Irregular preterite verbs

Irregular preterite verbs DEFAULT


The Spanish preterite tense (elpretéritoo el pretérito perfectosimple) is used to describe actions completed at a point in the past.

The Spanish preterite is not used to describe habitual or continuous actions in the past with no specific beginning or end. In such cases, the imperfect tense is used.

Regular Spanish Preterite Forms

There are only two sets of endings for regular preterite verbs, one for -ar verbs and one for both -er and -ir verbs. To conjugate a regular verb in the preterite tense, simply remove the infinitive ending (-ar, -er, or -ir) and add the preterite ending that matches the subject. Check out the table of regular preterite endings below.

Regular Preterite Verb Endings

él, ella, usted-ió
ellos, ellas, ustedes-aron-ieron

Keep an Eye on the Accents

Note that the first person singular (yo), third person singular (él, ella), and second person formal singular (usted) preterite forms have tildes(written accents) on the final vowel. Keep in mind that one little tilde can change both the tense and subject of a sentence. For example:

With a tilde:

Mandóuna carta.

He/She sent a letter.


Without a tilde:

Mandouna carta.

I send a letter.


Present and Past Nosotros

The first person plural (nosotros) endings for regular -ar and -ir verbs are the same for both the preterite and present tenses. Context clues, such as adverbs like siempre (always) and ayer (yesterday), can help you figure out if a nosotros form refers to the past or the present.


Siemprecocinamospaella los domingos.

We always cook paella on Sundays.

Ayercocinamospaella para mi familia.

Yesterday we cooked paella for my family.

Irregular Spanish Preterite Forms

Four of the most common verbs with irregular preterite forms are ser, ir, dar, and ver. For more on tricky preterite forms, check out our article here.

Irregular Preterite Verb Conjugations

él, ella, usted
ellos, ellas, ustedes

Seeing Double

Note that ser and ir have the exact same forms in the preterite.

Uses of the Preterite

The preterite is used to talk about completed actions in the past. More specifically, it is used to talk about beginnings and ends, things that took place on specific days or dates, at specific times or during specific time periods, and events in a sequence.

1. Completed Events

The preterite is used to talk about completed events, especially those with very clear beginnings and ends.


Compréun coche nuevo.

I bought a new car.

Ben y Cristinase casaron.

Ben and Cristina got married.

Robertonacióen Costa Rica.

Roberto was born in Costa Rica.

2. Beginnings and Ends

Beginnings and ends themselves are also talked about using the preterite. Key verbs you'll see used to talk about beginnings and ends in the past are empezar (to begin), comenzar (to begin), terminar (to finish), and acabar (to end).


Empezóa nevar.

It began to snow.

La películaterminócon una sorpresa.

The movie ended with a surprise.

3. Specific Times and Dates

The preterite is used to talk about past events or actions that occurred on specific days or dates, at specific times, and during specific time periods.


Regreséanoche a las diez.

I got back last night at ten.

Vivióen Perú por tres meses.

He lived in Peru for three months.

Leísteeste libro el mes pasado.

You read this book last month.

Nachonacióel tres de agosto.

Nacho was born on August third.

4. Events in a Sequence

The preterite is used for listing past events that took place in a sequence.


Me levanté, me vestí,ysalípara la fiesta.

I got up, got dressed, and left for the party.

Túentraste, bebisteun vaso de agua ycomisteuna hamburguesa.

You came in, drank a glass of water, and ate a hamburger.

Looking for information on the differences between the preterite and the imperfect? Check out this article!


Irregular Preterite Verbs: Past Tense Spanish Made Simple

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Past tense Spanish is something that tends to confuse many Spanish students, especially when dealing with irregular preterite verbs.

Let’s back up a bit about the most important Spanish past tenses.

In the indicative mood, there are two ways to speak about the past tense: the preterite (aka simple past) tense and the imperfect tense.

The Spanish preterite tense is used to describe actions completed at a specific point in the past; whereas the imperfect is used to describe habitual or continuous actions in the past with no specific beginning or end.

