Preterite vs imperfect

Preterite vs imperfect DEFAULT

Preterite vs. Imperfect: the Past Tenses

The imperfect tense is used...

  • To describe habitual or repeated actions in the past.
    • Siempre compraba en la misma tienda. (I always went shopping at the same store.)
    • Mi abuela me escribía muchas cartas. (My grandmother would write me a lot of letters.)
  • To describe a condition or state of being in the past.
    • Estaba contenta. (She was happy.)
    • Había dos edificios aquí. (There used to be two buildings here.)
  • To describe an action that occurred over an unspecified time.
    • Hablámos por teléfono. (We were talking on the phone.)
    • Pasaba al perro. (He was walking the dog.)
  • To indicate time or age in the past.
    • Tenía 18 años. (She was 18 years old)
    • Eran las ocho y media de la mañana. (It was 8:30 in the morning)
  • To describe a person or place
    • Tenía el pelo largo y los ojos azules. (She had long hair y blue eyes.)
Sours: https://www.enforex.com/language/preterite-imperfect.html

Preterite vs Imperfect: Part IV

Notes:

  1. The written lesson is below.
  2. Links to quizzes, tests, etc. are to the left.

 

Here are all three regular preterite verb forms together:

hablarcomervivir
hablécomíviví
hablastecomisteviviste
hablócomióvivió
hablamoscomimosvivimos
hablasteiscomisteisvivisteis
hablaroncomieronvivieron

Note: The nosotros forms for -ar and -ir verbs are the same in both preterite and present tenses: hablamos, vivimos.

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Here are all three regular imperfect verb forms together:

hablarcomervivir
hablabacomíavivía
hablabascomíasvivías
hablabacomíavivía
hablábamoscomíamosvivíamos
hablabaiscomíaisvivíais
hablabancomíanvivían

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Generally speaking, the preterite is used for actions in the past that are seen as completed, while the imperfect tense is used for past actions that did not have a definite beginning or a definite end.

Juan habló dos horas.
Juan spoke two hours.
(action completed)

Las chicas hablaban en inglés.
The girls used to speak in English.
(no definite beginning or end)

Another way to view this is that the preterite tells us specifically when an action took place, while the imperfect tells us in general when an action took place.

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The preterite is used in the following situations:

  • For actions that can be viewed as single events
  • For actions that were repeated a specific number of times
  • For actions that occurred during a specific period of time
  • For actions that were part of a chain of events
  • To state the beginning or the end of an action

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The imperfect is used in the following situations:

  • For actions that were repeated habitually
  • For actions that “set the stage” for another past action
  • For telling time
  • For stating one’s age
  • For mental states (usually)
  • For physical sensations (usually)
  • To describe the characteristics of people, things or conditions

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Ser, ir, dar and hacer are irregular in the preterite:

serirdarhacer
fuifuidihice
fuistefuistedistehiciste
fuefuediohizo
fuimosfuimosdimoshicimos
fuisteisfuisteisdisteishicisteis
fueronfuerondieronhicieron

Note: This is not a typo; ser and ir do have identical conjugations in the preterite!

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There are only three irregular verbs in the imperfect:

serirver
eraibaveía
erasibasveías
eraibaveía
éramosíbamosveíamos
eraisibaisveíais
eranibanveían

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Some words and phrases indicate specific time frames, and therefore signal the use of the preterite.

ayer (yesterday)
anteayer (the day before yesterday)
anoche (last night)
desde el primer momento (from the first moment)
durante dos siglos (for two centuries)
el otro día (the other day)
en ese momento (at that moment)
entonces (then)
esta mañana (this morning)
esta tarde (this afternoon)
la semana pasada (last week)
el mes pasado (last month)
el año pasado (last year)
hace dos días, años (two days, years ago)
ayer por la mañana (yesterday morning)
ayer por la tarde (yesterday afternoon)

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Other words and phrases indicate repetitive, vague or non-specific time frames, and therefore signal the use of the imperfect.

a menudo (often)
a veces (sometimes)
cada día (every day)
cada semana (every week)
cada mes (every month)
cada año (every year)
con frecuencia (frequently)
de vez en cuando (from time to time)
en aquella época (at that time)
frecuentemente (frequently)
generalmente (usually)
muchas veces (many times)
mucho (a lot)
nunca (never)
por un rato (for awhile)
siempre (always)
tantas veces (so many times)
todas las semanas (every week)
todos los días (every day)
todo el tiempo (all the time)
varias veces (several times)

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-ar and -er verbs that change their stem in the present tense do not change in the preterite. They are conjugated just like other regular preterite verbs.

