Preterito e imperfecto repaso

In Spanish, there are two simple past tenses: the preterite and the imperfect.

In very general terms, the preterite tense is used to refer to a single event that happened at a specific point of time or had a specific duration in the past, while the imperfect tense is used to describe ongoing events or events without a specific time period in the past.

The preterite tense is used…

  • To describe something that happened once.
    • ■ Cantó una canción. (He sang a song.)
    • ■ Escribí la carta. (I wrote the letter.)
    • ■ I woke up early this morning. (Me desperté temprano esta mañana)
  • To describe something that happened more than once, but had a specific end.
    • ■ Fui a cuatro restaurantes la semana pasada. (I went to four restaurants last week.)
    • ■ De niño, fui de camping cada verano. (As a child, I went camping every summer.)


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.)


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El Español por el Mundo Copyright © by Gemma Morawski and Ani Alcocer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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