halfway through A1, although I’ve studied Spanish and Italian, too, so that helps. So clear, and introduces things like numbers which I haven’t got to yet.

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Many times, I notice that ChatGPT does not make a clear distinction between European and Brazilian Portuguese. Sometimes when I ask it to translate something specifically into European Portuguese, it will make a mistake.

As far as the verb “pegar” goes, it has always fascinated me for some odd reason.

I’m far from an expert, but some observations from my experience here in Portugal: when it comes to the word “pegar”, it seems to used in a more general sense in Brazilian Portuguese than in European Portuguese, but some clear distinctions I have noticed are, for example in transportation, when you would use “take” in English. For example, if you want to say “take the bus,” in European Portuguese they say “apanhar autocarro” – literally “catch” the bus, whereas in Brazilian Portuguese, it’s more often “pegar omnibus”. Also in transportation, I’ve never heard in PT “pegar comboio”, only “apanhar comboio”. Of course, in English, depending on where you’re from, you can also hear "grab/take/catch the/a bus, taxi, train, etc.

Another difference I’ve noticed is in the sense of “grab”, like, “I’ll go grab a beer” – “Vou buscar uma cerveja” in EU PT, but more likely “Vou pegar uma cerveja” in BR PT. Or in the sense, “I’ll pick you up in 10 minutes” – I’ve only heard “buscar” here, not “pegar”

I could be mistaken, but it seems to me the use of “pegar” carries a subtly harsher tone in EU PT. Like in “Pick up/Grab your things and go” - “Pega tuas coisas e vai-te embora”. I’ve also heard something similar using “arrumar” - “Eu vou arrumar as minhas coisas e vou andando” - “I’ll pick up my things and get going”.

Again, I’m not an expert…Joseph, please correct me if I’m wrong. Just a few observations!


I’ve just had “O carro não pega” pop up in a lesson. The PP translation was “the car doesn’t start”. It took me a while to work to the English usage “the motor didn’t catch” for it all to tie together.

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@nycmichaelm I wouldn’t say that pegar is harsher in EU PT per se, but you’re otherwise spot on regarding the differences in use in Brazilian vs. European Portuguese :slight_smile:

@coljay, yes! That’s a specific idiomatic use of the verb.