PresentPreterite
cerrarcerrar
cierrocerré
cierrascerraste
cierracerró
cerramoscerramos
cerráiscerrasteis
cierrancerraron

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-ir verbs that change their stem in the present tense do change in the preterite, but in a different way. They change e:i and o:u in the third person, singular and plural.

PresentPreterite
preferirpreferir
prefieropreferí
prefierespreferiste
prefiereprefirió
preferimospreferimos
preferíspreferisteis
prefierenprefirieron
PresentPreterite
dormirdormir
duermodormí
duermesdormiste
duermedurmió
dormimosdormimos
dormísdormisteis
duermendurmieron

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There are a number of orthographic changing verbs in the preterite:

  • Verbs that end in -gar change g to gu
  • Verbs that end in -car change c to qu
  • Verbs that end in -zar change z to c
  • Verbs that end in -aer, -eer, -oír, -oer, and uir change ió to yó and ieron to yeron

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Here are three more verbs that are irregular in the preterite:

decirtraerver
dijetrajevi
dijistetrajisteviste
dijotrajovio
dijimostrajimosvimos
dijisteistrajisteisvisteis
dijerontrajeronvieron

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Verbs that end in -ucir are irregular and conjugated as follows:

producir

produje
produjiste
produjo
produjimos
produjisteis
produjeron

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There are a number of verbs that are irregular in the preterite that follow a particular pattern. The pattern is that while their stems change, they all take the following endings:

-e
-iste
-o
-imos
-isteis
-ieron

Here are the verbs, along with their corresponding stem changes:

InfinitiveStem Change
andaranduv-
estarestuv-
tenertuv-
cabercup-
haberhub-
poderpud-
ponerpus-
sabersup-
hacerhic-
quererquis-
venirvin-

Exception: hacer (el/ella/usted hizo)

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Some verbs actually change meaning, depending upon whether they are used in the preterite or the imperfect. This is not surprising, since the difference in meaning can be traced back to the different way in which these two past tenses are used.

conocer

Conocí a Juan hace cinco años.

I met Juan five years ago.
(completed action)

En aquella época conocíamos muy bien la ciudad.

At that time we knew the city very well.
(no definite beginning or end)

querer

María quiso comprar la casa.

Maria tried to buy the house.
(completed action)

Juan quería comprar la casa.

Juan wanted to buy the house.
(no definite beginning or end)

no querer

María no quiso comprar la casa.

Maria refused to buy the house.
(completed action)

Juan no quería comprar la casa.

Juan did not want to buy the house.
(no definite beginning or end)

saber

María lo supo ayer.

Maria found out yesterday.
(completed action)

Juan sabía que María venía.

Juan knew that Maria was coming.
(no definite beginning or end)

poder

María pudo levantar la mesa.

Maria succeeded in lifting the table.
(completed action)

Juan podía participar en la manifestación.

Juan was able to participate in the demonstration.
(no definite beginning or end)

tener

María tuvo una carta de su mamá.

Maria received a letter from her mom.
(completed action)

Juan tenía un coche nuevo.

Juan used to have a new car.
(no definite beginning or end)

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Sours: https://studyspanish.com/grammar/lessons/pretimp4
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Preterite vs. Imperfect

Many students have trouble knowing when to use the preterite tense or the imperfect tense, as they both refer to actions in the past. There are several general rules you can follow to know when to use one tense or another. Additionally, many Spanish phrases tend to be used only with the preterite or only with the imperfect, so memorizing them is very helpful! In this article, we’ll take a look at the general uses of both tenses, as well as helpful “trigger” phrases.

