¿PRETERITO O
IMPERFECTO?
A SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PAST
TENSE VERB IN SPANISH
REPASO
• SPANISH HAS TWO PAST TENSES:
• PRETERITE: FOR COMPLETED
ACTIONS IN THE PAST
• IMPERFECT FOR ONGOING OR
REPEATED PAST ACTIONS
• NATIVES KNOW AUTOMATICALLY
WHICH TO CHOOSE, BUT WE NEED
CLUES TO PICK THE RIGHT VERB.
PRETERITO
• ACTIONS THAT ARE COMPLETED OR HAVE A
DEFINED BEGINNING AND ENDING IN THE
PAST ARE PRETERITE.
• EX: Martín puso su mano por la ventana del
coche.
PRETERITO : Actions in Series
• For a series of
actions in the past
we also use
preterite. (HINT:
one action must be
completed before
you can start the
next one)
• El se puso sus
zapatos y salió del
cuarto.
IMPERFECTO
• Use imperfect verbs
for actions in the past
that do not have a
defined beginning or
end.
• Actions that end in
“ING” in English are
imperfect in Spanish.
• Ex: Fritz was wearing
a stupid hat.  Fritz
llevaba una gorra
tonta.
IMPERFECTO para Narración
• Use imperfect verbs
to describe the scene,
set the stage.
Weather,
descriptions,
emotions, all take
imperfect in Spanish.
• EX: Hacía sol.
• EX: Los pájaros
cantaban.
• EX: Estaba feliz.
IMPERFECTO para LA HORA
• When you are
talking about
CLOCK TIME in
general ALWAYS
use IMPERFECT.
• Eran las dos de la
mañana.
• Era mediodía.
• Era la una.
So Far…
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
PRETERITO
Completed Actions
One time Actions
Actions in a series
IMPERFECTO
Ongoing Actions
-ING Actions
Describe the scene
actions
• Clock time actions.
TIME TO CHECK WHAT YOU
KNOW SO FAR…
• Por cada frase, decide si es
imperfecto o preterito y indica
tu respuesta con el clicker.
• Piensa en las condiciones y usa
tus apuntes para decidir.
• ¿LISTOS?
PRACTICA: A= IMP, B = PRET
• 1. José _________ su tarea en su mochila.
(PONER)
• 2. Ellos _________ a la piscina mucho en
verano. (IR)
• 3. _________ las 4:30 de la tarde. (SER)
• 4. Nosotros _______ en la biblioteca. (LEER)
• 5. Ayer, yo ________ un libro en la
biblioteca. (LEER)
• 6. _________ mucho frio en Alaska. (HACER)
Interruptions
• When you have two actions in a
sentence and one interrupts the other,
use…
• PRETERITE for the interruptor or
shorter action.
• IMPERFECT for the interrupted or
longer action.
• I was watching TV when Nando called.
• Nando called when I was watching TV.
Practica: A = Imp, B = Preterite
Tú -7- una fiesta enorme cuando –8- la
policia a tu casa.
• 7. A= tenías
B= tuviste
• 8. A= llegaba
B= llegó
• Vicente –9- a mi casa cuando yo -10- su
novia.
• 9. A= venía
B = vino
• 10. A= besaba
B = besó
MAS PRACTICA
• Remember whatever gets interrupted is
IMPERFECTO, the interruptor is
PRETERITO.
Alejandro –11- X-BOX cuando su madre le
-12-.
11. A= jugaba
B= jugó
12. A= gritaba
B= gritó
El semáforo se -13- rojo cuando yo -14- mi
coche.
13. A= ponía
B = puso
14. A= manejaba B= manejó
PRETERITE BUZZ WORDS
•
•
•
•
•
Una vez
 Once
De repente
 Suddenly
Anoche
 Last night
Ayer
 Yesterday
El/la ___ pasado  last ____
• Always use a preterite verb with these
words because the action is completed.
Imperfect Buzz Words
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Muchas veces
 many times
A menudo
 often
Frecuentemente
 frequently
Todos los + ____
 every/all
Cada
 each, every
Generalmente
 usually
Siempre
 always
A veces
 at times
Nunca
 never
These words will always prompt you for an
imperfect verb, because they imply repetition.
PRACTICA: Lee la frase y decide
¿preterito o imperfecto?
• 15. Mi mamá siempre -15- la cena para
mi familia. A= preparaba B= preparó
• 16. A menudo tú -16- helado en verano
con tus amigos. A= comías B= comió
• 17. De repente el coche -17- con un
arbol. A= chocaba
B = chocó
Imperfecto para describir…
• Use imperfect to
describe:
Conditions,
emotions, weather,
physical
descriptions,
personality traits,
what was going on
in the background.
• Hacía sol. El ciel
era azul. El castillo
enorme estaba en la
montaña.
IMPERFECTO
• Imperfecto verbs
are responsible
for moving the
story outward,
they set the
scene, give
descriptions and
offer the stage
for events.
PRETERITO
• Preterite verbs
are responsible
for moving the
story forward.
They are used to
tell actions that
happened.
• They are also
used after quotes
in dialogue.
PRETERITO O IMPERFECTO?
• “¡Ayudame por
favor!” -18- la
princesa.
A = gritaba B = gritó
• El principe -19- la
torre. (climbed)
A= subía B= subió
• Ellos -20- felices
para siempre.
A= vivían B= vivieron
SIMULTANEOUS ACTIONS
• Two actions that are
going on at exactly
the same time in the
past use
IMPERFECT verbs.
• The “buzz” word is
MIENTRAS=WHILE
• EX: Pedro lloraba
mientras el
peluquero cortaba su
pelo.
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
¡PRUEBA! A= IMP
21. After quotes
22. Siempre
23. Muchas veces
24. Una vez
25. Generalmente
26. De repente
27.Completed Action
28. Repeated Action
29. Frecuentemente
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
B= PRET
30. Sets the scene.
31. Series of actions.
32. Interruptor
33.Describes weather
34. Clock Time
35. Describe Emotions
36. Interrupted
37. Dialogue
38. Born and dying
39. Mientras
Thoroughly confused yet??
• No worries… a lot
of preterite vs
imperfect is just
practicing. The
more you do, the
better you get at
it.
• There is one more
scenario we need
to explore
however…
Think of a traffic light…
• Preterite is like
red. You stop and
it’s a completed
action.
• Imperfect is like
green, its ongoing
and you keep
driving!
The YELLOW light…
Warns you that it’s going to change.
Sometimes you slow down, sometimes
you speed up.
There are verbs in Spanish that work like
the light. If you use them in preterite
they mean one thing, if you use
imperfect they mean another.
Sometimes you will use one, sometimes
the other. Just like the intersection.
YELLOW LIGHT VERBS
• PRETERITO VERBO IMPERFECTO
•
•
•
•
•
To find out SABER
To meet
CONOCER
To refuse
NO QUERER
To try and fail NO PODER
To succeed PODER
to know
to know
to not want
to be unable
to be able to
A= Preterito B= Imperfecto
40) Carlos no PODER salir anoche porque
tenía que estudiar.
41) Anita SABER el secreto en clase.
42) Yo CONOCER a todas las personas en
la fiesta.
43) Ella invitó a Carlos pero NO QUERER ir.
44) El niño NO QUERER comer sus
verduras.
45) ¡Nosotros PODER ganar el partido,
somos los campeones! 
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PRETERITEvsIMPERFECTinteractivepowerpoint - Spanish