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https://www.duolingo.com/Naylor1993

Past imperfect vs. preterite

Naylor1993
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Could somebody kindly explain the difference between these because I really can't get my head around it.

4 years ago

5 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/NickM98
NickM98
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The preterite is used for:

  1. Things that happened once: Fui a la casa de mi hermana (I went to my sister's house), La semana pasada comí en un restaurante (Last week I eat in a restaurant)

  2. Things that happened once, but have a specific end: Esa película la vi cinco veces (I saw that movie five times)

  3. To indicate the beginning or the ending of an action: La película empezó a las diez (The movie started at ten), Terminamos de comer a las tres (We finished eating at three)

  4. To indicate when something happened (exactly): Ayer cenamos a las once (Yesterday we had dinner at eleven)

The past imperfect is used for:

  1. Actions that used to be a routine, but they are not anymore: Yo tocaba el piano (I used to play the piano), Yo iba a correr todas las semanas (I used to go running every week)

  2. To describe a past state: La casa estaba aquí (The house was here), El chico estaba loco (The boy was crazy)

  3. To describe an action that occurred over an unspecified time (a.k.a. English past continuous): Cuando ella me llamó, yo estaba bañándome/me bañaba (When she phoned me, I was having a bath)

  4. To indicate time or age in the past: Eran las cinco (It was five o'clock), Ellos tenían diez años (They were ten years old)

It's a summary of this: http://spanish.about.com/od/verbtenses/a/two_past_tenses.htm, and I also added a bit of my own.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/raans
raans
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The examples are good and accurate. But there is no past imperfect. It is simply the (indicative) imperfect. You point it out yourself with your link.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NickM98
NickM98
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In my Spanish books it's referenced to as "Pretérito imperfecto". I guess both names are ok :/

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rspreng

Preterite is over and done with. I ran. I slept. I cooked. She traveled. Imperfect means it was a continued or habitual activity. I used to swim every Saturday. To write a story, use the imperfect to set the stage (it was raining) and the preterite for the action. (When she killed him). I have been taught you don't usually have an imperfect verb unless there is a preterite verb along with it to complete the thought. We don't say "While I was walking . . . " without adding what happened "I saw a unicorn." The whole topic is difficult for many learners and may be worth a Google or a look at the grammar section of a site like www.studyspanish.com

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Naylor1993
Naylor1993
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Thanks a lot for the help, have a lingot :)

4 years ago