The Preterite

Generally, the preterite is used for completed actions (actions that have definite beginning and end points.) These can be actions that can be viewed as single events, actions that were part of a chain of events, actions that were repeated a very specific number of times, or actions that specifically state the beginning and end of an action.

Check out these examples:

examples

Fuial baile anoche.

I went to the dance last night.

Caminéal mercado,compréunos plátanos, yregreséa casa.

I walked to the market, bought some bananas, and returned home.

Tellamótres veces.

He called you three times.

Hablécon mi madre de las dos hasta las tres.

I spoke with my mother from two o’clock until three o’clock.

Useful Phrases that Trigger the Preterite

There are many helpful words and phrases that indicate specific time frames, therefore signaling that the preterite should be used. Here are a few:

one timethe other day
yesterdaythen
the day before yesterdaythe night before last
yesterday morningyesterday at noon
last nightlast night
this morningthis afternoon
last weeklast month
last yearat that moment
yesterday afternoonthis morning
(two) years ago(two) days ago
last (Monday)last week
for (three) centuriesfrom the first moment

Verbs that are Preterite by Nature

Some verbs used to talk about events with a very definite beginning and end are almost always used in the preterite. Here are a few examples.

to get marriedto graduate
to turn a certain ageto arrive
to realizeto die
to decideto be born
to discoverto leave

The Imperfect

The imperfect tense is generally used for actions in the past that do not have a definite end. These can be actions that are not yet completed or refer to a time in general in the past. It can also be used to talk about:

  • actions that were repeated habitually
  • actions that set the stage for another past tense event
  • time and dates
  • a person’s age in the past
  • characteristics
  • mental or physical states

Check out these examples:

examples

Cuandoeraniña,jugabacon muñecas.

When I was a child, I used to play with dolls.

Los chicoshablabanen español.

The boys were speaking in Spanish.

Estaba durmiendocuando el teléfono sonó.

I was sleeping when the telephone rang.

Cuandoteníatres años,eramuy pequeño.

When he was three years old, he was very small.

Useful Phrases that Trigger the Imperfect

Here are some helpful words and phrases that often signal that a verb should be used in the imperfect.

oftenfrequently
rarelysometimes
usuallyalways
at timeswhile
so many timesevery year
every daymany times
every weekall the time
frequentlyalmost never
a lotnever
generallyevery day
once in a whilefor a while
at that timeseveral times
Sours: https://www.spanishdict.com/guide/preterite-vs-imperfect-in-spanish

Preterite vs. Imperfect? How to Use Each?

When to Use Preterite or Imperfect?

Preterite vs. Imperfect? How to Use Each?

 

When it comes to talking about what you did yesterday or two years ago, you will have different options in Spanish. If you have been studying Spanish for a while, you have probably heard the word: preterite. This is just the name teachers and linguists use to say: past. Fancy, huh?

The ones that cause the most confusion for English speakers are: Preterite simple (also known as “preterite”), and preterite imperfect (also known as imperfect).

The Regular Conjugations:

 

Preterite vs. Imperfect? How to Use Each?Preterite vs. Imperfect? How to Use Each?

 

 

 

 

Use preterite in Spanish to answer the question: what happened? (comí, bebí, trabajé). If you are not answering that question, you can usually use a verb in the imperfect. If it answers to the question: what was going on when something else happened? use imperfect (comía, bebía,trabajaba…). Remember: usually, the preterite is used to relate events. Use the imperfect to describe what was going on in the past.

 

Preterite vs. Imperfect? How to Use Each?

 

When you are narrating a story, both tenses (the preterite and the imperfect) can occur in the same story. Narrating a story implies describing a setting (habitual actions, atmosphere, places) and recounting a series of events.

Some Examples:

Imperfect: (set the scene): Antes, yo vivía en una casa grande (Before, I lived in a big house)

Preterite (event): Un día me levanté a usar el baño. (One day I got up to use the restroom).

