18.1.7. interchangeability of the infinite verb forms in the shortening of subordinating clauses

In Portuguese subordinate clauses can be shortened with the participio perfeito, the gerundio and the infinitivo. The infinitivo and the gerundio exist in a simple and a compound version. The compound versions are used if the action / event happened before the action / event described by the finite verb. (Not always but mostly the Portuguese infinitive is translated with a gerund in English.)

substitution of a subordinate clause with an infinitive
substitution with an infinitivo composto
1) Eu não sabia quem ele era até ter lido o livro.
Before having read the book, I didn't know who he was.
substitution with an infinitivo simples
2) Eu cheguei até fazer as malas.
I even started to pack my bags.

The compound infinitive describes the action as accomplished. From a purely logical perspective, something completely irrelevant when discussing about linguistic problems, the compound infnifitive has to be used if the sentence makes only sense, if the event / action described by the infinitive is accomplished before another action / events starts. (Having lost his wallet, he couldn't pay the bill. <=> ~Losing his wallet, he couldn't pay the bill.) In case 1) he had read a book and afterwards he knew who he is. He finished the book, the action is accomplished. In case 2) he started to pack his bags, but the action is not accomplished, in any case it is not necessary that the action is accomplished.


However what sounds very logical at first glance is not so obvious in reality. The following sentence can be found several thousand times on the internet.

Não poderá descarregar o software até ler e aceitar os termos do acordo.
a) As long as you have not read and accepted the general terms and conditions you can't download the software.
b) As long as you don't read and accept the general terms and conditions you can't download the software.


b) is closer to the Portuguese sentence, but describes the action not as accomplished, what is necessary in this case. Previously to downloading the software, one has to accept the terms and conditions. The English translation of b) would be: You won't be able to download the software until you read and accept the terms of condition. Actually it is not enough to start reading. More correct would therefore be: You won't be able to download the software until you have read and accepted the term of conditions. It seems that in real life nobody cares about logic, as long as the meaning is clear.

However depending on the context, the compound form is compulsory.

substitution of a subordinate clause by a gerundio
substitution with gerundio composto
3) Tendo feito o seu trabalho, ele se foi.
Having done his work, he went away.
substitution with gerundio simples
4) A única maneira de aprender é fazendo o trabalho.
The only way to get acquainted with something is doing ones work.


The logic is the same as in the previous example. The main assertion in 3) is that he laid asside the hammer only after having done his work. The gerundio simple, "Fazendo o seu trabalho, ele se foi" <=> "Doing his work, he laid asside the hammer" would mean that he didn't do his work, but actually would be meaningless. The participio perfeito describes always an accomplished action and therefore we can construct with a participio perfeito as well, "Feito o seu trabalho, ele se foi" <=> "His work done, he went away".

Case 4 is different. The main assertion is learning by doing. Obviously one learns a lot as well after having done something, we all know that experience is a hard teacher, but that is not the statement of the sentence.

The past participle describes, with some few exceptions, used as an adjective (the sold house => The house that has been sold) or a predicative noun (The house is sold => The house that has been sold). an accomplished action. Exception are for example the loved woman. If someone give a cake and a rose to the loved woman, it is to assume that the woman has not been loved, but that he is still in love with her.

substitution with a participio perfeito
substitution with participio perfeito composto
5) Isso não significa que o executivo tenha tido feito um mau trabalho.
That doesn't mean that the manager has done a bad job.
substitution with participio
6) Mas uma vez feito o trabalho, todos nos agradecerão.
However if the work is done, everybody will be grateful.

5) is strange. The past participle is always an accomplished action, something like a compound past participle is inthinkable. If we translate the sentence literally we get "... the manager has had done a bad work." This structure doesn't seem to comply with the standard grammar, however it can be found very often on the internet. Perhaps the structure can be explained if we change it to "... the manager had had a bad work done". This would mean that the manager was in possession of a badly done work. From a VERY PHILOSOPHICAL perspective this perhaps explains the use of the past participle in compound tenses: He has done the work => He has the work done => He possessed the work done.

