PRETÉRITO VS
IMPERFECTO
¿Cómo se
decide?
PRETÉRITO
Actions occurred at a definite time period in past
 Salí a las dos de la tarde.
Actions viewed by the speaker as completed
 Sí, yo hice mi tarea.
Actions occured a specific number of times in past
 Estudié mis palabras tres veces.
Beginning and end of past action and a series of past
actions
 Empecé mi tarea. Terminé mi tarea. Fui al cine, vi la película, y
regresé a casa.
IMPERFECTO
 We use the imperfect to talk about actions that
 Used to happen
 Me gustaba jugar a fútbol los domingos.
 Were in progress, were happening
 Leía mi libro mientras él cocinaba la cena.
 Describe someone or something
 Ella era alta y muy inteligente. La casa era grande.
 Describe physical, mental or emotional states or
conditions in the past
 Sabía la información pero estaba muy nerviosa antes del examen. Quería
salir.
PARA DECIDIR
It can sometimes be tricky trying to decide when
to use one or the other. Here are some things to
think about.
 When narrating a story in the past the imperfect
describes what was happening , while the preterite
describes the action that interrupted the ongoing
activity.
 The imperfect provides background information while
the preterite indicates specific events that advance the
plot.
¡DECISIONES FÁCILES!
 What time it was - always imperfect!
 What day it was – always imperfect!
 How old you were – always imperfect!
 Mientras (“while”) – always indicates imperfect!
 Ejemplos:
 Era martes. Era el dos de noviembre. Tenía ocho años. Yo dibujaba
mientras José miraba la tele.
PRÁCTICA RÁPIDA
 The house was white and small.
 La casa era blanca y pequeña
 He was ten years old.
 El tenía diez años.
 Yesterday I went to school at 7.
 Ayer fui a la escuela a las siete.
 Last night I ate, I studied, I watched t.v and went to bed.
 Anoche cené/comí, estudié, miré la t.v. y me acosté.
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Pretérito vs Imperfecto