For more on preterite vs imperfect tense, read here.

How To Conjugate Irregular Preterite Verbs In Spanish

All verbs listed in the post can be considered irregular.

However, you’ll see that some verbs only require subtle changes, others undergo drastic spelling changes and some, quite frankly, do not abide by any rules whatsoever.

In this post, we are going to categorize irregular verbs into the following:

  • Verbs that require significant changes: Ser, Ir, Dar, Hacer, Ver
  • Verbs that require a stem change, but use regular endings
  • Verbs ending in -ir that require a stem change
  • Verbs ending in -ucir
  • Verbs that are irregular in the “yo” form

1) Verbs that require significant changes

These verbs belong in the wild west of conjugations.

In other words, they are completely irregular as they do not follow any pattern whatsoever.

  • Ser (to be)
  • Ir (to go)
  • Dar (to give)
  • Hacer (to do)
  • Ver (to see).

These five verbs are probably the most commonly used irregular verbs in the preterite, and so it’s important to memorize the conjugations by heart.

Let’s dive in.

SubjectVerb: Ser (to be)English Equivalent
YofuiI was
fuisteYou were
Él/Ella/UstedfueHe/She was
Nosotros/NosotrasfuimosWe were
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesfueronThey were
SubjectVerb: Ir (to go)English Equivalent
YofuiI went
fuisteYou went
Él/Ella/UstedfueHe/She went
Nosotros/NosotrasfuimosWe went
Ellos/ellas/UstedesfueronThey went


Hopefully, you noticed that Ser and Ir verbs have identical conjugations in the preterite.

While this may seem confusing, a reasonably easy and effective trick to tell both verbs apart is to remember that the verb Ir is used when something moves somewhere else, and so it will most likely include prepositions such as the “a”, or alternatively “para”. The only time it doesn’t need a preposition is when a location is already mentioned – usually naming a physical place.

Let’s compare the two below.

  • I went to see my neighbor –  Fui a ver a mi vecino
  • I was his neighbor for many years – Fui su vecino por muchos años

All clear?

Good. Let’s move on.

SubjectVerb: Dar (to give)English Equivalent
YoI gave
disteYou give
Él/Ella/UsteddióHe/She gave
Nosotros/NosotrasdimosWe gave
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesdieronThey gave
SubjectVerb: Hacer (to do or to make)English Equivalent
YohiceI did
hicisteYou did
Él/Ella/UstedhizoHe/She did
Nosotros/NosotrashicimosWe did
Ellos/Ellas/UstedeshicieronThey did
SubjectVerb: Ver (to see)English Equivalent
YoI saw
visteYou saw
Él/Ella/UstedvióHe/She saw
Nosotros/NosotrasvimosWe saw
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesvieronThey saw

Moving on, we can look at steam changing verbs in the preterite.

The good news is the following verbs follow certain patterns, making them easier to memorize.

 2) Irregular Preterite Verbs That Have Stem Changes, But Regular Endings

This group of verbs undergo a stem change when conjugated in the preterite, but use the same endings that are shown in the table below.

SubjectVerb Endings

Once you learn these endings, simply add them to the new stem for the verb you wish to use..

VerbsPreterite StemEnglish Equivalent
AndarAnduv-To walk
CaberCup-To fit
EstarEstuv-To be
HaberHub-To have
PoderPud-Be able to
PonerPus-To put
QuererQuis-To want
SaberSup-To know
TenerTuv-To have
VenirVin-To come

And that’s it.

Relatively straightforward, no?

3) Irregular Preterite Verbs Ending In -IR

IR verbs that change stems in the simple present tense also require a change in the preterite.

However, once the stem changes, you can use the same preterite endings for all regular IR verbs.

Before we elaborate on this, let’s review the endings for IR verbs in the preterite tense.

Personal pronoun-IR verb Ending

The above is quite straightforward.

