Which past tense to use??? (in spanish)
I'm wondering which past tense i should use to tell my day to a friend at the end of that day. I'm tented to go with the preterito perfecto compuesto since it has a relation with the present, but... Am i right????
I am having a little trouble understanding what you are trying to ask, but I believe you are asking what tense you should use when talking about your day. It depends. If you said "I went to the beach", you would use the preterite, but if you said "I had two whole pizzas", you would use past perfect. Hope this answered your question!
ok, let say that i want to say : my day started very badly. Would i say: mi dia (ha empezado/empezaba/empezo) muy mal
And in: my son went to school. Would it be: mi hijo fue/ha ido a la escuela?
It can be both. In Latin America they'll probably say "Mi hijo fue a la escuela?". In Spain it's more natural to say "Mi hijo ha ido al colegio" if it was today, and "Mi hijo fue al colegio" if it was yesterday or before (depending on the area, they use more "escuela" or "colegio", but it means the same in this sentence).
For the one above, you could say all 3, all would be correct. In Spain we usually use more the verbs in "pretérito perfecto compuesto" for today's actions, but there's no rule for that and you can use either. Note that you can only use "empezaba" if you're gonna add something more, with "pero ..." (but) or something else. If you only say that sentence, is not natural to use "empezaba".
In most cases, I would simply use the preterite. The preterito perfecto is usually reserved for past actions that continue up until the present (e.g. He vivido aquí desde marzo - I have lived here since March). Really, the English simple past (e.g I ate) usually corresponds quite closely to the Spanish preterite and the English past perfect (I have eaten) usually corresponds quite closely to the Spanish preterito perfecto, so If you come from an English-speaking background, you can get usually get away as a beginner with directly interchanging this pairs of tenses without making very many mistakes.
ok thanks, that's helping me a lot. But what about the imperfecto? it's not really used?
It is used quite a bit. The main difference is that actions in the imperfecto "keep going" for a while, while actions in the preterito just " happened". A good example sentence showing the difference might be Yo comía (imp.) el almeurzo cuando la alarma de incendios sonó (pret.) - "I was eating lunch when the fire alarm rang".
That isn't to say that it is incorrect to ever say Yo comí el almuerzo, but in the example above I want to emphasize that eating lunch was in progress.
Actually, it's always wrong to say "Yo comé" because the correct preterite conjugation is "Yo comí" =)
As I told you in another post, you can use "pretérito perfecto simple" or "compuesto". In Spain we use more the "compuesto" for today's actions, and the simple for yesterday's or before, but I think in Latin America they use more the simple on both.
Both ways are correct and people should understand both.