The preterite is also used for activities that lasted for a precise length of time, with a definite beginning and end. On the other hand, the imperfect is use for indefinite lengths of time;

Definite period of time: De 1989 a 2014, vivi en esa casa grande.

Indefinite Periods of time: Antes / cuando era niña / en esa época vivía en esa casa grande.

You can use the following adverbs associated with each of the past tenses:

Preterite vs. Imperfect? How to Use Each?

 

NOTE: Usually, when verbs like ser, tener, poder, querer, and saber are in a past narration, they will be in the imperfect, since they most likely describe a  past state of being or condition. However, when these verbs occur in the preterite they indicate a change of state or a change of condition.

Ultimately it is the entire context that determines which of the tenses to use and not a given adverb.

In the following story, check out how the story opens with a description of my house when I was a girl in the imperfect. This serves as an explanatory background to the following series of events in preterite:

The Story:

Preterite vs. Imperfect? How to Use Each?

 

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Sours: https://www.whynotspanish.com/preterite-vs-imperfect-uses/

Vs imperfect preterite

Preterite vs Imperfect: Part I

Notes:

  1. The written lesson is below.
  2. Links to quizzes, tests, etc. are to the left.

 

Spanish has two past tenses: preterite and imperfect. Most verbs can be put into either tense, depending upon the meaning. In this lesson, you will learn to conjugate regular -ar verbs in the preterite and the imperfect. You will also learn the basic difference between the preterite and the imperfect, so that you can begin using them correctly.

To conjugate regular -ar verbs in the preterite, simply drop the ending (-ar) and add one of the following:

é
aste
ó
amos
asteis
aron

To conjugate regular -ar verbs in the imperfect, simply drop the ending (-ar) and add one of the following:

aba
abas
aba
ábamos
abais
aban

Compare the verb “hablar” conjugated in the preterite and the imperfect.

PreteriteImperfect
habléhablaba
hablastehablabas
hablóhablaba
hablamoshablábamos
hablasteishablabais
hablaronhablaban

Generally speaking, the preterite is used for actions in the past that are seen as completed. Use of the preterite tense implies that the past action had a definite beginning and definite end.

Juan habló de la una hasta las dos.
Juan spoke from one until two o’clock.
(clearly stated beginning and end)

It is important to realize that the beginning and the end may not always be clearly stated.

Juan habló dos horas.
Juan spoke for two hours.
(implied beginning and end)

Juan habló con la estudiante.
Juan spoke with the student.
(implied beginning and end)

Generally speaking, the imperfect is used for actions in the past that are not seen as completed. Use of the imperfect tense implies that the past action did not have a definite beginning or a definite end.

Las chicas hablaban en inglés.

The girls used to speak in English.
(no definite beginning or end)

You have now learned the basic difference between the preterite and the imperfect:

  • The preterite tells us specifically when an action took place.
  • The imperfect tells us in general when an action took place.

Note: Although this difference may appear simple, this is actually a complex topic, and you will learn the finer points in later lessons.

Let’s add two more flashcards, one for regular -ar preterite, and one for regular -ar imperfect:

Verb Flashcards
Complete List

Preterite: regular -ar verbs


-aste

-amos
-asteis

-aron
hablé, hablaste, habló, hablamos, hablasteis, hablaron

Imperfect: regular -ar verbs

-aba
-abas
-aba

-ábamos
-abais

-aban
hablaba, hablabas, hablaba, hablábamos, hablabais, hablaban

Sours: https://studyspanish.com/grammar/lessons/pretimp1
Spanish Preterite vs. Imperfect Rap

My wife, in general, does not drink much, but when meeting with a friend, she always tries to keep up with her, and, as a rule. That is, she always gets drunk with her to hell. Sima said that she would not be there before ten in the evening, and on Friday I was in no hurry to go home.

I met with friends, played football, pulled a beer. On the way back, we got into a minor accident and while we were sorting it out, it passed after midnight.

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