Verbs ending in -IR that changes stem in the simple present tense, will also change in the preterite, but only for the personal pronouns: él,ella,usted,ustedes,ellos,ellas.

The required stem change can be summarized into two groups, according to its changes:

Changes in Preterite tense
From (e) – to (i)
From (o) – to (u)

Let’s see some examples of these changes applied in the preterite tense.

Personal pronoun Repetir (To repeat) Morir (To die)
e – io – u

Other verbs that require a similar change.

  • To have fun – Divertirse
  • To sleep – Dormir
  • To lie – Mentir
  • To ask for – Pedir
  • To prefer – Preferir
  • To feel – Sentir
  • To suggest – Sugerir
  • To wear/to get dressed – Vestir/se

4) Irregular Preterite Verbs Ending In -UCIR

All Spanish verbs ending in -ucir, such as: conducir (to drive), producir (to produce), traducir (to translate), etc, plus the verbs traer (to bring) and decir (to say), have the following endings in the preterite:

SubjectVerb Ending

Let’s see the proper conjugation for the previously mentioned verbs :

SubjectVerb: Traer (to bring)English Equivalent
YotrajeI brought
trajisteYou brought
Él/Ella/UstedtrajoHe/She brought
Nosotros/NosotrastrajimosWe brought
Ellos/Ellas/UstedestrajeronThey brought
SubjectVerb: Decir (to say)English Equivalent
YodijeI said
dijisteYou said
Él/Ella/UsteddijoHe/She said
Nosotros/NosotrasdijimosWe said
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesdijeronThey said


The verb Decir keeps the same vowel change (e to i) from the simple present tense (decir to digo) in all the pronouns for all tenses (except the imperfect tense).

SubjectVerb: Conducir (to drive)English Equivalent
YocondujeI drove
condujisteYou drove
Él/Ella/UstedcondujoHe/She drove
Nosotros/NosotrascondujimosWe drove
Ellos/Ellas/UstedescondujeronThey drove
SubjectVerb: Producir (to produce)English Equivalent
YoprodujeI produced
produjisteYou produced
Él/Ella/UstedprodujoHe/She produced
Nosotros/NosotrasprodujimosWe produced
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesprodujeronThey produced
SubjectVerb: Traducir (to translate)English Equivalent
YotradujeI translated
tradujisteYou translated
Él/Ella/UstedtradujoHe/She translated
Nosotros/NosotrastradujimosWe translated
Ellos/Ellas/UstedestradujeronThey translated


  • There is no accent in the Third Person Singular (él/ella/usted) -jo ending.

5) Verbs that are irregular in the “yo” form

And last, but certainly not least, this group of verbs falls into a category called “Orthographically Irregular Verbs”

So what exactly does this mean?

In this group of verbs, most of the conjugation can be treated as regular, but first person singular (yo) requires a small spelling change when conjugated in the preterite.

There are three categories of verbs where this happens:

  • Verbs ending in -car change c to qu
  • Verbs ending in -gar change g to gu
  • Verbs ending in -zar change z to c

a) Verbs ending in -car change c to qu

Let’s see some examples.

SubjectVerb: Tocar (to touch)English Equivalent
YotoquéI touched
tocasteYou touched
Él/Ella/UstedtocóHe/She touched
Nosotros/NosotrastocamosWe touched
Ellos/Ellas/UstedestocaronThey touched
SubjectVerb: Secar (to dry)English Equivalent
YosequéI dried
secasteYou dried
Él/Ella/UstedsecóHe/She dried
Nosotros/NosotrassecamosWe dried
Ellos/Ellas/UstedessecaronThey dried
SubjectVerb: Buscar (to look for)English Equivalent
YobusquéI looked for
buscasteYou looked for
Él/Ella/UstedbuscóHe/She looked for
Nosotros/NosotrasbuscamosWe looked for
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesbuscaronThey looked for

