"She was utilizing the spoon."
Translation:Ella estaba utilizando la cuchara.
I spent a while reading Butt and Benjamin to sift out the differences between "utilizaba" "estaba utilizando" and "estuvo utilizando" My conclusion is that all three are valid, Duolingo should accept all three, but there are differences.
The first, "utilizaba," says she used to use the spoon. Maybe once. Maybe habitually. It just doesn't say. Whatever sentence comes next will probably talk about something that happened during the time when she was a regular user of the spoon, but maybe not at a time when she actually had it in her hand. (In the spirit of Duo example sentences, maybe someone is going to sneak in and poison it, knowing she'll be back to use it.)
The second, "estaba utilizando" makes it clear that we are speaking of a single time when she used the spoon. Whatever sentence comes next will most likely be something that happened while she was in the act of using the spoon. (Continuing the example above, this is when she chokes and dies.)
The third is rather interesting. Instead of dropping the next sentence into the middle of the spoon-using time, it picks up right at the end, and it generally requires some specification of how long. So "Estuvo utilizando la cuchara veinte minutos. La pregunté 'Cómo te sientas?'" She used the spoon for twenty minutes. I asked her "how do you feel?" (Wondering why my poison wasn't working.)
In the last example, notice that if I use "estaba" instead of "estuvo" then my question occurs during the 20 minutes she used the spoon--not after.
The biggest difference (in general) between the Preterite and the Imperfect (in Spanish, Italian, and French--all three) is that the Preterite is the narrative tense while the Imperfect sets the stage for it. Statements in the Preterite follow each other in time, one after another. Statements in the Imperfect all happen in the same vague time period.
"A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish: Fifth Edition" (Butt and Benjamin, 2011, section 15.2.3)
lesexlibris: That should be correct. That is what I wrote also, but Duo rejected it. I reported it to "Report a Problem".
Based on I what was taught, the imperfect can only mean was + verb ending in "ing", unless there is more context. For example if there were an interruption, or if you were explaining something else that was happening at the same time.
Here are links that may help: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=418333 http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2105981
Hola btboyd90: "was utilizing" is imperfect tense; it means something that was going on for an unidentifed time> "estuvo" is preterite (aka preterit) which means something that happened at a specific time.
No one says "utilized a spoon" in English. Is it said here so that it will bet translated into "utilizando" and not "usando"? Are they equally acceptable in Spanish, unlike in English, where it sounds weird?
From my limited understanding of Spanish and the google search I just did, they are basically synonyms and can be used (utilized? lol) interchangeably in almost all instances. So I wouldn't lose any sleep over the few potential instances where they might not be totally interchangeable (i.e. certain common "sayings" or idioms that use one word over the other).