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Imperfecto

Pretrito
Use it when you talk about a completed past
action/condition:
Ayer compr un vestido y una
blusa.
La semana pasada estuve
triste.

Words and phrases to use with the preterite:


La semana pasada, el mes pasado, el ao pasado,
ayer, una vez.*
La semana pasada fui a Washington.
A las ocho hice mi tarea.
*Note how these words and phrases refer to a
specific period of time.

The imperfect also has words and phrases that


suggest when to use it:
Generalmente, por lo general, normalmente, todos
los das, todos los meses, todos los aos,
frecuentemente, siempre, usualmente.*
Camila siempre jugaba con Luca.
Camila haca la tarea todas las noches.
*Note that these words describe habitual or repeated
actions.

Imperfecto
To describe repeated habitual actions in the past (Can
be translated as I used to).
Cuando era nio miraba caricaturas.
When I was a kid I used to watch cartoons.
Todos los veranos iban a la costa
Every summer they used to go to the coast
Siempre nos dormamos en casa de mi amigo.
We always slept (used to sleep) at my
friends
house.

More uses of the imperfect


When the focus is the duration of the
event/action (I was _____ing).
Yo caminaba en la maana.
I was walking in the morning.

More uses of the imperfect


To describe two simultaneous past actions in
progress, with mientras:
Alonso lea mientras Juan escriba.
Alonso was reading while Juan was
writing.

More uses of the imperfect


Always use the imperfect to tell time or age of a
person in the past (and usually to describe
emotional or mental states):
Eran las cinco de la tarde.
Federico tena treinta aos.
Federico estaba triste.

More uses of the imperfect


In general, the imperfect is used to describe (to
set the stage) and the preterite to relate actions.
Era viernes, haca mucho fro y mi hermano
estaba enfermo. Generalmente caminbamos
juntos a la escuela, pero ese da fui a la escuela
solo. En el receso estuve con mi amigo Daniel y
cuando sal mi padre pas por m.
Description in the past = usually
imperfect

More uses of the imperfect


In general, the imperfect is used to describe (to
set the stage) and the preterite to relate actions.
Era viernes, haca mucho fro y mi hermano
estaba enfermo. Generalmente caminbamos
juntos a la escuela, pero ese da fui a la escuela
solo. En el receso estuve con mi amigo Daniel y
cuando sal mi padre pas por m.
Description in the past = usually
imperfect

More uses of the imperfect


To describe an action that was in progress (when
something else happened)
-Mi madre preparaba la cena cuando explot la estufa.
-My mother was preparing dinner when the oven
exploded.
-(Yo) Corra en el bosque cuando me mordi la culebra.
-I was running in the forest when the snake bit me.
*Note that the verb that interrupts the on-going action is
in the preterite.

Verbs with different meanings in the preterit and the


imperfect
Verb

Imperfect

Preterit

conocer

to know, be acquainted with


Conocamos a Alfredo.

to meet for the first time


El ao pasado conoc a Luis.

saber

to know
Saba la respuesta correcta.

to find out
Supe que mi abuelo est enfermo.

querer

to want
Quera visitar a mi ta.

to try
Quisieron comprar un coche nuevo.

no querer

not to want
Javier no quera ir a la escuela.

to refuse
No quise comer en ese restaurante.

poder

to be able
Antes podas correr 10
kilmetros sin problemas.

to manage or succeed in
Pude escribir la composicin en una
hora.

no poder

to not be able
No poda trabajar ms.

to try and fail


No pude levantarme. Estaba muy
cansado.