B) Verbs ending in -gar change g to gu

SubjectVerb: Regar (to water)English Equivalent
YoreguéI watered
regasteYou watered
Él/Ella/UstedregóHe/She watered
Nosotros/NosotrasregamosWe watered
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesregaronThey watered
SubjectVerb: Pagar (to pay)English Equivalent
YopaguéI paid
pagasteYou paid
Él/Ella/UstedpagóHe/She paid
Nosotros/NosotraspagamosWe paid
Ellos/Ellas/UstedespagaronThey paid
SubjectVerb: Llegar (to arrive)English Equivalent
YolleguéI arrived
llegasteYou arrived
Él/Ella/UstedllegóHe/She arrived
Nosotros/NosotrasllegamosWe arrived
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesllegaronThey arrived

C) Verbs ending in -zar change z to c

SubjectVerb: Cazar (to hunt)English Equivalent
YocacéI hunted
cazasteYou hunted
Él/Ella/UstedcazóHe/She hunted
Nosotros/NosotrascazamosWe hunted
Ellos/Ellas/UstedescazaronThey hunted
SubjectVerb: Empezar (to start)English Equivalent
YoempecéI started
empezasteYou started
Él/Ella/UstedempezóHe/She started
Nosotros/NosotrasempezamosWe started
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesempezaronThey started
SubjectVerb: Rezar (to pray)English Equivalent
YorecéI prayed
rezasteYou prayed
Él/Ella/UstedrezóHe/she prayed
Nosotros/NosotrasrezamosWe prayed
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesrezaronThey prayed
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Irregular Preterite Verbs: Practice

Conjugate the verb into the correct Preterite form

  1. El año pasado mi hermana y yo (ir) ____ a Chile
  2. La semana pasada mi esposa (cocinar) ____ una pasta deliciosa con albóndigas
  3. Mi hermano (ser) ____ un buen estudiante. Siempre sacaba buenas notas en las pruebas de Matemáticas
  4. Mis padres (tener) ____ abandonar sus estudios, porque eran muy costosos
  5. Mi familia no (traer) ____ nada de comida o pasapalos a la fiesta pasada de cumpleaños.
  6. La película (comenzar) hace media hora. (Llegar) (Tú) ____ muy tarde
  7. Al fin (encontrar) (yo) ____ mis llaves. Las había dejado dentro de la gaveta de la cocina
  8. Ella me (pedir) ____ un carro nuevo la navidad pasada. Desafortunadamente no (poder) (yo) ____ comprarlo porque no tenía dinero suficiente
  9. Karla no (traducir) el documento completo, es por eso que ahora tiene mucho más trabajo por hacer.
  10. Hace dos años mi familia y yo (viajar) a Estados Unidos de vacaciones. (Ser) ___ un viaje genial.


  1. El año pasado mi hermana y yo fuimos a Chile
  2. La semana pasada mi esposa cocinó una pasta deliciosa con albóndigas
  3. Mi hermano fue un buen estudiante. Siempre sacaba buenas notas en las pruebas de Matemáticas
  4. Mis padres tuvieron que abandonar sus estudios, porque eran muy costosos
  5. Mi familia no trajo nada de comida o pasapalos a la fiesta pasada de cumpleaños
  6. La película comenzó hace media hora. Llegaste muy tarde
  7. Al fin encontré mis llaves. Las había dejado dentro de la gaveta de la cocina.
  8. Ella me pidió un carro nuevo la navidad pasada. Desafortunadamente no pude comprarlo porque no tenía dinero suficiente.
  9. Karla no tradujo el documento completo, es por eso que ahora tiene mucho más trabajo por hacer.
  10. Hace dos años mi familia y yo viajamos a Estados Unidos de vacaciones. Fue un viaje genial.


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The Preterite Tense

The Preterite Tense (also spelled "preterit") is one of two ways to talk about events that happened in the past in Spanish. The preterite tense is used to indicate a single, completed action that took place at a specific point in time. For example:

Armando me llamó a las nueve.
Armando called me at nine o'clock.

