You have probably already noticed that supposed to + verb is a common and useful structure in English. It can be a difficult structure to use though, especially because there is no single translation for it in Portuguese. Let’s have a look at its meaning and go through some guidance on when we can use it.
‘Supposed to’ is often used to express the following or a mixture of the following:
When indicating obligation, it is commonly translated as ‘dever’ or ‘ter que’. You might think, ‘Well, in that case can’t I simply use ‘have to’ or ‘must’?’. You can but keep in mind that these options express different levels of obligation:
The main difference is that must indicates a strict obligation and supposed to indicates obligation but with some potential for choice. This same logic applies in reverse when using a negative structure:
When talking about things that are arranged or intended, we often use ‘supposed to’:
When talking about plans with ‘supposed to’ there is often an added meaning that it might not happen:
When it comes in the past, ‘supposed to’ can be translated as ‘era para’, as in:
Something we believe to be true
We often use ‘supposed to’ when we have heard about something or simply because it is common opinion.
As you can see, there are many ways to use 'supposed to' and is much more common than it's closest Portuguese equivalent, 'supostamente'.
We hope this guide has been helpful and remember that when you learn something new, you're supposed to practice it so that you don't forget it. You can find some practice exercises here.