One may wonder that in any indogermanic language compound tenses are formed with the auxiliary to have, although the original value of to have, to have in the sense of to possess, gets completely lost. We can say that from a purely logical perspective we can use just any verb as an auxiliary verb, for instance to be would do the job as well. In any case, if we want to find an explication for this strange construction, that would be one. In Portuguese survived or was reinvented a really very, very old structure. Perhaps the original ideas was to say "I have my book read" instead of "I have read the book".

Actually there are two possibilities. We invent a completely new verbal tense to express anteriority, something indogermanic languages don't possess, or we try to resolve the problem with something already existent and if we have bought a house, we have our house bought, we posses a bought house. That could explain as well why still today the direct object in german is put between the auxiliary verb and the past participle. This is a nice eplanation, most of all because the truth has got lost in the darkness of history. Tido is superfluous in this case, we can leave it out: "....tenha feito um mau trabalho" has the same meaning. In case 6) the work must have been done in order to satisfy everybody. The past participle describes, as usual, anteriority.

With all three constructions, the infinitivo, the gerundio and the participio perfeito we can shorten temporal clauses ("When he came in, he saw the disaster => Coming in he saw the disaster), conditional clauses (If he doesn't study, he won't pass the exam => Not studying more, he won't pass the exam), concessive clauses (Although he is ill, he goes to work => Being ill he goes to work), relative clauses (He was amused by the children who played in the garden => He was amused by the children playing in the garden). That works with the simple forms and the compound forms. However we will see in a few minutes that the infinitive forms that cannot in all contexts be substituted by another. Sometimes that is bluntly not possible and sometimes the meaning changes a little bit depending on the forms used.

The infinitive can, as well as the gerundio, express causal, temporal, modal and concessive relationships, but in the case of the infinitive the type of realtionship is explicetely described by a preposition and must not deduced from the context. (The fact that we deduce the type of relationship from the context in lightning speed and that therefore we are not even aware that we are deducing something is irrelevant.) Since the infinitive is introduced by a preposition that explains the relationship between the finite and the unfinite verb, it can shorten more subordinate clauses than the gerundio, see 18.1.5. The simple infinitive describes the event / action as happening before the action described by the finite verb. The construction ao + infinitive describes the punctual incidence of two events / actions.

The gerundio simples describes the simultanity between the actions described by the finite and infinite verb. The gerundio composto describes as well anteriority, but most of all causality. In the case of the gerundio composto it is less the fact that the action happened before, but the fact that the action described by the finite verb is a consequence of the action described by the gerundio. Compare:

participio perfeito: Feito o trabalho, foi embora. => The work done, he went away. => After he had done the work, he went away.
gerundio: Tendo feito o trabalho, foi embora. => Having done the work, he went away. => Since he had done the work, he went away.
infinitivo: Depois de ter feito o trabalho, foi embora. => construction with an infinitive not possible. The meaning is the same as the construction with a participio perfeito.

The infinitivo and the gerundio are active, the subject of the infinitivo / gerundio executes the action described by the verb. The past participle is passive, the subject of the past participle is the goal of this action, but not the executor.

The past participle has its own subject. However this subject is not the executor of the action, but the goal. In the case of a written letter, the letter is the subject of the construction, but not the executor. A subordinate clause can therefore only be shortened with a past participle if the subject of the finite verb differs from the past participle. Therefore the procedure is completely different. In the case of a gerundio or an infinitive were we have a direct object.

participio perfeito: Feito o trabalho, foi embora.
gerundio: Tendo feito o trabalho, foi embora.
infinitivo: Depois de ter feito o trabalaho, foi embora.

The subject of feito is trabalho. The subject of tendo feito and ter feito however is the person who goes away.

Concerning the interchangeability the issue is somehow weired. In order to describe temporal, causal, concessive, conditional, modal relationships the gerundio doesn't need a conjunction. (Actually it is not possible to use one before a gerund. The only exception are the use in a concessive clause. In this case mesmo is possible.) The subordinate clause shortened by an infinitive requires a preposition, the infinitive is a noun, and therefore a substitution is only possible if there if there is a preposition that corresponds semantically to the conjunction. This is sometimes the case and sometimes not.

