Preterito Imperfecto

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HOME     DEFINICIÓN SUBJUNTIVO     VERBOS IMPORTANTES      IMPERFECTO vs. PRETÉRITO

 

 

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DEFINICIÓN INDICATIVO

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 twelve.


The imperfecto is normally used for descriptions of the past , so the imperfecto often sets the stage for an event expressed with the pretérito.

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