Regresaron de España ayer.
They returned from Spain yesterday.

Olivia se fue esta tarde.
Olivia left this afternoon.

Preterite conjugations can be pretty tricky due to the large amount of irregular verbs and some other complicated situations. To learn how to form preterite conjugations, keep reading. For more on when to use the Preterite Tense, see Using the Imperfect and the Preterite.

Regular Preterite Tense Verbs

To conjugate regular "-ar" verbs in the preterite, take off the ending and add the following:

"-ar" endings:





Don't let the "-é" in the yo form throw you off; it's still an "-ar" verb conjugation. It's absolutely critical that the "o" in the él/ella/usted form conjugation get an accent mark so it isn't confused with the present tense yo form conjugation.

To conjugate regular "-er" and "-ir" verbs in the preterite, take off the endings and add the following:

"-er" / "-ir" endings:






Here are some examples:

Preterite Spelling Change Verbs

The yo form endings for "-ar" verbs occasionally cause pronunciation problems because some letters are pronounced differently depending on the vowels that follow them. The letters "c" and "g," for example, sound different when they're followed by an "a" or an "o" than when they're followed by an "e" or "i." Since the preterite yo form ending is an "e", we need to change the spellings of the stems of "-car" verbs, "-gar" verbs, and "-zar" verbs in order to keep the pronunciation consistent. For example:

Tocar has a "-que" ending in the yo form to keep the original "c" sound being pronounced like a "k" rather than like an "s." Jugar now has a "-gue" ending to keep the original "g" sound pronounced like a "g" rather than like an "h." And lanzar now has a "-ce" because, well… anytime we can use a "c," we should. The "e" ending gives us an opportunity to do so.

It doesn't happen often, but "-guar" verbs will also require a spelling change. Take a verb like averiguar which means "to verify." When we conjugate in the yo form of the preterite, we need to add a "dieresis," which means the "u" becomes a "ü":

Yo averigüé los datos ayer.
I verified the facts yesterday.

The "ü" tells us to pronounce the "gu" like a "gw" so that our pronunciation will be consistent with the infinitive, averiguar.

These spelling changes only happen for "-ar" preterite verbs and only in the yo form because the "-e" is the only ending that creates problems for the "c," "g," "z" and the "gu."

More Spelling Changes

Certain "-er" and "-ir" verbs are also going to need spelling changes to keep pronunciation consistent. This time around it's the él/ella/Ud. and ellos/ellas/Uds. forms that cause problems. The endings for those conjugations are "-ió" and "-ieron." Notice how they both start with two vowels? If we have a verb whose stem ends in a vowel, and then we add one of those endings, we're going to end up with three vowels in a row. It's difficult to pronounce a word with a three vowel combination. To solve that problem, we change the "i" to a "y."

Some common trouble making verbs conjugated in the ellos/ellas/Uds. form:


three vowels:

i→y spelling change:


















The él/ella/Ud. form conjugations will use the same spelling change. Here is a complete set of conjugations for some common verbs:

Note: In addition to the spelling change, it is necessary to add an accent mark to the , nosotros, and vosotros form endings. (The yo form already has an accent.)

As you can see, this "i" → "y" spelling change only occurs in the bottom row of conjugations.

Note: Verbs ending in or use and endings instead of and because they already have a sound in their stems: gruñó, zambulleron.

An exception to the "i" → "y" spelling change rule are "-guir" verbs and "-quir" verbs. While the stems do end in a vowel, the "u" is not actually being pronounced. Because of that, we can pronounce the three vowels in a row and a "y" is not necessary.