In the following table you will find a direct comparison between the infinitivo and the gerundio. The sentences in brackets are wrong. First we compare the simple forms, than the compound forms. A comparison with the past participle is only necessary in the case of the compound forms.

The result of these analysis is simple. Every subordinate clause can be shortened with an infinitive form, an infnitivo, a gerundio or an participio perfeito. However if we study the details, we will see that not always and in any context all three infinitive forms can be used.

temporal sentences (active)
infinitivo: Depois / Antes de comer vamos à praia. After / before eating we go to the beach.
gerundio: Comindo vamos à praia. Eating we go to the beach.
The simple gerundio can't have a preposition and can therefore only express simultanity. Anteriority could be expressed with a compound gerundio. The tranlations don't mean the same thing.
infinitivo: Ao chegar o trem correram para a estação. When the train arrived, they run to the train station.
gerundio: Chegando o trem correram para a estação. When the train arrived, they run to the train station.

If the infinitivo expresses the punctual incidence of two events, it can be substituted by the gerundio. The punctual incidence is still spanned by simultanity.

infinitivo: [Ao fumar um cigarro esperava.]  
gerundio: Fumando um cigarro esperava. While he was waiting, he smoke a cigarette.
With the infitinivo we can, always in combination with a preposition, describe anteriority, antes de, posteriority, despois de and punctula incidence, ao + infinitivo. However if the main assertion of a sentence is the fact that two events run paralelly than we have more than a punctual incidence and the infinitive can't be used. The construction ao + infinitivo is possible with an imperfeito, but in this case the action / event described by the infinitive is embedded in the basic action. "Ao chegar facia frío" <=> "It was cold when he arrived". The sentence "Ao fumar um cigarro esperava" is as meaningless as "At the moment he smoked a cigarette, he was waiting."
infinitivo pessoal: Ao chegarem jà fazia noite. It was dark, when they arrived.
gerundio: [Chegando jà fazia noite.] [Coming it was dark.]
In this case we have two problems. The simple infinitivo would inherit its subject from the finite verb, we therefore wouldn't know who is the executor of the action. (In this case, since the subject is abstract, we would assume that the infinitivo had an own subject, but the basic problem would remain unresolved. The second problem is that we have punctual coincidence and in this cas a gerund is never possible.
infinitivo: Ao fumar um cigarro, uma pessoa ingere substâncias nocivas. By smoking a cigarette one inhales harmful substances.
gerundio: Fumando um cigarro, uma pessoa ingere substâncias nocivas. By smoking a cigarette one inhales harmful substances.
Very often a subordinate clauses shortened with an infinitive can be intepreted as a temporal clause, "When you smoke a cigarette, you inhale harmful substances", or as a conditional clause, "If you smoke a cigarette, you inhale harmful substances". In this case ao + infinitive doesn't describe a punctual incidence, but an event that has been or is repeated.


Basically it is possible to shorten a conditional clause with the gerundio or with the infinitivo. But if the specification of the condition requires a preposisition, "without explaining ...", only the infinitivo (pessoal) is possible, because only the infinitivo (pessoal) can be used with a preposition. It is possible as well, see below, to shorten a conditional clause with a past participle, but in this case it has to have it's own subject, the event / action has to be accomplished and the subject is the goal, not the executor of the action.

conditional clauses
infinitivo: Caso trabalhar mais do que 44 horas por mês você pode pedir hora extra. If you work more than 44 hours a week, you can pretend an overtime pay.
gerundio Trabalhando mais do que 44 horas por mês você pode pedir hora extra.
A causal relationship is already inherent as a possibility in the gerundio. Therefore there is no need for a conjunction and furthermore it is not possible to use one together with a gerundio. The infinitivo, at least in the context of subordinate clauses, is always introduced by a preposition. However caso is not a preposition, it is a conjunction. This is an exception to the rule, but grammatically correct. The sentence is taken fron the Brasilian labour law and we can assume that they speak Portuguese perfectly. However this construction is seldom.
infinitivo: Sem estudar, não podemos obter um certificado de conclusão do Ensino. If we don't study, we can't get our diploma.
(Without studying, we can't get our diploma.)
gerundio: [Sem estudando, .......]
Sem estudando is not possible, because a gerundio can never be used with a preposition. The Portuguese gerundio corresponds to the English present participle and it not a noun. The English gerund is a noun and can be used with a preposition. Only nouns can be used with a preposition or verbal nouns like the English gerund. What we could do is restructure the sentence. The gerundio can be combinated with a negative particle, therefore "Não estudando, não podemos obter um certificado de conclusão do Ensino" would be possible. In English we can construct with an -ing form, but this -ing form is a gerund, a verbal noun, and can be combined with a preposition.


