LOS USOS
DEL
IMPERFECTO
Y DEL
PRETÉRITO
Los usos del
imperfecto
en general
“was doing something”
“used to do something”
“did something” – long term
1. Habitual / customary
actions
• Nosotros siempre íbamos a
la escuela.
• We always went to school.
2. Time / weather in the
past
•Eran las tres de la
mañana. / Hacía
mucho frío.
• It was three o’clock./It was very cold.
3. Age in the past
•Mi hermano tenía tres
años.
• My brother was three years old.
4. Action in progress /
Continuing action
•Ellos hablaban
mucho.
• They were talking a lot.
5. Actions interrupted
by other actions
• Nosotros corríamos
cuando nos llamó la
maestra.
• We were running when the teacher called us.
preterit
6. Descriptions of
ongoing situations
• Había muchos
cuadernos en el pupitre.
• There were a lot of workbooks on the student
desk.
7. Description of
physical state
•Tú tenías dolor de
cabeza.
• You had a headache.
8. Description of
mental / emotional state
•Yo estaba muy
nerviosa.
• I was very nervous.
9. Description of
background information
• Mis amigos estaban en
la sala durante la
presentación.
• My friends were in the classroom during the
presentation.
Expressions that signal the use of the imperfect tense
a menudo
generalmente
a veces
muchas veces
cada día*
siempre
cada año
todo el tiempo
(often)
(usually)
(sometimes)
(many times)
(every day)
(always)
(every year)
(all the time)
de vez en cuando
varias veces
al mismo tiempo
con frecuencia
en aquella época
frecuentemente
mientras
mucho
poco
nunca
por un rato
(from time to time)
(several times)
(at the same time)
(with frequency)
(during that time)
(frequently)
(while)
(much, a lot)
(little)
(never)
(for a while)
Los usos del
pretérito
“específico”
1. Actions at a fixed
point in time
•Llamé a la 1:00.
• I called at 1 o’clock.
2. Actions that take
place a specific number
of times
•Te llamé dos veces
por teléfono.
• I called you two times on the phone.
3. Beginning of an
action
•La clase empezó
pronto.
• The class started promptly.
4. Ending of an action
•Terminaron la tarea en
la clase.
• They finished the work in class.
5. Single events in the
past
•Jugué al fútbol.
• I played soccer.
6. Sudden changes of
mood, opinion, or state
•De repente, me
asusté.
• Suddenly, I got scared.
7. Chain of events
•Compré un sombrero,
me senté en un banco
y me dormí.
• I bought a hat, I sat on a bench, and I fell asleep.
8. Actions taking place
at a specific, enclosed
period of time
•Ella vivió allí por cinco
años.
• She lived there for five years.
Expressions that signal the use of the preterit tense
A la una = at one o’clock
Anteanoche = the night before last
Anoche = last night
Anteayer = the day before last
Ayer = yesterday
Ayer por la mañana = yesterday
morning
De repente = suddenly
El año pasado = last year
El lunes= (on) Monday
El otro día = the other day
En ese momento = at that moment
Entonces = then, therefore…
Esta mañana = this morning
Finalmente = finally
Hace dos días = two days ago
Por fin = in the end, finally
Por tres horas = for three hours
(Por) la primera vez = (for) the first
time
Un día = one day
Una vez =one time
Ya= already
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Usos del preterito y del imperfecto