Memorizing Portuguese Verbs

I listed out about half of the 201 Portuguese verbs from my book in three columns on a pad of paper. I started memorizing the verbs that end with -ar, placing them in a field at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Here are some examples of how I’m doing it:



  • acabar / to finish—  a cab driver finishes washing his cab.
  • assustar / to frighten — one reason that I made my number system strictly phonetic is because I can now use those images for anything phonetic.  In my system 020 is the sound “SUS” and the image is Zeus.  There is a strong association between “SUS” and Zeus.  So assustar is Zeus jumping out of some bushes at the edge of the field yelling “boo!” with a lightning bolt in one hand and a leaking barrel of tar in the other.  Ridiculous, but it works.
  • aconselhar / to advise — I took an image of my college advisor, and made him a camp counselor.
  • adivinhar / to guess — I took my soothsayer image (024) and gave him a divining rod.  He is guessing where the water is.
  • almoçar / to eat lunch — the image is Elmo with a lunchbox at an imaginary picnic table that I added to the scene.
  • apagar / to put out, erase, extinguish — this is Elmo extinguishing a candle on the picnic table with a dollar bill.
  • apanhar / to catch — I placed an imaginary stream through the middle of the park and someone is catching fish with a pan in the stream.
  • barbear / to shave — first I made this an image of a barber shaving someone in a chair, but then I decided to reinforce the image by making it a giant Barbie doll shaving someone in a chair.
  • alugar / to rent — this is someone with a luger firing at a “for rent” sign in front of a house.  It’s easy to remember that it’s alugar and not aluger because of all the verbs in this park end with -ar.
  • aproveitar-se / to take advantage of — I took the part the word that sounds like “approve,” which I associate with approving for a credit card. Then I attached that to an image of a con artist who kept trying to scam me in Athens last summer.  The final image is the con artist trying to approve me for a credit card.
  • appressar-se / to hurry — this is an image of a woman who is pressing sheets very quickly.  I don’t have an image to indicate verbs ending in -se, but when I finish creating a more comprehensive memory system for phonetic sounds, I will have a specific image for the sound -se.

The list above contains just a few examples, but gives a general idea…

The photo of Barbie © Mauren Veras has been combined with a photo of a razor © Jeffrey Beall both under Creative Commons license.


  • I have a flash card app for my iPad that I use to practice my major system and 3 x 2-digit numbers. The have a ton of free Quizlet flashcards sets to download and use with this app. They have a lot of sets for Portuguese including a flashcard set of over 5000 Portuguese words (prepositions, verbs, etc.).

  • You could set about converting these Portuguese words/phrases into audionym images ala Gruneberg.

  • Thanks… Quizlet looks interesting. I’ll check it out…

  • I really like your ideas for the site, it’s really interesting. And it really helps to translate the Portuguese verbs in to english. I know a site that helps to lear how to conjugate the vebs.