causal clause
infinitivo: [Sem estudar, foi reprovado.] Since I didn't study I didn't pass the exam.
gerundio: Não estudando, foi reprovado.
This case is complicated. The gerundio expresses implicitly, among with other relationships, causality. How it is actually to be interpreted depends on the context. The gerundio is therefore "open" to a lot of meanings and can be interpreted. The infinitivo however have no implicit meaning concerning the relationship to the finite verb. He is not "open", the actual relationship has to be deduced from the preposition. What we now need is a preposition that establishes a causal relationship, in other words a preposition that corresponds to the conjunction since. That doesn't exist. Two objects never have a causal relationship and therefore there is no preposition that describes this kind of relationship. The only possible way to construct with a preposition would be sem, without. We would get something like "Without studying, he didn't pass the exam". However this is not really what we want to say. "Without studying he passed the exam" makes sense, but "Without studying he didn't pass the exam" doesen't really make sense.
infinitivo: Por estudar muito, passei no vestibular. Since I have learned a lot, I passed the university exam.
gerundio: Estudando muito, passei no vestibular.
This case differs from the previous one. To the conjunction visto que (since / because) corresponds the preposition por. Therefore we can contruct with an infinitivo. The gerund contains the meaning of causality, among other things, implicitly and therefore a construction with a gerundio is possible as well.


concessive clauses
infinitivo Sem estudar, passei no vestibular. Without studying I passed the entrance examination.
gerundio Mesmo não estudando, passei no vestibular. Although I didn't study, I passed the entrance examination.
Here we have a preposition, sem, that corresponds to the conjunction mesmo and therefore a construction with the infinitive is possible. As already said to the general rule that there is never a conjunction / preposition in front of gerundio, there is one exception, the concessive clause. Concessive clauses can, although not compulsory, be introduced by mesmo. .

In the following sentences we have an accomplished action / event and therefore we have one infinite form more, the participio perfeito.

However this doesn't change the basic logic. The gerundio can without any further specification through a preposition / conjunction shorten temporal clauses, conditional clauses, concessive clauses and causal clauses if the relationship between the infinite verbform and the finite verbform can be deduced from the context. The infinitivo is introduced by a preposition and since the relationship between the finite and the infinite verb can be described by a preposition more subordinate clauses can be shortened by an infinitive. The participio perfeito describes accomplished actions / events as well but can only be used if it has its own subject, a subject that differs from the subject of the finite verb. The passive forms ter + sido + participio (infinitivo composto passive) or tendo + sido + participio (gerundio composto passive) are a little long winded and the participio perfeito is preferred in this case. The particip perfect of in normally a passiv form. However the particip perfect of intransitive verbs is active and chan share its subject with the finite verb forme: Once arrived at the bus station, he called her.

The logic of the compound forms is the same as in the simple forms, the only difference is that the compound forms describe an action as accomplished.

temporal clause
infinitivo: Depois de ter feito o trabalho, foi embora. After he had finished the work, he went away.
gerundio: Tendo feito o trabalho, foi embora.
participio perfeito: O trabalho feito, foi embora.
In the construction with the infinitivo and the gerundio trabalho, work, is direct object. In the construction with the participio perfeito it is subject. Those who doesn't believe that can put the sentences in plural. The verb in the sentence constructed with the participio perfeito will change, because the subject governs the verb: Os trabalhos feitos, foi embora. The gerundio can, as already has been said, be interpreted. How the sentence is to be interpreted has to be deduced from the context. Since there is no conjunction that describes the relationship between the finite and the infinite verb, it can be as well a causal clause: Since the work had been done, he went away. In general we can say that the gerundio underlines a causal relationship. In extreme cases the gerundio is the option to be preferred, when we have a causal relationship.