Preterite Stem Changing Verbs

Stem Changing "-ar" and "-er" Verbs

All "-ar" and "-er" verbs which have stem changes in the present tense are completely regular in the preterite, which is to say that they don't have stem changes in the preterite. Notice how the stem does not change in any conjugation:

Stem Changing "-ir" Verbs

Stem-changing "-ir" verbs do have a stem change which is sometimes different from the present tense stem change; "e → ie" stem changers in the present tense become "e → i" stem changers in the preterite, "e → i" stem changers remain "e → i", and "o → ue" stem changers become "o → u":

present tense:

preterite tense:

e → ie

e → i

e → i

e → i

o → ue

o → u

However, this change only happens in the él/ella/usted form and the ellos/ellas/ustedes form:

In some books verbs like these will have special notations to let you know about the additional preterite stem change: sentir (e → ie, e → i), dormir (o → ue, o → u), etc.

Because these additional changes only take place on the bottom line of the conjugation chart they are sometimes referred to as "basement buddies."

Irregular Preterite Tense Verbs

The "U" Group, "I" Group, and "J" Group

There are many irregular preterite conjugations which have both stem changes (only in the preterite tense) and their own set of endings. It can be helpful to put them into groups to help you memorize them.

The "U" Group

Note: Any verbs based on these irregular verbs have the same irregularities; imponer → inpus-, proponer → propus-, detener → detuv-, etc.

Most of the irregular verbs have stem changes which involve the letter "u":















The "I" Group

Note: Any verbs based on these irregular verbs have the same irregularities; convenir → convin-, prevenir → previn-, etc.

There are a couple others with stem changes involving the letter "i":





For both of these groups, the "u" group "i" group, there is a different set of endings:







Note that these endings are very similar to the "-ir" verbs with the exception of the yo and él/ella/usted forms, and that there are no accent marks needed. Some examples:

The "J" Group

Note: Any verbs based on these irregular verbs have the same irregularities;
 → bendij-, predecir → predij-, extraer → extraj-, etc.

There is one more group of stem changers, the "j" group:









The endings for the "j" group stems are almost identical to the "u"/"i"







Notice that there is no "i" in the ellos/ellas/ustedes form ending. Some examples:

Other Irregular Preterite Verbs

There are several other completely irregular preterite verbs. Here are the conjugations for dar, hacer, ir, and ser:

Note: The verb satisfacer (to satisfy) follows the pattern of hacer: satisfice, satisficiste, satisfizo, etc.

Even though dar is an "-ar" verb, it takes "-er" / "-ir" verb endings (minus the accent marks).

If you look carefully, you'll notice that hacer isn't completely irregular (it could fit quite nicely the "i" group) but the need for consistent pronunciation forces us to use a "z" in the él/ella/usted form.

That's not a typo—the conjugations of ir and ser are identical—context makes the meaning clear.

And there is one more (slightly) irregular preterite verb:








The yo and él/ella/Ud. forms of ver do not have accent marks.


The Spanish Preterite (Past) Tense

The Spanish preterite tense is one of five forms used to describe actions or events that occurred in the past. The preterite is used to describe actions which have been completed.

Spanish verbs come in three categories (-ar, -ir, and -er) and change (“conjugate”) according to who performed it and when the action occurred.

To form the preterite in Spanish with regular verbs, remove the -ar, -ir, or -er and add the appropriate ending from the chart below.

PersonVerbs ending in -arVerbs ending in -er and -ir
él, ella, usted-ió
ellos, ellas, ustedes-aron-ieron

Note that the nosotros form is the same as the present tense form. Adding temporal expressions such as ayer (yesterday) helps speakers distinguish when something took place.

See our guide on Spanish pronouns if you need to brush up on the subject pronouns found in the “Person” category above.

Irregular Preterite Verbs

All regular verbs can be transformed into the preterite tense easily. Irregular verb conjugations take some memorization.

Fortunately, many of the most common irregular preterite verbs follow patterns, consisting of a new stem and different endings for a few subjects.

Another interesting phenomenon to note is that the ser and ir preterite conjugations are identical.

