El Pretérito vs El Imperfecto
Have patience with this please!
Uses of the Preterite:
1) To talk about the beginning or end of an action.
Ejemplo: 'Empezó a caer la lluvia'. (The rain began to
fall.) 'El partido de fútbol terminó a la medianoche'.
(The soccer game ended at midnight.)
2) To talk about an action that has been completed. If it
includes a phrase like 'por + (period of time)', surely the
tense has to be preterite.
Example: 'Yo trabajé en mi tesis por dos años'.
(I worked on my thesis for two years.)
'El programa de televisión duró dos horas'.
(The TV show lasted two hours.)
Preterite continued:
3) Use the preterite to express a series of
completed actions. Ejemplo: 'Anoche, yo fui al
restaurante italiano, comí lasaña, bebí una
botella de vino y regresé en el metro'.
(Last night, I went to the Italian restaurant,ate
lasagna, drank a bottle of wine and returned
home on the subway.)
Uses of the Imperfect:
1) Use the imperfect to talk about something someone
always did or that always happened. Example: Todos
los años, CBS pasaba el especial de Charlie Brown y yo
siempre lo miraba. (Every year, CBS played the Charlie
Brown Special and I watched it.)
2) Use the imperfect to describe two things that were
happening at the same time. Example: Anoche,
escuchaba a Pink Floyd mientras estudiaba. (Last night, I
listened to Pink Floyd while I was studying.)
Imperfect Uses cont.:
3) Use the imperfect to describe the
background details: the time, the weather,
someone's mood or their age, what they looked
like, etc. Example: 'Eran las diez. Llovía. La
niña, que tenía 7 años y era delgada, estaba
sola y triste'. (It was ten o'clock. It was raining.
The girl, who was 7 and skinny, was alone and
sad.)
Words indicating 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)
Both tenses together: Case one
• Sometimes the two verb forms can appear together in
the same sentence.
• When describing what was going on when something
happened you would use the imperfect and then the
preterite tense.
• For example, you are describing what the weather was
like (imperfect) when something happened (preterite):
'Llovía cuando mi hermana tuvo un accidente'.
(It rained when my sister had an accident)
Both Tenses Together: Case two
The second case where the imperfect and the
preterite are used together is when expressing
that one action interrupted another action.
The imperfect is used to describe the action that
was going on and the preterite is used to
describe the interrupting action.
Ejemplo: 'Yo estudiaba cuando sonó el teléfono'.
(I was studying when the phone rang.)
Verbs that Change their Meaning:
These verbs include: conocer, saber, querer, poder, tener
Preterite
Conocer = Met
Saber = Found out
Querer = Tried
No Querer = Refused
Poder = Managed to/suceeded
No Poder = Failed to
Tener = Received
Imperfect
Conocer = had known
Saber = had known
Querer = Wanted
No Querer = didn't want
Poder = Was able to-capable
No Poder = Wasn't able
Tener = Used to have
Práctica:
Verbos: Completa las oraciones con la forma correcta del imperfecto
o pretérito de los verbos indicados.
1. ___ las cinco de la tarde. (ser)
2. Marcela ___ una moto acuática cuando ___ al agua.
(conducir,caerse)
3. Yo ___ un libro mientras mis padres ___ en velero.
(leer, navegar)
4. Cuando mi bisabuelo ___ niño, no ___ la televisión.
(ser, existir)
5. Ayer mucho ___ calor; entonces mis amigos ___ a la
orilla del río y ___ debajo de los árboles. (hacer, ir,
recostarse)
Answers: 1. Eran 2. conducía, se cayó 3. leía, navegaban 4. era,
existía 5. hacía, fueron, se recostaron
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