modal clause
infinitivo: A pesar de ter chovido mais em janeiro, no ano passado caiu menos chuva. Despite the fact that it has rained more in january, last year it rained less.
(Even it had rained more in January, last year it have rained less.)
gerundio: (Mesmo tendo chovido mais em janeiro, no ano passado caiu menos chuva. )
participio: --------------------
Although and even if doesn't mean the same thing, although both introduce a concessive clause. In both cases we have an action / event that potentially could have been or could be a hindrance for the action / event described by the finite word, without actually prevent the action described by this verb from happening. Although describes a real situation, even if a hypothetical one. We eventually could understand the sentence introduced by mesmo as a hypothetical situation. In this case it would be questioned whether it has rained more in January, but than we would need a conditional in the main sentence. In any case the subordinate clause doesn't have a subject and therefore we can't construct with the participio perfeito.
infinitivo: Apesar de ter feito algumas pesquisas, não encontrei nada. Although I have done several enquiries, I didn't find anything.
(Even having done several enquiries, I didn't find anything.)
gerundio: [Mesmo tendo feito algumas pesquisas, não encontrei nada.]
participio perfeito: [Mesmo feitas algumas pesquisas, não encontrei nada.]
The only possible option is the construction with the infinitivo, because it is the only option where we can use a preposition. The only preposition we can use with the gerundio is mesmo, even if, but that doesn't work. Mesmo as well as although introduce a concessive clause, but mesmo describes a hypothetical situation, "Even if I made several enquiries, I wouldn't find anything". But than we need a conditional in the main clause. The same thing is true concerning the construction with the past participle. What we need is a preposition that corresponds to the conjunction "although" and that doesn't exist.
infinitivo: A pesar de ter feito alguns cursos, encontro muitos problemas devido a falta de prática. Although I took a course, I had problems due to a lack of practice.
gerundio: Mesmo tendo feito alguns cursos, encontro muitos problemas devido a falta de prática. Even having taken some course, I had problems due to a lack of practice.
participio perfeito: Mesmo feitos alguns cursos, encontro muitos problemas devido a falta de prática.  
In these sentences a pesar de and mesmo has actually the same meaning and since there is a direct object, os cursos, a construction with the past participle is possible as well. The construction with a past participle in English fails because there is no verb that fits. (At least this author doesn't know one. ~ Even made some course, ~ even followed some courses etc. doesn't seem optimal options.


causal clause
infinitivo: Por não ter entendido, voltei a indagar. Since I didn't understand it, I asked again.
gerundio: Não tendo entendido, voltei a indagar.
participio perfeito: -------------------
The construction with the infinitive would work as well without the preposition por. If we can deduce from the context what kind of relationship exists between the action / event described by the infinitive form and the action / event described by the finite form the preposition can be left out, at least we can find on the internet thousand of examples where this is the cause. A construction with the gerund doesn't allow, except mesmo, any preposition. A construction with the participio perfeito is not possible, because the subordinate clause doesn't have a direct object that could become the subject of the past participle.
infinitivo: Por não ter pagado a conta fica sem luz e água. Since he had not paid the bill, he remained without electricity and water.
gerundio: Não tendo pagado a conta, fica sem luz e água.
participio perfeito: A conta não paga, fica sem luz e água.
In this case the sentence has a direct object that can become the subject of the past participle and therefore we can construct with a gerund, an infinitive and past participle.


conditional clause
infinitivo: Depois de ter acabado isso, você pode descansar. If you have finished you can take a break.
gerundio: Tendo acabado isso, você pode descansar.
participio perfeito: Acabado isso, você pode descansar.
The infinitive needs a preposition that describes the relationship between the infinite and the finite verb. Caso would be a possibility. However in this case depois is possible as well and more common. Depois que describes a temporal clause, but that doesen't make any difference in this case. "If you have finished that, you can have a break" <=> "After you have finished that, you can have a break".






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