Welcome to Preterito Imperfecto!
Generally speaking, the preterite is used for actions in the past
that are seen as completed. The usage of the preterite tense implies
that the past action had a definite beginning and definite end.
The imperfecto is used for
I. A habitual or repeated action
Hablaba español con mi madre siempre. - I used to always speak
spanish with my mother.
Comía pasta frecuentemente. - I used to eat pasta frequently.
II. An ongoing action with no specified completion
Iba a España - I was going to Spain.
Visitaba unos museos - I was visiting museums.
III. Description/background information; set the scene of how things
were or what was happening when there was an interruption
Vivía en Costa Rica cuando... - I was living in Costa Rica when...
Estaba en mi cama cuando... - I was in bed when...
IV. General description of physical or mental states of being
Tenía miedo de perros - I was afraid of dogs.
V. Expression of the time of day or age in the past
Eran las cinco de la mañana - It was five a.m.
Era sus cumpleaños; tenía doce años - It was his birthday; he was
The imperfecto is normally used for descriptions of the past , so
the imperfecto often sets the stage for an event expressed with the
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