VerbPreterite StemIrregular Endings
ser & irfu-él fue, ellos fueron
estarestuv-yo estuve, tu estuviste, él estuvo, nosotros estuvimos, vosotros estuvisteis, ellos estuvieron
tenertuv-yo tuve, él tuvo
poderpud-yo pude, él pudo
hacerhic- (most subjects), hiz- (third person singular)yo hice, él hizo
ponerpus-yo puse, él puso
decirdij-yo dije, él dijo
vervi-yo vi, él vio
quererquis-yo quise, él quiso

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When to Use Preterite

The preterite form of past tense should feel familiar to English speakers, as it is very similar to the English simple past tense (jump + -ed = jumped). However, English speakers should be careful not to overuse the preterite when other Spanish past tense forms would be more appropriate, such as the imperfect for ongoing actions.

Completed Actions in the Past

Spanish past tense forms allow speakers to use a convenient verb ending to express for how long an action occurred, whether it is habitual, or whether it was completed. English still expresses these important distinctions, but often with a combination of verb tenses and extra auxiliary verbs.

As we are focusing on the preterite in this guide, we will illustrate what a “completed” action means by contrasting it with an “ongoing” action. In English, we often use “have been” or “used to” to denote that an action is continuous (“progressive”), ongoing, or habitual. Consider the difference in meaning between the following examples:

1a) I have been attending class / I used to attend class. (habitual) 1b) I attended class.

2a) I am building a house. (continuous/ongoing) 2b) I built a house.

completed vs ongoing action English

1a denotes a habitual action and is interpreted to mean that someone has been attending class regularly for some time.

2a denotes a continuous action, which has occurred in the past but is still ongoing. In English we use the present continuous to describe this action, while Spanish uses a similar form made up of the verb estar + the gerund (gerundio a.k.a. verb form ending in -ing in English and -iendo/-ando). If the action was ongoing or in progress in the past, the imperfecto (imperfect) form is used.

In 1b and 2b, it is clear that the specific action is complete. 1b conveys that you attended a specific occurrence of a class (which one is implied from the context of the conversation, perhaps a class earlier that day). 2b conveys that the house is complete.

Now that you have an idea of what we mean when we say that an action is complete, let’s see other examples of when to use the preterite tense.

Starts and Stops

The Spanish preterite is used to talk about beginnings and endings of events, often using the verbs comenzar (to begin), empezar (to start), terminar (to finish), and acabar (to end).

La fiesta terminó cuando se fue (The party ended when he left).

This may be confusing when speaking about the beginning of something, as it seems that the event described is ongoing. However, consider the difference between the duration of the action here:

1a) Empezóa llover ayer (It started raining yesterday). 1b) Recuerdo que siempre llovía en aquel pueblo (I remember it always rained in that village).

When Mentioning Specific Dates or Times

The preterite is appropriate whenever you include a temporal phrase denoting a specific time or day that something occurred.

Mi hermana nació el pasado abril (My sister was born last April).

Ella vivió en Costa Rica durante un mes (She lived in Costa Rica for one month).

Lleguéal hotel ayer a las siete de la tarde (I arrived at the hotel yesterday at seven in the evening).

Ordered Actions

The preterite can also communicate that actions were part of a chain of events or were repeated a certain number of times.

Abrióla caja, vio al gatito, y sonrió (He/She opened the box, saw the kitten, and smiled).

Comítres churros ayer (I ate three churros yesterday).

Interrupted Actions

The preterite is used when an ongoing event (denoted with the verb phrase “estar” (in imperfect) + gerund (verb form ending with -iendo or -ando in Spanish and -ing in English) was interrupted by another event.

Estaba (imperfect) durmiendo (gerund) cuando mi perroladró (preterite) ruidosamente (I was sleeping when my dog barked loudly).

Estaba (imperfect) corriendo (gerund) cuando se me rompió (preterite) el zapato (I was running when my shoe broke).

With Certain Verbs and Phrases

Some verbs and temporal phrases are often found with the Spanish preterite.

Check out these examples of temporal phrases that can trigger the preterite:

  1. una vez (one time)
  2. ayer (yesterday)
  3. anteayer (the day before yesterday)
  4. anoche (last night)
  5. la semana pasada (last week)
  6. el año pasado (last year)
  7. el otro día (the other day)
  8. entonces (then)
  9. en aquel momento (at that moment)
  10. desde el primer momento (from the first moment)*

*Desde el primer momentoalways triggers use of the preterite.

Some verbs inherently express actions which fall into the semantic categories we described above. Just like the phrases above, these verbs can be used with preterite or imperfect (for descriptive/non-specific cases). For example, these verbs interrupt another ongoing event or state of being:

  1. cumplir años (to turn an age)
  2. darse cuenta de (to realize)
  3. decidir (to decide)
  4. descubrir (to discover)
  5. salir (to leave)
  6. llegar (to arrive)

These verbs describe an event with a very specific, implied ending. When used in the past, these are most often used with the preterite:

  1. casarse (to get married)
  2. graduarse (to graduate)
  3. morir (to die)
  4. nacer (to be born)

Note that these verbs can also be used with the imperfecto to set the scene (descriptive) or non-specific contexts, but that their meaning changes. For example, notice the difference in meaning in the following sentences:

Ayer estaba en casa y, de repente, llamaron a la puerta. Yesterday I was at home, and, suddenly, there was a knock at the door.

Ayer estuve en casa todo el día. Yesterday I was at home all day.

Don’t forget the tilde

All written accent marks are called tildes in Spanish (tilde = singular). In English, the word “tilde” only refers to the mark found above the letter “n” in Spanish (ñ). Since this article is written in English, we’ll refer to tildes as “accent marks.” The accent marks in Spanish include: á, é, í, ó, ú, ñ, and the symbol diéresis, which looks like this: ü

Accent marks denote a slightly different pronunciation of a given letter and are often crucial to distinguishing between two words written with the same letters. For example, the subject pronoun means “you,” while it’s accent-less brother tu is the possessive adjective used to denote that something belongs to the addressee (“your”).

Also, the meanings of words distinguished by accent marks are not always related like the above tú/tu example, e.g., mas (“but”) versus más (“more”). Therefore, it’s important to spend some time listening to the different sounds associated with these letters so that you can correctly produce the different forms of these verbs.

As we are unaccustomed to paying attention to accent marks in English, it is tempting to brush them aside to figure out later. In the case of the Spanish preterite and present tense conjugations, the accent mark is the only thing differentiating the tense and person in first person singular (yo), third person singular (él, ella), and second person formal singular (usted). Because it is customary to leave the subject pronoun out in Spanish, this means that the accent is the only way to differentiate between tenses in the following sentences:

Cantémuchas canciones en la fiesta del sábado pasado (I sang many songs at the party last Saturday).

Quieren que cante en la fiesta del sábado (They want me to sing at the party on Saturday).

Knowing the rules for Spanish preterite conjugation is an essential first step to learning how to talk about things that occurred in the past. Memorizing conjugation tables may be helpful at first, but without a lot of practice forming full sentences, you will always be delayed in natural communication while you remember how to apply the rule.

Sign up for Lingvist’s online Spanish course to begin practicing these conjugations in context, and before you know it the preterite will begin to feel automatic and natural!


Verbs irregular preterite

Liang watched wide-eyed as her recent lover furiously fucks the girl, who, in turn, pleases her. It was hard for her to believe, but the sight excited her incredibly. The guy spanked the girl, and she shouted something, in an incomprehensible language Liang. Apparently in Russian. Roma grabbed Anya by the hair and pulled her over.

Past Tense Verbs Pt.1 (Hacer, Querer \u0026 Venir) - The Language Tutor *Lesson 44*

Head of his cock into her wrinkled hole. Julia had never had sex this way before. The sensations were very new to her, and more unpleasant than what she had endured before.

Similar news:

Drinking. She fell to the floor, dropped the bottle of alcohol, from which at the end she drank straight out of her throat. I raised the bottle, and even at some point I thought that it would be necessary to fuck her to her. It aroused me a lot.

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